Branch House Family Center Grand Opening

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We were thrilled to attend the grand opening of Branch House Family Center. As their community partner, we look forward to supporting their team of professionals led by our very own Board Member Karen Boyd. Branch House provides victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, human trafficking, and elder abuse with free services that meet their immediate and long-term needs and enhance their safety. Branch House will serve those in our community that need it most, and we believe that their work parallels our own mission to see that #LoveRestores.

Executive Director Lisa Tipton with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

During the grand opening, our Executive Director Lisa Tipton had the opportunity to personally thank Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for the $100K appropriation we will receive for the third year in a row this July. Being awarded this appropriation makes extraordinary outcomes possible and supports our work with NAS and drug-exposed babies, DCS and the Nurturing Parenting Program, Intensive Women’s Services in local jails, the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court, and many underserved families throughout the region.

*pictured above is our Board Member Linda Brittenham, Kim Greer, and Executive Director Lisa Tipton.

MeredithBranch House Family Center Grand Opening
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Shop For A Cause This Mother’s Day

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Are you still searching for the perfect gift for mom? We invite you to shop for a cause! Coffee and chocolate are small pleasures that make the day better, and we think mom deserves the very best of both.

Our delicious Woven Coffee is available at Reclaimed Inspired GoodsStir Fry Cafe: Asian, Sushi & Thai Cuisine, Kingsport, Southern Craft BBQButtermilk Sky Pie Shop Johnson City, Tennessee and River Mountain Antiques. Bellafina Chocolates also makes and distributes made-to-order gourmet artisan truffles designated to benefit Families Free. Each box of Families Free truffles features artwork by our Board Member Myra Phipps.

Selecting Families Free products for your mom ensures that she receives quality gifts that bring her joy and also help support our work with local mothers and families. #LoveRestores

MeredithShop For A Cause This Mother’s Day
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Coffee & Grace

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Raise your hand if you agree! Whether you view coffee as an essential or daily luxury – you want to make sure it tastes great. Our Woven blend allows you to experience the richness and warmth you expect from a great cup of coffee.

This week we invite you to take part in a special opportunity to stop in and shop our fresh Woven Coffee from our office! Treat yourself or a loved one to delicious coffee that helps provide programs and outreach to families in our community. #LoveRestores

MeredithCoffee & Grace
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An Honor For Emily Mark

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We are excited to announce that our very own Emily Mark was recognized by Milligan College for her student leadership and community service during their annual Leaders in Christian Service program. Through her work with Families Free, Emily has impacted many lives – especially our clients who are currently incarcerated. Through our existing Women’s Services in the Johnson City Detention Facility, Emily has facilitated book donations that serve as an outlet for the recipients.

“Families Free works with clients who are frequently stereotyped in society, and I feel that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect,” said Emily. “I am honored to be recognized by Milligan College, but what makes me happiest is knowing that the donation will benefit our clients.” Emily’s award from Milligan College also includes a monetary donation given to Families Free on her behalf, and this donation will be used to provide more books for the women in the Johnson City Detention Facility.

When asked about the importance of Emily’s book donations, women from the detention facility had this to say about the role that books play:

I appreciate having reading material. It helps to have an outlet when I have downtime. – Ashley
 
Thank you so much for the books that are provided for us here at the facility. It helps to be able to escape from the fact that we are incarcerated sometimes. I appreciate it more than you know. Vanessa
 
Doing time is very mentally draining. Having books to get lost in for any amount of time helps my days to move forward so much, and it helps me to stay somewhat level-headed. Thanks so much! – Brandy

We want to thank Jail Administrator Amy Clark for helping us share these stories and for her continued support of our programs. Through our partnership with the Johnson City Detention Facility and Emily’s hard work, we continue to see lives restored through love. #LoveRestores

MeredithAn Honor For Emily Mark
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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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