Sarah wants to make people happy. She has a cheerleader costume, a clown suit and a purple sparkly cape. “When you look at me, I want to give you hope,” she says.
But Sarah herself has seen some dark days. In 2013 her husband died of kidney failure. Not long after, her house became unlivable when the water pipes froze. She and her 17-year-old son had to move in with her brother in Beattyville. Suddenly Sarah was no longer a wife, her son was almost grown and she had no income. She describes this period as a “dark tunnel.”
Her doctor suggested she go to counseling, but it was months before she could get in to see a counselor. In the meantime, she decided to be happy.
And it worked. By the time she heard about the New Opportunity School in 2014, she had a job working at Carhartt in Irvine. She had to quit work to attend the program, which was then a three-week commitment.
She came to NOSW in February 2015. In the third week, the whole group got snowed in. “It was just the most beautiful time,” she says. The snow kept falling. “It was just a party, and all of us sisters just connected.”
Sarah also grew during those three weeks. “I got all this knowledge.” She wanted to tell everybody what she’d learned when she got back home, “but they couldn’t receive it.”
Her daughter was living in London and Sarah attended church there, so she decided to apply for public housing in London. Nine months later she got an apartment. She supported herself by babysitting and cleaning houses. When she turned 60, she was able to start drawing her late husband’s pension.
Now she helps her daughter with the grandchildren and continues to serve NOSW in a number of ways, including as its cheerleader. She referred her sister Pearl to NOSW, and Pearl attended in 2020.
To anyone considering NOSW, Sarah says, “Just say yes and come.”