Donald A. Promnitz/The Madera Tribune
Eight participants in the Madera Day Reporting Program celebrated their transition at a recent ceremony.
New leases on life have been given to eight former arrestees as they celebrated the Winter 2017 Transition ceremony from the Madera Day Reporting Program.
The ceremony, which was held at the VFW Hall on 2026 N. Granada Drive Tuesday, marked the end of a program of rehabilitation and hard work for several Madera County residents looking to get their lives back on track.
“The reason I always come to these things is because I think it’s probably the most important program we have,” said Madera County Superior Court Judge Ernest LiCalsi. “It has a great success rate, and many of my drug court people go through this program.”
According to LiCalsi, he has attended every transition ceremony, and despite having his right arm in a sling after rotator cuff surgery, he wasn’t going to miss this one.
“It’s not just drug people,” LiCalsi said, “but many of mine do go through it.”
Started in 2010, the Madera Day Reporting Program was created in a partnership of the Madera County Department of Probation, BI Incorporated and GEO Reentry Services.
“Some of the services that we provide are life skills groups, so we provide MRT, which is moral recognition therapy, which is a group that focuses on making good choices. We also provide substance abuse probes, drug testing, and alcohol monitoring,” said program manager Jose Pedroza. “We do case management there, where we meet the clients one-on-one every week.”
Training for the program lasts for one year on average, but can take longer, with one graduate on Tuesday transitioning after three years in the program.
“They have to test clean in order to progress. They have to have a job or be in school to meet the requirements, they have to have stable housing (and) they have to be working on their treatment plan. These are requirements they have to complete in order to continue to progress through the program.”
Among those transitioning was Emilio Reyes, who after one year and “a couple of falls and dust-offs,” was able to complete the program. In an emotional speech, Reyes thanked God, and his wife Jacqueline, who refused to give up on him. They married last November.
“I cheated four of my other kids out of a dad, and I have a five-year-old that’s looking at everything I do,” Reyes said, “so I don’t want him to go down the same road like I did, so I want to be a good, positive role model in his life.
Reyes’ son, Jeremiah, was also in attendance at the ceremony, grinning from ear to ear as he greeted his father.
“We all have a decision to make,” said Madera County Superior Court Judge Dale Blea about adversity as he addressed the graduates. “We can decide to give up on our dream, and we can let something or someone else write our own story, or we can resolve that we’re going to pursue our dream despite the ridicule — that we’re going to keep getting up no matter how hard we get hit.”