How Can a Seed Die and Still Become a Plant?

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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?

That was the very question discussed during our annual client Easter party this year, where the story of Jesus’ resurrection and the teachings of Christ highlight the transformations that have taken place within the lives of both our staff and clients.

During our time with clients, we painted and planted flower pots to incorporate the theme of the seed within our day and used Resurrection Eggs to bring a greater understanding of Easter to the forefront. We also enjoyed a meal together, and each woman was able to bring home an Easter basket for their children so they could continue to reflect on and share the story of Jesus’ resurrection.

The theme of forgiveness is also central to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The importance of forgiveness cannot be overstated in the journey that every one of the individuals in our programs must take to reach the other side of recovery and living life anew. 

Thistle Farms Founder Becca Stevens shared this beautiful message of forgiveness, and we believe it encapsulates how we can apply its transformative powers to our lives not only on this Good Friday but during our daily walk throughout the year.  #LoveRestores

MeredithHow Can a Seed Die and Still Become a Plant?
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The Storie House

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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.

Thank you to every single person that donated their time and supplies – your support has helped make this house a home. #LoveRestores

MeredithThe Storie House
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Gov. Lee Signs Executive Order to Increase Access To Recovery Courts

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“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.

Gov. Lee recognizes the importance of the life-changing services provided by recovery courts and how they continue to help communities statewide, including our very own. Through Families Free’s work with the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court, we give our clients access to the structure and treatment they need to establish a life in recovery. This then provides clients with a renewed connection with their family, community and their own innate abilities and strengths.

Rachel Roden, our First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court Coordinator, was profiled by TDMHSAS. Rachel shared her experience with our clients in recovery court, as well as the effect our programs have on the community.

The hard work that is displayed by our recovery court team, and the diligence of our clients, has on an impact that extends beyond Families Free. The positive effects will continue to reverberate throughout the region and for generations to come. #LoveRestores

MeredithGov. Lee Signs Executive Order to Increase Access To Recovery Courts
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A Visit To The Johnson City Detention Center

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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. Knowing that these women would be spending the holidays away from family, this opportunity was incredibly special and moving for our senior staff. We felt blessed to spend time with each and every person we spoke to that evening.

As part of our program specifically designed for incarcerated women, we utilize Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT®). MRT is an effective systematic, cognitive-behavioral approach that treats a wide range of issues, including substance abuse, for persons involved in the criminal justice system. MRT has proven success in reducing recidivism, increasing offenders’ moral reasoning, decreasing dropout rates, increasing life purpose, and reducing antisocial thinking and behavior. To date we have had 40 inmates complete MRT since its inception at the Johnson City Detention Center, with 12 more in the process of completing the 16 weeks (minimum) needed to graduate from the class.

Through MRT, inmates begin to believe change is possible and take the first steps in addressing their core issues, learn the concepts of criminal and addictive thinking, and begin to plan the concrete supports necessary for their success post-release.

At the heart of recovery is love. The love that drives our team to give their time to our clients long after the office has closed for the day, the love that clients must find inside themselves in order to heal and succeed, and the love from a community who supports our work. We are thankful for the opportunity to continue to love, guide, and build up our clients in the new year and in return witness the palpable social changes throughout the region. #LoveRestores

MeredithA Visit To The Johnson City Detention Center
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Let There Be Joy – Families Free Client Christmas Party

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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 …”

 

This week we hosted our annual Client Christmas Party for women in our program, and the central theme was tradition. Members of our senior staff shared their family traditions which include building gingerbread houses, giving their children new pajamas, playing games, and reading the Christmas story. Even as adults, the children of our staff members hold these Christmas traditions dear and ensure that the younger kids in the family are just as excited to take part each year. The hope was that by sharing our stories, we could inspire clients to create their own unique traditions for their families.

Robin Ledford, Families Free’s Clinical Director, MSW, LADAC, addressed the need for meetings during the holiday season, and she shared that Christmas can be special by experiencing the day sober for the first time. For our clients, continuing the tradition of sobriety during Christmas and embracing the fact that their holiday might look different from others is essential in building a practice in peace.

In addition to this time of reflection, our clients and staff enjoyed a delicious meal together, and then our clients built gingerbread houses of their very own. Through the generosity of our community, donations of gifts and necessities, bibles, gingerbread house kits, and new pajamas were then wrapped by our clients and are now ready to be enjoyed by their children this Christmas.

We are so grateful to our community for helping us strengthen the families of our clients, through fostering resiliency and encouraging positive relationships within their family. #LoveRestores

 

 

MeredithLet There Be Joy – Families Free Client Christmas Party
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TCCY Legislative Brunch

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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.
 
Families Free’s Executive Director Lisa Tipton spoke to the attendees about how our programs integrate evidence-based treatment services, education, and intensive case management support to increase parental capacity and recovery skills. This in turn equips parents with the tools to provide their children with the foundation they need to feel secure and supported. #LoveRestores

Lisa Tipton addressing the Legislative Brunch attendees.

Ronda Paulson from Isaiah House 117

Tennessee Senator Rusty Crowe

MeredithTCCY Legislative Brunch
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Open House Event For Our New JC Office

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We were excited to officially share our new office space in Johnson City this past Thursday, November 29th. Our Open House Event was the culmination of a lot of hard work from the Families Free team and also many members of our community. To those who assisted in the search for our office, helped us move, put furniture together, and decorated our space so that it feels warm and inviting to everyone that steps foot in our door – we thank you. Our success is in large part due to your kindness, and we feel so blessed to receive the support.

