The area turned out in droves Thursday night as six individuals graduated from the Wyoming-Sullivan County Drug Treatment Court after a rigorous 30 months of getting their lives back together.
President Judge Russell Shurtleff said he was elated by the record turnout of 216 persons at Triton Hose Company.
Keynote speaker Paul Fletcher said the turnout spoke volumes about this community and how much it wants to acknowledge your success.
Fletcher, who played minor and major league ball as a relief pitcher for a dozen years with the Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics organizations, said that when his baseball career ended, “I didn’t know what to do.”
He told the soon-to-be graduates that in two years, “my life spiraled out of control.”
Fletcher said he self-medicated with alcohol. “It does bring you down and beats you up until you have nothing in you to fix yourself.”
He added, “It’s a mind thing. I’d look in the mirror and call myself a piece of crap. I had to learn to love myself, and really hold myself accountable.”
Fletcher said he went to three different rehab facilities “before I finally got it.”
At rock bottom, he overdosed on a medication after convincing himself that his life just wasn’t worth it anymore.
“But I was wrong,” he said.
Fletcher noted that the best way to take care of himself was by helping others.
“By loving yourself, you learn to earn your own trust,” he said, “and I was slowly doing that by helping other people.”
Fletcher said he has been sober since 2013, and he was honored to be with the graduates.
“All of these people are here to support you, “ he said, and “this should be a part of every community, because we all know somebody that’s been there.”
Up first among the graduates was Jason Rought, a married father of six, who acknowledged he really got into trouble when a doctor prescribed medication to relieve some serious pain from an injury.
“The doctors insisted I needed it, but once I got it, I realized I was stuck, and got into trouble again with the law and with a wife pregnant with our fourth child,” Rought said.
His wife said his life spiraled out of control, and she didn’t want to hear any more of his lies and she was sure she wanted out.
“I was stressed beyond belief,” she said, and then he got into treatment court. “It really helped.”
Jennifer Hollister acknowledged a poor attitude probably didn’t help much in the early days of treatment court.
She said that when she turned 21 she started going to bars and doing other things that were life changing. She ended up in state prison, and when she got out she wanted to do better.
But there in December of 2017, she was arrested and sent to jail, and it wasn’t until the following Aug. 4, that her application for treatment court was accepted.
“I’m so grateful to all of you for giving me that chance,” Hollister said, acknowledging her son and daughter were now back in her life.
“You gave me the tools to help me get through this, and here we are,” she smiled.
Hollister’s daughter Jazmin acknowledged “she was just with the wrong crowd. I got mad at my mom, and I worried every day.”
“But I have also seen how well she is doing, and I thank all of you so much for being there. We are friends again and that means everything.”
Jamie Morrison spoke about excelling in field hockey and even going off to a university to play. She remembered her teammates seeing kids on drugs and making fun of them, “not realizing I would be one of them one day.”
She recalled hitting rock bottom back in May of 2017.
“I was near dead on the kitchen floor with a one-year-old sleeping in the next room,” she said.
“I made a lot of mistakes and this program made me take a good hard look at myself.”
A counselor friend acknowledged as much noting that when Morrison entered the program she seemed “entitled and snotty, and wanted to do things her way.”
“She’s had a lot of great milestones,” the counselor said, noting how proud she was of all of the graduates for having come around.
Bradley Webb was introduced by the judge as a ‘bad bud’ for having the most bench warrants among his peers.
“He was good about talking the talk but not so much walked the walk, and questioned why he needed to be open minded when he already knew everything.”
Webb did recognize he had a problem. “After hurting all my loved ones, I was all alone.”
He thanked his father for never giving up on him, and Bradley Jr. “for seeing him at his worst, and wondering now what?”
John Miller was teased for owning a red car, but not yet being licensed to drive it, but others in the program did.
Miller noted that a couple years ago, he was headed down a dark road and “after getting arrested, it saved my life.”
As the days passed,” I saw people getting better in treatment court, and I thought, if they can do it so can I,” Miller said.
But, it was not easy.
“I realized I only had to change one thing - every thing,” he said. “I can hold a job and realize that I can be good at it.”
His mom was his sponsor Thursday and simply said,”I thank God for listening to my prayers.”
She also offered congratulations to all of her son’s fellow graduates.
Nicholas Johnson’s counselor said at first he had a little bit of concern, but once Johnson broke out of his shell he was good.
“After I got arrested, I began to take recovery seriously,” Johnson said.”It helped me rebuild my confidence,” and he acknowledged about now having a job and his own apartment.
He thanked Treatment Court for giving him the tools. “We’ve come a long way,”