At 5 p.m. this Saturday, the Santa Barbara Rescue Missionwill honor the accomplishments of 16 men and women graduating from the 12-month residential drug and alcohol treatment program.

These courageous individuals are just the latest of more than 550 graduates who have completed the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s program and become productive citizens of our community.

“As I see our graduates march down the aisle to receive their diplomas, with ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ playing and the audience going wild, sometimes it is all I can do to keep my composure,” said Rolf Geyling, president of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. “I remember these precious people when they were hungry, hurting and unlovable. But on their graduation day, I see them transformed by God’s grace.”

In contrast to national statistics that show only 21 percent of those who complete addiction recovery programs not returning to dependency within five years (SAMHSA, 1998), more than 57 percent of the Rescue Mission’s graduates maintain recovery over this same time period.

The public is invited to come and hear the men and women share their personal stories of recovery. The ceremony will be held at Santa Barbara Community Church, 1002 Cieneguitas Road.

— Rebecca Weber is the director of communications for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.