Success Stories

Celebrating Our Recovery Court Graduates

Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self. – Karen Salmansohn

There are a great many things that seem uncertain. That’s why Families Free believes that now more than ever we need to highlight the good and champion positive outcomes. We want to celebrate the graduation of Danny, TK, and Nena from the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court program. 

On Wednesday, March 4th, our graduates were honored by members of the Families Free and First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court teams, as family, friends, and current program participants gathered together to congratulate them on their hard work and achievements.

Graduates Danny Hawks, Nena Thrift, and Torry “TK” Kelly
TK with family
Nena with two of her daughters
Danny with his sister and father
Judge Stacy Street
Judge Lisa Rice and Danny Hawks
Keynote Speaker Tim Hicks

We want to thank Keynote Speaker Tim Hicks, Judge Lisa Rice, and Judge Stacy Street for speaking during the graduation ceremony. We also want to thank the other members of the FJDFRC team, which include additional recovery agencies, judges, law enforcement members, district attorneys, and public defenders who work to ensure the success of the participants. We are excited to see how Danny, TK, and Nena continue to make strides in their recovery and bring about positive change within their own families and our community as a whole. #LoveRestores

The First Judicial Recovery Court program is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

MeredithCelebrating Our Recovery Court Graduates

2019 Recovery Court Graduation

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness …”

On Tuesday, November 26th, Chris and Kristin were honored by members of the Families Free and First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court teams during our second annual Recovery Court Graduation. Along with current program participants, family, and friends, we all gathered together to celebrate their hard work and success.

The First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court provides alternatives to jail time, such as counseling, curriculum, and access to several opportunities that are designed to support their sobriety. It’s an important tool for those who need help staying out of the cycle of jail time, being released, and then returning.

Through this opportunity, both Kristin and Chris completed the five phases of the program and met personal goals along the way. Kristin maintained two jobs during her time in our program, bought a vehicle, has been sober since July of 2018, and she’s investing in her future by attending classes at Northeast State. 

Chris has been sober since October of 2017, completed the Morgan County Residential Recovery Court, had his license reinstated, and he continues to support his success through our program by securing safe and sober housing. Both graduates have displayed perseverance in achieving goal after goal, and in combination with their hard work, the accomplishment of completing the Recovery Court program serves as an inspiration to not only their fellow participants but also every person they meet. 

Judge Lisa Rice
Graduates Kristin Nelms and Chris Hagy
Joshua Rice shares a poem he had written honoring a friend he had lost due to a substance abuse disorder
Rachel Roden – Felony Recovery Court Coordinator
Graduate Chris Hagy with Judge Stacy Street
Graduate Kristin Nelms and Judge Lisa Rice
Jason Abernathy and Brian Bowman (who performed at the graduation), Judge Lisa Rice, Families Free Executive Director Lisa Tipton, and Clinical Director Robin Ledford
The FJDFRC team and participants invited community members to join us in lighting a candle to join in the work we are doing in the area.

We want to once again congratulate our 2019 graduates, and our team looks forward to seeing how Chris and Kristin continue to bring about positive change not only for themselves but for our community as well. #LoveRestores

We want to extend a special thank you to Judge Stacy Street, Judge Lisa Rice, Joshua Rice, Jason Abernathy, and Brian Bowman for speaking and performing during the graduation ceremony. We also want to thank the other members of the FJDFRC team which include additional recovery agencies, judges, law enforcement members, district attorneys, and public defenders who work to ensure the success of the participants.

The First Judicial Recovery Court program is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Meredith2019 Recovery Court Graduation

Stories of Hope – Our Third Annual Fundraiser at Chateau Selah

What a difference a year makes …as we gathered together once more for our annual fundraiser at Chateau Selah, the beautiful rolling hills that serve as the venue’s backdrop mirrored the awe-inspiring changes we’ve seen take place in 2019.

Families Free feels so blessed to see the difference this year has made in the lives of those we serve. We have walked alongside so many women, children, and families through our programs, and we were excited to share the impact each program has made with our honored guests.

