FAIRFIELD — Shonna Tibbets’ life began spiraling out of control when a former companion shattered her right ankle with an electric guitar. It ended with six months in jail.
Tibbets took another step Thursday to regain her life. She was one of nine women to graduate from Solano County’s Women’s Re-entry Achievement Program.
In August 2013, she and three acquaintances placed on ad on Craigslist for a threesome. A man responded. The meeting was set for an apartment on Crowley Lane. There, the man was pistol-whipped and robbed at gunpoint.
Tibbets faced prison time.
“I had not even had a traffic ticket (before this),” she said.
The first four months in jail, she wanted to get loaded. Methamphetamine was her drug of choice.
She found hope through the Women’s Re-Entry Achievement Program.
Two months ago, her 9-year-old daughter Tiana was returned to her care. Both are making adjustments.
“We’ve had our problems,” Tibbets said. “The first month was bad. But after she realized I wasn’t the same person and I wasn’t going anywhere, it got better. I had a lot of proving to do to her.”
Tiana was removed from Tibbets’ care two years earlier, when Tibbets was assaulted by her former companion.
“I like that she’s there for me,” Tiana said. “I have someone to cuddle with.”
Tibbets just wants to be a mom and never again see the inside of jail.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said of her desire to stay clean and away from trouble. “They are going to have to give me more than a certificate to get rid of me.”
Honora Herrington was another graduate. When she was called forward to receive her certificate, she thanked her mother and stepfather for giving her another chance.
“She had lost all hope,” said Dottie Paulson, Herrington’s mother.
She was running with the wrong crowd, said stepfather Mark Paulson.
Herrington was arrested in January on charges of vehicle burglary, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary and violation of her post-release community supervision.
The Paulsons refused to give up on her.
“Every time she would take a positive step, I would go with her, I would take the step with her,” Mark Paulson said.
It wasn’t easy. At times, Herrington’s behavior tested their marriage, Mark Paulson said.
Dottie Paulson sees a much different woman now, and also finds comfort in the fact that Herrington still doesn’t say bad things about anyone else.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Dottie Paulson said after the graduation ceremony. “I knew she had it in her.”
The crowd of about 50 people heard from a past graduates as well as Nebula Quatelbaum, who earned her certificate Thursday.
“I was hopeless, lost, desperate and homeless,” she said. “I forgot about my kids, about myself.”
She went into a grocery store to steal some liquor and got caught after a fight with the security guards.
“I guess I beat them up,” she said.
After she was released from jail, Quatelbaum stayed at Mission Solano’s Bridge to Life Center, then moved to Rosewood House in Vallejo. She said she’s working two jobs.
“I’m a fighter,” she said. “I’m a survivor.”
The Women’s Re-entry Achievement Program is funded through a Second Chance Grant from the Department of Justice. It’s a collaborative effort with agencies such as Solano County Health and Social Services, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office and Mission Solano.
It serves Solano County women in jail and prison. Participants must be pregnant and/or mothers of children younger than 18. Pre- and-post-release services are offered to the women.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.