By Tim Ashley
WARSAW — Hope is renewed for Courtney Jenkins when she sees graduates of the Jail Chemical Addiction Program at the Kosciusko County Jail graduate and “get their lives in order.”
Jenkins has coordinated JCAP since January 2019 but wasn’t officially hired full-time until 2020.
Originally from South Whitley, she is a 1993 graduate of Whitko High School. At Whitko, she was a cheerleader, ran cross country and was in a couple of musicals.
For several years after marrying Clint Jenkins in 1999 Courtney was a stay at home mom and did paraprofessional work a few hours each week at Jefferson Elementary School until 2019.
Jenkins discovered the Smart Recovery program when trying to come up with ways to help her son, who is struggling with drug addiction. So she can certainly relate to the struggles addicts face.
“I took an online class and became a facilitator,” she said. “I came to the jail twice a week and shared Smart Recovery with the girls. It is evidence based recovery and deals with why and the science of addiction, the mental side of it and the hormonal and chemical side of addiction.”
From 2017, for about a year and a half Jenkins came to the jail in Warsaw and shared the recovery program with female inmates. She also began helping to organize community meetings held to deal with the opioid crisis.
“I met with Kyle (Dukes, the sheriff) and we talked about JCAP and what I wanted it to be,” she said. JCAP was started in Dearborn County, Ind.
“Kyle knew arrests weren’t enough,” Jenkins said. “The inmates needed help, so he jumped on board (with JCAP).”
In 2018 the administration of the sheriff’s office had accepted grant money from the state attorney general’s office for JCAP and classes for it officially started in October 2018. During the transition to a new administration, the process of implementing JCAP went pretty smooth.
“Sheriff Dukes hit the ground running with a singular goal of making JCAP the best program possible to help those struggling with addiction,” she said.
JCAP is a four-month program with an application process included. About half of the schedule is recovery classes such as dealing with anger management, trauma, how to properly process emotions and more. Smart Recovery and Celebrate Recovery are part of this portion.
The other half of JCAP deals with life skills such as banking, job readiness, healthy eating, fitness classes, domestic violence classes and how to do a resume. Participants do mock interviews as part of job readiness.
Jenkins said there are normally six to 10 females and eight to 12 men in JCAP, but the current class that started July 12 and will graduate Oct. 22 has 14 men and four women.
She organizes the class schedules, handles the application process and paperwork for participants and sort of handles things in the block. “I am sort of a ‘mom’ to them,” she said. “I see them everyday,” and does room inspections, for example, because most people “in the real world” want to keep their own houses clean.
Also she does community outreach for JCAP and seeks grant funding because the program gets no funding from the county. Mainly donations keep the program going.
“The finances are scary, but the community has really been a blessing to us,” she commented.
Jenkins said she believes JCAP has helped the community to see addiction in a different way. “They see people are really struggling and they don’t like addiction but they can’t break the cycle.”
Withdrawals are difficult “because the body says you need drugs,” even though those struggling know it is wrong to keep using drugs. “They really can’t make good decisions,” adding “they are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters.”
Courtney and Clint live in Winona Lake and have four children: daughter Avery, 15; daughter Emerson, 18; daughter Liberty, 21; and son Caleb, 24.