Woman’s past helps her to help others

Kristen Maddox knows exactly what it’s like to lose hope.

Her decision to have an abortion when she was 16 years old led her down a dark path of drug addiction that lasted for 12 years, she said. Her addiction also led to a cycle of incarceration and desperation.

It was God, she said, that turned her around.

Now sober for more than a decade, Maddox hopes she can use her life experiences to help other women suffering from addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, depression and other life-control issues, she said.

In May, Maddox started A Door Of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit organization in Livingston Parish, whose purpose is to minister to young women ages 17-35 who are struggling to overcome various life issues by providing a residential home with 24-hour care in a Christian setting.

“I have spent 11 years counseling with women at a crisis pregnancy center, in prison ministry, and leading support groups,” Maddox said. “I realized that a few minutes in a counseling room, or a couple hours in the prison or support group sometimes is not enough. Without a place to go they will return to the abusive boyfriend, the crack house, the streets, the prison, or possibly end up dead.”

“There are a lot of women who don’t have familiy or a place to stay,” said secretary and treasurer Louise Cook. “They need to be loved.”

Cook, who once served as the director of a women’s ministry in Amite, said the faith-based organization will provide the women with much more than a place to lay their heads.

“We’re teaching them the word of God, loving on them, and helping them overcome the mess that they are in,” Cook said.

Maddox and her husband, Ricky, have been raising money to purchase a home that can accommodate up to 12 women. The organization relies strictly on donations and does not accept government assistance, Cook said.

“We’re simply going to reach out to the community,” she said.

To help reach their monetary goal, Maddox and other board members, who are from different faiths and different churches, will host the “Hope” Chef’s Showcase and Silent Auction from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 2 at Greystone Country Club in Denham Springs to help raise money to buy the home for the women.

Guests attending the charity event, presented by A Door of Hope, will hear music while they sample food from Louisiana restaurants and caterers, Maddox said.

You be the judge as restaurants compete for “Best Dish” based on taste and presentation, Maddox said.

Maddox said her goal is to raise between $10,000 and $15,000.

Unlike other nonprofit organizations in Livingston Parish, the home is strictly for women.

“We’re focusing on getting mom straight,” Maddox said. “We’re like a critical care unit but for these types of needs.”

The voluntary program, which lasts between six months to a year, will help the women heal, Maddox said.

“They will have a plan and some goals,” she said.

Also included in their stay will be counseling, GED classes and career counseling, she said.

The next fundraiser will be the Walk for Hope, which is scheduled for October.

Dress for the March event is semiformal, formal.

Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at Cade DeJeur at the Whistle Stop or by logging on to http://AdoorofHopeLa.com or by calling (225) 665-4673.