On February 3rd, we celebrated the graduation of 18 women who completed all 5 levels of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program. Amethyst has provided treatment services to women and children who need specialized services and a community of support for over 30 years.
A noteworthy fact: this is the largest graduating class that has ever graduated from the Amethyst program!
Linda Janes, Alvis’ Chief Program Officer, welcomed audience members, which consisted of current clients at Amethyst, alumni, and family and friends. The celebration was hosted by State Auto Insurance, who also hosts our annual holiday parties for clients, and generously donated a computer lab for Amethyst. Janes acknowledged Zonta Club of Columbus, a service and advocacy organization whose mission is to empower women. They contribute to Amethyst clients year-long. Studio Fovero Salon and Spa was also recognized for donating hair styling services to graduates.
A special guest in attendance was Judge Paul Herbert, who founded and administers the CATCH Court program in Franklin County. CATCH Court focuses on rehabilitation and reentry services for women trafficking survivors. Three clients graduating from Amethyst are also successful graduates of CATCH Court, and another graduate is a current participant in the program.
When Herbert founded CATCH Court, Amethyst became his first partner. Leaders at Amethyst, like founding mother, Ginny O’Keeffe, helped him understand the significance of clients’ experiences. “This [CATCH Court] is the best thing that happened to me in my career… and maybe, my whole life,” Herbert reflected. “I love each and every one of you, because you’re great.”
“Today is so important, and I want you to really think about how far you’ve come,” echoed Denise M. Robinson, President & CEO of Alvis. “You are different today because you have addressed the demons and the trauma that kept you in the prison of addiction.”
Graduates ranged from ages 28 to 53. Their accomplishments included newfound employment and promotions, regained custody and relationships with their children, exploration of cultural roots, and renewed independence and empowerment. They also overcame a host of challenges, such as intergenerational trauma, homelessness, illnesses, and injuries. Two women even gave birth while in the program.
Following Robinson’s speech was Tori Buck, a Primary Care Counselor at Amethyst who works with the women on a daily capacity. She stressed the importance of support to recovery: “They have all worked so hard to get to this stage. Their journeys came with triumphs, heartbreak, perseverance, and extremely hard work and we could not be more proud of them.” Graduates provided 3 roses to audience members who had guided and loved them throughout their journey. As staff members introduced graduates, it was clear that they had grown on these journeys alongside their clients.
Many women overcame personal battles on their journeys with Amethyst. One client, Carla, celebrated her triumph over addiction. From this date, she’s been nearly 2 years and a month clean. “One thing I learned throughout this program was gratitude that I never had before. I never had an appreciation for my life or anything else,” she reflected. “I spent most of my life homeless, but now me and my 5 year old daughter have a home of our own.”
Other clients emphasized the significance of Alvis’ Amethyst staff and community. LaRose, 28, is the youngest graduate in her class. A CATCH Court graduate, she has secured full-time employment and independent housing, rebuilt a relationship with her step-son, and received visitation rights. Her sister, Hollie, a former Amethyst graduate herself, was the one who encouraged LaRose to attend Amethyst and receive help. Hollie runs a non-profit called The Shining Starz, which helps women caught in the throes of addiction, homelessness, and sex trafficking. “CATCH Court saved my life,” she expressed, “and Amethyst showed me how to live life.”
When client, Christine, was recovering at Amethyst, her own son died of an overdose. Additionally, she landed in the hospital for COPD-related concerns. Despite what some would consider to be insurmountable odds, she relied on her community at Amethyst, and her own power, to get her through these experiences. “If it weren’t for Amethyst, I would not be here,” she said. “I was clean in here when my son died. And the first thing I said was, ‘I’ll never go out and use.’” And Christine hasn’t. She’s been sober for 3 years and 9 months, and she recently regained custody of her grandson. “I have a 5-year old grandson who needs me in his life and will never see me take a drink, or use a drug.”
Delisa, a two-time attendee at Amethyst, left the first time to do it “her own way,” focusing less on personal recovery, and more toward fulfilling her court mandate. When that didn’t work, her father helped her move back into Amethyst, and he unfortunately passed away in November. Like Christine, she did not let this tragedy define her ability to recover, resisting the urge to relapse. “I’m glad that Amethyst gave me the foundation to be a healthy adult and be a healthy mom, so that my family could interact as one,” she said. Specifically to the staff in the room, she expressed her gratitude. “Each one of you has touched me. I can really say I have a special connection with everybody.”
Alicia is another client who struggled with the initial addiction battle. “I did not think of myself as an addict. I did not understand what addiction was.” This battle was not without its ups and downs. For Alicia, this meant multiple attempts at getting clean before she could stand before the audience at graduation with the peace and confidence she had attained from her time at Amethyst. She connected her support at Amethyst to her own self-confidence. “I’m so grateful that a staff member told me to shine today. Because I deserve this. My fiancé told me I deserve this. My brother, my sister, they’re here with me today. I am present in my family’s life today. And it’s because of Amethyst, so thank God I made it to Amethyst.”
Self-love and empowerment were present in all of the graduates’ stories, from their words, to their overall demeanor. The emotion in the room was palpable as women shared their own individual experiences, which made real both the immense challenges that addiction and trauma can bring, as well as the shreds of hope that recovery provides.
A Community of Support
Our President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson, visibly moved and proud, summed up the significance of the Amethyst graduation as she concluded her speech. “Because of the Amethyst program, our graduates and current clients have never been alone on the road to recovery, and you never will be. You can carry the positivity and support of this community of recovery with you wherever you go. For the graduates, keep us nearby, in case you need to shout down the voice of addiction when it tries to tempt you into returning to old habits. Know that you will always have a personal cheering section with you as you continue your lifelong journey to reach your highest potential.”
Congratulations to our 2020 graduates of the Amethyst program!
Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.