A Graduation with a Difference

By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D. Founder and CEO Joy Junction Inc.

It wasn’t your typical graduation, and the certificate issued won’t transfer for any academic credit. However, the ceremony was a wonderful experience and the certificate marks the successful completion of nine months of walking the long road to recovery.


Let me explain. The graduation was for seven members of Joy Junction’s nine month faith based life recovery program.

Among other things, Joy Junction’s Christ in Power Program (CIPP) involves classes, Bible study, and volunteer assignments.

Some of the graduates talked about their experiences while working the program.

Angelica said that while she was nervous, anxious and apprehensive about the graduation ceremony, she grew during her time on the program.

She added, “I am no longer using drugs to cope with my past. I am also no longer angry all the time (and) learning … that, no matter what, I don’t have to do drugs.”

While Chad was nervous, there was more to it than that. He said he was also “proud to accomplish something, since so much in life has caused me not to complete something long deserved to me.’

Chad grew during his time on the program, “slowly stepping up to take charge of things in a more assertive ways than before.”

He added, “I would at most say my leadership and management skills have gained momentum to where it has me, leading numerous things in ways I, at first, wasn’t sure I would get that far.”

And Chad’s most memorable and positive experiences while on the program? He was quick to answer. “That even though I push to do right and feel I have messed up, (program instructor)Joel and others would state just how proud they were with my spouse and me, and of how much we’ve improved.”

Charles added, “It’s also great that many here come to me in ways that kind of show I am probably what (they) hope to be, so they come for advice and information about things to improve themselves in this program. To achieve becoming dorm parent and eventually guard shack lead has also been one of those things to prove that I am respected and trusted to such degree of responsibilities for once.”

Then there was that special and once in a lifetime experience. “Probably getting to be allowed to sit in one of the original Batmobiles from the TV series. That totally made part of my childhood, for sure. It’s something that millions would have loved to do.”

Glenda said she felt great about graduating.

She said, “I have been sober for almost close to a year. All my babies are happy and healthy that their mommy is recovered and happy too.”

Glenda said the program helped her become positive. And there was more. She said, “My customer service skills are more caring in nature. I believe that I am a people person, opening up and smiling.”

Her most memorable experience? She said, “Letting everything go with my boyfriend. I have become independent and have bettered myself for my children. Finishing what I have started, like the CIPP and finishing with CYFD. God never stopped believing in me to stay strong through the past nine months. Staff showing tough love through the nine months.”

Lynn said she had a hard time believing that graduating was actually happening to her. She said the program helped her become a believer in Christ and that she also met “some of the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful people.”

Edward was a little nervous about graduation time, saying he wondered where God would send him next. However, he added, “I have trust that I will be where I’m supposed to be.”

He said that his time as a Christ in Power program participant helped him grow in his beliefs and trust in prayer and that, “I now know God, as before I didn’t.”

Thinking about her successful graduation, Adrianna said she is grateful that the streets didn’t take everything from her. She continued, “I can be responsible to help my community and show others like me what to do. This life has a lot ahead for me to accomplish and praise the Lord for my accomplishments.”

And about her growth on the program, Adrianna said she has also grown in her heart and her relationship with God.

She added, “In my heart because I see the hardships, and help those to meet a deadline or just smile and talk so that the work isn’t so troublesome. I have grown in my relationship with God because I stopped looking for other sinners to boost (me in my) sin. Instead, I look for a verse or ask people in fellowship for advice.”

Adrianna said her most memorable experience in the program has been her daily volunteer service in the Christ in the Power Program (CIPP).

She said, “I know for a fact my happiness and positive experiences bless my family who hear of the amazing stories or my change of view with my CIPP family and community.”

Betheny said after graduating a second time from the program, she feels more independent “and I can stand on my own two feet.”

She has grown while in the program. “I have a better idea of who I am. I am a much stronger person to take care of my children on my own.”

And Betheny’s most positive experience on the program? She said, “The first time (in the program) I was in laundry and detached from those who benefited. This time around I got to see the faces and talk to the people I was helping through the CIPP office.”

Would you please say a prayer for all these graduates? They have a long road ahead, but they have taken some amazing first steps.