32 celebrate graduation from reentry program

More than 30 people celebrated successfully completing Lycoming County’s reentry Friday morning at the Community Theatre League as the program’s fifth anniversary dawns this month.

The graduates’ friends and family members as well as a variety of county and GEO Group staff, who provide the service, gathered to cheer them on.

Michael Boughton, reentry program manager, along with county President Judge Nancy L. Butts and others, congratulated each graduate with speeches dedicated to their hard work, determination and perseverance.

“Today is the day to honor the graduates of reentry services,” Boughton said. “To celebrate the accomplishments that these individuals have made. We all should be very proud of the accomplishments that these individuals have made and acknowledge the fact that this has been no easy journey.”

“Success is momentary, it’s not long term. Every day our lives change, every day we need to reevaluate who we are. We aren’t going anywhere, please reach out to us for help,” John Stahl, adult probation deputy chief, said to the graduates.

“I’ve gotten to see you grow and change throughout the weeks and months that I have known you,” Butts said. “It is so gratifying to me to see you appreciate the hard work that you have done.”

Many of the graduates are not only celebrating graduating the program, but also how long they have been sober from drugs and alcohol, like Bruce Drum, who wascelebratingoverayearsober,smiling as he got his certificate.

The guest speakers along with a few graduates not only commended the program and its case managers for connecting the graduates to a better sense of self, but to encourage the audience and commissioners to continue to fund the program.

This reentry program was one of the ideas to combat the influx of inmates, not only in the county but across the state.

“We could change our system up just a little to offer a program we haven’t had before, which is reentry,” Butts added. “I knew that special types of programs like this one would be successful. Our numbers are awesome. I am so grateful that five years later we can say thank you to the commissioners and please consider supporting it for the forever future. Lycoming County is making a difference in people’s lives.”

“If I ever have one hope, it’s that reentry never has to close its doors,” Dalasia Williams, graduate, said. “This program and its staff saved my life.”

“I’m very emotional right now. I have been through this process for the last 20-something years,” Coleen Slocum, graduate, said. “My addiction took me to a place where nothing could help me. I did the reentry program and needless to say, when I got there, I wasn’t feeling it. Nothing could help me. In reentry, it was never about my criminal life, they did not approach me that way. The love, the kindness, the respect. That is one thing reentry has taught me — one day at a time, one step at a time, to look inward. It’s not about what you’re smoking, drinking or shooting, but to deal with self.”

The graduating class was connected through many different past mistakes but the program, along with support from friends and family, will continue to help them through the process.

“Many of them weren’t sure if they could complete it. But the individuals that sit before us today made the decision that the juice was worth the squeeze, to make changes to live positive lives moving forward,” Boughton said. “The support of family and friends in their journey is critical to them achieving their goals and staying on the right path.”