A second chance

Becky Strabel | Staff writer
Members of the Burnett County Drug Court team who were on hand for the graduation of Lois Keenan were (L to R): Judge Melissia Mogen, drug court coordinator Tessa Anderson, graduate Keenan and state probation officer Katie Culvey. - Photos submitted
BURNETT COUNTY - Lois Keenan became Burnett County Drug Court’s 51st graduate on Thursday, April 11. It took her 14 months, and she was so excited to be completing the program and for being sober for over 484 days.
“Because of drug court and all that the team has done to help me, I am living life as a positive member of the community. The team is so fair, and they all care about making a difference in our lives as well as changing the community. Tessa Anderson and Katie Culvey are amazing,” Keenan shared.
A mother of four children, Keenan came to the program because of charges in Washburn County for methamphetamine.
“I am a firm believer in second chances and the fact that drug court has saved my life,” Keenan explained. “I was in prison for felony fleeing and eluding an officer in a high-speed chase back in 2015. I got out only to go back to active addiction and then got another charge of possession of meth. Drug court was an alternative to revocation.”
She continued, “I would have gone back to prison if they would not have given me the chance to do drug court. I promised myself I would not ever do meth again when I started the program and have been sober ever since.”
Keenan knows now that she didn’t have the tools to handle what life threw her way and that she made very poor choices. A lot of emotional pain was never adequately dealt with. According to her, she was also not being who God made her to be.
She now works at Zia’s in Webster and loves doing community service. Keenan has become an active member of the Burnett County Prevention Coalition and would like someday to help abused women and children avoid the path that she once followed.
Keenan explained how she had been able to start building up her self-esteem while in drug court and maintaining her sobriety. To help her on her continued growth, she prays, exercises and gives herself affirmations daily.
Judge Melissa Mogen gave Keenan her certificate of completion along with a quilt and a button with the A.A. Milne quote, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
The judge stated, “I am so proud to see how far Lois has come and where she is today. She is truly a changed person and has made drastic and substantial changes in her life.”
County Supervisor Gene Olson was appointed to drug court and ever since has been a strong advocate of the program. While he has served on the county board for over 16 years, he states that the time he has been involved with drug court has been the most fulfilling. Olson takes every chance he can to thank his fellow board members for supporting the program at their meetings and is thankful for the drug court team and its participants.
The county’s drug court program was initiated in 2006 and has seen 90 participants. The program takes a minimum of one year to complete and currently has eight active participants. While multiple chances are given for someone to comply with the conditions of the program, some are ultimately terminated. As coordinator Tessa Anderson explains, “We will work with a person, but we can’t work harder than they do for their success.”
Keenan has proved that hard work can pay off and is happy to share her experience with others.

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