Stepping Up celebrates first ‘SUPER’ Woman’ graduate

Stepping Up celebrates first ‘SUPER’ Woman’ graduate
May 03
15:17 2018

The Stepping Up Process to End Recidivism (SUPER) celebrated its first graduate who’s been drug free and out of jail for a year.

The yearlong program gives women who were incarcerated at the Forsyth County Detention Center with mental illness and drug abuse issues support services after release. Kimberly Spach became the first person to complete that process, having been drug-free and out for a year. Keeping with the “super” theme, she donned a pink cape and marched into the multi-purpose room on the fourth floor of the Forsyth County Government Center on Friday as graduation music played.

Spach was honored to be the program’s first “SUPER Woman” graduate. She’d been addicted for 17 years and had been incarcerated several times. This is the first rehab program she’s graduated from. She said a near-death experience with her addiction motivated her to make a change in her life. She credits the program and God for turning her life around.

“Today I’m a different person by God’s grace and I want to help others,” said Spach.

She said she’s now able to be there for her two sons, who’ve told her they’re proud of who she’s become.  She plans to share her story with others, including those who are going through the SUPER program.

SUPER is part of the Stepping Up Initiative, which is based on a national model that County Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt discovered at a  National Association of Counties (NACo) workshop. Whisenhunt, who serves on the board of NACo, felt it met a need the county had for post-release services that’ll prevent recidivism. She brought the idea to county staff, who crafted the program, and to her fellow commissioners, who fund the program along with grants from The Winston-Salem Foundation and an initial grant from Kate B. Reynolds Foundation.

Whisenhunt told Spach she was proud to see her graduate.

“We are so grateful that you’ve accepted this program into your life and have been successful with it,” said Whisenhunt.

SUPER participants are chosen prior to release and, once they’re out, the program links them to services as well as provides counseling and a support group. The program tries to work with about 25 women at a time, and is always taking referrals if women currently in the program drop out.

Program Manager Amber Humble said they’re currently working with 18 women who are out of jail, with 10 who are awaiting release and have only had one woman go back to jail so far. She said the program plans to start taking referrals for those on probation, since there’re a lot of women in jail on probation violations.

The Stepping Up Initiative also includes the county’s mental health court, which is a pre-plea program for both men and women that lets those who participate in treatment get their charges dropped. Between SUPER and the court, Humble has two staff members and a part-time peer support services contractor.

She said SUPER currently serves women so that the program could start small. She said it’s been a good population to start with since the rate of mentally ill women in jail is twice that of men nationally.

There will be a Stepping Up Day of Action and open house on the fourth floor of the Forsyth County Government Center on May 17 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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