Graduation celebration

Celebrating the recent graduation from Henry County Family Intervention Court of Jennifer McCabe was Jesse Quinones, case manager; McCabe; McCabe’s daughter, Airyonna; and Judge Denise McColley.

About a year ago, Jennifer McCabe was in “a terrible place,” but now she has the respect of her employers, has moved into a house and has custody of her children.

On Thursday, she was the most recent graduate from Henry County Family Intervention Court, where she was referred for substance abuse issues.

“I started off in a terrible place, which led me down even worse paths,” McCabe said during the ceremony. “I put a smile on but was dead inside.”

She said all she wanted was happiness, but eventually those wishes turned to happiness for her children as she stopped caring for herself.

“At that point, I honestly didn’t care what happened to me,” she said.

McCabe said she realized there were others who cared for her.

“Almost 16 months ago I surrendered and told the judge I needed help,” she added.

The celebration Thursday seemed especially appropriate as September is National Recovery Month.

McCabe said the process was not easy, but in a couple of weeks she will be celebrating 16 months straight sobriety.

“The most important things I have discovered on this journey are my independence and my worth,” McCabe said.

Her case manager for the past year, Jesse Quinones, stressed McCabe really put in the effort needed to make it through the program and change her life around.

“A lot of the things with her, I just told her, ‘Hey, this is what you need to do, it’s your choice if you want to do it,’” Quinones said.

He pointed to Dec. 4, when McCabe was reading an essay in court and one sentence in particular stood out to Quinones.

“It stated, ‘I choose everyday to wake up and stay clean and sober,’” Quinones recalled. “Which is huge. It’s you realizing it’s your choice. You have the choice to stay sober or you have the choice to not stay sober. But it’s your choice.”

Kristin Wacha, the attorney who represented McCabe in intervention court, said McCabe came into the program fearful and lacking confidence.

“Now, she’s been sober 15 and a half months,” Wacha said. “You have shown that you can not only parent your children, but you have a full-time job and we were just talking about Jen as a manager now, has five staff members under her and she interviews people. All these new things that I think 15 months you never would have thought, ‘I could do that.’”

At work, McCabe has been offered a promotion due to her professionalism and getting the staff to work together, but she said she has also tried to help the workers under her because some of them face the same problems she had as far as child care.

Henry County Family Intervention Court Judge Denise McColley said she knows it has been rough for McCabe and there were some friendships she had to put aside for her own good, but she encouraged her to keep up the good work.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” McColley told her as she dismissed the case against McCabe.

Some of the attendees of the graduation were present virtually. Abby Badenhop, who works for the court, pointed out the pandemic slowed the process down for some at first, but it did have two juveniles graduate in August and another adult in September.

“It’s good that we’ve still been able to do this,” Badenhop said.

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I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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