Meet Patti, The Heroic Soul Who Made A Safe Place For Women Recovering From Addiction.

a woman named patti o'malley feeding fish in her green house at cedar home in kansas

You wouldn’t guess by looking at her today, but 26 years ago Patti O’Malley lived in New York City as a Stock Broker.

That’s because, nowadays, she spends much of her time taking care of her farm in Kansas. Most importantly, though, she supports the women seeking help at her sober living house.

Several events led to Patti taking on such a huge role. First, she and her husband got divorced after they had already moved to Kansas and had two sons, Keegan and Riley.

Being a single mom wasn’t easy. What started off as casual drinking turned into a debilitating problem that would leave her having problems staying awake past 7 p.m.

“I was destroying my life and everything I loved,” Patti said. “I think the worst of it as it progressed was I became angry and started really destroying my family with that anger.”

Soon after she went into rehab, her son, Riley, became more rebellious. Overtime, it became clear that he, too, had an addiction problem. For him, it was opioids. But in any case, the two of them worked together in recovery.

“We could speak the same language,” she said. “We had dreams that didn’t involve drugs or alcohol.”

Sadly, Riley’s dreams were cut short when he swerved off a bridge and into a river while driving under the influence.

That loss sparked a determination in Patti to find a healthy, productive way to channel her grief. In doing so, she discovered her calling in helping fellow addicts.

“I loved that boy and I think me taking that love, the power of how I loved him and turning it into something where I could help,” Patti said. “I couldn’t help my child but I can help someone else’s child.”

In a town of just 6,000, Patti wasn’t sure how residents would respond to their first sober-living house, but her fears quickly turned into relief. Since opening eight years ago, over 40 women have found a new start at what she calls Cedar Home.

Here, they have access to mentors, sponsors, and on-site therapy. It’s recommended that they stay at least a year and, in that time, they create both short-term and long-term goals.

From volunteering at the local food and clothing bank to lending a hand on the farm and greenhouse, these women not only focus on bettering themselves, but on bettering those around them. In the end, though, those two goals are actually one and the same.

Patti still visits NYC every once in a while. Not only does it remind her of her childhood, but it’s also a great place to clear her head and tap into her creativity.

In addition to farming and helping other addicts, she loves art, including graffiti. Cedar Home, and even the town of Abilene, has become adorned with Patti’s art, and it’s a passion she happily passes on to the women she helps.

“There is trauma that has no words … Working in a space that’s green allows the women that peace and quiet where they can finally start unpacking that trauma,” Patti said. “For many of the women, it was the first time they’d ever made a piece of art. That’s what I love about graffiti. There’s no right or wrong.”

Although the pandemic caused Cedar Home to close for six months in the fall of 2021, Patti spent her extra time finding news ways to help the community she loves dearly.

Just a train-ride away from Patti is an even smaller town of 900 called Enterprise. Many of the shops are empty, but they won’t be for long if she has anything to do with it.

In just a few months time, she’s already turned an unused barber shop into a women’s resource center, and graffiti artists from all over Kansas have shown up to revitalize the town.

“We can fill this town and bring this town back to life,” she said.

No matter what project Patti takes on next, one thing is for sure: She carries her son everywhere she goes.

“I miss him,” she said. “I know that I still love him and this is how I show it, that he walks with me.”

Learn more about how Patti has been taking Kansas by storm in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story with a friend.

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