Grads celebrate changed lives

May 5, 2019

State Rep. MaryAnn Black, Associate Vice President for Community Relations at Duke University Health System, delivered inspiring opening remarks at the most recent graduation ceremony, congratulating the graduates on their dedication to a healthy new beginning and reminding them to hold fast to the life lessons they have learned at TROSA.

With about 500 residents, the nonprofit TROSA is the largest such program in the state and one of the longest-running, having been in Durham for 25 years. Its services are free of charge and include evidence-based therapies, counseling, job training, access to health care and ongoing support after graduation.

“TROSA accepts us, and they don’t discard us,” said TROSA graduate Dalila, who graduated from college in her small hometown in South Carolina and held a number of jobs before entering the program. “We come in this door broken and TROSA gives us the opportunity to rebuild ourselves.” Dalila entered the recovery program when she realized that her drinking – “a sloppy drunk,” she called herself – was something she needed help to understand and stop. TROSA gave her a new chance at life.

For another graduate, Josh Babich, TROSA’s emphasis on peer support, structure and accountability is among its most effective aspects.

“It focuses more on behavior versus just staying clean and just having recovery groups,” said Babich, 24. “The largest pillar of the program is holding people accountable and being accountable.”

Babich, who comes from a town near Charlotte, was a college student before he entered TROSA to recover from a polysubstance dependence. He said he often sought one-on-one counseling from the TROSA staff, many of whom are in recovery themselves. His family encouraged him along the way.

“My dad told me everyone needs a coach. Even the best athletes in the world have a coach,” he said. “I was always seeking out a mentor, coach or counselor, because I knew I can’t do it on my own.”

He received vocational and life skills training at TROSA Moving, one of several social enterprises that help fund the program. He hopes to earn a four-year college degree while participating in the recovery program.

“I feel valued,” Babich said. “I’m becoming myself again.”