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Turning the corner on the road
to recovery


By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

  Antonio Turner wore a surprised expression as he looked at the roomful of people who gathered at the McDonough Probation Office in recognition of his battles against addiction. He said he is thankful for the efforts of those who work to improve the lives of probationers like him.

Ladies from Shining Light Ministries were recognized Aug. 20 at the McDonough Probation Office by Superior Court Judge Brian Amero (center), for recovering from addictions to drugs and alcohol.                                               Photo by Jason Smith

  “I didn’t think the group was that big,” said Turner, 44. “It really shows that the tools we were given work if you utilize them.”

  Numerous local probationers, including Turner, received awards Aug. 20 at the probation office for completing various recovery programs designed to help them become more productive members of society.

  Turner said in his case, he was battling both drugs and alcohol when he was arrested in 2011 for possession of cocaine and marijuana. He said the arrest led him to enroll in a five-week Motivation For Change program, his first attempt at recovery.

  “I failed a couple drug tests, and the probation officer felt like I needed to take a couple classes to enlighten myself,” said Turner.

  Following that course, he voluntarily entered a four-week recovery program, before completing Moral Reconation Therapy, a cognitive behavioral treatment system for drug offenders.

  Daniel Mundt, 39, was also recognized for completing the MRC program, saying it gives him and Turner an opportunity to “correct our lives.” Rather than seeking praise for himself, Mundt shined a spotlight on Turner, commending his friend for completing the program while working two jobs and raising children.

  Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero was on hand to congratulate those who received awards. Amero appeared slightly emotional as he addressed the group, saying he admires their efforts to rehabilitate, to better themselves and to make the most of their abilities.

  “I’m overwhelmed with what I’m seeing today,” he said. “You are successes. You are people who are walking the walk.”

  Amero said he and his colleagues in the court system want to see people succeed in their quests to beat addiction.

   “We don’t look down on people from the bench and say, ‘They’re gone,’” said Amero. “We look at what resources do we have to make sure they don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”

  Lindsey Rogers, 30, was one of several women who credited Shining Light Ministries in McDonough with helping her to turn her life around. Rogers said she was “completely and totally, 100 percent reliant on heroin” until just a few years ago, and that her addiction resulted in prostitution and arrests before she finally sought help in 2012.

  After talking with her father for the first time in two years, Rogers was introduced to Shining Light Founder Teresa Bestwick. Rogers said as a result of going through the program at Shining Light, she now manages a restaurant and has restored her relationship with her family.

  Rogers described Shining Light as a “safe, secure place that gave me an entire year to regroup.”

  Along with Shining Light, the McIntosh Trail Counseling Center, the Department of Family & Children Services and Shiloh Baptist Church were also recognized at the ceremony for providing resources for people struggling with addiction.

Award recipients expressed gratitude for McDonough probation counselor Roosevelt Gates, who works with clients regarding substance abuse and anger management as well as behavioral and cognitive issues. Gates said he is proud of what those clients have accomplished in those areas.

  “These individuals have realized that they need to change, and the advantages that they receive as a result of the change,” said Gates.

  McDonough’s Chief Probation Officer, Ayana Sharpe, lent her words of encouragement to the honorees as well. She said she is proud of how far they have come on their journeys to recovery.

  “A lot of them started on a bumpy road, but some of them took the initiative to help themselves by being involved with programs,” said Sharpe.

  Local businesses that were recognized for helping to provide jobs for probationers to help them get back on their feet include Publix, Krystal, Personnel Options and IFCO.



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