Serving The Human Trafficking 101 Event

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We were honored to serve our Woven Coffee during the Human Trafficking 101 event organized by Families Free Board Member Jill Stott, the Regional Coordinator for Northeast Tennessee Council On Children and Youth. Speakers from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking presented an in-depth look at current statistics, common warning signs, and how to respond.

The opportunity to be among those who are working for the fight against trafficking was truly an inspiration for our team. #LoveRestores

MeredithServing The Human Trafficking 101 Event
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Easter, Love, And Restoration

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Robin Ledford, Clinical Director, MSW, LADAC

For the final post in our Easter series, we are sharing the words of our Clinical Director Robin Ledford. When reflecting on what this day means to her, we feel that Robin beautifully describes the themes of restoration and love that play a central role on Easter.

One of Families Free’s beliefs is that #LoveRestores. This is what I think of when I think about Easter: restoration and love.

What do we do when we see the “criminal” in the paper? Do we also see the person who’s addicted, who started using at age 10 with his/her parents, the person who was neglected, the person who was abused – or do we just see the criminal?

The story of Easter is not about bunnies, dyed eggs, and pretty dresses. The story of Easter is of pain, blood, sweat, tears, and love – self-sacrificing love. Love is messy. Love sometimes hurts and stands in the gap with and for other’s pain. This is the beauty of love and the type of love which brings restoration. This is the love at the heart of Families Free.

 

We wish everyone a peaceful time of reflection this Easter, and once again we must extend a big thank you to those who made our client Easter baskets and devotionals possible. Their generosity aids in the restoration of individuals in our community and their families. #LoveRestores

MeredithEaster, Love, And Restoration
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Easter Traditions – Part Two

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For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40

On this Good Friday, we continue our series on Easter traditions. In our blog post yesterday, members of our senior staff shared what Easter means to them, the importance of traditions, and why our team takes the time to encourage clients to create their very own. Below we’ve included additional Easter introspections from our team members, and they share the traditions that allow their family connections to thrive.

Judy Clark and Lisa Tipton

Judy Clark, Director of Women’s Services – Our Easter traditions are made up of Easter egg dyeing, cookie decorating, Easter egg hunts and Easter baskets. We always try a new way of dyeing eggs each year that is fun and sometimes messy. My husband would hide the baskets Easter morning and create a trail of marshmallows for them to be able to find their baskets!

Easter is a reminder for me that because of Christ sacrifices on the cross, we can have new life in Him! We drive around during this season, and we see those reminders all around us with trees blooming, flowers peeking through, and the grass turning green. This picture of renewal is a daily reminder for me and my family that God is alive and He lives in each of us!

Lisa Tipton, Executive Director, LADAC – Easter to me is about love, sacrifice, redemption, and freedom – knowing that Jesus loved us enough to make a way for all of us to live in freedom. Bunnies, Easter eggs, and family dinner make the day complete.

We have one more staff story that we will be sharing on Easter Sunday, and we feel that it encapsulates the spirit of the work we do here at Families Free. Until then, we wish everyone a restful Good Friday. #LoveRestores

 

MeredithEaster Traditions – Part Two
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Easter Traditions – Part One

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” … and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Spring has officially arrived and with it the gifts of a new season. We have fully embraced this transition, and in the meantime, our team has been busy preparing for Easter. Prior to coming together with our groups this week, we carefully assembled Easter baskets for the children of our clients and devotional packages for the parents. These baskets and devotionals were made possible through the generous support of those in our community. In return, we were able to provide the opportunity for our clients to experience joy and take part in their very own Easter traditions.

Establishing traditions encourages deep connections that are essential to our clients’ success. With this in mind, we asked members of our senior staff to share what Easter means to them and the importance of traditions.

Rachel Adams and Stephanie Elliott-Carr

Rachel Adams, Woven Coordinator – I’m so thankful to everyone who contributed to making these Easter gifts possible for the families we serve! Traditions are so important because they can provide a sense of connection, identity, and belonging. Some of my family’s favorite Easter traditions are decorating eggs, egg hunts (where the best prizes are something we DO together- an ice cream date, a trip to Bays Mountain, etc.), Easter baskets, and watching “The Passion of the Christ” with our older kids.

Easter can be a contemplative time when you think of the sacrifice of the cross and the miracle of the resurrection- really, two events that changed all of history. I try not to rush past that- it’s such a reminder that when life is dark and fragile, there is always hope. “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Pope John Paul II

Stephanie Elliott-Carr, Research Coordinator, MA – Easter is a very beautiful time, as I get to be with my family and truly reflect on the meaning of Easter. I am so thankful that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and arose three days later. My church sign said this month, “Easter is more than something to ‘dye’ for…” It is easy to get caught up in dyeing eggs with family and visiting the Easter bunny, but Easter would have no meaning if it wasn’t for Christ.

I feel that showing the love of Christ through giving is a wonderful blessing. By putting together Easter baskets for our clients, we are able to bless families in need.

Vicki Judy, Children and Family Services Coordinator – My family’s Easter traditions include going to church, eating a big meal, and the children hunting Easter eggs stuffed with candy. It has always been a holiday that brings my family together to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I wanted to make the Easter baskets for the children of the women in our programs, because every child deserves to feel the joy of being surprised by an unexpected gift they receive out of love. Our Lord gave us the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ. I just want to share His love.

