The graduates of the program proudly displayed their diplomas. They were joined by local officials, including Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, District Court Judge Christopher LoConto, Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale, Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau, and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. (SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE)
By: Amanda Burke, Sentinel & Enterprise, 9/14/2017
FITCHBURG — Kimberly Celona sat in District Court months ago watching Judge Christopher LoConto flip through the pages of her lengthy criminal record.
This isn’t going to be good, thought Celona, whose drug addiction strained family relationships since she was a teen, and landed her in every courthouse in Worcester County.
On Wednesday, Celona, now 47 years old and a new grandmother, walked into back into that Fitchburg courtroom. This time, she was smiling.
“I have learned to love myself,” she told a group of people recovering from addiction, all standing before several of the county’s top law enforcement officials.
They and dozens more friends and family gathered to see Celona and 17 others graduate from a rigorous recovery program completed in lieu of traditional sentencing.
“I have the ability to be in his life as a sober person, and a good person,” Celona said, looking at her grandchild from across the courtroom, hugged to her daughter’s chest.
Celona’s voice wavered at times as she spoke before Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., Mayor Stephen DiNatale, Police Chief Ernest Martineau and the probation team.
She turned to face those who know what life is like in recovery, those she graduated from the Worcester County Sheriff Office’s Fitchburg Community Corrections Program alongside.
“You guys are my family,” she told them. “I never had friends, I can pick up the phone and I can call you, and you guys are right there for me, whenever I need something.