A Special Viewing Of “I Can Only Imagine”

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photo courtesy of imdb.com

Yesterday we had the pleasure of taking groups from both Washington County and Elizabethton to see a private showing of the film “I Can Only Imagine” at Real to Reel Theater. Our clients settled in with refreshments, a viewing guide and then learned the true story behind one of the most recognized songs in the past two decades.

The film gives the viewer an in-depth look into how MercyMe’s Bart Millard grew up in a home where abuse and fear were commonplace. Standing in broken places and acknowledging when we hurt or have hurt others is the central theme throughout the film. It’s when faith and forgiveness intertwine that Bart sees redemption first hand and can begin the healing process. Bart’s story eventually leads to writing and recording MercyMe’s song “I Can Only Imagine,” which has served as a reminder of God’s grace for many years.

After taking in the film, our clients will reflect on its message and discuss in their next group session the lessons of faith and restoration. Our team will also provide clients with additional one on one counseling to those who need to process further and give them the chance to learn more about how forgiveness looks in their own life.

We also want to take the time to thank the many organizations and churches such as Chris Fellowship and First Christian Church who help support Families Free. Their encouragement and support allow us to provide opportunities, like this one, that our clients might otherwise not be able to experience. #LoveRestores

 

 

 

 

MeredithA Special Viewing Of “I Can Only Imagine”
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Families Free In The News – Families Thrive

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Tammy Childress of the Bristol Herald Courier met with Families Free Executive Director Lisa Tipton and Niswonger Children’s Hospital CEO Lisa Carter to help announce our collaboration with the hospital to open Families Thrive.

Families Thrive is led by our very own Woven Coordinator Rachel Adams and Lisa Tipton. The program is designed to address the specific problems that NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome) babies and their families face. It’s a voluntary program that not only helps educate and assist mothers, but it also helps the hospital staff work with mothers to encourage breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact. Families Thrive also offers a parenting day, motivational group day, and art therapy day for the mothers in the unit. Most importantly, the program helps connect families to the programs they may need after leaving the hospital.

Photo Courtesy of Tammy Childress/Bristol Herald Courier

“On average, about 30 percent of the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at the children’s hospital suffer from NAS,” said Lisa Carter. NAS occurs when a baby is exposed to drugs like opioids in the womb. Babies can be born withdrawing from drugs taken by the mother and many experience tremors, diarrhea, dehydration, sweating, irritability, sensitivity to light and sound, and problems with sleeping – many require specialized care.

“They want to do better. They want to give their babies better. And oftentimes once the families are discharged they fall through the cracks,” Carter said. “So the focus of the program is on the baby’s success — Families Thrive helps the moms to realize that everything they do is for the sake of the baby. So the baby, the mom and family can thrive.”

To learn more about our collaboration with Niswonger Children’s Hospital, read the full Bristol Herald Courier article here. #LoveRestores

MeredithFamilies Free In The News – Families Thrive
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May Is Drug And Recovery Court Month

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Gov. Bill Haslam has issued a proclamation stating that May 2018 is Drug and Recovery Court Month in Tennessee! The proclamation recognizes: “ … that when just one person can break the cycle of substance use and crime, the individual, community, and state are better off.”

There are currently 77 recovery courts across Tennessee, and Families Free is proud to hold the contract for the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court. This recovery court serves Carter, Johnson, Washington and Unicoi County, and we offer evidenced-based and holistic treatment, education, and intervention that addresses each individual’s unique needs.

As of May 23rd, we have 15 clients that are actively taking part in our First Judicial Felony Recovery Court, four referrals to be assessed, and we’re also addressing the needs of two clients in the Morgan County Residential Recovery Court. – Rachel Roden, Families Free’s First Judicial Recovery Court Coordinator

Through our work with the First Judicial Felony Recovery Court, we see firsthand the powerful impact on our clients, their families, and the entire region as a whole. When our clients realize their full potential – it is truly powerful. Their progress is a testament to how hard work and love can transform a life. #LoveRestores

MeredithMay Is Drug And Recovery Court Month
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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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