St Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver reported to Historic City News that she was asked to deliver the keynote address to graduating Drug Court students Tuesday evening at the St Johns County Courthouse Annex.
At the invitation of Drug Court Judge Alexander Christine, Shaver shared the following comments with the graduates and their families.
I am glad that I can share this moment with each of you – and to join this crowd of family, friends and supporters in celebrating your achievements and marking the progress – and the inspiring commitment – that you’ve made.
I am honored to be here and humbled by your achievements. When I think about the graduation ceremonies I have been a part of – they seem to pale in comparison to what each of you has accomplished.
Graduations are usually about book-learning. But no other graduation I know of marks the reclaiming of a life—and yes, a heart and a soul.
It is especially meaningful to me because I lost my brother to addiction. I remember clearly the last time I spoke to him when he said “I’ve kicked it, it was the hardest thing I ever did. Nancy, it felt like I had gravel in my stomach.”
Two weeks later he was dead of an overdose, leaving a wife and three children. And my daughter Jenn the marine biologist was in out-patient rehab at 15.
I know your path has not been easy either. You’ve had good days and bad days. And I’m sure there were moments of doubt and difficulty, when the way forward was anything but clear. But you are here today –and that is a testament to the strength that defines every one of you, your dedication to change, and the courage and the resolve – to love yourself first, your friends and families and to embrace the beauty of the life ahead of you.
It has taken months of hard work, perseverance, and dedication. But most importantly you have met the challenge to be honest with yourself, your family, and your friends.
I know this program is strict – and that it’s extraordinarily difficult to get through. Keep working hard. And keep up your efforts to reclaim your lives, your families and rejoin your communities. You have much to give this world. We need you.
I’d like to share with you a quote from the great philosopher Winnie-the-Pooh. “There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… (we’ll) always be with you.”
Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished and what is yet to come.
Ralph Cumberbatch, St. Johns County Adult Drug Court Coordinator, thanked Mayor Shaver for giving of her time and sharing her story during the ceremony.
He also thanked all the team members that helped to make the evening a success; where family members & friends get the opportunity to acknowledge the graduates and to welcome them back into their homes. Cumberbatch recalled the testimony of one parent; who was, themselves, a graduate of the drug court diversion program in Miami.