Mary Jean Grubish

Judge Joseph Bueltel congratulates Mary Jean Grubish as she became the 48th graduate from the Steele Waseca Drug Court on Wednesday. Grubish was a participant in the DWI Track in the program and graduated with 691 days sober. (Annie Granlund/People’s Press)

OWATONNA — Engaging. Willing. A true leader.

These were all terms used to describe the most recent graduate of the Steele Waseca Drug Court, Mary Jean “MJ” Grubish. With 691 days of sobriety under her belt, Grubish became the 48th graduate of the program on Wednesday, receiving a great amount of praise from those heavily involved in the program for her professional and her commitment.

“With Mary Jean, throughout the whole program all that we saw was that she continued to excel at her place of employment by receiving additional responsibility over and over again,” said Nicole Grams, the drug court coordinator. “She really brought a level of professionalism into the recovery community, especially in the women’s groups.”

Grubish first entered the drug court program two years ago after she was charged with a gross misdemeanor DWI. When she first entered the program, drug court was accepting those facing DWI charges as a part of their 40 available slots. In 2017, however, the DWI Track was introduced into the program to better help habitual drunk drivers stay sober as well as reduce costs to taxpayers. The addition came courtesy of a $100,000 Minnesota Department of Public Safety-Community Reinvestment grant, which allowed the program to take on up to 20 participants through the DWI Track, opening up the other 40 spots for those struggling with other forms of substance abuse.

“You were in a really risky situation that I don’t think you ever saw putting yourself in,” said Steele County Attorney Dan McIntosh to Grubish during the ceremony. “It’s like that was a whole other lifetime ago, but your success really showcases that this program helps protect public safety and promote long-term recovery. You took control of your life.”

Friends of Grubish who have been part of her support through her recovery stated that she worked extremely hard through all the of challenges and frustrations that come with the process.

“She pulled through because she’s a hard worker,” stated one of Grubish’s friends to the courtroom. “She did it.”

“Your professional development and growth was really been amazing,” said Judge Joseph Bueltel, who presides over the Steele County court for the program. “I think that really is a testament to the skills you’ve always had. You’ve always had it in you. We just had to help get it out of you.”

Throughout the ceremony it was noted that Grubish took it upon herself to seek out different types of meetings in a variety of communities to see what she could bring back to her own recovery community to help more people and improve the support that was being provided. Grams stated that the initiative Grubish showed over the last two years proved that her recovery always came first.

“From the beginning, she showed that she could be a female leader in the recovery community,” Grams added.

Though known for being a bit more quiet about her day-to-day life, Grubish made it clear that she plans to continue to do outreach with those seeking recovery for themselves, whether they are involved in drug court or doing it on their own fruition.

“I didn’t get recovery from this program. I don’t think there is any program that can really do that. But drug court gave me the best opportunity in this situation to pursue recovery,” Grubish said. “I was able to become a part of a community that was already there and build on it, and I fully intend to continue to do that.”

“Those who have the willingness or the need to recover I will gladly be there for them,” she continued. “This program helped change all parts of my life, and while I’m excited to no longer have to do the testing I don’t think I will change much more than that.”

The Steele Waseca Drug Court is a voluntary program created by the District Court that allows eligible defendants to reduce their prison or jail sentence in exchange for completing substance abuse treatment and other conditions. The program uses a team approach to deliver evidence-based practices including rigorous treatment, intensive supervision, random and frequent drug and alcohol testing, frequent court appearances, licensed mental health service providers, and educational programming to participants. The DWI Track allows those charged with felony or gross misdemeanor DWI that have been identified as high risk to be referred to the alternative court program. There are currently 43 people enrolled in the program.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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