SWANSBORO, N.C. (WNCT) – People of all ages across the country are battling mental illnesses and addiction.

Here in Eastern North Carolina, one Swansboro woman hopes to break the stigma of discussing personal struggles. She also has plans to give those in need a safe haven where they’re accepted.

Wendie Kidwell was the mother of Ricky, a 22-year-old track star and “A” student before heading off to college.

“He was somebody who everybody loved,” said Kidwell.

“He wanted to help everyone, he was so kind to everyone,” said Jenny Kidwell, her daughter and Ricky’s sister. 

He had his own struggles with anxiety, which eventually led to him abusing medication.

“That was the start of a downward slide, and for four years, Ricky battled,” said Jenny Kidwell. “He was hospitalized five times, he was in two rehabs.”

Ricky took his life in April of this year.

Now, his mother is bringing awareness to the epidemic that affects so many people, right in her backyard.

“What it’s become is a place of peace, several young adults have come to talk to me here,” said Kidwell. “It’s helped them, but it’s also helped me.”

She hopes to grow her nonprofit and get a house, “Ricky’s Retreat,” where people can come and meet with peer support specialists, anytime they need.

“The idea of peer support means that I’ve struggled with something and I can share my experience with other people on the way that I was able to get a little bit better today than I was yesterday,” said Kidwell.

Ricky’s sister Jenny has seen firsthand the impact they’ve made on people’s lives thus far and hopes to help even more.

“With the kids and young adults who have already come, I can’t imagine how many a house would actually help,” she said.

Right now, Kidwell is looking for any help they can get from the community, to make her vision a reality. To find more information on their Facebook page, click here.

To visit their website, click here.