Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Former drug user finds future as addictions counselor through Larimer Community Corrections Kristi's Fund to pay for Angela Ward's counseling classes
By Pamela Johnson
Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
FORT COLLINS — While she was in prison for drug crimes, Angela Ward couldn't imagine the bright future she now envisions for herself.
But after she was released to the Larimer County Community Corrections halfway house, and her life intersected with the counselors and support there as well as with Kristi's Fund, she is enrolling this week in a Loveland program to become a certified addictions counselor.
"I'm going to get to help people that are in the position I was," said Ward, a Fort Collins resident who is receiving a scholarship from the Kristi Visocky Memorial Fund to become a certified counselor.
"In the halfway house, I realized I had so much to look forward to. Even when I was sitting in prison, I didn't think I was able to do things."
And that was less than a year ago.
Ward said she was released on parole to Community Corrections in November after serving 11 months and was recently released back into the community from the halfway house. There, at the halfway house, she found the support she needed to believe in herself and turn "the badness" she put into the community through drugs into something good. She is excited for a future as an addictions counselor.She is rebuilding relationships with her family, including her son. She is looking forward to giving back to the community.
Now that her goal has turned toward a future as an addictions counselor, Kristi's Fund is stepping in to pay for the program to become a certified counselor, to give her the boost she needs.
Kristi's Fund has given $520,000 to help women
Donna Visocky, whose daughter Kristi died in a car accident in 2003 at the age of 21, attended the Tuesday Larimer County Commissioners administrative matters meeting with Ward and Tim Hand, director of Community Corrections. She explained that her family chose to honor Kristi by raising money to help young women, something they have done for 16 years.
"We support women, young women who are trying to empower themselves to lead a better life," Visocky told the commissioners. "Our daughter was a big supporter of the underdog."
Since 2003, the foundation ( kristisfund.com) has devoted more than $400,000 to area organizations in support of women, including building a Habitat for Humanity home, supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County and helping Sexual Assault Victim Advocates among many other organizations. The foundation also has awarded $240,000 in scholarships to 120 young women.
Commissioner Tom Donnelly lauded what the Visockys have accomplished for the community and with the support of the community.
"It's a wonderful testament to the reason so many of us choose to live here," said Donnelly. "This is obviously a beautiful area, it's great quality of life, but I think one of the unusual things is that sense of community."
This year, the foundation will provide a grant to Larimer County Community Corrections to help women clients expand their horizons and lives by paying for activities such as theater tickets, parks and recreation opportunities or experiences with their children.
The amount of that grant is still to be determined, depending upon how much is raised this weekend at the 16th Annual Kristy Visocky Memorial Golf Tournament in Windsor, an event that is fully booked. The money, Donna Visocky said, will help these women experience something new.
"We only know what we know until we can get out and experience something new," she said. "Then, we can expand."
Community Corrections helps provide a new direction
This year, the foundation is providing three scholarships, including one to Ward, who at 39 is headed back to school and headed in a brand new direction.
She said she started taking drugs at age 18 shortly after graduating from Poudre High School, and though she's had periods of clean living in which she earned an associate's degree in business, she always went back to drugs.
"I used drugs, and I sold drugs," said Ward.
Now, thanks to the support she found at Larimer County Community Corrections, she is convinced she is never going back down that same route.
Now, she is dedicated to helping others beat their addiction, to giving back to the community.
"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to better my life and to the halfway house for helping me better my life," said Ward.
"It's been the best thing ever in my life to turn my direction around. ... It gave me goals again, helped me set up goals in my life."
Larimer County Community Corrections is one of only three county run programs in the state, according to Commissioner Steve Johnson. The rest of the 20 in Colorado are privately operated, and Larimer's operation has been used as a statewide example of a top-notch program.
"We have the best program in the state, and we have the highest completion rate for the programs we offer," Johnson said. "We supplement what we get from the state because it's not enough to support the programs that we have."
Ward is thankful for the programs, which she said really turned her life around. She also is thankful for the Visocky family and her scholarship to become a certified counselor.
"I'm super excited," Ward added. "And I'm just so grateful."
Pamela Johnson: 970-699-5405, firstname.lastname@example.org.