The first Christy Vernon Spirit Award was presented to Jeri Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the Nashville Recovery Court Support Foundation, Inc., at the annual Tennessee Association of Recovery Court Professionals (TARCP) conference. The conference was held December 8-10, in Murfreesboro.
Judge Seth Norman, 20th Judicial District Criminal Court and Davidson County Drug Court presented Thomas with the award.
“One thing a drug court needs is a cheerleader. The other thing all drug courts need is a door opener. This person can talk her way through any door in the United States, but she is always there trying to do what she can for all of us,” said Judge Norman.
Thomas brings passion, spirit and energy, not to mention 20 years of experience as a probation officer to her role with recovery courts.
“Cheerleader is definitely something I can relate to and I have a tremendous amount of passion for recovery courts and the work that we do, the work that you all do,” said Thomas.
Thomas thanked Judge Norman, calling him her mentor.
“Just to have my family here, Judge Norman is my mentor, I went from a probation officer to my first job in drug court,” said Thomas. “I saw something special that gave me passion and I saw people being there long enough to change. I saw them stop looking at the floor and looking up and smiling. They’d say, ‘Miss Jeri, I’m doing good. I’m doing good today.’ I fell in love with this concept and I’m very grateful to be standing here today.”
The Christy Vernon Award is named for a woman who was part of the recovery community at the state level. Vernon’s family attended the awards ceremony.