Michael Simonetti is a shining example of how the Chelsea Recovery Court changes people’s lives. With his wife, Siobhan, sitting nearby in the packed courtroom at the Court’s graduation ceremony Tuesday, Simonetti spoke about the amazing guidance and support he received from the judicial professionals at the Chelsea District Court during his time in the program.
But before Simonetti addressed the gathering, one of the unsung heroes among many at the courthouse who clearly goes beyond the call of duty – First Justice Matthew J. Machera – talked about his initial interactions with Simonetti, which contained some “choice words.”
But Simonetti’s path soon changed to the positive, thanks to the efforts of the Chelsea Recovery Court.
“I would have to say that you are probably the most successful graduate I’ve ever known,” said Machera. “I would say to you every week, ‘you’re doing great, I’ve never been so happy to see you doing so well.”
Speaking to Simonetti directly, the Honorable Justice said, “You’re in the union, married – look at you, did you ever think you were going to get here? You and I went through a long journey, but you did all the work and proved me wrong, and I’m so proud of you.”
Simonetti lauded the Chelsea Recovery Court, stating, “Their caring allowed me to change my life. When I came into Drug Court, I was broken. I was angry. I made myself a victim in my own mind, my own circumstances.
“One of the things that this allowed me to do is be able to see my side of things and the part I played in the choices that I made. I became accountable. I became a man,” continued Simonetti.
Simonetti, who now works as a foreman in a union, then directed his most emotional praise toward Justice Machera and the other professionals at the court who helped put his life on the right path.
“I love Judge Machera and everybody in this court,” he said. “I needed to understand that this man was trying to help me, and it was a privilege to be in his Drug Court. And the decisions that I made were going to propel me to be able to change my life, and that’s exactly what ended up happening. They showed me the deepest affection. I had to earn their respect, and that’s exactly what ended up happening.”
Simonelli singled out the positive influence of “Janelle Reppucci, Justice Machera, Katie O’Leary, Caitlin Gillespie” in his recovery and his life.
“They all did whatever they could to help me,” credited Simonetti. “They’re giving their time and their effort because they care, and this disease has touched people in their lives, and they’ve seen it all too much. This Recovery Court has changed my life. The biggest weapon that we have in this whole process is love and compassion, and the only time that we should ever look down on anyone is if we’re helping them up, and that’s what I stand by today.”
Four Chelsea Recovery Court graduates – Maxwell T. Delaney, Shaner V. Guerra, Luis A. Morales, and Dean Todisco – were honored during the impressive ceremony. In addition to Michael Simonetti, Alisha Cohen and Donna Puopolo, alumnae of the program, were recognized with a special graduation certificate.