Fundraiser attendees had the opportunity to engage in three different program experiences, where they could learn more from our respective directors how Families Free programs offer services that not only impact the lives of clients but also our community as a whole. Because our programs are interconnected, vulnerable populations in our area have access to care that supports healing and transformation throughout every aspect of their lives. 

These program stations were nestled among a carefully curated event designed by sponsor Reclaimed Inspired Goods. Our emcee for the night, Kevin Wilson, helped kick off the festivities by introducing our Executive Director Lisa Tipton. Lisa shared with our guests an additional overview of our services and the details of the latest addition to our programs: The Storie House.

Our guests then enjoyed a delicious meal provided by Divine Catering Company and desserts from Bellafina Chocolates and New Maven Macs. Next, we all had the pleasure of hearing the musical talents of Barry Bales and Ronnie & Garnett Bowman before hearing stories of hope from three of our clients: Amanda, Layla, and Tiffany. With courage and vulnerability, they shared their individual experiences and detailed working with Families Free helped them change their lives.

Tabitha Sells then shared the story of her community-focused social enterprise: New Maven Macs. New Maven Macs was established for the sole purpose of being a network of healing, hope, and opportunity. Alongside Bellafina Chocolates and our team at Families Free, women in recovery have a trusting and supportive point of re-entry into the workforce.

Because of the aid and encouragement of our community, we continue to expand our outreach and in turn, impact the lives of those in need of hope, love, and restoration. With donations and pledges from our fundraiser, we have reached almost $85K and plan to open our next private residence this fall. Through faith and hard work, we look forward to so much more to come … #LoveRestores

Thank you to our business sponsors BBT, BBT Wealth, and McGriff Insurance Services, Chateau Selah, Bales Farms, Reclaimed Inspired Goods, and Universal Wines & Spirits for supporting this event.

*photos courtesy of Jared Roach

MeredithStories of Hope – Our Third Annual Fundraiser at Chateau Selah

2019 At A Glance …

One year can make such a difference, and 2019 has been no exception. We feel so blessed to see the difference and impact this year has made in the lives of those we serve, as we have walked alongside so many women, children, and families throughout the different programs offered by Families Free. 

Meredith2019 At A Glance …

Thoughts On Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a beautiful time for many of us, and spending the day with family allows us to create memories we will cherish. However, Mother’s Day can also be a difficult time for those who are dealing with loss – which can come in many forms.

MeredithThoughts On Mother’s Day

How Can a Seed Die and Still Become a Plant?

The seed, which contains the fullest potential of life, ceases to be a seed so that the plant inside may live. Essentially, its original form has died, and the seed becomes something new. A similar question can be asked – like the seed, how can you die unto yourself and live anew?

MeredithHow Can a Seed Die and Still Become a Plant?

Gov. Lee Signs Executive Order to Increase Access To Recovery Courts

“Public safety extends beyond party lines and has the best interest of every Tennessean in mind,” said Gov. Bill Lee.

According to The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), Governor Bill Lee’s FY20 budget proposal includes $4.7 million to increase access to recovery courts, supplement recovery court programming with Medication Assisted Treatment, and create a new residential recovery court for women. With $1.7 million in additional funding, recovery courts will expand capacity by 20 percent and serve an additional 500 Tennesseans each year.

MeredithGov. Lee Signs Executive Order to Increase Access To Recovery Courts

Let There Be Joy – Families Free Client Christmas Party

Tradition: a noun meaning to “hand down statements, beliefs, information, etc. from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.”

Traditions are so important to not only families but individuals as well, especially during the holiday season. For some of our clients, establishing new Christmas traditions that support their recovery feels like starting from scratch. However, just like our Executive Director Lisa Tipton said – “It just takes one person to start a tradition …”

MeredithLet There Be Joy – Families Free Client Christmas Party

Join Us In Bringing Light Through Family Traditions

If your family, church, or business is looking to give back this holiday season, we have two different ways for you to connect with families in need. Our Target registry is comprised of items that will help make this holiday season special for the families we serve. Your kindness will ensure that local children receive gifts and necessities wrapped with care by their parents, who have done the hard work of transforming themselves and their families, during our annual Client Christmas Party.

MeredithJoin Us In Bringing Light Through Family Traditions