NAPLES, Fla. — It was a day of joy and faith celebration in Naples for many as new graduates of the 41st Justin's Place Recovery Program celebrated their new chapter.
“These people have made a real commitment," said Steve Brooder, CEO of St Matthew's House. "They've made it through, we're celebrating them tonight as they graduate.”
As 20 individuals walked across the stage to new beginnings, some reminisced at how far they had come.
“The support of St Matthew's House does not end when they walk the stage tonight, it continues for the rest of their lives," said Jessica Betten, Alumni Director of Justin's Place Recovery Program and former participant of the program.
Betten says she found success in the program and now leads others through a life of recovery.
“Some of them [new graduates] look at the people who came before and that person has a felony record they were able to create this career, life for themselves, an amazing family, become a homeowner... If they can do it, so can I," said Betten.
Betten is one of 812 program graduates of Justin's Place Recovery Program.
"It gives them a period of time in our care where they have life experiences happen to them, and they’re able to walk through them in a sober state of mind and be able to realize that they can get through these things," said Betten.
Betten and many other graduates of the program credit the success to its year-long faith-based approach.
“Having a sense of community, brothers and sisters, that have gone through this, so it's very important that they stay in touch with all the graduates," said Brooder.
Both Brooder and Betten tell Fox 4 it takes the community's support to keep running at the successful rate they have for years.
"If one can do it, many more can," said Betten. "If we have more of a mindset that it is possible, and that there is support out there, we’re going to make more of a change on the large scale."
Brooder says the program is the only year-long recovery program in the area and with the help of donors, they have seen 13 years of success stories.
"They love to hire our graduates," said Brooder. "They know that they're doing well having gone through our program, so it's really a great story in the community that we'd like to celebrate."