Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meet Tammy - A Woman of Purpose & Recovery

“Hi, I’m Tammy – a woman of purpose in recovery,” is the confident salutation Tammy uses to introduce herself every morning in the Thistle Farms circle. Growing up Tammy felt she had little purpose. Raised by a single mother, Tammy and her four siblings grew up in public housing in Nashville. She remembers being surrounded by drugs, prostitution and gambling. Her grandparents gave her alcohol when she was 10 years old, and she was addicted by the 9th grade-- marijuana, cocaine and crack.

Her family noticed her attitude changing and her rapid weight loss. They knew something was going on and encouraged her to enter rehab. Tammy obliged and completed an outpatient program, but within a short time, she was back to using and doing the same things she had witnessed growing up. It was how she had been taught to survive: sell drugs and your body for money. Pregnant at 17, she continued her perilous life style, with the added caveat that now she had to take care of her daughter and keep a roof over her head. When her daughter graduated from high school, Tammy wanted to be present and sober for the milestone event, so she went through another rehab program. Within the year though, she fell back into her old patterns.

Finally, in June 2007, Tammy realized she was not the person she wanted to be; she needed to make a change for herself, not to please anyone else. She entered the Magdalene program and began putting herself back together again – including two hip replacements (taking only Ibuprofen for the pain!).

Tammy recalls, “Magdalene’s Lena house is on the same street where I used to buy dope. I actually watched them build the house. I didn’t know someday I was going to have a bed there.” Tammy’s job at Thistle Farms is the longest one she’s ever held, and her hope is that the company keeps growing so she can grow with it. Tammy’s advice to others is: “Believe that you can change and that there is hope. God’s got your back!”

Written and photographed by Carolyn Snell.


  1. A beautiful smile and a beautiful spirit. I am praying for you Tammy.

  2. You look so happy and beautiful. May you have peace always with you new life.

  3. You have the ability to help change the lives of other addicts just by hearing your inspirational story! You've come along way Tammy, I am proud of you!

  4. You go girl! You look great!

  5. "God's got your back" is the most profound thought I have heard in a long long time. God Bless You! I am going to pass that along to the ladies in rehab where I work. You are amazing!