Lighting the Way

“I’m a recovering addict,” she says matter-of-factly. “In 2016, I gave birth to my daughter while on meth.”

At the time the energetic blonde had been homeless two years, living in a tent, hooked on meth and heroin. She believes her drug use stemmed from childhood trauma. Both parents died of AIDs, and the grandparents who raised her never talked about it. “I think I was off track from the beginning.”

When the state took her daughter away, Amanda had a powerful incentive to change course. Three weeks after giving birth, she stopped using drugs. Within two months, she had an apartment. By nine months, she had regained custody of her baby girl. “She is my everything. I feel like she saved my life.”

Amanda also credits Kitsap Recovery Center, Agapé chemical dependency treatment, Georgia’s House women’s shelter and KMHS with helping her build a new life.

“When I first went into treatment, I did an assessment at KMHS. They were so kind, so patient,” she recalls. “They listened to me and it was amazing.”

Now she’s the one doing the listening, helping people who are living with mental illness or drug dependency find housing and a future

Sharing her story builds rapport. “Them knowing they’re not being judged goes a long way,” Amanda says. “Most of them have spent a lot of their lives being judged by people who were not understanding of them.”

After living in a tent and a women’s shelter, Amanda remembers being both excited and terrified when she moved into her first apartment. Now she finds joy and purpose in helping other people achieve that milestone.

“I watch people who have no hope and slowly see that light coming back behind their eyes,” she says. “And they just grow and grow. It’s amazing!”

Housing Support Specialist, Amanda Shaw, stands proudly with a binder as a beacon of hope.

“Them knowing they’re not being judged goes a long way”

Amanda Shaw, Housing Support Specialist, KMHS