COVID-19 can't stop a WIR graduation
Family & Children’s Services (F&CS) Women in Recovery (WIR) is an outpatient alternative to incarceration program. WIR participants have strict weekly structured agendas that include addiction and trauma treatment, parent education, job readiness training, GED and other education groups and recovery support. Due to COVID-19, face-to-face contact was replaced with virtual care as WIR staff quickly created multiple interventions and services, both remote and with social distancing, to make sure that WIR participants and their children continued to receive the same high level of quality and professional standards in services.
When participants reach graduation they have completed an exceptionally difficult program, sometimes lasting 18-months. This year COVID-19 didn’t stop WIR from graduating six women during WIR’s 30th graduation ceremony. Completing the numerous expectations during a pandemic was both a testament to the six grads and to the entire staff who creatively provided remote services and continuous touchpoints for support.
BEFORE THE GRADUATION CEREMONY
- The day included a trolley parade starting with a courthouse wave to Judges, Public Defenders, District Attorney’s and Tulsa County Court Officers.
- Next stop, multiple housing locations where both current participants and WIR program grads cheered on the grads with hooping, hollering, signage and well-wishes.
- The trolley then stopped at Heller Park. Grads were greeted by staff and alumni. There was a live band, cheering, beautiful singing and a huge outpouring of support.
- The grads stopped by Starbucks for a treat, and then …
- AHHA warmly welcomed the grads and staff to the outdoor terrace for a beautiful lunch served by Laffa Medi-Eastern Restaurant (with appropriate social distancing, of course).
- Discussion at lunch ranged from employment to children, housing and future involvement in the broad range of opportunities provided through WIR’s Continuing Care Program.
There were two Zoom-based ceremonies with family members, program participants, program grads, agency partners, employers, funders, donors, staff and volunteers.
- WIR staff touted numerous accomplishments achieved by the grads and took delight in the fact that:
- 42 collective years in the Department of Correction were avoided.
- 100% of grads are gainfully employed and living in stable housing
- 100% of the grads were reunified with 14 children and 4 grandchildren.
- Via video, Chief Judge of the Tulsa Country District Criminal Division Clifford Smith provided a special congratulatory message on behalf of the Tulsa County District Criminal Judges. He recognized each graduate while she proudly displayed her certificate to the audience on the screen.
- To close the ceremony, the traditional video montage of pictures was played for the graduates.
WIR’s Continuing Care Program Director Amanda Osterdyk said, “I am so proud of the six women who made it to the finish line. The fact that these women maintained the course in the midst of a pandemic, participated to their fullest on our telehealth platform and didn’t miss fulfilling a single one of their program requirements is truly remarkable. It is a privilege working in WIR alongside such passionate staff and resilient participants. I’m thankful these graduates were honored and overjoyed to have been a part of it.”