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
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
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
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.
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.
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
“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
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.
“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
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