Drug Court graduates praised for perseverance

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Judges Randal Valenciano, left, and Kathleen Watanabe, right, present the Kauai Drug Court 30th Graduation class Friday at the state courthouse in Lihue. From Valenciano’s left are Sheri Medeiros, Jessica Olanolan, Bryson Haumea, Jon Masaki, Audessa Rego, and Robert Coleman Jr.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Drug Court substance abuse counselor Brian Kohatsu, seated left, and director Martin Steinhaus, seated right, look on as Loke Sasil and Malia Kerr of Leahi render “Say No” Friday afternoon during the Kauai Drug Court 30th Graduation ceremony at the state courthouse in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Graduates of the 30th Drug Court, from left Bryson Haumea, Jessica Olanolan, Audessa Rego, Sheri Medeiros, Jon Masaki and Robert Coleman Jr., get a quick photo before entering the state courthouse courtroom for graduation ceremonies Friday afternoon.

LIHUE — Sometimes, God breaks things to make them stronger, said Loke Sasil, who along with Malia Kerr provided a special musical presentation Friday during the 30th Drug Court graduation.

“I longed for friends,” said Sheri Medeiros, one of six graduates. “I was bullied my entire life, and at one point, thought about suicide. I started drinking and smoking at an early age, and at age 22, I smoked ice for the first time. I could do anything. In 2010, I was arrested. I got into Drug Court at that point. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Now clean and sober for 1,116 days, Medeiros said she would not trade her past because of the life lessons she learned.

Medeiros was joined by Jessica Olanolan, Bryson Haumea, Jon Masaki, Audessa Rego and Robert Coleman Jr. in successfully completing the Drug Court program, and greeted by a standing-room only courtroom.

“It’s good when the courtroom is full,” said Judge Kathleen Watanabe, apologizing for the cramped quarters. “This is one of the few occasions when everyone in court is happy. I’m very proud of all your accomplishments because you have each come a long way. Use the tools you learned in Drug Court to strengthen yourselves.”

Bryson Haumea, currently employed in construction, said he was excited.

“For years, I struggled with addiction,” the young man said, fidgeting nervously. “Life revolved around getting high. I kind of messed up. It was a messed up way to live. I’m just so excited now. I don’t want to miss out on everything I missed out on all those years. I’m still broken, but I have the strength to make the right choices.”

Jon Masaki, clean and sober for 522 days, said he thought life ended when he was arrested, but is grateful to have a second chance at life.

Doreen Caberto, a graduate of Drug Court in 2012, encouraged the graduates to inspire others.

“Live one day at a time,” she said. “I’ve been clean for eight and a half years. Being arrested was a blessing of sorts. Drug Court was a blessing. I am not ashamed of being in recovery because I can say, ‘I was there.’ Set goals because a dream with no goals is just a dream.”

Olanolan, addicted since she was 16, said she got her family back after being clean 695 days.

“It’s good to love again,” Olanolan said. “And, it’s good to be loved.”

  1. Jose Bulatao, Jr. November 18, 2017 8:00 am Reply

    More the reason to respect and admire those who have “gone through the hell of addiction”, but taking the time and making the monumental effort to find their way back through the recovery process provided by Drug Court.

  2. Jose Bulatao, Jr. November 18, 2017 8:02 am Reply

    Hopefully, others will be inspired to seek recovery from the “hell of addiction”, as well.

  3. VinnyT November 18, 2017 10:49 am Reply

    I think it’s humiliating to make these young men and women have their pictures and stories put on the front page. Great that they graduated. Not great that the entire island has to read about their issues, even if better now.

  4. ChrisG. November 18, 2017 2:07 pm Reply

    Vinney, this was an awesome celebration of the incredible strength and perseverance of these people, that they can proudly stand and say ‘Yes, I am in charge of my life now!’ I honor the effort it has taken to commit to a clean life in this challenging world. I wish them all the best in LIFE!

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