DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT)- A Montgomery County court is handing down a message of hope. Families graduating from Family Treatment Court are officially starting a new beginning.
Each road to recovery is different, but the one thing these graduates have in common is getting their children back.
“I love graduation day and I love that we all get to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of very special people,” Montgomery County Juvenile Court Magistrate Nikole Xarhoulacos said.
The family treatment court program in Montgomery County began two years ago with the goal in mind, which was getting parents sober and stable to be reunited with their children.
Many of the tears shed on Wednesday were happy ones, full of dignity, washing away the painful memories the graduates have from battling addiction. Renee Sturgis has been battling addiction for 13 years. She is 360 days sober on the day of her graduation with custody of her children.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Sturgis said. “I can’t even really describe it. I feel free today.”
She's taken a job at the recovery center that helped her get well. Sturgis starts her new job next week.
“It’s very important to me to give back to other addicts and alcoholics,” Sturgis added. “Being able to give back to them is how I can keep my sobriety, because I can only keep what I have by giving it away.”
This program is strength based, offering hope and love to the graduates, but now a second family.
“We are doing our best to get people through the journey of recovery,” Xarhoulacos said. “We know if the families are together it makes our community safer and our children people are safer.”
The program takes 18 to 22 months to complete. It's in partnership with Montgomery County juvenile court and other county services, and all participates must have open child welfare cases.