Living in Madison County for most of her life, Amanda Gadd had heard about NOSW. But it took her twenty years and three tries to get here.
Born in Rockcastle County, Amanda married young and moved to Madison County. She became a teen mom and didn’t graduate high school. She got her GED and attended Berea College, but didn’t finish. Trying to work, raising her kids and navigating a complicated marriage were hard.
But Amanda always had a heart for service. She volunteered for many years with Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) and learned the teachings of founder Father Ralph Beiting. People involved with CAP and people involved with NOSW seemed to cross paths regularly, and she found herself feeling led toward NOSW.
“I just knew that it was someplace I wanted to go, I needed to go, and whatever came of it is what I needed.”
In 1997 she applied and was accepted to the residential program. But before she could get here, her childcare fell through. She didn’t have family nearby, and her husband wasn’t willing to keep the kids. The same thing happened again in 2008. Finally, in 2019, Amanda made it to NOSW, where she found friends, connections and tools she needed to change her life.
“I realized that I had a voice of my own and that it was important, regardless of what some may say. I guess it was just the realization for myself that I was worthy, good enough, and intelligent,” she says.
Because of previous experiences with family, Amanda came to the program with a negative view of people with addiction. Being with other women who had also experienced struggles, though different from hers, helped change that view.
“I learned personally a lot of tolerance,” she says. “I thought I had patience, but I realized I needed a little more patience. And I thought I was a good listener, but I realized I needed to listen a little more sometimes—not just listen, but listen with the idea of wanting to understand.”
She realized women come from many different circumstances and have different strengths and challenges. “My strength is I’m as stubborn as they come, and I refuse to resort to what people think I ought to be,” she says.
Amanda is still active with NOSW as a house sister, volunteer and part-time worker. She’s the proud mother of five children and grandmother of four. She is divorced and has her own home with her youngest son.
To anyone thinking about applying to NOSW, Amanda says: “Oh, you definitely should. … You don’t have to know what you need. Just being here is beneficial.”