Kristan Stricklin started doing drugs as a teenager. When she was 26, someone told her about Alabama Teen Challenge, a 12-month discipleship program located in Hayden that helps women break free from life-controlling addictions.
Stricklin said her life was “radically changed” after the gospel of Jesus Christ was presented to her.
After graduation, she completed a one-year internship with the program and then remained on staff for four additional years as a pastoral counselor.
In March, Stricklin joined Hope for Women, which recently celebrated its second anniversary in Jasper.
The residential recovery program is overseen by a 12-member board and currently has 24 clients.
Shortly after her arrival, Stricklin introduced a curriculum called Group Studies for New Christians, which is also used by Alabama Teen Challenge.
“They were spiritually sick,” Stricklin said of the clients. “We do AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) curriculum. Through that, they were starting to know themselves and to understand God as the higher power, but there was no relationship with Jesus. The vision from when the program started two years ago was for these women to build that relationship with Jesus.”
Stricklin leads the group study three days a week. The women also have personal study time twice a day. They are tested on the material every two weeks.
Stricklin also counsels each client twice per month.
In addition to discipleship training and 12-step meetings, the women are enrolled in a job readiness program during their first four months at Hope for Women.
Once clients obtain employment, they begin paying a $600 per month program fee.
“If they don’t perform their duties at work and get laid off, then I will dismiss them from the program. Once I send them out to work, I know that they have reached a place in their life of stability,” Stricklin said.
In the second phase of the program, which begins for most clients at the four-month mark, the women move out of the main house and into a nearby residential facility.
They are still required to go to work and attend daily group study sessions and relapse prevention meetings.
The final phase of the program is independent living, which carries the women through the crucial 12-month mark in their recovery.
“They still come back over here and impact the lives of the girls coming in behind them by sharing everything that they have learned in those first nine months,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin has participated in four graduation ceremonies since taking over as executive director at Hope for Women.
Each success story is made bittersweet by memories of the other lives that Stricklin has seen cut short because of substance abuse.
Her mother passed away from a drug overdose two years ago at the age of 49.
Both of Stricklin’s parents, as well as two of her siblings, were still in the throes of addiction when she successfully completed Alabama Teen Challenge more than five years ago.
After two years of sobriety, Stricklin restored her relationship with her family and inspired them to start their own road to recovery.
“I was able to go back and give the message of hope to my family. My mom had given her life over to the Lord, and I was able to take her to church every day for a year before she passed away. My sister got into a rehab and is now living a clean and sober life. My brother is doing the same,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin said she hopes that Hope for Women’s clients will one day witness a similar chain reaction in their lives.
“I know that if I can make it out, then they can do the same. It makes me fight harder,” she said.
The bulk of the support for Hope for Women comes through donations.
Girlie Things Boutique in downtown Jasper recently hosted a fashion show fundraiser for the program.
The next major fundraiser, a Festival of Lights, is scheduled for after Thanksgiving.