Wanda is a Pathway Society Inc. privileged cardholder, and she takes her responsibility very seriously. The ability to go to the house, support residents, and take them to meetings is just one way that Wanda uses her past experiences with drug and alcohol addiction in a positive way- to now help others who have or who are struggling to overcome addiction. Wanda acts as a living inspiration, especially to the women, who are live-in clients at Pathway Society.
Wanda’s past includes drug and alcohol dependency; she had her first cigarette at 9, her first beer at 12. She says that she became an addict at the age of 14, and she lived in the Bronx existing on drugs and alcohol until she turned 21. When she was involved in a violent shooting Wanda left New York to move to California, however she continued her use of drugs and was eventually arrested at 34 for selling narcotics. Wanda says that her “bottom was being arrested; it [the drugs] wasn’t worth being arrested.” She spent 5 months in county jail, then 10 months in state prison and began her recovery while incarcerated, becoming clean while inside. She promised her mother that she’s never go back to jail again; Wanda’s clean date is August 26, 1998 and she has been living the life of recovery for 16 years.
Wanda’s life now is all about helping others either avoid drug and alcohol addiction completely, or encouraging those with addiction to start their path to recovery. As a Peer Counselor and School Liaison at an alternative high school, Wanda “helps the youth stay clean and sober.” Wanda also frequently visits Pathway Society Inc as a cardholder, and says that “the gift of one addict helping another” is unparalleled. After her past struggles, Wanda is thankful for being alive, after “22 years of being dead.” She explains: “I see things, I smell things [now] and the greatest gift to me now is giving that to another person.”