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
“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!”
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
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.
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
Over the years we have had the pleasure of partnering with several amazing organizations, and chief among them is Bellafina Chocolates.
Founded by Brenda Barnicki, Bellafina Chocolates’ singular purpose is to help vulnerable children in our region and beyond. “I started Bellafina Chocolates in my spare time while working as a Vice President in a Fortune 500 industrial company. I wanted to help underprivileged kids, and we quickly raised several thousand dollars for children’s charities. Barely a year later a corporate restructuring left me without a job and pondering what to do with the second half of my career. I believe that God gives us certain gifts, talents, and circumstances for a specific purpose.”
Brenda’s ability to turn a job loss into an opportunity to help others through delicious chocolate creations serves both our community and your palate. Her vision for the future has given many individuals and non-profits the platform to extend their outreach, and Bellafina has allowed us to enhance social enterprise opportunities through our Woven coffee blend. They not only sell Woven in their store but also employ women from our programs to help process, package, and deliver Woven throughout the community. This, in turn, provides them with the chance to learn new skills and continue to thrive – which helps restore both their confidence and their families.
Photo courtesy of Bellafina Chocolates
Bellafina 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. After an act of domestic violence disabled her right hand, Myra taught herself to paint with her left hand. She now uses her story and skills to show others the benefit of art therapy. Bellafina has amplified Myra’s amazing story of hope and healing, and we are grateful for Brenda and her team’s continued support. #LoveRestores
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
MeredithCards From Our Reentry Life Skills Classes
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.
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
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 email@example.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!