• By Todd Luck
  • Posted Friday, June 26, 2020

Stepping Up holds drive-by graduation parade

The Stepping Up Process to End Recidivism (SUPER) celebrated its graduates a little differently this week with a parade that drove by their homes.

The yearlong program provides support services after release to men and women with mental health and substance use issues who were incarcerated at the Forsyth County Detention Center.

Normally a big graduation is held with family, SUPER participants, county staff and other attendees celebrating the accomplishments of each person who completes the program. But gathering restrictions due to COVID-19 currently make that impossible. So instead, a long line of vehicles with Stepping Up and Public Health staff, and about 12 cars driven by probation officers, cruised by the houses of two graduates.

The parade stopped for a few minutes at each house so the graduates could receive their certificate from County Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt, who was instrumental in bringing the program to Forsyth County. They also received a cake and gifts.

“I was grateful we were able to celebrate these women who worked hard to get where they are today,” said Amber Humble, Stepping Up Program Supervisor. “We were sad we couldn't have our traditional graduation, but I think we were all impressed at the turn out from Stepping Up, Commissioner's office, and especially probation. It was great we all came together to celebrate our SUPER women!”

The SUPER Program is currently working with participants virtually and by phone, so there’s limited face-to-face interaction, to protect staff and participants from COVID-19.

SUPER is part of the Stepping Up Initiative. It’s based on a national model that County Commissioner Whisenhunt learned about at a National Association of Counties (NACo) workshop. Whisenhunt, who serves on the board of NACo, brought the idea to county staff, who crafted the program, and to her fellow commissioners, who fund the program. It also receives grant funding from The Winston-Salem Foundation, and started with an initial grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation.

The Stepping Up Initiative also includes the county’s Mental Health Court, a pre-plea treatment program, which results in the dismissal of charges for successful graduates.

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