Each year, on the Saturday before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday we host a graduation ceremony for residents who have successfully completed the Trinity House-Big Bethel program. This year, twenty-five formerly homeless men graduated from our program. To become a Trinity House-Big Bethel graduate each man must:
1. Obtain housing and employment
2. Reached $2,500 in savings
3. Remain free from substance abuse
At the graduation ceremony, we enjoyed a story from Dr. Bakari Vickerson who entered the program when he was only sixteen years old. Dr. Bakari Vickerson is an Atlanta native who currently serves as the intake psychiatrist at Grady Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic and also an Assistant Professor at the School of Medicine at Morehouse College.
Our Keynote Speaker Judge Doris L. Down also encouraged the graduates to never give up no matter what life throws at you. Judge Downs is very influential in almost every resident we see here at Trinity House-Big Bethel. As the Fulton County Drug Court and Mental Health judge, she believes in second chances by sending each person to the "Tough Program for Tough Times," called Trinity House-Big Bethel.
We also awarded four graduates with the Man of Victory Scholarship funded by Tucker First United Methodist Church. Each year, graduates of the Trinity House-Big Bethel program will now have the opportunity to apply for funds to further their education and/or career. Applications will be reviewed and recipients selected by a committee of staff and volunteers in the month prior to graduation.
The awards the scholarship recipients received included a battery-operated toolset, slip-resistant boots, and a backpack, a professional camera, and a laptop. These items will allow scholars to pursue more handyman work, a truck driving career, a photography career, and a peer specialist support certification.
Trinity Community Ministries is forming a committee to raise money to fund this program throughout the year and encourages supporters to hold fundraisers on their own as well. Donations can be made to the scholarship program by check with "Scholarship Fund" in the memo section, online with "Scholarship Fund" in the "Dedicated To" section, or in cash with a note stating that the funds should be directed to the scholarship fund.
As each graduate crossed the stage, they entered into a life full of recovery and as our mission states "mentor and leaders in their families and communities."