KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three women graduated from the nonprofit Hand UP for Women‘s year-long program Sunday.

The organization helps women who have struggled with addiction, homelessness, abuse and other challenges reintegrate into society. Amanda Hankins is one of the women who graduated. She said she became an addict 20 years ago.

“My life got to the point where I was either going to die or get clean,” she said.

Next month, Hankins will reach her three-year mark of being clean. After she completed rehab, she moved into a halfway house.

“I became the house manager and I regained trust, and I got my family back, but there was just always something that was missing. I just knew I could be more and do more,” Hankins said.

Hankins with her sponsor, Betty Lou (Courtesy of Hand UP for Women).

She learned about Hand UP for Women while living at the halfway house. She said graduating is an “unreal” feeling.

“I never finished anything ever, I did finish rehab, I finished the halfway house but this was a commitment. You show up twice a week, do your homework, and you do everything and it’s a serious commitment,” she said.

In order to graduate, participants have to complete 100 classes. The classes cover life skills like budgeting and setting goals, Bible studies and emotional health. Hankins said the most impactful class she took was the anger management forgiveness class.

“My birth mom was an addict and she died of an overdose, and I had a lot of pain and hate and I held onto that like I wasn’t going to forgive her,” Hankins said. “They really just opened my eyes about a lot of stuff, and helped me forgive her which is something I never thought I would ever do.”

She said to anyone struggling with addiction, the best time to get clean is now.

“Recovery is more beautiful than I ever thought it could be and I’ve gained more than I ever thought I would,” she said.

Hankins is moving into the Hand UP for Women house next month, and said she plans to work on getting her driver’s license.

Sunday’s ceremony was the program’s 19th graduation. In addition to Hankins, Alisha Vasquez and Meredith Robinson also graduated.