The Stepping Up Process to End Recidivism (SUPER) held its latest graduation ceremony on June 23. The yearlong program provides support services to those with mental health and/or substance use issues after release from the Forsyth County Detention Center and those who are criminal justice involved.
The ceremony celebrated two graduates who have been in recovery and out of jail for at least a year. To go along with the “SUPER” theme, graduates wore capes as they marched down the aisle. Stepping Up Supervisor Amber Humble told graduates they earned those capes.
“You both faced challenges along the way, yet you persisted and put effort into the program and, more importantly, into yourselves,” said Humble. “I hope you realize you developed a greater level of resilience during your journey.”
She urged them to stay in touch, saying that Stepping Up staff would continue to be there for them. She urged them to be examples to others and to come back and share their stories in Stepping Up support groups.
Stepping Up Peer Support Specialist Al Thomas, who works with the males in the SUPER program, said he was proud of both of graduates, thanking them for being examples of what recovery looks like and that it’s possible to change.
Graduate Ernest Thames, joined the program after a long incarceration, and said that he’s now gainfully employed with his own vehicle.
“This program adopted me and helped me get to where I’m at right now,” said Thames. “If it wasn’t for them, I probably would’ve slipped up.”
Graduate Henry Davis said he was grateful for the Stepping Up staff.
“I’d like to thank Al for teaching me and showing me the way,” said Davis. “I had a lot of obstacles, but if you take the time out to focus and believe in yourself, you can do anything.”
Certificates were presented to the graduates by Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt. Commissioners Tonya McDaniel and Fleming El-Amin were among the attendees, as was Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, who had high praise for the program.
“I want to thank this community, because it says a lot about a community that cares about us that fall sometimes,” said Kimbrough.
SUPER is part of the Stepping Up Initiative. It’s based on a national model that Commissioner Whisenhunt learned about at a National Association of Counties (NACo) workshop. Whisenhunt, who serves on the board of NACo, brought the idea to county staff, who crafted the program, and to her fellow commissioners, who fund the program. It also receives grant funding from The Winston-Salem Foundation, and started with an initial grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation.
The Stepping Up Initiative also includes the county’s Mental Health Court, a pre-plea treatment program, which results in the dismissal of charges for successful graduates.