Community sobriety celebration

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

On Friday, May 10, staff from the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court, Quil Ceda Creek Counseling, and the Recovery Resource Center convened at the Tulalip Admin Building. The purpose of this gathering was to honor the achievements of the individuals referred to the Wellness Court. Erica Moore, Wellness Court Treatment Coordinator, took the lead in organizing the event. 

She collected statements from the program’s graduates and current participants, which she then used to create a slideshow. This visual representation showcased the remarkable progress of the individuals, including milestones such as maintaining sobriety for a certain period, securing stable employment, and rebuilding relationships. Following the presentation, the audience was invited to reflect on the content and share words of support and encouragement for the individuals featured in the slideshow.

For those who don’t know, the Wellness Court was designed after the Drug Court, which was created in 1989 to reduce crime and give those who aren’t violent offenders a chance at not being incarcerated or getting a felony conviction. Tulalip’s Healing Wellness Court goes further than customary drug courts by implementing cultural traditions, community, and reconnecting families. These cultural traditions can include attending ceremonies, which play a significant role in the recovery process.

“I have been involved with Wellness Court for over a year,” said Christine Frauso, Wellness Court Judge. “The program is amazing; I have watched people grow exponentially. These programs help reconnect people with their culture and community, a huge part of their recovery. I came from the state system where they didn’t have that cultural component, which isn’t nearly as effective there.”

The Wellness Court program participants receive personalized support and guidance to address their needs, whether finding employment, accessing mental health services, or rebuilding relationships. The program’s holistic approach focuses on the individual’s personal growth and reintegration into the community and family, setting them up for long-term success beyond their time in the court system.

“I got involved with this program in 2017 during the first years it was open and graduated in 2018,” said Erica. “I decided to get a job with the Wellness Court because I graduated from the program, and I believe in this program. It changed my life. When I started the program, I thought I didn’t want or need it because I was an adult and could do it independently. I quickly discovered that having these people on your side wanting me to succeed and showing me that I could love myself helped me understand that anything is possible when you have people who care.”

It’s a significant accomplishment to find an even keel in life. Sometimes, when you’re down on yourself because of the wrong choices you have been making, thinking you deserve better can be hard to see. For tribal member Gerald Williams, staying on the straight and narrow was difficult before becoming involved with the Wellness Court.

“Once I got into the program, I found out that all the staff was supportive.,” explained Gerald.  “They taught me how to live life clean and sober, and the requirements to take care of yourself, like going to the dentist or the doctor. The program saved my life. If I had gone into any other court system, I would’ve kept running from jail like I usually did. So, I am grateful for Wellness Court.”

Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court illustrates the power of community and tradition in overcoming addiction. As participant Gerald aptly described, “You need to put as much work into sobriety as you did into getting drugs and alcohol.” The court helps individuals like Gerald rebuild their lives through support and guidance, offering hope for a brighter future.
For further information regarding Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court, please feel free to call (360) 716-4764 at 6332 31st Ave NE, Suite B, Tulalip, WA 98271.