At 50 years old, Annie Smith overdosed on the streets of Louisville.
A mother of three, Smith had struggled since her teenage years with alcohol and drugs. She had checked in and out of various treatment facilities, but nothing seemed to help. Nothing seemed to work. Nothing seemed to curb her craving.
“It’s hard for me to even picture me sleeping outside like I used to. I can’t believe I let myself get as low as I did,” Smith said. “I tried to get help a bunch of times and it never worked because I was going for other people. I think you really have to do it for yourself. You just have to be tired of living that life, and I was.”
In fall 2018, Smith arrived at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville’s St. Jude Women’s Recovery Center. The 30-day program was named after St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, which seems fitting in Smith’s road to recovery.
Thirty-eight years into substance use, it wasn’t too late to reclaim her life and wasted time.
“St. Vincent de Paul helped me learn to live again. This place definitely saved my life,” Smith added. “It gave my kids back their mom. It gave my grandkids back their ‘grannie.’ My mother is my best friend and she finally gets to have a relationship with me … thank God she’s still alive to see me sober. That she knows that I did it.”
Smith was then asked to stay on another six months at St. Jude to be a house manager.
“I swear that’s what saved my life,” she said. “When I walked out of St. Jude, I was nine months sober.”
“Annie did well and was ready to recover at St. Jude. We are lucky to have her,” added Pam Scott, SVDP’s Clinical Services Coordinator.
Towards the end of her stay at St. Jude, Smith was given an opportunity to apply at our Thrift Store at Dorsey Plaza. She was hired on as a full-time producer, which was primarily hanging clothes, but she worked hard and worked her way up.
“It made me feel like I could make it, finally. When you’re down so far, and you don’t even have a driver’s license to apply for a job, you don’t even know where to start or how to get to the first step. Then, when things start falling into place a little bit, you’re like, ‘Maybe I can do this,’” Smith said.
Within a year, Smith was promoted to store manager.
“Through hard work, I have achieved more success than I thought was possible. I went from being homeless to being the store manager all in four and a half years. This is all because St. Vincent de Paul gave me the opportunity,” Smith added.
Smith never missed a day, despite the four-hour round trip to work.
“It’s a two-hour bus ride out to our store—one way—and she did that for probably a year and a half, and we were open at 8 o’clock,” said Patrick Watts, SVDP’s Director of Stores.
When another coworker moved to New York, she donated her car to Smith.
Today, Smith has seven grandchildren, two of whom she is the primary guardian.
“I try to remember every day how bad it was,” Smith said. “Drug addicts and those who are homeless don’t mean to be that way. It just hurts my heart for them. I always try to tell them there are other places they can go.”
When you donate or shop at our two Thrift Stores, 100% of the net profits help fund our programs. For more information, visit www.svdplou.org/thrift-stores/.