By Sage McNamara
Oxford, Mississippi is a community rich with literary and artistic roots, and it’s a town that many come from around the world to just get a glimpse of the beauty that is hidden in its walls.
But what makes up a community? It’s not the roads that are driven daily or the buildings that line the streets — it is the people who live and serve one another. The people who plant their roots and build families. The ones who settle down and choose to live a life where they land.
One member of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community who has greatly grasped the idea of what community means and has taken the helm of fostering relationships is Fish Robinson.
“Community is the place where you get to live, get to work, and where you get to do life with people,” said Robinson.
Robinson was born in Shelby, Miss., and attended Delta State University. He moved to Lafayette County in 2004 following a call to ministry by North Oxford Baptist Church where he served as the student college minister. He served there for 10 years, and in January of 2014, Robinson helped plant Community Church Oxford where he currently serves as the head pastor.
“Lafayette County is one of those communities that is so uniquely different than anywhere else in Mississippi, and maybe even the South as a whole because we are such a diverse community,” said Robinson.
People are the backbones of a community and serving others is one way a community can bind together and grow to become stronger. Robinson has seen that call and has made it a goal to show the community through action how to help each other through community service.
One-way Robinson does this is by partnering with companies like Chick-Fil-A on Jackson Avenue handing out sandwiches to first responders and other workers in the community like those at Larson’s Cash Saver.
Other ways that Robinson helps to give back is through hosting block parties, donating school supplies and the church’s annual event of Serve the Server, which is where the churches give out meals to first responders in the community.
One participant of Serve the Server, Kim Barnes, said, “Serve the Server is just one of the great events that is hosted to give back to the LOU community. There is always a need and there is always something that can be done. I believe if people give back to others, they will realize that there are needs in this community that can be met and start to see them in a different light.”
Robinson also serves as a first responder volunteer firefighter for the Lafayette Fire Department and the Oxford Fire Department, and for the last 16 years he has used this position to also help give back to the community with a different viewpoint of serving through a community role.
“This is a different type of service for the community for me,” said Robinson. “This position really helps to remind me that there are all walks of life in this community. This position has also allowed me to see how people of this community really rally together during difficult times.”
Communities are no stranger when it comes to issues arising and disasters that strike, and Oxford is no stranger to them as well.
Robinson also said the COVID-19 pandemic is a great example of the community banding together to really hold each other up, and the way it has responded by working together to keep the city and its small businesses afloat has been very wonderful to watch.
“We are currently serving in the Pantry and it has been amazing watching how many people want to serve and to donate time and money to help the others in this community,” said Robinson.
“Fish is a giver and he wants to give back and help others,” Barnes said. “There is no project too big or too small for him. He sees a need and he goes after it no matter who they are or what they need.”
A community is made up of its people, and anyone can serve by giving their time and talents.
“Your community is only as strong as the people are, and we have a really strong community,” said Robinson. “The best advice I could give this community is just to come together and be available to the people around you.”