Blessings were evident at Saturday's Abundant Blessing Tea to benefit Barry County Drug Court. The first-year effort raised over $3,000 for the local drug court program with over 250 people in attendance.
Thirty beautifully decorated and uniquely themed tables filled the gymnasium at the First Baptist Church's Family Life Center in Cassville. There was a Harley Davidson table, a table decorated with items collected during one woman's travels to China and a love-themed table with a centerpiece made up of eight dozen red and white roses.
In addition to raising money for Drug Court, the tea served up a large helping of awareness about the locally run and locally funded program.
Barry County Associate Circuit Court Judge Victor Head who presides over drug court explained how the program began in Barry County and how it functions today. He said drug courts work with non-violent offenders to treat their drug and alcohol addiction, which fuels their criminal activity.
"This is a good cause you are here for," said Judge Head. "You are supporting individuals right here in your community. Please feel good about the fact that you are here today."
Judge Head also noted that the 18-month drug court program requires commitment from participants.
"It's not an easy program; they'll tell you that," said Judge Head. "There's drug testing, community service, counseling, visits with probation and parole and they have to pay a $1,200 participant fee."
Since Barry County Drug Court began in May of 2008, the program has served 21 participants. Of that group, only two have not completed the program. The local drug court now boasts five graduates with several more poised to complete the program in the coming months.
Drug Coordinator Cindy Puryear and Probation and Parole Officer Nancy Foulke also spoke at the tea. Puryear explained about the challenges of funding the drug court, which relies a lot on community support.
"We're the only drug court in the state of Missouri that is supported by the community," Puryear said. "The money you give stays right here."
Foulke spoke about the program's power to change lives.
"Drug court has completely changed my life and my job," said Foulke. "You get to see the power of recovery and we get to see God's grace on a daily basis.
"You have people in drug court who are committed to changing their lives," continued Foulke. "They want to be sober, and they want to make their families better."
Four recovering addicts shared their testimonies during the tea. Two of the speakers are current Drug Court participants who explained how the program had positively impacted their lives and their recovery. The other two are active participants in the Celebrate Recovery program offered on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at the Family Life Center in Cassville.
The Abundant Blessings Tea was coordinated by Dr. Heidi Henderson, program coordinator of Crowder College's Addictions Counseling program, and Gail Roberts, who served as hostess coordinator.
In addition to the 60-plus hostesses who set up tables for the tea, volunteers from Celebrate Recovery and the Crowder addictions counseling program assisted with the event. Zane Haworth served as the tea's media coordinator and also produced a video presentation that was played at the tea.
Silent auction contributors included: Cassville Florist; Baywash car wash; Designs by Debbie; Whitley's; Dottie Jacobsen; Smith's; Private Quarters; Hair and Co.; Jill Strother; Electric Beach; Geraldi's; Lazy A Cafe; Get Nailed; Mimi's Cafe; Silver and Stones; Red Top Restaurant; Tomblin's; Gussied Up Boutique; Neill's Home Store; The Rib; BBQ Station; and Westco.
An anonymous donor supplied the food for the tea, and Schreiber's in Monett donated cheese.
For more information about the Barry County Drug Court program, call Puryear at 847-3133, extension 2222. For more information about Celebrate Recovery, call the First Baptist Church office at 847-2965.