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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Woven Coffee Across The Community

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We are excited to announce that Harvest Community Church will soon be serving our Woven blend coffee!

“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!”

We would also like to take the time to thank Reclaimed Inspired GoodsStir Fry Cafe: Asian, Sushi & Thai Cuisine, KingsportBellafina Chocolates, Southern Craft BBQButtermilk Sky Pie Shop Johnson City, Tennessee and River Mountain Antiques for partnering with us to share Woven coffee with our community.

If your church, business, or group is interested in serving or selling Woven, please contact Kim (at kim@familiesfree.com) for more information.
MeredithWoven Coffee Across The Community
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Mom Power – A Therapeutic Intervention for Mothers of Young Children

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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
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A Time For Celebration

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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.

MeredithA Time For Celebration
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Pie It Forward

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We are excited to announce that Families Free is the featured non-profit at Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop Johnson City, Tennessee for the month of February!

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

MeredithPie It Forward
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Changing The World Through Chocolate

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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

MeredithChanging The World Through Chocolate
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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

MeredithCards 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 another Human Services field.

Candidate’s hours must be flexible, and you must 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.

MeredithWe Are Looking To Add To Our Team!
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