WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Graduates of a substance and alcohol abuse recovery program done through a local regional jail are coming together this weekend to celebrate a special anniversary.
The We Are In This Together (WAITT) program started at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail in 2017. It helps female inmates get on the right path toward recovery.
Graduates and those who helped in the program are reuniting this weekend to celebrate the program’s first graduation ceremony.
“I’m really excited and please they were able to pull it together,” said Jan Brown, who will be attending this weekend’s reunion.
Brown is the founder and executive director of the SpiritWorks Foundation, which is a recovery center that has helped with program participants.
She says the foundation helped women discover obstacles in the way of success of overcoming substance abuse as well as family reconciliation and that the program was life-changing for many.
“I think the biggest message is these women can and do recover. They are leading really powerful lives. They are reuniting with their children. They’re getting jobs, going back to school. They’re contributing members to society. They’re not going back to crime,” she said.
Brown says SpiritWorks got involved with WAITT back in 2019 and has helped four graduating classes.
Once out of jail, the foundation continued to support those who graduated whether through in-person meetings or virtual meetings due to COVID-19. Brown says the meetings and support are still happening.
“It’s a very unique program. It’s often people given up on,” she said. “Women are the hardest population in terms of recovery and so the fact that they’re still hanging in there and still doing so well in this time of COVID and ready to see what’s next is remarkable.”
Brown says VPRJ was in the works to start a WAITT program with male inmates prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Support like this that extends even once participants are out of jail is important to success, she said.
“It is that ongoing community support they need, not just being able to support one another, but having the larger recovery community support them and all the key players are going to be involved tomorrow. Having them and having that support is going to be critical in having that long-term success,” Brown said.
VPRJ re-started the WAITT program back up in the fall after a brief pause due to COVID-19.