WARSAW — Kosciusko County’s long-awaited program to address substance abuse in jail inmates was given recognition for its first milestone on Thursday, Feb. 28.
The program, entitled Jail Chemical Addiction Program, is designed to provide much-needed treatment and education for incarcerated persons whose underlying issue might be addition.
At a special ceremony in the basement of the Kosciusko County Jail, seven women were recognized as the inaugural graduates of the program. The graduates are Treesa Metz, Bethany Dixon, Kacynda Northrup, Shanda Spacy, Mary Avery, Brandy Black and Taylor Brandon.
The group were lauded for their efforts by multiple agencies, most of which presented the honorees with certificates to commemorate completion of such programs as physical fitness, classes on spirituality and life skills, as well as leadership and financial counseling. The women were led by volunteer coordinator Courtney Jenkins, who was introduced by Sheriff Kyle Dukes. Jenkins also highlighted the dedication of other contributors to the program.
“It’s not just me,” said Jenkins. “All of these women who come in, they are all mother figures. They all care so deeply and when I talk to them, I’m so impressed. I’m so heavily invested in this program and when I talk to these other contributors, I find that I’m far from the only one. It’s important in our community, it’s important for them and it’s important for their families.”
One mentor who Dukes said helped to inspire the participants in the program is County Auditor Michelle Puckett.
“She came in to the JCAP team, and that motherly instinct just came out,” Dukes said of Puckett. “She gave advice, encouragement, told her life story and ladies and gentlemen, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Puckett addressed the seven graduates.
“Please take his words to heart because that is exactly why we are here,” said Puckett. “We are here to help you, to support you and to serve. You’re going to hear a lot of naysayers and you’re going to have a lot of people who are going to doubt you and your ability in your heart and you guys have to make the choice for you.”
While the program was launched with the help of grant funding, it is currently only available to women, and Dukes said additional funding is needed to provide more infrastructure for the program.
“I need help,” Dukes said. “I need Courtney to get paid. I need a full-time paid coordinator. I’ve been down every avenue there is for funding and I keep getting shut down. I need a full-time coordinator and I need space.”
The ladies were issued certificates from The Bowen Center, The Beaman Home, New Life Christian Church, Diane Shopell, Peggy Owens and Shelly Metzger.
The seven graduates were praised by Sue Ann Mitchell, president of the Kosciusko County Council, who spoke to the participants on behalf of county government.
“We are so incredibly proud of you girls being our first class to finish,” Mitchell said. “Some of us were here when a group from Dearborn County came here and told us how successful this program can be. We believed that, we got started with it and we were able to get the grant for it. We all want the very, very best for each and every one of you.”