She and her husband, Robert “Buck,” had been married 17 years when she was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer, which left her unable to bear children. She and Buck had talked about fostering children for several years, and they decided that time had come.
Their fostering classes ended the day Gwen’s cancer treatments ended. She’s been cancer free 10 years.
They’ve fostered so many children that Gwen lost count years ago. The count comes to at least over 60. She taught foster parenting classes at the Department of Human Resources in Cherokee County for several years.
“My thing with children is that God is the creator, and He chooses from the day that child is conceived who his parents are,” said Gwen. “I feel like my five children were conceived and brought into this world for me. Anybody can have a child, but not everybody can be a mom and dad.”
Their oldest child, Meagan, 22, attends Gadsden State. The others attend school at Spring Garden. Lukas, 17, is a senior. Kyle, 11, is in fifth grade, Daniel, 10, is in third grade, and Makenzie, 5, is in kindergarten. The three youngest children attended Capstone School, which is where Gwen teaches K4 and is co-director with Jessica Highfield.
She loves her job at Capstone.
“When I see that child come in, especially in K4, they walk in that first day, and they’re a baby,” said Gwen. “But then within a few weeks I can see maturity and see them blossom. It’s my job to develop them and establish a foundation in the child. It’s easy to see that transformation and how their little minds work. I enjoy that age.”
Gwen was born in Carrollton, Ga. She and her family reside near Spring Garden where they run a poultry farm.
They take care of four chicken houses at Indian Mountain in Spring Garden and have another six at Shiloh Farm outside Esom Hill.
It’s a family business. Everyone does something to help.
“We have the chickens for five weeks, then they leave, and we have two weeks to get the houses ready before our next flock comes in,” she said. “We’ve always been self-employed. But our dream when we got married, which will be 28 years in December, was to have a poultry farm and five children. Buck works long hours. I try to keep the inside clean and the kids going, and he does most of the work in the chicken business and the yard. Honestly, to have a marriage and a family-owned business and raise five children, it takes a true partnership. We treat each other equal and with respect. We both realize that we would have nothing if we hadn’t been blessed by the Lord.”
Before Gwen went into the chicken business, before she taught school, and before she had children, she was a hairdresser.
She never went to cosmetology school, but she worked in a salon for two years in Georgia. She took the state board and passed. After her children arrived, she knew she had to be a stay-at-home mom, at least for a while, so she sold her salon.
The Crawfords attend Crossplains Church where Gwen helps take plates of food to Piedmont residents as part of the church’s food ministry.
“The Lord really laid it on my heart several years ago to start a food ministry,” she said. “We pushed and pushed and made it happen. We’ve been doing it for two years now.”
She also enjoys working in her yard and refinishing antiques.
“My friends say I’m the new poster child for the Energizer bunny,” she said. “I’ve always had a lot of energy.”
Gwen likes to cook and likes the fact that her house is the gathering place.
“If you come to my house and you’re not going to eat, it hurts my feelings,” she said. “My family has always been big on cooking and family. My mother is a good cook and part of my raising was going to my granny Gurley and aunt Jeanette’s house for big dinners.”
Gwen’s mother, Margie Atkins, lives in Hiram, Ga. Her father and step-mother, Jerry and Darlene Gurley, live in Spring Garden. She has three younger sisters. Michelle Fennell lives in Centre, Tracie Johnston lives in Dallas, Ga., and Britnee Stephens lives in Kingston, Ga.
Gwen realizes that all dreams don’t come true. She feels truly blessed that hers have.
Some of her family’s favorite dishes are Northern Stew, Taco Soup, Vidalia Onion Pie and Chicken Pot Pie.
Contact Margaret at email@example.com.
2 lbs. stew beef
2 pkg. onion soup mix
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 lg. can mushrooms, drained
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cans cream mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook in crockpot. Time may vary. Cover beef with water and add onion soup mix and green onions. Cook on high for several hours until meat is done. Then add your mushrooms, celery and mushroom soups, salt and pepper. Mix well. Reduce heat to medium. Let simmer for one hour. Great with cornbread or garlic toast. (You may substitute beef with deer and beef broth.)
1 - 12 oz. bag tortilla chips
1 pack shredded cheddar cheese
2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans
2 (15 oz.) cans corn, drained
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 can Rotels (original or hot)
1 ¼ c. chopped jalapeno, optional
1 onion, chopped
2 lb. ground beef (cooked and drained)
2 packs taco seasoning
Mix cooked ground beef and 2 packs taco seasoning. Add all ingredients together to the meat. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese on top (sour cream is optional) and tortilla chips).
Vidalia Onion Pie
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese
1 T. sour cream
½ c. mayonnaise
1 t. minced garlic
2 - 6 packs grated parmesan cheese
2 lg. Vidalia onions, chopped
Dash of salt, pepper and garlic salt
Mix cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise together. Add minced garlic, 1 pack parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Stir onions into mixture (making sure onions are covered evenly).
Press into a glass pie pan or casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, covered, until onions are tender. Uncover and top with remaining pack of parmesan cheese. Continue to bake at 350 degrees for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with Frito scoops.
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken (boiled and deboned)
1 can mixed vegetables, drained
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 soup cans chicken broth
1 c. flour
1 c. milk
1 stick butter, melted
Place shredded chicken in casserole dish. Add mixed vegetables (drained) on top of chicken. Mix celery soup, cream of mushroom soup and chicken broth. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Mix flour, milk and margarine. Pour over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until brown.