Despite obstacles from COVID-19, Alvis, with the help of others, was able to pull together and celebrate a graduating class of twenty, strong Amethyst women this past July 16. The largest graduating class to date!
Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, we had to celebrate things a little differently this time with a virtual ceremony. But everyone pulled together to make it happen! The graduation of our Amethyst women was pre-recorded the week prior at Reeb Avenue Center with limited seating due to social distancing, each graduate was in attendance with a special person of their choice and several counselors, and special guest speakers spoke on the live showing of the graduation on July 16 over Webex. Thank you, Reeb Avenue Center, for hosting us and providing all equipment! Also thank you to the UA boys soccer volunteers who did set up and blew up the balloons for the occasion!
Big thank-yous also go out to our sponsor Zonta Club of Columbus, a service and advocacy organization whose mission is to empower women, as well as all other Amethyst supporters. Thank you for always believing in our Amethyst ladies!
To kick off our digital ceremony Linda Janes, Alvis’ Chief Program Officer, expressed thanks and recognition to all Alvis individuals and groups who have and continue to support Amethyst, as well as Zonta Club of Columbus for continuing to support and empower women and for contributing to another Amethyst graduation, all Amethyst alumni in attendance, Amethyst staff, ladies currently in the Amethyst program, and our new graduates. “I hope each graduate is very, very proud of everything they have accomplished to get to this point,” Janes continued, “I know there are a lot of people online with us today to celebrate the healing power of recovery and reunited and strengthened families and hope for a brighter future. Because there are so many people tuned in for this special occasion, it may occasionally get messy. Let’s just remember that technology, like life, certainly isn’t perfect. But we can use the tools of the Amethyst program to choose how to respond when things don’t go the way we expect. Today we can choose not to allow any imperfections to spoil our joy of being together to celebrate virtually.”
Next, we had the pleasure of hearing from our own Alvis President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson. “It has taken great strength and resiliency to get to this point. In addition, you have faced new challenges over the last six months as COVID-19 has had a far-ranging impact on all of our lives. As a community, we have also seen the devastating impact isolation and fear has on people suffering from addiction. We mourn those still lost in addiction and those we’ve permanently lost to an overdose during these scary times. But our graduates are not lost. They are here and they are strong, and they are leading in the way for the ladies who are right behind them coming through the Amethyst program in the footprints of the graduates…I also want to take a moment to acknowledge our graduates who are also mothers and especially those who have had their children with them during the Amethyst program. I know how hard you’ve worked, on yourselves and with your children. And then your children have done their own work too. The gift of giving a healthy, loving family is one of the greatest gifts of all. Be blessed, I appreciate each and every one of you. Graduates, know that we will always be with you, at least in spirit, joyously cheering you on as you continue on your life long journey to reach your highest potential. Congratulations once again.”
Following Denise M. Robinson’s live speech was the start of the pre-recorded graduation video from the week prior in which 15 of the graduates were able to attend. First to speak was Tori Buck, a primary care counselor at Amethyst, “Amethyst has a reputation for being a tough program, but these 15 ladies, and all 20 of our graduates, are even tougher. They are not only able to say that they are Amethyst graduates, but they are lifelong learners and beacons of recovery.” Beaming and full of pride, she concludes with something tremendous, “I want to share with you a number that always brings chills all over. In this room, with these 15 ladies, we have 2 days, 9 months, and 36 years of sobriety.” As the graduation continued and counselors introduced graduates, it was hard to miss the pride and excitement they had for these women that had grown to be family.
Portraits of Recovery
Since entering Amethyst, Brina has reunited with her son, returned to work full time, completed her E3 program, and will begin school at Columbus State this fall. “I am beyond grateful for Amethyst, all my peers and staff support along the way. I think most importantly what Amethyst has given me, it has helped me see me for who I am and what I was and loved me regardless. All of these accomplishments are great, but to be able to love myself today is irreplaceable. I want to say thank you to each and every staff member because every single one has helped me and guided me in some way.”
Deliqua, another graduate, poured out her heart in an emotional speech about her love for her two young boys that she was able to be reunited with because of Amethyst. And like many other graduates, expressed her gratitude for Amethyst staff, friendships, and newfound self-love. “I am so grateful for Amethyst and that I came when I did…So the things that I have gained from being at Amethyst that I didn’t have before is gratitude, gratefulness, intuition, honesty— true honesty. I was allowed the time and space to be a victim but also come out on the other side and be the survivor that I am today. I have self-trust today, self-worth, and also what I am leaving with is knowing that I will be okay…I’m really grateful to those who stuck through this transition and put years into this program. I just feel blessed for the team I have. It wasn’t until I got here that I made true friendships—I really love you guys—and I am able to be myself and be loved completely for who I am.”
Cheyenne came into Amethyst as a struggling teen and started her journey while pregnant with her daughter Lily. But as she now prepares to leave the program, she can leave not only as a graduate, but as a strong, independent woman and mother. “My recovery journey started when I was pregnant, and I was young—I’m still young. I grew up without my parents and so I want my daughter to have a loving mom. Today I can be that mom. I have my own apartment now and I’m working; I am that mom…thanks to this program for saving my life.”
