By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Eight men received certificates of completion at a Kosciusko County Jail Chemical Addiction Program (JCAP) graduation ceremony on Friday, June 18.
Friday’s graduates included: Derek Bruner, Christopher Henson, Nicholas Irvine, Davey Mefford, Joshua Slagle, Lucas Oglesbee, Justin Wadkins and Aarron Warren.
JCAP programs are offered within county jails to help inmates with substance abuse issues.
A packed room of mentors and community members attended the ceremony in support of the graduates. During the ceremony, the eight men focused their speeches on thanking the people and organizations that provided mentoring, teaching and programming in their JCAP program.
Christopher Henson reflected on how New Life Christian Church and World Outreach’s assistance has been his driving force through his recovery process.
“When I first came in here, I knew one thing,” said Henson. “I knew I had to get right with God, I had to find something with greater meaning, I had to find something to give me hope back. I was broken physically, spiritually and mentally. Pastor John Lowe showed me what the real deal is about. It’s about two things: love God and love people. He’s the most influential being I’ve ever met.”
While participating in JCAP, five of the graduates received their high school equivalency diplomas. Through the program, all graduates also participated in a music class through Music Encounters. They collaboratively wrote a song that their instructor then set to music and had recorded. The graduates also averaged higher ServSafe Food Handler scores than any previous groups, with two graduates scoring 100%.
According to JCAP Coordinator Courtney Jenkins, the program was also able to continue its family support group for the participants’ loved ones with the help of Fellowship Missions Addiction Recovery Hub.
While in JCAP, the eight men were also visited by Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker, three local school corporation superintendents and former JCAP graduates.
Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes reflected on when the superintendents came in to speak with the JCAP group and described it as a “very special meeting.”
“We heard positive stories about teachers and coaches who took time out of their day to mentor and help,” said Dukes. “We also heard stories that weren’t positive. The dialogue was back-and-forth, it was phenomenal.”
Dukes said the night before the men started the JCAP program, they pooled together their commissary funds and had a dinner, which no other JCAP group has done before.
Following the graduates’ speeches, Dukes, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Jail Commander Shane Coney, Wawasee Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Troyer and Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation Superintendent Blaine Conley presented the men with their completion certificates.
The graduates also recognized Jenkins for all her work in leading the program and helping the men. Each graduate held up a sign with a word on it to describe what Jenkins is. They described her as “compassionate, irreplaceable, dedicated, loving, hope, resilient, courageous and cherished.”
Jenkins also spoke about each graduate’s personality and the accomplishments they made during their time in JCAP.
“This is really a wonderful group of men,” said Jenkins. “It’s just been incredibly rewarding to see them work together. They’ve really become a part of my life and I’m so grateful to know them. They say all these really nice things about me, but I know that they’ve offered me far more than what I could ever offer them. They have been kind and compassionate to me, and they very patiently worked hard and set an example for me that gives me hope.”