WAITT Graduation 2

On September 5th, the second group of women graduated the We Are In This Together (WAITT) Program at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail (VPRJ).

In collaboration with REAL LIFE and other community partners, the WAITT Program provides a safe space for female inmates to encourage and support one another in recovery.

“While the program emphasizes togetherness, the choice to participate was individual.” Superintendent Tony Pham recognized this and declared, “Your life has just exploded with opportunity due to the courage you have that got you through this program!”

The success of WAITT is strengthened by local support. Superintendent Pham expressed the responsibility is shared between us all, and introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Former Governor Robert McDonnell, as someone who “believes in people and their opportunity to change.”

The present opportunity, as Former Governor McDonnell explained, is “defined by your character today and what you choose to do in the future.”

Thus, each graduate received the chance to redefine their character through spoken personal reflections.

For Marlene, she refused to “lower [her] dignity again,” and instead “gained courage, strength, wisdom, and the ability to love and respect [herself].”

Kayla celebrated her second graduation of the WAITT Program. This time, she was “gifted coping skills and relapse prevention plans in addition to valuable resources,” as well as the ability to believe in herself to “accomplish and achieve all of [her] goals.”

“The WAITT Program was a life-changing experience for me,” said Tawana, who graduated with confidence in her responsibilities, self-acceptance, and the utmost appreciation for the opportunity to ‘choose victory over addiction’.”

Often times, incarceration appears as an end—to opportunity, recovery, and even life. Kathryn graduated with the realization that “it was just the beginning,” and now stands tall with “courage and strength that [she] never thought was possible.”

The graduates closing remarks were inspiring alone, but together is truly empowering:

“I will forever be grateful for the time I’ve spent in the WAITT Program,” (Kayla)

“But today, I am not the person I used to be,” (Marlene)

“And look at me now, I am empowered to be standing here with one of my biggest accomplishments of completing the WAITT Program and I did not let myself down,” (Tawana)

“Get ready to see me at my best,” (Kathryn)

Congratulations to you all for making the choice and finding the courage to receive this opportunity to change your future for the better! WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!