HANCOCK COUNTY — Nestled in the back of Hancock County Circuit Court is a hidden gem — a small library. The room, shared with a field officer, is filled with many kinds of inspirational and recovery books as well as resources to help people who are going through the county’s Drug Court program.
The county’s Drug Court program is overseen by Circuit Court Judge Scott Sirk, an avid reader who has his own personnel library inside his chamber. He often encourages others to delve into books to expand their knowledge and acquire fresh ideas, which can change the trajectory of a life.
“I do think a good book can change a person’s life for the better,” Sirk said.
After speaking with Sirk, several people who are taking part in this year’s Leadership of Hancock County program stepped up and decided to supply more books for the Drug Court library. They also gave participants access to digital resources at the Hancock County Public Library. It’s all part of the group’s final team project where the goal is to make a lasting impact in the community.
“I’m thankful because one of the themes of Drug Court is that our community needs the participants of Drug Court to be the great gift that they are and not a drag on the community, so we’re glad the leaders in the community want to help,” Sirk said.
The Leadership of Hancock County team members — Sarah House, Nicole Scurlock, Stephanie Kendall and Donna Wingham — not only added to the Drug Court library and provided the participants with a digital library card, they also presented current Drug Court participants with “swag bags” or resource bags and left many others (200) for future participants.
House noted Scurlock, who works for the Hancock County Public Library, was the mastermind behind the team project and connected the group to Sirk, who gave his approval for the project.
“We were able to create online resources for all the participants so they can see just what kind of material is available for them,” House said. “Thanks to the generosity of the county library, we also gifted them 15 new books.”
Scurlock enjoyed being part of the Leadership of Hancock County program because of the way the program connects people in the county to work together to get things accomplished.
“Our project made good sense for our group because I do work at the library,” Scurlock said. “I think someone last year reached out through Drug Court to the library to see if we could make a partnership happen, and we sort of continued that and we wanted to create more awareness to let people know that Drug Court is there.”
Scurlock noted that the Drug Court library is a small collection and is underutilized. By making book donations and giving participants more access to library resources, the team feels they might be able to help change a life for the better.
“We were able to work with the library to create a small budget to purchase some new books for the Drug Court library each year,” Scurlock said. “Most of them are in and have been handed over.”
Some of the other resources now available to the Drug Court participants include music, newspapers, television, self-help programming and even access to legal forms.
The coordinator for the County’s Drug Court is Beth Ingle. She feels it’s important to have those types of resources available in case a person either cannot physically get to the library or does not have the funds to purchase the type of help books one might need while going through a recovery program.
“It offers not only an outlet for outside reflection and learning, but also shows the participants that we are wanting to provide as much support and resources for their success,” Ingle said.
Ingle noted that many of the books are recovery-based, but there are some inspirational and motivational books as well.
“A couple of our participants have actually recommended some titles and we’ve purchased them for the library,” Ingle said. “Some of the books were even donated to us from past participants.”
While Ingle noted only a few participants have actually taken advantage of the library available to them, officials constantly remind the participants that the library is there and, hopefully, with even more books and access to the main library, more people will take advantage of the opportunity.
They currently have about 50 resource and inspirational books in the Drug Court library following the Leadership of Hancock County team’s donation.
House said the team is grateful to Sirk and Ingle as well as the rest of the Drug Court team for doing the work with the participants, trying to help them to get their lives back on track.
“They’re working really hard to improve those groups that are not necessarily thought of all the time,” House said.
Sirk noted how great it would be to see each of the Drug Court participants reading a different book every few weeks or using the resources now provided digitally.
“The Leadership group, the ladies that donated the books, donated some tremendous and uplifting books that I hope they take advantage of because that information can change their lives, which is what we wish to accomplish,” Sirk said.