When you meet Ashley Spendiff, it’s hard to imagine this charming and gracious 25-year-old woman is a recovering addict. Those two images just don’t seem to fit.
Her challenges began in middle school when she didn’t feel like she fit in and lacked the skills to cope or the ability to ask for help for her growing self-esteem issues.
Like others in her situation, she turned to drugs for answers. She managed to graduate from high school, but her slide continued. In 2010, her father passed away from cancer and his loss added fuel to her drug use.
Spendiff’s family attempted an intervention and sent her to treatment, but she wasn’t committed. She was just appeasing her family. So her drug use continued until she finally came to a place where she was ready to deal with the issue. She drew upon many resources, including the Department of Social and Health Services, the Salvation Army, the Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Oxford Housing and the YWCA. She had a lot to deal with — drug addiction, self-esteem issues, grief and loss, co-dependency and a fear of being alone.
She shared with me her victories. She received a culinary arts degree, has stayed clean and sober for a year, is employed full time at the YWCA as a kitchen supervisor, is a godmother, and living on her own. She’s come a long way.
She’s also giving back to the community in numerous ways. She volunteers to share her story to others struggling with life, she works with women in the regional jail as well as the Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
Telling her story is something that is quite meaningful to her. “Sharing my story centers me, reminds me of the people who gave me strength and hope to keep going, but most of all I feel honored and humbled to help,” Spendiff told me.
She said when she thinks back at what appeared to be insurmountable barriers of getting clean and becoming self-sufficient, it’s a bit of a shock.
She has set her roots here in Wenatchee and feels like she is a contributing member of this community. She’s also become a member of her family who they can depend on.
The most rewarding thing for Spendiff is that she has found herself, her talents and gifts and roots and that she has been given a second chance to share all that she has inside and make a difference in the world by laughing, living and loving her way through life.
What a gift Wenatchee has been given, because this Island Girl has found her heart and her home here.
Kristina Fry is program manager for Cafe AZ’s at the YWCA in Wenatchee. A recovering addict, she writes about others who have transformed their lives. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.