Cards From Our Reentry Life Skills Classes

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There are close to 450 women in the four regional jails we serve and around 100 of those women are engaged in our Reentry Life Skills Classes and Therapeutic Groups. From those women, we received several lovely cards over this past holiday season that were filled with messages brimming with hope and gratitude. In addition to their kind words, we were equally moved to learn that some of the cards were purchased by pooling together commissary money.

It’s our belief that during incarceration we should offer these women support when they choose to take that first step toward building a better life. We have a moral responsibility to meet them where they are at this time in their lives. Our mission is to give them hope, truth, and help teach them community reintegration and family reunification skills. We also provide a bridge to programs through Families Free that will further support them once they have been released. The connections we make during our time in the jails are vital to renewing these women, their families, and our community as well. #LoveRestores

caroline@familiesfree.comCards From Our Reentry Life Skills Classes
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We Are Looking To Add To Our Team!

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We are looking to add to our team!
A part-time/full-time position is currently open for a Family Specialist to work with at-risk families within the upper eight counties of Tennessee. The ideal candidate would have at least one year of full-time experience working with clients. A bachelor’s degree is required in either social work, counseling or other Human Services field.

Candidate’s hours must be flexible and be willing to work evenings/weekends. Self-motivation and good time management are required. Candidate must be able to pass a background check and possess a valid driver’s license. Duties will include providing transportation, case management, teaching parenting education, documentation and other responsibilities as assigned. The position will require some travel for training. Visit our contact page, and fill out the form to receive more information.

caroline@familiesfree.comWe Are Looking To Add To Our Team!
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A Very Special Christmas Party

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The spirit of giving is a common theme throughout the holiday season, but we’ve been blessed to see this firsthand many times over the course of the year – no more so than when it came time to host a Christmas party for the women in our programs.

Last month we reached out to the community to help us make this Christmas special for our clients and their children, and we received generosity beyond measure. Through our Target wish list and monetary donations, your kindness helped ensure that local children will receive their most-wished-for gifts and necessities.

On December 13th the Families Free team, members of our Board of Directors, and clients all gathered together to enjoy a meal, wrap gifts, and take part in a winter-inspired art project.

A significant moment in the day was when Christmas traditions and stories were shared by our staff. Among several stories, Director Lisa Tipton described how her family received new pajamas each year, and Director of Women’s Services Judy Clark explained how her children love to make their annual gingerbread houses every Christmas. Our hope was that if our clients don’t already have their very own traditions in place, that our stories would inspire them to design Christmas traditions that are unique to their family. Afterward, we then gave each woman a new set of pajamas for their children and gingerbread houses to assemble together!

With the help of volunteers and our staff alike, we then wrapped each gift for the children with care. We knew that excitement was just around the corner for our clients’ families, and this made the day all the more special for everyone involved. We then finished the party with an art project lead by Myra Phillips, a member of our board. This was a wonderful experience for all who took part in painting the winter scene with Myra and bringing home their very own painting will serve as a beautiful reminder of the day.

Once again, we thank every person who contributed to making this day a success. We are so proud of the hard work and grace displayed by our clients throughout this year. #LoveRestores

caroline@familiesfree.comA Very Special Christmas Party
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Shop For A Cause

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We invite you to shop for a cause this holiday season – Our Woven coffee blend allows you to experience the richness and warmth that transforms communities around the world. Proceeds from Woven purchases go toward Families Free programs that help restore lives and the special events that celebrate our clients’ achievements.

If you would like to place an order available for pick up in time for Christmas, please email Kim at kim@familiesfree.com. Once you confirm you order with her, you can stop by our office and take home the freshest coffee possible on Thursday, December 21st or Friday, December 22nd.

Need to pick up Woven before the 21st? Our specialty coffee blend is also available for purchase at Reclaimed Inspired Goods!

caroline@familiesfree.comShop For A Cause
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Stepping Out – A Families Free Clothing Event

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On November 29th the Families Free team was excited to host Stepping Out, a private clothing event for our clients held at First Christian Church. We were so thankful to receive gently-used clothing donations from the Owl’s Nest, and through their generosity, our clients where able to take home a variety of outfits. Most importantly, the clothes not only represent new outfits – they also symbolize progress and new opportunities.

A delicious lunch was also made available through donations from Tim Burchfield of Chick-fil-A at Johnson City Crossings, Petite Sweets, and Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop. During this time, our clients were able to fellowship, share stories, and discuss their hopes for the future. Later we took part in a round of bingo, and the winner of our very special drawing was announced! One of our clients received a gift card to Austin Springs Spa & Salon, where she will have the opportunity to relax and renew.

Our team wants to once again recognize the hard work of our clients, and we thank the local businesses that took part in making this a special day for all involved. #LoveRestores

caroline@familiesfree.comStepping Out – A Families Free Clothing Event
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Board of Directors Spotlight

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Board members not pictured: Karen Boyd, Julia Herwig, Trish Short, and Tina Wilson // Photo by Tina Wilson

We would like to take the time to shine a spotlight on our Board of Directors. We are so thankful for their hard work and guidance – not just on Thanksgiving day but every day.

Alongside our staff, our Board of Directors use their knowledge and special talents to make Families Free a stronger force for love and hope. As active members of our community, their time is certainly precious. This is why we feel truly blessed that each and every one of them chooses to be a part of our story and the success of our clients. #LoveRestores

From the Families Free staff and board, we wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

caroline@familiesfree.comBoard of Directors Spotlight
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A Year At A Glance

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It would be impossible to truly quantify the impact of one life, let alone a family, multiple families, and the members of a community. The totals you see above are something we are proud of, but they don’t take into account the connections made through group sessions, how our clients encourage those they work alongside and the people who feel inspired by the stories of the individuals and families we serve. Simply put, the effects go beyond almost six hundred families: these effects start a chain reaction that can’t be measured.

