By John Durso, Probation Officer
First Published in the Allegheny County Newsletter, Spring 2020
I remember meeting Deirdre K. for the first time several years ago at Pyramid Ridgeview in Gibsonia. She struggled with sobriety and went before Judge DeAngelis who placed her at the Taylor Diversion. Once at Taylor Diversion, Deirdre decided to utilize the programming and mentorship available and gradually began to make progress. She completed numerous competency groups, attended school and participated in Taylor Diversion’s art and vocational classes. It was obvious from my first meeting with her that she was an exceptionally intelligent and talented young lady but was lacking motivation and direction. However, after attending the milieu at Taylor Diversion for a few months, Deirdre’s academic and artistic talents came to life.
Deirdre completed her education requirements at Taylor Diversion and applied to Edinboro University. She was easily accepted into their program and began her college career in 2016. Since that time, she has made the Dean’s list every semester and will graduate this spring. Deirdre has continued with her artwork and a piece of her work is displayed in Judge DeAngelis’ courtroom. She has returned to Taylor to teach art classes and currently has her art exhibited at Edinboro University. Her wares will be displayed at Edinboro University at the end of the month.
As a probation officer of 32 plus years, it gives me great satisfaction to see a young person succeed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Deirdre should be given a lot of credit for her determination, as she did not give up. Thanks should also be given to Judge DeAngelis who believed in her and her father who has been very supportive in her life, Executive Director Mike Cummings of Taylor Diversion, and Assistant Director Deb Cummings of Taylor Diversion.
During the summer of 2019, Deirdre returned to Taylor Diversion Programs as a “Teacher of Art” to conduct a 2-Day Water Color Workshop with students who are currently residents at Taylor. Deirdre reminded students that “four years ago, I was where you are….in placement. I’m here to tell you that you can be successful!”