Robin J. has been a part of the Chapel Haven community for nearly 40 years!

Chapel Haven Changes Lives is delighted this week to highlight Robin J., a longtime community member who has been at Chapel Haven for nearly 40 years.

Robin recalls coming to Chapel Haven’s REACH program in 1981 from Washington, D.C., having had mixed success making friends in high school. “I was very shy,” she says.

“When I graduated high school, my parents said, ‘we’ve been looking into something for you that you might like.’ They both brought me down here to Chapel Haven and it was OK. I didn’t have any friends at home. I did make more friends here,” she says.

At first, Robin felt out of place as she settled into the REACH routine, but things quickly clicked into place. Robin completed the residential program and moved into the Chapel Haven community, into an apartment of her home. Today, Robin enjoys a steady job of 14 years at Stop & Shop in the Dwight neighborhood, has her own apartment within walking distance of Chapel Haven, and has a nice social circle.

Asked how she felt when she first came to Chapel Haven, she says, “I didn’t really like it at first because I really didn’t know a lot of people. Some of the things they showed you, I already knew – like how to sweep and clean up my room. I know how to take out the trash. But I needed the social thing – and that was a good thing.”

She concedes that she had never cooked a meal until she came to CH.

Fast forward to today, and Robin says she has learned to cook, to manage her own apartment, and most especially, has learned how to make lasting friends. Among her peers, Robin is seen as a steady friend and influence who is not afraid to gently remind a friend that she is wearing the same outfit today that she wore yesterday.

“Her housing and cleanliness skills are a little different,” she says with a gentle chuckle.

Along with working at Stop & Shop, Robin enjoys her potluck group most Tuesdays – a get-together with three other Chapel Haven gals who enjoy cooking and eating together. She likes to read books – mysteries, love stories and biographies are favorites – and she enjoys going to the movies and visiting museums. She also loves shopping.

Robin especially likes Chapel Haven’s weekend recreation program, which offers a wide variety of chaperoned trips – everything from going into NYC to places like Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum to dances or karaoke nights on the CH campus. The trips can draw a big variety of community members and residential students, a factor that Robin especially enjoys.

“The activities they have on the weekends or during the week are good. You get a chance to socialize with somebody that you don’t really know,” she said.

Some favorite rec trips for Robin are going to the movies, hanging out at the beach cottage in the summer and some of the museum outings. Robin appreciates that New Haven has so much to offer, from movie theaters and places like Long Wharf to the Westville post office. “Everything’s within range,” she says.

Congrats and thanks to Robin J. for sharing her awesome story!