 

We will be sharing more traditions from our team tomorrow, but for now, we invite you to reflect on the renewal of spring and how the celebration of Easter is the ultimate example of how #LoveRetores.

MeredithEaster Traditions – Part One
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A Month At A Glance – January 2018

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“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown

We are right there with those who are exploring the darkness. The programs at Families Free give our team the opportunity to go into these environments, offer treatment, and help build community. From there, our clients see the power of their very own light. While we believe you cannot truly quantify how a changed life will affect a family or even a community, we wanted to share the latest news and numbers from our work in January 2018. #LoveRestores

MeredithA Month At A Glance – January 2018
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Meeting U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams

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We had the pleasure of meeting U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams after hearing him speak about our national opioid epidemic at the regional health office. The Surgeon General discussed how the country needs to come together to build partnerships and invest in our communities so that we can find effective solutions.

The Families Free team is addressing opioid addiction in our region by meeting individuals where they are right now and guiding them onto paths of hope and restoration. We are honored to be a part of this conversation and continue to work on the ground level. #LoveRestores

MeredithMeeting U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams
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Woven Coffee Across The Community

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We are excited to announce that Harvest Community Church will soon be serving our Woven blend coffee!

“When we found out about the good work that Families Free is doing right here in our community with a faith-based model, we wanted to open our doors to support them,” said Tabitha Sells, a Harvest Community Church member.

“One way we did that was by serving as a facility host to the first Mom Power classes that Families Free led. We then learned of Families Free’s coffee enterprise and how it further supports local employment opportunities for vulnerable women. We enjoy a good cup of coffee on Sunday mornings. So now – we’ll be enjoying a good cup of Families Free Woven coffee!”

We would also like to take the time to thank Reclaimed Inspired GoodsStir Fry Cafe: Asian, Sushi & Thai Cuisine, KingsportBellafina Chocolates, Southern Craft BBQButtermilk Sky Pie Shop Johnson City, Tennessee and River Mountain Antiques for partnering with us to share Woven coffee with our community.

If your church, business, or group is interested in serving or selling Woven, please contact Kim (at kim@familiesfree.com) for more information.
MeredithWoven Coffee Across The Community
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Mom Power – A Therapeutic Intervention for Mothers of Young Children

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Families Free is honored to be a part of Mom Power, an evidence-based trauma-informed parenting and self-care skills group designed for mothers of young children (ages 0-6). Mom Power is a 10-week parenting group intervention that was developed specifically to reach vulnerable families, and it is being offered free of charge in part through grant funding from East Tennessee State University. We are thankful that Diana Morelen (Ph.D. IMH-E®, Dept of Psychology, ETSU) worked so diligently to share and facilitate the Mom Power model in Tennessee.

Parenting is hard enough under the best circumstances, and when you add risk factors such as perinatal mental health difficulties, maternal history of adverse childhood experiences, ongoing adversity, financial stressors, etc—it makes parenting that much harder. We believe that by supporting caregivers and empowering mothers to consistently and confidently support their child’s social and emotional development, this not only impacts our region but the entire state. Our next group begins today (February 13th), and we look forward to seeing firsthand how #LoveRestores over the coming weeks.

 

MeredithMom Power – A Therapeutic Intervention for Mothers of Young Children
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A Time For Celebration

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On January 31st we had the pleasure of celebrating three women in our Intensive Outpatient Program: Shellie, Sunday, and Marjorie.

Individuals that attend our intensive outpatient program meet three times a week for three-hour sessions. It generally takes six to eight weeks to complete this first level of our program, but the length is determined by completion of therapeutic goals for each individual. For these three women, this day marked their transition to the next phase of their recovery. It also presented the opportunity to reflect on their journey and the hard work it took to get to this point.

Marjorie’s time with Families Free began this past September after serving her sentence on a federal charge. She had reached out to her mother to help find a program where she could begin the recovery process, and she started working with us shortly afterward. “I feel like I am making progress with my goals in recovery. Families Free has helped give me the extra push that I need to set future goals, and I would strongly suggest the Families Free (Intensive Outpatient) Program. It has helped me build a lot of trust, and the staff is amazing.”

Sunday also took the time to look back on the steps she has made to empower herself and improve her life. “IOP has helped me to set goals that move me forward in my recovery and grow as a person. Before working with Families Free, I didn’t think I was worth anything or that I was good enough for anything. Now I have a job, I’m starting school, and raising my kids.”

When asked what advice she would give to anyone thinking about working with Families Free she had this to say: “Do it. They have helped me to see the person I was always meant to be. They love you when you can’t love yourself, and they help by giving you a new view on life.”

We honor Shellie, Sunday, and Marjorie’s hard work and congratulate them on their determination and progress. Our team looks forward to seeing them through the next phase of treatment and witnessing how love continues to restore their lives.

MeredithA Time For Celebration
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Pie It Forward

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We are excited to announce that Families Free is the featured non-profit at Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop Johnson City, Tennessee for the month of February!

Pie it Forward is their play on Pay it Forward – they just add pie! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, our Cherry Pie flavor is the perfect blend of sweet & tart cherries and their house made lattice crust. Proceeds from their Cherry Pie sales will be donated to Families Free, and we will be taking part in a few special events with Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop this month, so stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, we invite you to share the love and stop by their shop to pick up our featured flavor.#pieitforward #LoveRestores

MeredithPie It Forward
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