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A Path of Purpose and Passion: Meet Amy from St. Anthony’s Companionship Program

March 20, 2024

This March, in honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating our caring community of women who lead the way. St. Anthony’s is proud to honor women in our community who inspire us with their stories of stability and renewal.

Drawn from more than seven decades of best practice, the St. Anthony’s Companionship Model is a scalable, multi-year approach tailored to each person in the substance abuse recovery and transitional employment programs to break the devastating cycle of addiction, homelessness, or poverty. Companionship services include vital peer support for lasting sobriety, mental health care, jobs, economic opportunity, navigation to housing, and more.

Amy, a single mother with long red hair and a vivacious personality, is a Companion within St. Anthony’s innovative Companionship Program. Her journey has been transformative, navigating through the challenges of addiction and homelessness in her early years to achieving stability and discovering a passion for uplifting others after graduate school. With her academic background in Women and Gender Studies, she highlights the effectiveness of the Companionship Program, which pairs individuals battling addiction and homelessness with mentors like Amy, who combine personal lived experience, academic knowledge, and professional expertise to offer long-term guidance and support.

In her 20s, Amy discovered a path via higher education to help overcome the challenges of addiction that had characterized her teenage years. Upon enrolling at San Francisco State for a master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies, she found both academic advancement and personal healing. “Education allowed me to redefine my narrative, understanding my past while forging a new future,” she observed.

Despite challenges in the job market after earning her degree, Amy remained determined, and a serendipitous sequence of events led her to St. Anthony’s. “The interview process was a validation of my entire journey,” she stated. Joining the Foundation as a Companion was not just employment but a calling, allowing her to use her life’s lessons to assist others.

Amy can utilize her education and experiences to empathize with and guide others in her role as a Companion. “Each course I took helped me understand the dynamics of hardship and resilience,” she reflected. Her journey and knowledge converged at St. Anthony’s, enabling her to effectively offer hope and support daily.

At St. Anthony’s, Amy found a community that valued her beyond her struggles. “I wasn’t judged for my past but embraced for who I was becoming,” she explained. This experience kindled her desire to help others, aligning perfectly with St. Anthony’s value of compassion.

Amy has had a significant impact on the community, which is apparent in the relationships she has built with her clients. “I connect with each individual, sharing empathy and guidance,” she said. Her experiences have been pivotal in creating an environment of hope and healing, demonstrating the program’s effectiveness.

Reflecting on her path, Amy acknowledges her growth, shaped by every hurdle overcome. Looking ahead, she aims to deepen her impact, aspiring to mentor new Companions. “I want to evolve, to be a better resource for those in need,” she said.

Amy’s past challenges have become a source of strength and empathy. “My experiences are the tools I use to help others,” she said. “In each person I help, I see a part of my own journey.” Many in our community would not be able to break the cycle of poverty, addiction, and homelessness without the support of a mentor who is with them every step of the way. The complex system of care can overwhelm individuals dealing with mental and physical health issues, domestic violence, legal problems, and other barriers that impede their ability to stabilize and change their lives. For these reasons and more, the Companionship Program at St. Anthony’s is essential to achieving our mission of creating a world where everyone is given the opportunity to flourish.

Your support helps to ensure that our guests have every opportunity to transform their lives with the support and mentorship of the Companionship Program, and compassionate people like Amy. Please help us continue uplifting San Franciscans through our innovative programs by giving today.

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