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All Is Calm, All Is Bright

The days surrounding Christmas can be filled to the brim, but then Christmas Eve arrives, and we are invited to be still and know; to reflect on God’s perfect love. 

“His plan is for us is to live in His love … He knows love is powerful enough to pull us outside our heads long enough to take a risk for other people. Let’s let perfect love be more powerful than fear.” – Bob Goff

We don’t often talk about the notion of fear when Christmas is mentioned, but fear can even be present during times of great celebration. Fear can cause some of us to fall back on destructive habits and can stop others from loving those around them.

It was His love that sent us His son – the redeemer. It’s redemption and the daily practice of letting God’s perfect love serve as our guide that is in keeping with this season of hope. Choosing love over fear is a risk, but it’s worth it to see how #LoveRestores our community.

God’s perfect love is always at the forefront during our annual client Christmas parties. It’s a special time when our team, board members, and clients come together to fellowship, share the importance of Christmas traditions, build gingerbread houses, and experience the effects of healing firsthand.

In addition to the IOP Christmas parties, the opportunity to hand-deliver care packages to inmates at the Johnson City Detention Center provides us with a very personal moment to share and see God’s love. Knowing that the women we met with will be spending the holidays away from their family, we wanted to ensure that they can take the time to enjoy a Little Debbie cake and receive much-needed items such as toothpaste, a new toothbrush, and shampoo. We also provided them with a devotional to have by their side.

From all of us at Families Free, we want to thank our board members, volunteers, JCDC administrators and correctional officers, and First Christian Church for facilitating the opportunities to reflect and show love this Christmas.  #LoveRestores

MeredithAll Is Calm, All Is Bright

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

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?

The Storie House

At The Storie House, lives will be changed …
The Storie House serves to create an environment where love can restore. Our vision for the home is that it will provide every woman the opportunity to achieve the fresh start she desires.
The Storie House is a private residence that can support and nurture five women from our program and up to four children, as well as provide a safe, sober place to live and integrate new life skills. This new addition will be overseen by Judy Clark, our Director of Women’s Services.
The home’s namesake comes from our Board Member Nancy Storie and is inspired by her generosity and dedication to the women in our program.

MeredithThe Storie House

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

A Visit To The Johnson City Detention Center

On December 20, 2018, Families Free Executive Director Lisa Tipton, Clinical Director Robin Ledford, and our Director of Women’s Services Judy Clark visited with the inmates at the Johnson City Detention Center to hand-deliver Christmas care packages. With the help of Jail Administrator Amy Clark and correctional officers, we were able to provide a bag filled with toiletries, a snack cake, and a devotional for each inmate.

MeredithA Visit To The Johnson City Detention Center

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

TCCY Legislative Brunch

We were honored to co-sponsor Northeast Tennessee Council On Children and Youth’s Legislative Brunch this past Friday, November 30th. State agencies, local non-profits, legislators, and many more gathered to discuss how we can continue to work together to ensure children in East Tennessee are safe, healthy, educated, nurtured and provided with opportunities that help them achieve their full potential.
MeredithTCCY Legislative Brunch