With our team’s dedication and insight into the needs of our community, we can only imagine the effects our programs will have in the coming year. Everyone at Families Free is truly humbled by the support we receive in our mission to offer assistance to those in need. Every day we see firsthand how #LoveRestores.

caroline@familiesfree.comA Year At A Glance
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In Brooke’s Shoes

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“After reading about self-sabotage, I started to learn so much about myself,” said Brooke.

Brooke was placed in DCS custody as a child, and she believes this is when she first started to make decisions based off fear. Self-sabotage came into play many times throughout her life – whether that be during her time spent living with foster families, when she entered into relationships with men, or even in regards to her own children.

“The worst part of my self-sabotaging would be my relationships with my children,” stated Brooke. “After I lost (gave up) my oldest son, I was ashamed of myself for losing him. I didn’t think I deserved my other kids. I was so scared of my addiction, and the way I was living.

I have also used self-sabotage with probation. Every time I was released, I was terrified. I did not know how to live outside of jail. At first I would run and continue to use. The last few times I’ve used right before my drug test knowing I would fail, just so I could go back to jail and live the life I was used to.”

Brooke in front of The Coffee Company, owned by John and Lisa Bunn.

Through her own hard work, the guidance and support given to her by our Families Free team, and her participation in the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court, Brooke is making big strides. She’s living a life where her decisions are based off hope and love, not fear.

The First Judicial Felony Recovery Court brings together community resources to help participants overcome barriers to treatment success. Team members are included from key agencies including State Probation, Alternative Community Corrections Program, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, Frontier Health, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, and treatment is provided by Families Free. The Recovery Court team is led by the Honorable Judge Stacy Street and the Honorable Judge Lisa Rice.

Families Free has been fortunate enough to receive support from businesses in our area – one of which is The Coffee Company, owned by John and Lisa Bunn. For the the last three months, Brooke has been working alongside the staff of this Elizabethton, TN mainstay.

The heart of John and Lisa’s business mirrors the very same goals we have for Families Free: a common desire to help the local community and provide a safe environment for those who are unsure of their future. “We are very likeminded in the way we want to help, said John Bunn. “We’re trying to provide a faith-based ministry, even though we are a restaurant – a place where people can have a new start. A place where young people can find their way.”

In addition to providing employment opportunities and important community connections, John and Lisa Bunn also lease an additional building where recovery court treatment sessions take place. Their continuous support of vital programs allows Brooke, and many others, the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

John Bunn, owner of The Coffee Company, and Brooke.

When asked how Families Free has changed her outlook for the future, Brooke had this to say: “It’s changed a lot. They helped me get into rehab, and then get helped me get into the Oxford House and helped me get my job. Now I plan on going to school and becoming a better person. I think everybody should get the chance to work with Families Free.”

“Brooke talked about becoming a better person – Brooke has always been a good person,” voiced Robin Ledford, Co-Occurring Coordinator, LADAC for Families Free. “I think it’s our job at Families Free to help her see that in herself, and there came a point in time when she was ready to receive the help. I’m very proud of Brooke and her progress. Her potential is unlimited.”

With the support of our community and a solid belief in herself and her abilities, we believe Brooke will utilize her unlimited potential to achieve great things. #LoveRestores

 

caroline@familiesfree.comIn Brooke’s Shoes
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Janessa’s Transformation

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Change can be both scary and painful – but it can also be the greatest gift we give to ourselves. Janessa’s story is one where change leads to success, and it serves to inspire everyone around her. It’s a true testament of how #LoveRestores.

In May 2016, Janessa decided to apply for Washington County, Tennessee’s Drug Recovery Court while she was in jail. “Because of the decisions I made entering Drug Recovery Court and joining Families Free – I have my children back, and I’m raising my children sober,” said Janessa.

More than a year later, Janessa’s first steps toward sobriety have allowed her to stand before her peers, friends, and our Families Free team to celebrate her success. This accomplishment means everything to Janessa.

“Before entering the Recovery Court program, I held on so long to dark places and dark people. I didn’t have my children; I didn’t have anything. I was actually sleeping in the woods at the time, because I didn’t even have a place to go. I’m walking out today knowing I can do it by myself. I’ve made so many changes, and it’s all because of Recovery Court. I did choose to change, but I wouldn’t be here today without Families Free,” said Janessa.

Janessa with Families Free’s Judy Clark and Lisa Tipton.

Janessa receiving her diploma from Assistant District Attorney Michael Rasnake and Megan Price, coordinator for the Washington County Drug Court.

Partnerships with programs such as Washington County, Tennessee’s Drug Recovery Court are vital in our work to support the community. However, it’s the incredible transformation of women like Janessa that truly showcases how love guides both the Families Free team and the individuals we serve.

 

caroline@familiesfree.comJanessa’s Transformation
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Families Free Featured On WJHL

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We are so grateful that our work with the community has been featured in the news once more! Local news station WJHL ran the story of one of our volunteers Myra Phipps and included information about our partnership with Bellafina Chocolates. Through Bellafina we make and distribute our gourmet chocolates and coffee, and this collaboration helps provide sustainable employment for women in our area. To read the full story follow this link or watch the video above.

 

caroline@familiesfree.comFamilies Free Featured On WJHL
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