San Jose Celebrates Sobriety

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by Jennifer Byrd – 

Program Alumni enjoy banquet

We read about it in books, witness it on television talk shows and sometimes see it acted out in movies. But it is rare, though, to see for ourselves the change in people who, at one point, were headed down a road that would surely end in desperate isolation.

But on a recent evening at The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center’s Annual Sobriety Dinner, many did witness such a miracle of human life.

More than 260 guests, including local members of the legal community, members of the San Jose Sheriff’s Department and other community leaders, including Timothy Near of The San Jose Repertory Theatre and San Jose City Councilwoman Linda LeZotte, attended the event at the Elk’s Lodge in San Jose.

“The spirit of the event was reflected in the lives of graduates who are still sober and the hope for a successful future of the men still participating in the program,” said Captain Howard Bennett, San Jose ARC administrator and graduate of the ARC in San Diego. “I was pleased to see in attendance influential people in the community who possess an appreciation for and a dedication to the mission of The Salvation Army.”

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Stephen Manley was keynote speaker and gave an impassioned speech about the necessity of sending repeat drug offenders to rehabilitation programs where they can get help, rather than to prison where chances are they will continue to abuse drugs and alcohol. Judge Manley presides over the Adult Drug Court in Santa Clara County and is the nation’s first national drug court judge. He stressed that it is not the role of prisons to rehabilitate those who find themselves in the courtroom because of repeat drug offenses, but that people should look to outside organizations such as The Salvation Army to provide that service.
Also in attendance were several other drug court judges who work with The Salvation Army by referring drug offenders to the ARC.

“Working in drug court can be frustrating and often disappointing, but after attending the dinner last night, I am inspired to work harder, hopefully more effectively, and with greater understanding that hope reigns eternal in the human spirit when touched by God. The Salvation Army, which is beholden only to its purpose and mission, deserves our profound thanks for its work and caring for the less fortunate members of our society, the enslaved addict,” wrote Judge Nazario Gonzales, in an e-mail sent after the event.

Ken Kelly, management analyst for the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission for the County of Santa Clara, also attended.

Bernie Saucedo of the San Jose Public Defender’s Office and Karen Johnston with the probation department were presented with the “Volunteers of the Year Award” for their pro bono legal services provided to the Army’s beneficiaries.


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