LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It took Annie Smith 50 years to find a recovery program that worked for her. But the wait paid off.
Any time you want to spend time with St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store manager Annie Smith, you have to keep moving.
“We just work a lot! We are all very hard workers,” Smith told Spectrum News 1.
Smith is what you can call a “hands-on” manager. At any moment, she’s unloading a truck or pricing items in the storeroom or rearranging furniture on the showroom floor.
“Very good temperament for this job because she’s fast. She doesn’t really do anything slow,” one of Smith’s coworkers said.
For decades, Smith’s life was a slow crawl, weighed down by addiction.
“I gave up hope on myself. My family gave up hope on me,” Smith said. “It took me a long time, 50 years. You know? I was 50 years old when I went in.”
Four years ago, Smith was homeless, and she had been for a long time. Smith struggled to find success in long-term treatment.
Smith’s life changed when she found St. Jude and St. Vincent de Paul. “Nine months I stayed in there, came out and doing good,” Smith said.
Part of her success came with a job at this thrift store, but in the beginning Smith was living at St. Vincent’s downtown shelter many miles away.
“It’s a two-hour-bus ride out to here, one way, and she did that for probably the first year-and-a-half, two years and we were open at 8 o’clock,” Patrick Watts said.
Watts not only hired Smith after seeing her embrace her job and her recovery, but he also promoted her to store manager.
“The payroll is yours. The sales is yours. Placement of stuff, how you want to do things and she was very excited,” Watts recalled.
Nowadays, Smith has her own apartment, vehicle and hopes to buy a house this year. More importantly, Smith got something back she lost for a long time: hope.
“It’s nice for people to be able to able to depend on me. Like I said, I’m the store manager of this place,” she said. “They gave me the keys to the store and they depend on me to be here all the time. My family can depend on me. I can depend on myself.”
Today, Annie Smith’s life moves the way it was always meant to, fast and forward.
Correction: The word "did" was mistyped in a previous version of this story. It has been corrected. (July 2, 2023)