In December, 17 men and women graduated from the Tuolumne County Day Reporting Center, celebrating with a transition ceremony at Black Oak Hotel in Tuolumne, California.
A dozen of the participants graduated from the day reporting program, while the other five were from the jail reentry program. Some of the attendees included the Tuolumne County Probation and Assistant Chief, the Manager of Adult Supervision, the Undersheriff and probation officers.
“We are very pleased to see so many participants value their programming by taking pride in their graduation,” said Lesette Ortiz, Program Manager of Tuolumne DRC. “We had every graduate attend the event, in addition to one of our jail reentry graduates who has been discharged.”
Two of the graduates spoke at the ceremony, sharing their hope and outlook for the future. They expressed gratitude to the staff and program for giving them a new start. Previous graduate Kayla Barnes gave the keynote speech, who is celebrating a year since she began college. She’s a single mother with a full-time job and is pursuing a degree in counseling.
“GEO Reentry taught me that not only was I an addict, but it was my behaviors that sparked my addiction,” said Ms. Barnes. “If you utilize the tools that you have learned and reach out to the resources provided, success is possible. Today, I am completing my first full year at Columbia College, working a decent-paying job and I have been able to reunite with my family. My days are wonderful, full of the laughter of my children, positive relationships and a whole community of support. I am truly grateful that I have been given a second chance.”
Anthony White-Ramos also gave a speech where he recounted his troubled past. He also expressed gratitude at the opportunity to start fresh. He referenced Helen Keller, reminding the attendees that if she could surpass her difficulties, others could as well.
“It takes courage to face our fears, it takes determination to break beyond challenges, it takes you to make a choice of what mirror image your behavior reflects,” said Mr. White-Ramos. “At this juncture in your lives, you all have the opportunity to make the choices necessary to break free of the cycle that has held us back for so long.”
In addition to speakers, the ceremony included a special acknowledgment for Paige Woodard, a new probation officer who supports the Tuolumne DRC program. She was presented with a plaque at the ceremony as a recognition for that support.
The Tuolumne DRC offers day reporting services for participants referred from the County Probation Department and the sheriff’s office. Individuals enrolled in the program are provided with a wide range of reentry services including outpatient substance abuse treatment, parenting and skills, Moral Reconation Therapy and employment and education readiness. The facility also engages with the county jail, providing reentry programming to those still in custody. They receive a reduced group of services including life skills, MRT and one-on-one counseling services.