Amanda Duffell rescued herself from a life filled with terror and is now living her dream.
Soroptimist International of Alpine made it official on Feb. 5 by awarding Duffell a major share of $2,700 handed out in the organization’s 2019 “Live Your Dream Awards” program.
Duffell’s three young children applauded their mom as she accepted flowers and praise in the Community Room of the Alpine Sheriff’s Station at 2751 Alpine Blvd.
“When I sent in the application I didn’t think I had a chance,” said Duffell, 30, of Alpine. “It’s amazing. It’s incredible.”
Now working in an East San Diego County doughnut shop while attending San Diego City College, Duffel had earlier accepted her Soroptimist award grant so she could catch up on her bills.
The “Live Your Dream Awards” help women who are the primary financial support for their families by giving them necessary resources to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.
Every year Soroptimist International groups overall invest more than $2 million in education grants to almost 1,500 women.
Research shows that being a single mother without a college degree are two of the strongest indicators of poverty, according to the global organization.
“All of the six women that applied (for Alpine awards) were very deserving and we tried to see that everybody got something,” said President Kiersten Pinard of the Alpine Soroptimst. ”But her story touched us the most.”
Duffell turned her life around, she’s working hard and she’s going to college while making sure her children are in a good school, Pinard said.
“The award’s not just about her hardships,” she said. “It’s also about the fact that she has a very clear career goal and she’s on that path.”
As her two sons and daughter ages 6, 8 and 9, finished their refreshments, Duffle briefly quietly talked about her troubled early years.
“It started when I was about their age,” she said. “I was taken away from my mom and put into the foster care system.”
When she was 13, she continued, she moved to Mexico on her own to find her mother in Tijuana. She was able to contact her mom, Duffell said, but life in Mexico turned “horrible.”
“When I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease,” she said. “My oldest son was sick, too. It was hard. I was pregnant. My daughter was in foster care. My son was in Mexico. I didn’t have any family or friends.”
Duffell reached out to a medical social worker in San Diego. Social workers at the University of California San Diego then helped her get into rehabilitation, she said.
They “gave me faith that I was worth it,” Duffell said, adding that she never wants her children to go through what she did.
Working full time now while taking 24 units at college, she said she plans to transfer to San Diego State University to continue her education.
Duffle said she fits her schedule around her children’s needs. She added that she’s trying to teach her youngsters to stay in school and to like it.