Thursday, August 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Mission Solano lauds Rays of Hope graduates

mission solano grad 1

Khristina Wood, left, hugs her friend Schteka Hall, right, a graduate of Mission Solano’s Rays of Hope program, Thursday at a graduation ceremony for the program. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | March 14, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Locusts had eaten into their lives for years – but now they’ve approached the mountaintop and are standing with the Lord, said the senior pastor at St. Matthew Baptist Church in Vacaville of the 13 men and women who graduated Thursday from Mission Solano’s Rays of Hope program.

The Rev. Vic A. Russell said it was a time to celebrate – and the more than 100 people packed into the chapel at Mission Solano’s Community Outreach Center on Travis Boulevard did that with shouts, standing ovations and hugs.

People stood to applaud when Clarence Trotter, 44, finished reading his poem that began by noting how death, dishonesty and despair had been Trotter’s allies. His poem went on to say, “if I knew you, I robbed you.”

Trotter acknowledged the graduates who completed the six- to nine-month Helping Other People Escape program that includes the physical, psychological, spiritual and social behavioral – and he spoke about his own arrival at Mission Solano.

“I was broken financially and spiritually,” he said. “I was worse than wounded.”

Program graduate Amorette Florez, 26, of Vacaville, said after receiving her diploma, “I will put God first and just keep pushing forward.”

Raymond Courtemanche, chief operations officer at Mission Solano, spoke near the start of the event and told those gathered, “We believe in a creator who does not create junk.”

Maybe the world has tainted us, he said, but like St. Paul’s transformation on the road to Damascus, people have been brought to Mission Solano, where they recover.

“It’s all about purpose for us,” Courtemanche said.

Graduates embrace the healthy and wholesome, he said.

Gene Ahu, program manager for the Community Outreach Center, proclaimed, “this program does work.”

“We try to stay away from the ‘want,’ ” he said. “We try to do what people need.”

Ahu said: “We can still learn – so touched by the things people can bring to us when we think we know it all.”

He said if he’d had only once chance in life he wouldn’t be at the ceremony Thursday.

“God works in mysterious ways – and I’m one of them,” Ahu said.

Ernie Schnaible, who manages Mission Solano’s car lot program, is a 2010 graduate of Rays of Hope and said without it he, too, wouldn’t be at the event. He said of efforts to assist people: “If you don’t show me you want the help, I ain’t got time for you.”

A hundred other people out there want what Mission Solano provides, Schnaible said.

Francis Cunanan, 35, of Suisun City, who leads the men’s celebrate recovery group, spoke about graduating last year from the Rays of Hope program that he said changed his life. Cunanan said he felt like an outcast when he came to Mission Solano, but the Bible tells of Jesus touching the lives of others and that still happens, Cunanan said.

“I’m living my life as a testimony,” he said, to “God’s grace, God’s goodness.”

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

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Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Really?March 14, 2014 - 6:24 am

    Well it sounds like the end result of graduating from the Mission Solano program is finding Jesus in your life. Although certainly important, I am more interested in the graduate's ability to provide for themselves, and to be contributing members of society. How many of said graduates are now working in jobs that pay a living wage (not at Mission Solano) and how many are in their own housing (not the Bridge to Life?) With the millions of community dollars donated to this program each year, the community deserves nothing less. Then, and only then, would we really have something to celebrate.

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  • Chrome AppleMarch 14, 2014 - 9:33 am

    Until you know the facts of each graduates life you can not judge their situation. Many have focused on completed case plans and counseling to better their life and the lives of their children, therefore will go to work at a real paying job As you call it when that focus is safely is ready to be changed. We are not to be judges out here and let me tell you, this program has some of our nations veterans as residents and there is no more respectable job. So ask yourself if you are the one uncomfortable with donating to this place for a personal reason? If so then don't. My daughter was a college graduate when she got there she will not be any less by having been there. With or without your money or approval on her spiritual path.

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  • JenMarch 14, 2014 - 9:40 am

    Wow. These people have been to hell and back to get to where they are. I had the honor of attending this graduation ceremony. I didn't know any of the graduates personally, but I can tell you, I was proud of each and every one of them. Listening to the testimonies of these individuals who have finally pieced their lives back together, their families, their self-respect, their HOPE... Their belief that they can, in fact, do better than they have. Why is that not enough to support this amazing program? Where would these people be without it? Would it be better to say, then, that you believe this program isn't worth it? "With the millions of community dollars donated to this program each year, the community deserves nothing less." There's a reason people donate these "millions of dollars" each year. Because the community deserves nothing less than what Mission Solano has been providing. A chance to make something more out of someone most people have given up on. And not just one person, but many. And I say that this is something to really celebrate.

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  • JenMarch 14, 2014 - 10:06 am

    Congratulations to all the graduates! What an awesome testimony. God bless each of the workers and volunteers at Mission Solano.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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