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Drug Court benefit serves vital purpose

October 25, 2018

Friday night, Kankakee County residents will have a chance to enhance drug treatment efforts in the area.

The event is the annual auction to raise money for the county’s Drug Court. Drug Court is a program that drops criminal charges for nonviolent drug offenders if they can successfully complete treatment.

The fundraiser, which will be held for the 14th time, is a dinner and auction at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 187 S. Indiana Ave., Kankakee. Tickets are $35 for an individual or $60 for a couple. Tickets are available online at kankakeecountydrugfree.com or at the door.

Social hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7. There will be a video presentation at about 7:45 p.m., focusing on the impact drugs have, not only upon the user, but also the entire family.

There will be a silent auction of gift baskets and items running until 7:45 p.m. A live auction will follow at 8 p.m.

Big ticket items for this year’s live auction include stays at vacation homes in Orlando and Traverse City, Mich.; a Mike Ditka signed Bears jersey; a ride to school in a fire truck and a quilt of valor for veterans made by local artisans.

Joe Ewers, the coordinator of Drug Court, says the hope is that the event will continue to grow, eventually raising $25,000 per year. Even if people can’t attend, the organization’s website offers an opportunity for persons to make donations.

Ewers explained that providers make in-kind contributions toward treatment.

“They never send us a bill,” he said. Funds raised help pay for incidental expenses for clients, such as transportation and education.

Ewers said the demand for Drug Court has expanded since the opioid crisis has arisen. Right now, there are 40 people in the program. Treatment typically lasts for 12 to 15 months. During Drug Court, the clients must attend therapy sessions. They also have random drug tests. In addition to counselors, clients also stand before a judge, who can send them back to jail if they fail a drug test or do not keep up with treatment.

If clients make it through to the end, they graduate in a ceremony held at the Kankakee County Courthouse. Their charges are dropped, allowing them to pursue a new life with a clean record.

The graduations, open to the public, can dispel myths people might have about drug use. Participants come from all social and economic backgrounds.