Three local residents got a new lease on life last Thursday as they graduated from the Wyoming/Sullivan Counties Treatment Court, in a ceremony at the Triton Hose House in Tunkhannock.
Introductory remarks were provided by President Judge Russell Shurtleff who noted that treatment court had been extended this year from two to two and a half years .
He said he was proud of the 82 percent success rate of treatment court participants being crime free following.
He introduced Sandy Vieczorek, whose family has sponsored the Drug Court graduations held since 2009, in memory of her son Ron.
She had nothing but praise for the graduates, whom she said, “Give us all hope. This year three families will be having an extra helping of joy around their Christmas tree. That is wonderful.”
Keynote speaker Laurie J. Bresden, executive director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania Inc., said it was awesome to see the kind of support the graduates had that night with more than 100 persons from the community in attendance.
Bresden, who had a promising career as an attorney before taking a downward spiral into addiction, told a compelling story of a person who grew up in Montgomery County with just about everything going for her including a beach house at Marvin Gardens.
She went to the University of Maryland as an undergraduate and later went to law school and passed the bar exam.
Bresden spoke about brushes with substance abuse but treated them with “no fear.” Then she was involved in a car accident and got on pain pills taking as many as 40 a day.
From 2002 to 2004 she was arrested five times, for drug abuse and one DUI.
She said the judge gave her “one gift my family couldn’t give- time.”
She said the Pennsylvania Bar gave her a 3-year suspension. Since 2009 when she was reinstated she has worked as a paralegal and worked her self up in the agency she now heads.
The bottom line, she said, was that “If this can happen to me it can happen to anybody. But so can recovery.”
She added, “I thank God I didn’t get what I deserved,” meaning death. “This is the miracle of recovery and I celebrate tonight with you grads.
The first grad, Eric Grieshaber said he had spent time in six rehabs, but didn’t know how to “get clean.”
“The last time I got arrested I knew I had to change,” he said. “I thank all of you for your support.”
The second grad was Courtney Gruver who said she was very nervous. She said she related to the speaker’s story, and made a change in her life after she saw her dad cry.
“I’m here today to say it’s possible to stay sober.”
The third grad Brenda Bresnahan who said the last two years had been the hardest of her life.
“But I something I wanted and I made a decision to give myself a chance,” she said.
In his last lecture to the grads, Judge Shurtleff called the night “The first gift of this Christmas season. We are very proud of everything you’ve done.”