Seven B-SOBR graduates recognized for completing stringent program

by: TIMES PHOTOS: SHANNON O. WELLS - Julia Ramos shakes hands with members of the B-SOBR team in Beaverton City Council Chambers during the first graduation ceremony for the DUII diversion program held Thursday, Jan. 9.Working with one graduate after more than one driving under the influence of intoxicants charge landed her in a diversion program, Francisco Ravelo admitted supervising her probation was hardly a daunting task.

“She’s a very individual person,” said Ravelo, a defense attorney with the city of Beaverton’s Municipal Court. “She asked questions every step of the way.

“She doesn’t really need a lot of direction, outside of her alcohol issues. She’s adjusted. She’s a survivor.”

Comments such as Ravelo’s were commonplace on Thursday evening, Jan. 9, when the Beaverton Sobriety Opportunity for Beginning Recovery, or B-SOBR, program held its first graduation ceremony in a packed Beaverton City Council Chambers at City Hall, 4755 S.W. Griffith Drive. Seven participants in the diversion program, those the B-SOBR team determined had made the most progress in their recovery from alcoholism and addiction, were honored with certificates of completion.

Beaverton Municipal Judge Les Rink, who oversees the 2-year-old grant-funded program, handed out the certificates alongside B-SOBR Case Manager Jennifer Rivas. Rounding out the team, Municipal Judge John Mercer, Dr. Chris Cotton of Treatment Services Northwest, Program Manager Kay Renfro, Beaverton Police Officer Matt Kingsbury and City Attorney Tim Kempton were also on hand to shake hands, and in some cases hug, clients they’ve worked with for many months.

“Be assured, those graduating have earned their certificates,” Rink said before the ceremony. “The graduation is a well-deserved recognition of the triumph of the human spirit and the graduates’ rekindled beliefs in themselves.”

Graduates were joined by family members, friends, Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors and some of the current 40 or so ongoing participants in the program.

Currently funded through a $125,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation, B-SOBR is designed to treat individuals whose drinking and drug use is beyond their control but who continue to drive motor vehicles. Participants agree to strict conditions in exchange for remaining out of jail, including sobriety and urine tests, wearing an alcohol-monitoring bracelet, committing to Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar program, a search for employment and random check-ins from Kingsbury and his fellow officers.

Julia Ramos, whose addiction started to catch up with her with an alcohol-related car crash in April 2012, expressed her gratitude to the B-SOBR team by presenting them a constellation she “purchased” and named “Recovery in the Sky,” complete with a map of the star’s location in the cosmos and its registry information.

“It’s overwhelming,” Ramos said of the ceremony. “Some of these people you don’t see more than once (during the program). It’s great to see, and hear, that they care.”

A graduate named Pat, who requested his full name not be used, was all smiles when he accepted his certificate. The program’s first participant, he expressed thanks to the B-SOBR team for pulling him out of a potentially deadly alcoholic spiral.

“This has been a very tough, long journey for all of us,” he said, addressing his fellow graduates and participants. “Watching the growth of how all of you performed has been a huge inspiration to me. It’s made me want to try harder and do better.”

Ramos, who looks forward to pursing her dream as a stand-up comedian and comedy writer, recently delivered the keynote speaker address at a courts conference in Seattle, her invitation based on a July 25 profile in the Beaverton Valley Times.

“Most of the time I had on the stage was telling jokes,” she said. “I want to be an advertisement for the program, because it works. If you do what you’re told, you’ll make it to the end.”

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