We are so thrilled to work with and guide our clients in this new office, and we look forward to seeing love grow here. #LoveRestores

 

MeredithOpen House Event For Our New JC Office
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Join Us In Bringing Light Through Family Traditions

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If your family, church, or business is looking to give back this holiday season, we have two different ways for you to connect with families in need. Our Target registry is comprised of items that will help make this holiday season special for the families we serve. Your kindness will ensure that local children receive gifts and necessities wrapped with care by their parents, who have done the hard work of transforming themselves and their families, during our annual Client Christmas Party.

Follow the link to help provide local children with gifts and essentials this Christmas >> https://tinyurl.com/yb3xb6j9

* We will be accepting registry items now through Friday, December 14th. If you purchase a gift in store from our Target registry, we kindly ask that you drop off your donation at our new office location: 693 Princeton Road, Johnson City, TN 37601
If you purchase from our registry online, the item will be shipped to our office. Please contact Stephanie (stephanie@familiesfree.com) if you have further questions or would like to learn more about how you can help. #LoveRestores

Would you like to help outside of our gift registry? Your monetary donation will go toward fulfilling these very special Christmas wishes, and we make it simple to donate online. Visit our home page and click on the “donate” button located in the top righthand corner.

 

MeredithJoin Us In Bringing Light Through Family Traditions
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First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court Graduation

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Successful individuals build successful communities …

On Thursday, October 11th members of the Families Free and First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court teams, current participants in the program, family, and friends gathered to celebrate the success of Brooke and Kaice. Both women joined the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court program looking for a second chance.

The First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court provides alternatives besides jail time, such as counseling, curriculum, and access to a number of opportunities that serve to support their success. It’s an important tool for those who need help staying out of the cycle of jail time, being released, and then going back again.

Judge Lisa Rice introduces the Recovery Court team.

Keynote Speaker Judge Stacy Street discusses Recovery Court in depth.

Ricky Lee Hilton and Jason Abernathy provide music during the ceremony.

Through this opportunity, both women completed the five phases of the program and met personal goals along the way. From April 2017 to October 2018, Brooke worked hard to reach and exceed milestones such as beginning work at The Coffee Company and then earning a management position at Auntie Ann’s, she celebrated one year of sobriety, worked with a sponsor and then began sponsoring her first individual, she passed the written and driving test to obtain her license, and Brooke even purchased her first car.

During the graduation ceremony panel interview, Families Free’s Executive Director Lisa Tipton asked both women to share one of the biggest lessons they learned while working through the program.

Executive Director Lisa Tipton moderates the panel with graduates Kaice and Brooke.

Recovery Court Graduate Panel.

Kaice also met and exceeded every goal that was set in front of her. From March 2017 to August 2018 Kaice completed her HiSET® exam through Northeast State, she is actively working with a sponsor and chaired her first AA meeting, she purchased a new home, Kaice’s daughters moved in with her, and then she started college at Northeast State this fall.

It’s easy to draw inspiration from their accomplishments, but what is even more impressive is that after completing all five phases of the FJDFRC program both Kaice and Brooke actively seek out opportunities to help others. Kaice plans to study counseling in school, and Brooke is working as a sponsor and serves as a supportive leader for other women in Oxford House – a self-sustaining sober living home.

Graduation Ceremony with Judge Street, Kaice, Brooke, Judge Rice and Recovery Court Director Rachel Roden.

Graduates receiving their diplomas.

Refreshments and fellowship followed the graduation ceremony.

Refreshments and fellowship followed the graduation ceremony.

Member of the Families Free team with graduates Kaice and Brooke.

It’s with pride that we watch Kaice and Brooke move past the cycle of self-sabotage they knew before and maintain a new lifestyle of support and love. With bright futures ahead, we congratulate our very first graduates and look forward to seeing how their success helps build a stronger, more successful community. #LoveRestores

We want to extend a special thank you to Judge Lisa Rice, Judge Stacy Street, Jason Abernathy, and Ricky Lee Hilton 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 District Felony Recovery Court program is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

 

 

MeredithFirst Judicial District Felony Recovery Court Graduation
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Building Strong Brains: Tennessee Event

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“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” JFK

Families Free was invited to take part in the event for Building Strong Brains: Tennessee in Nashville today. This ACEs Initiative is a major statewide effort to establish Tennessee as a national model for how a state can promote culture change in early childhood based on a philosophy that preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences, and their impact, is the most promising approach to helping Tennessee children lead productive, healthy lives.

Dr. Karen Schetzina and Executive Director Lisa Tipton next to the informational poster for their Baby Steps to Success ACEs project.

Families Free’s work in the community mirrors these very same goals, and we address the hard issues facing our region: addiction, child welfare, and poverty. Our programs help build the capacity of vulnerable families through education, intervention, and restoration of relationships – all of which strengthens families and our community as a whole. We love Tennessee’s commitment to children and families, and we are so grateful for their state funding and support in our efforts to build and foster resiliency. #LoveRestores

MeredithBuilding Strong Brains: Tennessee Event
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