Drug Court Graduates Create Alumni Group to Give Back

For many in southwest Missouri, graduating from the Greene County Drug Court isn’t the end of recovery; it’s just the beginning. Now graduates can join an alumni group called M.O.R.E., Men Out Recovering Everyday.

Led by Drug Court Coordinator Rhonda Richards, the alumni group’s mission is “to provide a venue for men in recovery to get involved in our community.”

“We strive to bring a message of strength, hope and unity while providing a platform from which these men can give back by helping the forgotten members of society,” says the group’s mission statement. “We bring to light the value of compassion and empathy within ourselves by showing respect and leading by example.”

In the last year, M.O.R.E. has not only met socially with two BBQs, a float trip and a Springfield Cardinals baseball outing but also organized several drives for the homeless, giving out meals, personal care packages and more.

The men also regularly volunteer at the veterans home in Mt. Vernon and are now working with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a family in need. Next month, they’ll supply backpacks full of school supplies to homeless children.

“It’s really important for the men to give back to the community and make amends,” says Richards. “It’s also important for them to have a connection to where they have been, and to keep recovery as a focus in their lives.”

In fact, Richards credits the men with creating and leading the group, which started out informally three years ago with a simple BBQ during group treatment and has evolved into a formal organization with a mission statement and board of directors.

Richards’ success with M.O.R.E. and its members is a model for other Drug Court programs. In March, Richards will lead a training session on building drug court alumni groups at the 2014 Missouri Drug Court Conference.

Richards is also working with the Greene County Drug Court to create a similar group for female graduates. So far, the women have organized a baby food drive for homeless women and children.