Till then, she had done everything right: waited until she was married to have her son, Robert; attended trade school and community college; worked a solid job as a surgical tech.

But a childhood of abuse, of her now-dead mother’s multiple men touching her, of frequent moves in and out of rundown apartments, caused Dobbs’ brain to crack apart, she said.

“Post-traumatic stress, major depressive disorder,” Dobbs said. She could no longer work. Her husband, Robert, lost his nursing assistant job at the same time, and the family squatted for three
months in an uninhabitable house.

Then came the day on the Schuylkill. Dobbs edged the car toward a drop-off near Route 1 when she heard a sound: Robert, a toddler in the rear child seat, had murmured. In her melancholy, Dobbs had forgotten he was there.

“He saved my life,” she said, tearing up.

Dobbs institutionalized herself, and has continued treatment. An adept cook, she heard about Philabundance Community Kitchen, a culinary-training program run by the hunger-relief agency.
Dobbs thrived, becoming class valedictorian. As part of the group, she appeared on ABC-TV’s The Chew in 2016.

Robert now works three jobs (for a security firm, a limo service, and school bus company). Meanwhile, with contacts she made, Dobbs started her own catering business, Virtuous Food and Events. Recently, she cooked for 200 people at an event at the Philadelphia Ethical Society. 

“Amanda is amazing,” said Philabundance spokeswoman Stefanie Arck-Baynes. “She went from homelessness to business owner.”

On Christmas, Dobbs and her son, now 9, expect to feed the homeless. “It keeps my son humble,” she said. “And helping others gets me out of myself.

“That’s a blessing.”

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