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Tulsa rehabilitation program holds first graduation

Posted at 10:13 PM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 23:19:11-05

TULSA -- The 1st Step Male Diversion Program, working to stop the school to prison pipeline, is about to graduate three men for the first time.

We first brought you the story in the summer last year, where a handful of men were participating in the fairly new program.

"I got my first job I ever had in my whole life. I got my first paycheck," said Justin Cathey, one of the soon-to-be 1st Step graduates.

Now, three men are the first to graduate through the 1st Step Male Diversion Program.

"I didn’t really have a self identity, I guess you could say," said Miguel Chavez, one of the soon-to-be 1st Step graduates.

Miguel Chavez is one of the first graduates of the program. A year ago he was facing a felony charge, and 1st Step became his second chance at turning his life around.

"I’ve been doing better and have a sense of what I want to do in the future," said Chavez.

David Phillips started the program after working as a public defender, seeing a lack of support for young men.

"I looked upon at the judge and said where’s the men in recovery? And for years I kept waiting for that to happen," said Phillips, Executive Director of 1st Step Male Diversion Program.

The program is privately funded through grants and donations. Between 12 and 18 months, participants live in a sober home, go through therapy, and have to work a full-time job.

"I’m proud of everybody that has helped us and I’m also proud of the young men who went through the program," said Phillips.

Chavez who was looking at jail time, is now working at a tire shop and on the path to attend Tulsa Tech.

"Since I was little I’ve wanted to be an architect and this is kind of like the first step towards it," said Chavez.

The graduation will be held next Thursday, February 21, at the Tulsa County courthouse.

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