Sandra is nervous. She remembers other Western Area Conferences, the ones where she was the one watching speakers come to the podium. Now 25 years later, she hears her name. She
stands and walks to the microphone.
“Hello everyone, I’m Sandra Ammons now, but when I was a child in care, I was Sandra Christopher.”
She begins by sharing about the children she helps. She tells how she turned the hardships in her life into a life spent encouraging students as a cafeteria manager at two Haywood County schools. “I meet kids who face a lot of life situations like the ones I experienced growing up.”
She tells her story. Sandra’s father was an alcohol and drug addict. Her mother came in and out of her life. Sandra spent more and more time living with her grandmother. Unsettled, her frustration turned to anger.
At 15 years old and now living again with her mom, Sandra’s anger turned into aggressive behavior. “After one very bad fight, I punched a hole in the wall. My mom told me she was going to send me away. I was like, ‘Okay.’ And it happened.
It was the worse day of my life.”
She couldn’t believe it. She was being taken away from everything she had known, sent to a place where she knew no one. “I was brought here—to Broyhill and was introduced to my house parents, Sian and Adam Saunders, Linda Morgan, and the caring staff.”
After 60 days, she returned home. It did not take long to realize circumstances had not changed and she ended up back at Broyhill
Home. Sian and Adam welcomed Sandra back into their cottage. She worried as 60 days approached—would she be sent away to live with her mother? Instead, she was moved to another cottage. For the first time, she felt hopeful.
Judy and Walter Blanton were her new cottage parents
“I’m not a dressy-type person,” she told the crowd. “I had never worn a dress—not to mention used makeup. Miss Judy helped me pick out my first dress and taught me about lipstick and blush.”
Sandra was the first in her family to graduate high school. She recalls studying for a spelling test and struggling with the word “prevail.” “Mr. Adam asked me to use it in a sentence and I couldn’t. He said, ‘I will prevail!’ I often laugh when times are hard and think, it’s hard right now, but I will prevail!”
Sandra wasn’t taught anything about God growing up. But living at Broyhill Home, Sandra learned love’s power. She learned about God and discovered He had a plan for her life. “People think life is like a straight path. It’s not. There are oceans to sail across, rocks to climb, and mountains to scale.”
Last year, Sandra was named food service “Employee of the Year” for all of Haywood County schools and a new job opportunity, a career change, came her way. She remembers being congratulated. Friends encouraged her to take the new job. “Everybody is telling me such wonderful things. And I’m like, what is this? What am I doing?”
Some of the children she served sent notes. They told her that her positive attitude and her kindness meant something to them: “One read, ‘Thank you for always taking time and listening to us.’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t need to go anywhere. This is where I need to be.’”
Pausing, fighting back tears, Sandra ends her presentation: “God brought me here. It has changed my life. Loving someone unconditionally, makes all the difference. Thank you.”
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children