GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On Thursday, the Treatment and Support Court program in Kent County recognized its graduates during a ceremony at the Alano Club of Kent County.
The program aims to help people who have been involved in the court system because they are dealing with a serious mental illness and unhealthy substance use.
“I am so proud of the work that the graduates have done to get here,” said 17th Circuit Court Judge Joseph Rossi, the founder of TASC.
One day at a time: That’s what many people at Thursday’s TASC graduation said got them through, including Britnie Morgan, a graduate of the program.
Morgan said she came into TASC with anger management issues and had a problem with alcohol.
News 8 asked Morgan how she felt about graduating.
“It feels good,” she said with a smile. “I actually thought it was never going to happen. That’s what it feels like, but the more you get through it, the more easy going it becomes.”
According to Rossi, TASC has been around since 2018. It’s the first program of its kind in Kent County.
“They’re going to do repeated drug and alcohol testing, on a very regular basis,” Rossi explained. “They also attend counseling appointments. They attend court appointments. And they also meet with a probation officer, similar to what a person on probation would do. … We wanted to help some people who got stuck in the cycle, where they couldn’t seem to get out of it, of getting convicted, going back to jail, worsening, coming back into the community and then doing that all over again.”
Prior graduates of the program were also at Thursday’s event, including Donald Olin. After struggling with unhealthy substance use, Olin has been sober for three years.
“I needed to get clean, sober,” he said. “I spent most of my adulthood not clean and sober. …. It (the program) forces you to look inside yourself and stop blaming the world, stop being a victim, stop being like, ‘Oh, it’s because of this,’ … stop making excuses. It’s like, this is me.”
For anyone who may be dealing with similar issues, Morgan shared a message on Thursday.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “Don’t be ashamed to get help. That’s the main number one thing when you’re going through something.”
To be a part of TASC, a person needs to be referred by a community member or someone in the legal system.
You can learn more about the program by visiting its website.