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Just in time for the holidays, a young woman is getting a fresh start for herself and her family.

The Family Recovery Court, a yearlong program dedicated toward helping out those who have had custody of their children revoked get back on the right track, saw another graduate successfully complete the program on a recent Friday evening in La Plata.

For the young mother, Kimberly Brown, at first it wasn’t an easy task, Circuit Judge Helen I. Harrington said. The woman came to the program for the first time in July 2012, after her mother had received custody of her daughter.

“She really wasn’t quite ready,” Harrington said of the new graduate’s first stab at the program. “It was a fairly bad 90 days or so. It was a pretty bad relapse. She was back on the opiates … and looking at some serious jail time. We were all holding our breath … and the change has been amazing.”

After that initial stumbling block, Harrington said, Brown really took the steps to move in the right direction. Now, Brown will be able to gain a new lease on her relationship with her 8-year-old daughter, who currently resides in Michigan with Brown’s mother. Brown also is pregnant with another girl and is due early next year.

“She’s a totally different, strong person,” Harrington said. “She was doing everything she possibly could to focus … on moving forward. She was absolutely determined to turn her life around. … It was such an amazing change.”

Brown threw herself headlong into the program, Harrington said, and came out successful. She served as a mentor to other young parents undergoing the process and eventually will complete peer support training to better assist those who have been where she once was. Brown also participated in Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry programs and currently is working toward getting her GED, Harrington said.

“She’s very protective of her own recovery,” Harrington said. “She has demonstrated the commitment, the perseverance. She has the tools to be a responsible and loving parent. She can do it and she can move forward. I really do hope you complete peer support training. You have so much to offer. You know what that struggle is like.”

Brown was presented with a range of tokens recognizing her achievement, including certificates from the Circuit Court, a letter from the Charles County commissioners and a letter from Del. Peter F. Murphy (D-Charles) congratulating her on her success.

Merianne Grigoriciuc, the program’s case manager, echoed Harrington’s remarks about the remarkable nature of Brown’s progress.

“She’s done it,” Grigoriciuc said of Brown. “She was in my office constantly. She has done all the hard work here.”

A letter from Brown’s mother drew some tears and expressed hope for the future.

“I never doubted … that you could do it,” her mother wrote in the letter, which was read to those present. “You are a strong and amazing woman with so much to offer. You’re my daughter and baby. There’s a little girl here … who I think always knew you would come back to her.”

The Rev. John Lewis of Point of Change similarly was hopeful.

“[Brown] was such an asset to the program,” Lewis said. “I pray that you do well, but I pray even more that God uses you to reach out to others.”

Brown wasted no time in beginning the next chapter in her life: She told a reporter that she was planning to make the drive up to Michigan that same night to spend the holiday with her daughter and mother.

“I swear I didn’t think this day would ever come,” Brown said. “It just feels really good.”

lrenner@somdnews.com