Women in Recovery – Amanda’s Story

Amanda A., Woodlawn resident, former heroin addict and client of St. Martin de Porres House of Hope, currently a substance abuse counselor at theAmanda organization.

Amanda, substance abuse counselor at St. Martin de Porres House of Hope, knows firsthand the feelings that residents experience when they first join the drug recovery program. She experienced them herself when she started the program just 10 years ago. She had been on drugs ever since she was 15 and had run away from home.

She remembers feeling hesitant about making a yearlong commitment to House of Hope. And when she and her 8-year-old daughter approached the House of Hope building to begin their stay there, she remembers her fear. “When I saw the red doors, I instantly started crying. I didn’t know if I wanted to go in or walk away,” she said. “I came in, and I was absolutely petrified.” She remembers Sister Therese O’Sullivan taking her aside and talking to her. “She told me, ‘I’m going to pray for you. Use the 12 steps to recovery to help you find your way back to yourself.'”

Amanda remained in the drug recovery program for 11 months and three weeks. “The thing I got out of the program, more than anything, was spirituality. And even though Sister Therese was a Catholic nun, she never enforced her religion on me. She let me find God for myself.”

In addition to working as a counselor, Amanda works as a coordinator part time for Harmony, Hope and Healing, a traveling music program for homeless shelters in Chicago. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling and spirituality at DePaul. Her daughter, now 18, is entering her freshman year at Harold Washington College. Amanda is married and a mother of 16 children, eight of which she had given up for adoption.