PORT ANGELES — Amid mallards and green grass, children hunted down Easter eggs while their parents drank coffee and chatted.
At first glance the Lincoln Park gathering was a typical Easter afternoon. But this group’s conversations traveled from pain to hope, from loss to redemption, in a manner not usually heard on a lazy Sunday afternoon in the park.
The dozen parents that gathered had their children taken away by the state because of neglect or abuse.
They all went through court-ordered programs, often consisting of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, anger management classes and parenting education. And they got their children back by taking the difficult steps to reunify their families.
“I look around and see kids who were on the case load, a lot in foster care, now back with their families,” said Karen Kremkau, a state Division of Children and Family Services social worker.
“It’s a miracle what they do.”
The gathering included parents like 35-year-old Toni Meckler, whose son was place in foster care for three months while she underwent alcohol treatment.
“I was a miserable alcoholic when CPS (Child Protective Services) came into my life,” she said. “Through their help and support I turned my life around.
“You hear so many horror stories, but for my son and me, I can say that they saved our lives.”