Sharing her nest

Published 12:04 am Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kim Cowen reads her Bible outside of Norma’s Nest. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

Kim Cowen knows exactly what that first high is like, how it feels to be strung out on drugs, to be facing a lifetime in prison and then, to be given second chance at life.

It’s because of those struggles that Norma’s Nest board members felt that Cowen was the perfect choice to serve as housemother for the women’s transition home, which will officially open Satu-rday.

For the last six years, the public has watched as the driving force behind Norma’s Nest – Pennye Anderson, Norma McLelland and Mavene Nichols – turned the idea of a women’s transition home into reality.

Cowen, who grew up in Opp, said bad life choices left her a college dropout in and out of trouble with the law.

“I used and sold drugs for 28 years,” she said. “At 43, I was in the Covington County Jail, and I prayed to God and said, ‘Lord, if You get me out of this mess I’ve made, I’ll do anything you want.’ So, there I was, waiting to go to trial for distribution and manufacturing of methamphetamine, and four days later, I was released. They said the grand jury didn’t have enough evidence to indict me, but I know better. I know it was the Lord that did it.”

Cowen said her family was very involved in Opp’s Westview Baptist Church, and the Sunday following her release, she followed them to church.

It’s where her heart’s been ever since.

She elected to undergo a yearlong Christian-based rehab in Opelika. At the end of her year, she was invited to stay on as a counselor. A painter by trade, Cowen said she balanced her life by working, ministering and counseling. While there, she established the Highway Ministry, a group devoted to helping men and women who are struggling with homosexuality.

“I lived a gay lifestyle all my life,” she said. “When I got saved, I asked Him to take that away, and He did. That’s what led me to start my ministry.”

It also gave Cowen a springboard to achieve the success she was looking for in life. Eight years later, she’s drug-free, has turned over the reigns of her ministry and is ready to begin her new life in Andalusia.

Norma’s Nest officials tried to draw Cowen to the area years ago.

“But, the timing wasn’t right,” she said of her decision not to take the position. “I didn’t feel confident enough then, but when they called back, I knew before I hung up the phone I was going to take the job. I’m happy, content, and I really believe, right where God wants me to be. It was God’s perfect timing.”

Now, Cowen will be in charge of the four-bed transition home, where women who have undergone rehab can come to begin their new life.

“Sometimes when you get out, you have nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, no job, no family,” she said. “This house can help with that.”

Women will receive job assistance, financial education and “anything it takes to get them back on their feet, including church on Sunday.” Cowen said the women will be required to attend the service of their choice at least once a week.

“By growing their relationship with the Lord, it will help them to understand that the past is the past,” she said. “They have a chance now to be successful in life.”

Applications will be taken for entry into the program in the coming weeks, she said.