TROSA Graduates Put Doubts in the Past

The newest group of TROSA graduates will cross the stage Sunday, May 18, having overcome substance addiction – and the doubts of those who thought they would never make it.

Some have struggled with addiction for many years. Some have faced criminal charges, joblessness and estrangement from their families. One graduate-to-be, Tanya Parks of Bryson City, remembers exactly how a judge reacted when a probation officer recommended her for TROSA instead of prison.

“The judge looked at the probation officer and said, ‘Are there any more options for Ms. Parks? She is a menace to this county, to her home and to her children,’” recalls Parks, who was in court on charges stemming from her methamphetamine addiction. “He said I would not make it more than five days in the program because it was too structured.”

Parks, 31, proved the judge wrong. On Sunday the mother of three becomes the first member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee to graduate from TROSA in the nonprofit’s 20-year history. Among the invited guests: her probation officer. “She was my voice when I didn’t have a voice,” Parks says. “She believed in me and knew what I was capable of. She fought for my life.”

Durham Mayor Bill Bell will be the commencement speaker. Mayor Bell, in his seventh term, is the longest-serving mayor in Durham’s history.

Currently, about 450 men and women are residents of TROSA. They receive therapy, job training, access to medical care and other services entirely free of charge. Funding comes from donations, grants and revenue generated by TROSA’s vocational enterprises.

Parks admits that she got off to a difficult start at TROSA, which emphasizes accountability and responsible behavior. At first, she was angry, mouthy and quick to fight. “There were a lot of tears, a lot of screaming, a lot of ‘I want to leave right now! You guys are crazy!’” she says. But she remembered how her mother had hugged her when she left for TROSA, telling her “I don’t want this to be our last hug.” The memory helped her persevere.

“I kept in mind that I was doing this for my family, my children and myself. Now I have my kids back in my life, I have my mother, and I have myself. I know how to make the right decisions, and I know not to lie,” she says. “I wanted to prove that people who are addicted to drugs can change their lives. Everybody can change. You have to have the willpower to change.”

Parks received job training in the TROSA kitchen and began mentoring other residents. She now works at a Durham restaurant and lives in transitional housing while she saves money for the day she is on her own. Meanwhile, she looks forward to graduation.

“It’s going to be a great feeling because I’ve never accomplished anything in my whole life. I never even graduated from high school – I dropped out in the 12th grade,” she says. “The only thing I ever finished in my life was a prison sentence.”
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Time: May 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm
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3 thoughts on “TROSA Graduates Put Doubts in the Past

  1. Parker slater says:

    Good job to this young lady and I’m glad she now believes in herself, her county that she was once a menace to will be lucky to have her presence back in the county one day. Good luck Tanya, hold your head up high and do this thing called life and experience it in a way you have never before. I too am a graduate and owe so much to Trosa. Good luck in your future, it’s gonna be exciting to see how far you go in a new direction , the world is yours now take what you need to be ok in it.

    Parker Slater

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