OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – KFOR recently asked for your nominations for Oklahoma’s most remarkable women and stories of incredible women came pouring in! It was a tough job, but our committee has whittled down the nominations to four finalists.
Our first finalist, Dr. Kelly Hamm, is a recovering addict, who is now helping others in all walks of life. Kelly was nominated by her son, Malek Hamm.
“We started from basically nothing and she worked us up to this incredible, beautiful, blessed life,” Malek said.
That journey back from rock bottom began in 2005.
“I remember it like it was yesterday.” Malek was just seven-years-old, when he found himself standing over his mother, who had just suffered a seizure.
“I woke up in the backyard, looking up at the sun, wondering why I was laying on the ground,” Kelly said. “I was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery. I had broken three discs in the bottom of my spine.”
Several infections and months of physical therapy kept this former hotel general manager in constant pain, leading to Kelly’s addiction to opiates – all of which were prescribed by a doctor, for eight long years.
“After about two weeks, your body is physically dependent upon them,” she said.
Kelly conquered her addiction after months in rehab, where Malek, a teenager at the time, was not allowed.
“Not being able to see her everyday was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” he said.
“After being in treatment, we had pretty much lost everything,” Kelly said.
But she refused to lose another day with her son.
After rehab, Kelly needed to enter sober living housing, but it took a full month to find a place that would also accept children – and that sparked her mission.
Kelly created MaKel Homes, a combination of their names, that provides transitional housing, where children are allowed to stay with parents.
“We opened our first house for women with children. The next month, we opened another house for single fathers, then it kind of spiraled,” Kelly said. “The next thing you know, we had a house for veterans and several for homeless.”
Kelly and her investors have now opened nearly 30 group homes in her eight years of sobriety.
“Leftover cherry pancakes I made the other morning,” resident James Pierce said, as he showed off the breakfast he had made.
James is no longer homeless, and is no longer sleeping under the awning of a slide at an Oklahoma City park.
“I can shower everyday. And she’s a really fair woman and is doing a good thing,” James said.
James is an iron worker, who now lives in a seven-room MaKel home, where all tenants must be employed or volunteer their time, and must pass a background check. Drugs and alcohol are never allowed.
“I’ve been sober 16 months,” said resident Sarah Cowieson, who is both a machinist and Kelly’s assistant.
“There’s plenty of room to put your belongings,” Sarah said, who also shows the low-rent rooms to prospective residents.
“It’s amazing, I wake up every day, I don’t have that addiction, I don’t have that worry about how I’m going to get high or all that. I get up, I go to work everyday, I have a bank account, I have a savings account, I have a vehicle – it’s amazing,” Sarah said.
“It was a true blessing.” A “blessing” is what Kelly, who is also an adjunct college business professor, calls the years of adversity that she and Malek suffered – as it led to offering safe, clean and child-accepted housing to others, whose shoes they’ve walked in.
“She’s an angel. She’s truly doing God’s work,” Malek said. “I always think of the hard times, and I think I wouldn’t change a single day because every bad day has led us up to this point, and I feel like everything happens for a reason.”
If you would like more information about MaKel Homes, which services much of central Oklahoma, you can find them online here.
News Four will feature the remaining three “Remarkable Women” finalists weekly on Wednesdays through March during our 6 p.m. newscasts. The winner will be announced during our 6 p.m. broadcast on March 29th, and will receive $1,000 for the charity of her choice. KFOR will then fly the winner to Los Angeles, where she will represent Oklahoma in the national Remarkable Women competition.