As a native of Antigua, Gloria Roberts is glad to call Snellville home. After decades in New York, the warm climate and people easily won her heart.
She always imagined living in Florida, but when her children gradually made their way to the Atlanta area for one reason or another, she followed suit.
“You can't come from the islands and not want to go where the weather is warm,” she said.
At the age of 15, Roberts flew alone on a plane from the islands to New York, where her grandparents awaited her. She came for her education, and she graduated with a nursing degree in 1960.
“It was difficult because I came in the winter,” she said.
She married in 1963 and had three daughters. One by one, they moved away. Her oldest daughter came to Georgia for college, followed by her youngest daughter's husband, who attended Morehouse College.
“They needed me closer,” she said, and so she made the move two years ago. Now, most of her family is here.
“So I'm good,” she said. “I love where I am, and I get to see my grandkids and children.”
One place that made her adjustment to Snellville easier was the Snellville Senior Center. In New York, she was very active at a similar center and made many friends.
“When I retired, I had nothing to do,” she said. “So I went over to the Senior Center and was so involved with them.”
Roberts was the assistant director of the maternal care unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., when she retired, and her days were busy and full. When retirement became dull, the local senior center filled her life with activities and interesting people. After the move to Snellvile, one of her daughters immediately checked to see where the nearest senior center was.
“It's just out of this world,” she said. “You can go and take bingo, they have dance and exercise. Some people go to play bridge, some go to learn Spanish. They are just a friendly group.”
Roberts immediately grew attached to the people at the Center.
“You get to be a part of life,” she said. “Not just existing, you're living.”
In February, Roberts was honored as the Senior Center's Volunteer of the Year. She volunteered 107 hours to the center.
She was surprised when they told her she was Volunteer of the Year. While in New York, she was previously recognized with the honor. The day she was going to be honored at a luncheon, she considered not attending.
“I almost didn't make it because my middle daughter had a baby,” she said. “I had been going around trying to help her, so I hadn't been going to the senior center too much.”
She decided to go, and was enjoying herself immensely. She noticed that the mayor was there, and that it was “such a lovely environment.” Suddenly, according to Roberts, the speaker announced, “Gloria Roberts, you are our Volunteer of the Year!”
As a volunteer, Roberts spends her time answering phones, taking messages, and doing whatever else needs to be done. She takes over the front desk when others are out, something that other members are sometimes afraid to do alone.
“They were always so thankful I was there,” she said, “but I said it was better for me to be there than at home.”
She enjoys spending time with the other seniors and being a familiar face at the Center. Life has turned out well, she said.
“I could not have chosen my life any other way,” she said. “I love this country. Every time -- to this day -- if I hear someone singing the National Anthem I go back to being at my grandmother's house, because she just loved America.
The love she had for America, she passed on to us.”