On Saturday, March 6, The Santa Barbara Community Church hosted a graduation ceremony for 15 men and women who committed a year to rebuilding their broken lives that had been wrapped in addiction. The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s state-certified treatment program, representatives said, is a vigorous year-long commitment to staying drug and alcohol free and helps people begin their lives over as productive and successful members of society. Eighty-four people began and exited the program this year without completing it, which highlights the difficult achievement that these 15 men and women have accomplished.
The church sanctuary was packed with friends, family, mentors, sponsors, and current residents of the program. The 15 graduates ranged from people in their 20s to people in their 40s and 50s, and each shared a little bit of their story and thanked the people who have helped them overcome addiction. A common mention of thanks from each one of the graduates was to Jesus Christ, whom they have turned to as their Lord and Savior.
One graduate, Teresa C., praised the staff of the Women’s Bethel House, the sober-living home that the women have lived in for the past year. She said that the amazing staff has helped her stay “safe, sane and sober” and “believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.” Another grad, Amanda C., is now attending Santa Barbara City College and wants to study to become a drug and alcohol counselor so she can help others rebuild their lives and fight addiction.
Throughout their year of counseling and treatment, the graduates have learned to place faith in their life as a firm foundation to their healing. Rolf Geyling, President of the Rescue Mission, encouraged the men and women to continue their sobriety in the real world and to “respond to God’s grace with diligence and focus.” He emphasized that in recovery, you can’t cut corners.
Two graduates, Amanda C. and Matt M., gave testimonials of their lives before and after their treatment at the Rescue Mission. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place as they talked about their former alcohol and meth addiction, and an awakening that Matt had in jail. He said that his road to recovery started when he was 20-years-old and in jail, and he realized that his substance addiction was controlling his life and turning him into someone he wasn’t.
Staff, sponsors, and volunteers were there to cheer the graduates on and there were a lot of hugs, endless tears, and the kind of laughter that is inspired by a realization of freedom from something that has had control over most of their lives.