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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
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2016-richmond-real-program-woodyRichmond residents reached a milestone today when they graduated formally from the ‘REAL Program.’ Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lifestyles (REAL) is a program which allows residents to comprehensively address their addictions and behaviors, while appropriately modifying their thinking.

Through the month of September, the REAL Program has been celebrating and highlighting National Recovery Month, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and focuses on increasing awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate people who recover. A large part of the graduation ceremony was dedicated to testimonies of recovery and change from both male and female residents in the REAL Program, and performances of original music and songs. Additionally, three individuals received their high school diploma, having graduated through Richmond Public Schools, and three others received their Barber Completion Certifications for successfully completing the Barber Theory Portion of their training, which constituted 1500 hours of instruction. The classes were held at the Richmond City Justice Center.

“I am extremely proud of these men and women who have made the choice to accept the help available to them and take the steps to improve their lives,” said Sheriff Woody. “Those who received their high school diplomas and those who were awarded with their Barber Completion Certificates are in a better position to return to society as productive citizens. The academic and trade education afforded to them at the Richmond Justice Center will help to ensure that they don’t return once they are released.”

Program Director Dr. Sarah Scarbrough agreed, “I could not be more thrilled to celebrate with those who graduated from the REAL Program, including REAL’s first female graduates ever! They have worked extremely hard for many months to reach this milestone which has provided them behavior modification and tools for a successful re-entry. This, coupled with those completing the barber class and earning their high school diploma really is something for us all to be encouraged by. And, those participating in the Recovery Month celebration portion of the ceremony have literally been preparing for months and I could not be more proud of their commitment and contributions.”

Emmanuel Gayot of Edify Barber Academy, who recently assisted in providing the children of some of the residents free haircuts at the August 30th Back to School Cookout, was also involved in the training of the three individuals who received their Barber Completion Certificates. “Barbering can change your life.  I like to call barbering the ‘Forgiving Trade!’” he said. “This is how I addressed my first barbering class at the Richmond Justice Center. Barbering is not just a hustle – it is a respectable profession, which provides you the opportunity to meet and influence patrons with your skills and creativity, all the while providing an honest living your family and yourself. The barbering trade provides plenty of room for growth and success.”

Residents were also treated to a congratulatory speech by a familiar face – WRIC’s Amy Lacey. Ms. Lacey has covered several stories regarding recovery at the RCJC and told those celebrating milestones today to continue pressing forward with their goals and dreams. “I encourage you to find your passion and run with it,” she said during her speech. “There may be some bumps in the road, but you have a support system greater than you even know. I believe in you. We believe in you, and we know that you can achieve anything you desire.”

Additional videos and photos of the program can be found on The REAL Program’s Facebook page: