Five women overcame their substance abuse and addiction to graduate from Family Treatment Court and reunite with their children in a recent ceremony at the D.C. Courthouse.
Ebony Washington, Ebony Marsh, Tiffany Martin, Jasmin Lynn and Gail Crump were celebrated with a special ceremony and lunch.
“These are new beginnings,” said the Honorable Pamela Gray, presiding Family Treatment Court judge, to the graduating women. “The people you see before you truly care about you and want to see you succeed.”
CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Carson Fox, served as keynote speaker for the ceremony. Gray hailed Fox as “a wonderful visionary serving his community.” Fox’s speech was short and focused on the women being celebrated. “I was asked to speak, but I am going to keep things short because today is not about me,” he said. “Please accept my gratitude and for letting this be a part of my passion.”
Later, various individuals took to the podium to offer their congratulatory remarks and advice to the graduates, including Marquitta Duverney, director of the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, who told the women to “never let anyone turn off their switch.” She added, “You control your light switch of your life.” Duverney, a single mother herself, fought back tears as she congratulated the women.
Marie Morilus-Black, deputy director of the Child and Family Services Agency Office of Well-Being advised the women that “Addiction is a different disease, as it will be a long life journey which you will manage daily.” She encouraged the graduates to use the resources available to them, and then read the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann.
David Cook, fundraising and administrative coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates, sympathized with the women, saying, “As a parent of young kids myself, I know it can be a struggle.”
Jocelyn Gainers, director of the Family Recovery Program in Baltimore perhaps said it best: “Graduation is supposed to be the end, but it’s really just the beginning.”
With musical selections by Corisa Myers and closing remarks by Sariah Beatty, coordinator of the Family Treatment Court, the women were singled out with awards, including Most Improved.
“Through the anger, the pain, the homelessness, you did it,” Gray said.
Graduate Gail Crump wanted those who might be interested in the program, but not unsure about starting, to know that, “Women do recover, no matter what you’re going through, it can happen.”
Fellow graduate Ebony Marsh said, “It’s a good program. It may be scary, but stick with it.”
“It’s a hard process but I got to be reunited with my kids,” she added. “It’s a hard process but I promise, you’ll get through it.”