Hill Feinberg promised the May 10th Triumph for Teens guests would be out of the luncheon by 1:05 and no later. Ah, but sometimes promises are broken with good reason.
There was no event chair or flown-in-speaker at the Brook Hollow luncheon benefiting Phoenix House. Guests including Susan and Joel Williams, Linda and Steve Ivy, Lee Ann White, Michael Fowler, Michael Puls, Amara Durham, Suzanne and David Palmlund, Connie and Denny Carreker, former Dallas City Manager George Schrader and Phoenix House founder Mitch Rosenthal were there to hear from young people who had benefited from the local rehab center and to honor retired District Judge John Creuzot, who has championed drug assessment, treatment and rehab programs in the Dallas court system.
Another honor was presented to Torchy’s Taco for their support of drug rehabilitation. With his associates joining him on stage, TT founder Mike Rypka’s acceptance was brief. He spoke of his entering successful recovery at the age of 16 and how he and his team would continue their efforts to help others suffering from abuse.
Before hearing from Creuzot and the panel, author Julie Hersh spoke of her years of struggling against depression and suicide attempts.
Then Creuzot and four young people took their places in chairs on the stage. Two were teenagers dealing with the early stages of drug abuse and peer pressure. The other two were veterans of the judicial and penal systems. These latter two discussed with the former judge how during their earlier incarcerations in San Antonio and Colorado, no assessment had been made of their drug abuse. Time and again they got out of prison only to go back to old habits. That was not the case when they confronted the Dallas judicial program, where an assessment is made of criminals allowing for rehabilitation. Had they been assessed during their first arrests, they might have never been trapped in an ongoing cycle without hope of solution.
But the Dallas program is no bed of peonies. Participants not only work through their abuse problems, they prepare themselves to deal with life outside the program. Creuzot asked one of the older panelists what she was going to do when she got out of the program and her old friends tried to reach her. . . “To them you look like a fresh-cooked Christmas turkey. . . Their job and their goal is to get you back into their lifestyle.”
Following the conversation with the foursome, it was announced that the Dallas County judicial treatment center was being renamed the John Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center. The judge joked that one young person had asked if that center was going to help judges rehabilitate.
With his mother and brother looking on, Creuzot stressed the importance of getting ahead of the growing drug problem. That would result in reducing crime, the recidivism rate and the financial burden placed on taxpayers.
On hand and in fine voice was County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who lauded the judge’s efforts. Before the luncheon, Dallas Morning News political writer Gromer Jeffers Jr. had asked the County Commissioner if Creuzot should run against District Attorney Craig Watkins in the March Democratic primary. Never at a loss for words, Price responded.
When the luncheon concluded at 1:15, Hill’s promise of 1:05 seemed forgotten. The extra 10 minutes were well worth it.