Court-Ordered Care: One Man's Journey from Program Member to Staff Member

 Thurman Williams (left) is handed a graduation certificate for completing the Assisted Intervention program from Judge Joe T. Perez (right).

Thurman Williams (left) is handed a graduation certificate for completing the Assisted Intervention program from Judge Joe T. Perez (right).

Graduation is a time for celebration and new beginnings. What better new beginning can come from a graduation than a slate wiped clean, a criminal record expunged? That’s what happened when Judge Joe T. Perez of the Superior Court of Orange County handed a graduation certificate to Thurman Williams. He had just completed one of the first court-ordered Assisted Intervention (AI) programs in California, which operates out of Telecare STEPS in Santa Ana.

“For me, graduation was emotional because you accomplish something that's very difficult,” said Thurman. “It’s also kind of bittersweet because you are part of a family. You go to the program every day or once a week for twenty-five months, and now I don’t have to. It was kind of strange to just go, ‘I can do whatever I want.’”

The “whatever I want” part was going back to his place of employment—Telecare TAO and TAO South. Thurman was offered a job at Telecare during Phase III of the AI program after his peer mentoring skills were recognized while going through program. He was asked to give a speech at Telecare’s 50th Anniversary party in Orange County, and was offered a job as a Wellness Center Coordinator shortly after.

“The fact that I worked for Telecare while going through an assisted intervention program—that has never, ever been done before. I didn’t even really think about becoming involved in mental health at that time,” said Thurman, who had a successful baseball career both playing for the San Francisco Giants and then continued as a coach for future major league players. “I knew I was going to always advocate for mental health afterword. I was always going to do something, but I didn’t know it would turn into this.”

Now, Thurman is a PSC I and runs groups for other members in court-ordered treatment.

“It's just basically me, as somebody who's gone through the program, kind of giving advice on how I navigated through it, and how to avoid backtracking,” said Thurman. “I want to do this. I wasn’t sure, but it’s where I need to be. This is how I had to come full circle. This is where I’m supposed to end up, I think.”