Krysten had a lot to say about how Amethyst and its staff changed her life. “If you would have asked me three and a half years ago when I got here if I could see me here today or see the woman that I am today, I would have not believed you. I had no idea what I was doing. Things this program have given me are so many. I want to thank many people along my path staff wise. Because when I had the shoes to do it for myself, they’re the ones that guided me and held me through this path and encouraged me and didn’t give up on me when I needed it…I had such an incredible loss but it’s because of that loss that I knew I was strong. It turned me around and saved me from myself. Now I have an amazing fighter and she is the best thing I have, and I never knew I could love something this much. I get to enjoy life today and I get to live life to the fullest. I get to love myself, because before I did not like myself or love myself. I didn’t even know who I was.” Because of the Amethyst program, Krysten was able to regain custody of her fifteen-year-old daughter, has stable housing, and now has a new car that is also insured.
Like other graduates, Jeanna became emotional when reflecting on her recovery journey and all the things she has been able to accomplish since she has been with Amethyst. “When I came to Amethyst I was lost, broken, and angry. Amethyst was rough, but it saved my life. I am two years clean now. I have a new relationship; I just got married. I have my own house. I have a full-time job. I have a new car. And I have a beautiful relationship with my daughter. And that’s all thanks to Amethyst. Like I said I came in lost and Miss Caroline just helped me find my way and I know that I’ll make it because I came through this program.”
Many women like Doretha shared stories of hope and a new spark that was ignited within themselves with help from the program. “I’m so grateful that words couldn’t express how I feel or even the results of what everyone has done for me in this organization; every staff member, every peer, has contributed to my growth. This place gave me an understanding of myself, it gave me determination, goals and dreams and accomplishments that I want to achieve and a fire in me that will not go out. I am very determined to accomplish goals. I have a lot of dreams and goals that I have set and I have accomplished a lot of them already and I still have a lot of things that I still want to accomplish but I have hope today. And I’m so grateful for people encouraging me along my way when I felt hopeless cause that’s how I felt when I came here. I felt hopeless. But now I don’t feel hopeless anymore. I have belief and I have faith today. I was basically trapped emotionally, that’s what my emotions did to me, they kept me in jail—they kept me in prison, but now I’m free. And this journey has been scary, it’s been fun, it’s been good, it’s been a hot mess, it’s been so many different things and I have so many wonderful, wonderful memories of the journey that I’ve had with you ladies and I really appreciate each and every one of you. I’m just really, really grateful and I’m just grateful that I can be humble today and be present and accomplish something because I was not that kind of person. I didn’t accomplish anything; I quit everything I did. I’m really grateful to be here.”
After all the personal stories and battles told of times of hopelessness, addiction, trauma, and more, by the end of the ceremony, one thing was clear. All graduates were filled with newly discovered hope, self-love, empowerment, and confidence in themselves and their futures. It marked the beginning of the next part of their journeys and truly showed the healing power of recovery.
To wrap up our program, Vince Sabino, managing director of Behavioral Health area at Alvis, gave a few closing words about Amethyst and the power of recovery. “The Amethyst program is unique in its recognition of the complex needs of women in recovery and the needs of their children. It is an amazing program that I am so honored to be apart of. As you can see in the video, the women of Amethyst are surrounded by a community of love, support, compassion, joy, pride, and more. The Amethyst program is so much more than just a two-year program, it is a community of recovery that supports and wraps its arms around the women and their children. It can be hard to watch today’s news, as it is filled with sickness, conflict, tragedy, battles, and so on. Sometimes it can feel like there is no good news in our world today, but over the last hour, we have heard that recovery works and that it lasts and that it’s changing the future of our women and their children in the Amethyst program.”
Congratulations Amethyst graduates on your huge accomplishment!
If you or someone you know is considering recovery, the Amethyst program is now recruiting women with and without children seeking treatment for addiction, mental health, and trauma. Supportive housing, family counseling, job readiness training, job placement and more included. Amethyst takes walk-ins and women seeking help can go directly to the main treatment facility located at 455 E. Mound Street, Columbus, OH or call 614.242.1284.
Consider supporting Alvis and our Amethyst women! Join us on Tuesday, September 29th from 6pm-7pm at Easton Town Center for our annual Amethyst Portraits of Recovery celebration. This is an annual celebration that brings together 350 donors, supporters, community and business leaders to help empower women and their families to achieve lifelong recovery and financial independence. Women whose lives have been turned around through the Amethyst program will share their inspiring stories of healing, hope, and recovery. Molly and Adam Mandel will also be recognized at this time as this year’s Purple Heart Award winners to honor the remarkable impact their contributions have had on the women and families of Amethyst. Parking opens at 5 pm for our drive-in event celebration that will include social distancing precautions. For further questions, contact email@example.com.
Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience. We believe in the power of second chances and coming together as one community to affect change. With our reentry, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, workforce development, family and children services, and the community, we can make a lasting 180 impact. Learn more about Alvis and how you can get involved at alvis180.org.