A crowd gathers Oct. 8 outside the 41-B District Court to help unveil a new H.E.A.L.ing Memorial, dedicated to the lives lost to substance abuse.

A crowd gathers Oct. 8 outside the 41-B District Court to help unveil a new H.E.A.L.ing Memorial, dedicated to the lives lost to substance abuse.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Memorial unveiled to honor court participants lost to substance abuse

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published October 11, 2019

 Judi Provencher lays her hand next to the brick memorializing her niece, Micki Dodson, who died in April from a drug overdose.

Judi Provencher lays her hand next to the brick memorializing her niece, Micki Dodson, who died in April from a drug overdose.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Judi Provencher heard a knock at the door. It was a police officer coming to tell her some of the worst news of her life.

This past April, Provencher’s niece, Micki Dodson, was found dead due to a drug overdose.

Dodson, 41, had recently graduated from the 41-B District Court Drug/Sobriety Court. She lived with her aunt in Chesterfield Township for a short while.

“She just had something that happened in her life that I guess drove her over the brink,” Provencher said.

Dodson’s mother died about two years ago. She had planned to move to South Carolina to join her father and be closer to her two teenage daughters.

Now she is one of 11 court participants who were memorialized Oct. 8 with the 41-B District Court’s new H.E.A.L.ing Memorial — H.E.A.L. stands for “Helping Ensure Addicts Live.” The memorial contains personalized bricks with names of the participants who have passed, keeping their legacies intact for future generations.

Some of the court participants had graduated, while others were in the midst of treatment. Six participants were from the drug/sobriety court, while five were from the veterans treatment court.

The court hopes the memorial will serve as a place of remembrance and peace for family and friends, as well as a constant reminder of the pain of addiction and the need to end suffering.

Judge Carrie Lynn Fuca has been stalwart in pushing for treatment mechanisms that go beyond throwing people behind bars. The programs have mostly been a resounding success, inspiring other similar programs statewide and even nationally.

Yet, it has shown the reality of what addicts go through and how some don’t quite ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s even harder to understand for the parents, spouses, siblings and friends of those who succumb to addiction.

“I tell people all the time that we celebrate the graduations. … But the people we lost in the programs, those people are always near and dear to our hearts,” Fuca said. “It’s never easy.”

Darin Weiss, the lead pastor at Hope City Church in Macomb Township, is a recovering addict himself. He blessed the memorial in front of a group of local officials and dignitaries — as well as some family members who wanted to pay their respects in person.

Weiss spoke of how pain and suffering are difficult to endure, though memorials such as these relay a message that is uplifting in nature — that aspiration can be beautiful.

“(The memorial) represents hope and life, and restoration and recovery we can bring into our community,” he said.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said that what 41-B has done with its treatment programs should set a “standard” among all courts. It’s a question of how to resolve issues and giving those who seek help a second chance, he said, while simultaneously decreasing recidivism.

“Confinement should not be some type of substitute for treatment,” Hackel said. “Just taking people off the streets, arresting them and throwing them in jail is not the answer.”

Some people do slip through the cracks, he acknowledged. He believes the memorial now exists as a sign to others, saying, “Don’t give up.”

“I’ve come to the realization that addiction is different for every person,” he said. “People that come before us, sometimes they’re not gonna make it. Yet, we shouldn’t just let that be the end of the story. It should be part of the story moving forward.”

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