A Departure that Tugs at Our Hearts
Vicki Moss was in her twenties and in the throes of her alcohol addiction. She found herself standing before Judge Jeffrey Ford. Although he did not sentence her to jail that day, Judge Ford was stern with her and said if he saw her again in his courtroom, he would not hesitate to jail her.
As fate would have it, the next time Vicki and Judge Ford would see each other again would be nearly 20 years later. And when their paths crossed again, they would be colleagues working together on the Champaign County Drug Court team. Their work together would span 15 years, and their mutual respect for each other runs deep. Asked about his time working with Vicki, Judge Ford said, “Vicki is very knowledgeable about substance abuse. She’s been there and understands what a lot of people are going through. That gives her a different perspective than a lot of the other counselors. She cares about the clients, and she holds them accountable. We need more counselors like Vicki.”
Vicki’s path to working with Drug Court started when she met a director at Prairie Center. She was finishing up her BA degree with a focus in psychology. Vicki didn’t know exactly what she would do after graduation. She just knew that she was studying psychology to understand people better so that she could work to help better the human condition. She was actually studying to be a probation officer and had just passed the test.
But a week before graduation, Vicki got a call from her new friend asking her to join the Prairie Center team as an addictions counselor. Her initial reaction was, “I don’t know anything about being a substance abuse counselor.” He assured her she’d be good at it, and so Vicki joined the Hill Street Residential Team as a counselor.
After 6 months at Hill Street, Vicki moved over to the outpatient program in Urbana. There, she expressed an interest in the Drug Court program. She was interested in Drug Court because it combined her passion for bettering the human condition with her long-time interest in the law. She joined the team in 2002 when an opening came up.
In her 15 years serving Champaign County Drug Court clients, Vicki has accumulated many stories and has developed a reputation among clients and staff alike as someone who is fair but tough. Clients request specifically to be in the group sessions that she runs. Recent Drug Court Graduate and now former client of Vicki’s, Sam Boykins, says of her, “Vicki was a godsend to me. She called me on weekends to make sure I was okay. She never gave up on me. I give all the credit for my success today to God first, then Vicki Moss.”
Vicki has a rapport and a way with clients that few counselors can replicate. And a large part of that is because she has been there herself. She says of recovery, “I’m living proof that people can change if they want to. That’s what I tell my clients. It’s hard work, but you can do it.”
Gregg Ash had the privilege of working with Vicki in several different capacities, first as a Prairie Center client, then as a Drug Court team member. He says of Vicki, “She has this unwavering thing that she will not move from what she believes is right. She’s very consistent in how she does her work, from working with clients to interacting with co-workers and colleagues.”
After over 16 years of dedicated service, Vicki Moss is retiring from Prairie Center. She gets teary eyed talking about her retirement, “It’s kind of surreal. I knew it was eventually going to happen, and now that it’s happening, it’s unbelievable. It tugs at my heart. I’m truly going to miss the clients. I’m going to miss the opportunity I had to help them to change their lives because I was them once upon a time.”
Thank you, Vicki, for your years of service and for always caring. Your departure is tugging at our hearts too.