Treatment Court Participants’ Community Service Helps Kids & Themselves

Treatment Court Participants’ Community Service Helps Kids & Themselves
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Addiction can lead to a life of crime. And time in jail. But the Jasper County treatment courts are responding to addiction with action in the form of community service. Participants call the program life changing.

On a Tuesday night at the probation and parole office they were cutting, folding, and taping. Many hands making light work of wrapping gifts for kids at Children’s Haven. It was a community service project for participants in the Jasper County treatment courts.

Former addict, Paul Good said the community service element is rewarding. “You see smiles on other people’s faces and you made an impact on somebody’s life and it ain’t negative.”

Ashley Cook, a participant through the Co-Occurring Disorders Court which deals with addiction and mental health clients, said of community service, “It’s teaching us how not to be so selfish and to be more tied into the community. It makes me feel a special something in my heart when we give back.”
Ashley got to pose for pictures with Santa and her own kids at the work event. Life moments sometimes missed, when she struggled with addiction. Cook said, “There’s one year none of my children got to celebrate their birthdays cause we just didn’t, I couldn’t do it.”

She and others in the treatment court program say it’s empowering and teaches responsibility better than being in jail. Cook explained, “And it doesn’t just discipline you and put you back on the streets, it gives you resources to better your life and to go distances you never thought you could.” She added, “I am now the best mother I can be to my children.”

For some of the participants, the community service taps into their own personal skills. Court services officer Matt Ouren said, “Some of them are great cooks so they’re cooking for homeless people.
Some of them are auto mechanics so they’re doing auto work.
And they’re starting to pursue careers of their own because of that. Some of them own their own businesses. A lot of them are developing new hobbies, positive pro-social activities.”

An important element of the community service is working and socializing together which brings peer support.
Brittany Henderson, a former drug addict said, “I need these people. I absolutely need these people.”
Brittany said it is also giving her a chance to be a role model for her three kids . Henderson explained, “It shows them it is possible to come out of a tragedy. You know addiction is a tragedy. So it definitely shows them bad things can happen but there’s always, stand right back up and keep moving forward. ”

Treatment recovery court participants have cleaned an adopt a highway site, cooked and served meals at Watered Gardens rescue mission for the homeless, shared testimony to at-risk youth and are creating home away from home bags for Jasper County children’s division.

There are one hundred ten people in the treatment court recovery program.