Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.– Karen Salmansohn
There are a great many things that seem uncertain. That’s why Families Free believes that now more than ever we need to highlight the good and champion positive outcomes. We want to celebrate the graduation of Danny, TK, and Nena from the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court program.
On Wednesday, March 4th, our graduates were honored by members of the Families Free and First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court teams, as family, friends, and current program participants gathered together to congratulate them on their hard work and achievements.
We want to thank Keynote Speaker Tim Hicks, Judge Lisa Rice, and Judge Stacy Street for speaking 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. We are excited to see how Danny, TK, and Nena continue to make strides in their recovery and bring about positive change within their own families and our community as a whole. #LoveRestores
The First Judicial Recovery Court program is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness …”
On Tuesday, November 26th, Chris and Kristin were honored by members of the Families Free and First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court teams during our second annual Recovery Court Graduation. Along with current program participants, family, and friends, we all gathered together to celebrate their hard work and success.
The First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court provides alternatives to jail time, such as counseling, curriculum, and access to several opportunities that are designed to support their sobriety. It’s an important tool for those who need help staying out of the cycle of jail time, being released, and then returning.
Through this opportunity, both Kristin and Chris completed the five phases of the program and met personal goals along the way. Kristin maintained two jobs during her time in our program, bought a vehicle, has been sober since July of 2018, and she’s investing in her future by attending classes at Northeast State.
Chris has been sober since October of 2017, completed the Morgan County Residential Recovery Court, had his license reinstated, and he continues to support his success through our program by securing safe and sober housing. Both graduates have displayed perseverance in achieving goal after goal, and in combination with their hard work, the accomplishment of completing the Recovery Court program serves as an inspiration to not only their fellow participants but also every person they meet.
Judge Lisa RiceGraduates Kristin Nelms and Chris HagyJoshua Rice shares a poem he had written honoring a friend he had lost due to a substance abuse disorderRachel Roden – Felony Recovery Court CoordinatorGraduate Chris Hagy with Judge Stacy StreetGraduate Kristin Nelms and Judge Lisa RiceJason Abernathy and Brian Bowman (who performed at the graduation), Judge Lisa Rice, Families Free Executive Director Lisa Tipton, and Clinical Director Robin Ledford
The FJDFRC team and participants invited community members to join us in lighting a candle to join in the work we are doing in the area.
We want to once again congratulate our 2019 graduates, and our team looks forward to seeing how Chris and Kristin continue to bring about positive change not only for themselves but for our community as well. #LoveRestores
We want to extend a special thank you to Judge Stacy Street, Judge Lisa Rice, Joshua Rice, Jason Abernathy, and Brian Bowman 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 Recovery Court program is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
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.
We were thrilled to take part in providing refreshments and our Woven Coffee for the attendees of Latched on to Maternal Health: Northeast Tennessee Regional Maternal Health Forum today. This one-day conference focused on a variety of available interventions for the prenatal and postpartum woman and maternal mental health.
Families Free Executive Director Lisa Tipton and Woven Coordinator Rachel Adams were on hand to discuss with attendees how our team serves the community by providing treatment, intervention services, employment through our social enterprise opportunities, and much more. Rachel was also there to share how our Woven program continues to make strides in serving mothers.
Woven is designed to support women who have delivered a drug-exposed infant. We work to see them restored to the mothers they were created to be by utilizing evidence-based treatment services, intensive case management support, and in-home parenting support to further promote bonding, attachment, and increased parental capacity. To learn more about this program, please visit the Woven page here.
We would also like to extend a huge thank you to Tim Burchfield and Chick-fil-A Johnson City Crossing for donating gift cards for us to give the conference attendees, as well as New Maven Macs for their delicious macaroons. New Maven Macs is a social enterprise opening soon in Kingsport whose mission is to employ and support women in our community who are reshaping their lives after incarceration and addiction. #LoveRestores
Sponsors for this event are the ETSU Office of Continuing Medical Education at Quillen College of Medicine, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition.
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
“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
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
It would be impossible to truly quantify the impact of one life, let alone a family, multiple families, and the members of a community. The totals you see above are something we are proud of, but they don’t take into account the connections made through group sessions, how our clients encourage those they work alongside and the people who feel inspired by the stories of the individuals and families we serve. Simply put, the effects go beyond almost six hundred families: these effects start a chain reaction that can’t be measured.
With our team’s dedication and insight into the needs of our community, we can only imagine the effects our programs will have in the coming year. Everyone at Families Free is truly humbled by the support we receive in our mission to offer assistance to those in need. Every day we see firsthand how #LoveRestores.
“After reading about self-sabotage, I started to learn so much about myself,” said Brooke.
Brooke was placed in DCS custody as a child, and she believes this is when she first started to make decisions based off fear. Self-sabotage came into play many times throughout her life – whether that be during her time spent living with foster families, when she entered into relationships with men, or even in regards to her own children.
“The worst part of my self-sabotaging would be my relationships with my children,” stated Brooke. “After I lost (gave up) my oldest son, I was ashamed of myself for losing him. I didn’t think I deserved my other kids. I was so scared of my addiction, and the way I was living.
I have also used self-sabotage with probation. Every time I was released, I was terrified. I did not know how to live outside of jail. At first I would run and continue to use. The last few times I’ve used right before my drug test knowing I would fail, just so I could go back to jail and live the life I was used to.”
Brooke in front of The Coffee Company, owned by John and Lisa Bunn.
Through her own hard work, the guidance and support given to her by our Families Free team, and her participation in the First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court, Brooke is making big strides. She’s living a life where her decisions are based off hope and love, not fear.
The First Judicial Felony Recovery Court brings together community resources to help participants overcome barriers to treatment success. Team members are included from key agencies including State Probation, Alternative Community Corrections Program, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, Frontier Health, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, and treatment is provided by Families Free. The Recovery Court team is led by the Honorable Judge Stacy Street and the Honorable Judge Lisa Rice.
Families Free has been fortunate enough to receive support from businesses in our area – one of which is The Coffee Company, owned by John and Lisa Bunn. For the the last three months, Brooke has been working alongside the staff of this Elizabethton, TN mainstay.
The heart of John and Lisa’s business mirrors the very same goals we have for Families Free: a common desire to help the local community and provide a safe environment for those who are unsure of their future. “We are very likeminded in the way we want to help, said John Bunn. “We’re trying to provide a faith-based ministry, even though we are a restaurant – a place where people can have a new start. A place where young people can find their way.”
In addition to providing employment opportunities and important community connections, John and Lisa Bunn also lease an additional building where recovery court treatment sessions take place. Their continuous support of vital programs allows Brooke, and many others, the opportunity to thrive and succeed.
John Bunn, owner of The Coffee Company, and Brooke.
When asked how Families Free has changed her outlook for the future, Brooke had this to say: “It’s changed a lot. They helped me get into rehab, and then get helped me get into the Oxford House and helped me get my job. Now I plan on going to school and becoming a better person. I think everybody should get the chance to work with Families Free.”
“Brooke talked about becoming a better person – Brooke has always been a good person,” voiced Robin Ledford, Co-Occurring Coordinator, LADAC for Families Free. “I think it’s our job at Families Free to help her see that in herself, and there came a point in time when she was ready to receive the help. I’m very proud of Brooke and her progress. Her potential is unlimited.”
With the support of our community and a solid belief in herself and her abilities, we believe Brooke will utilize her unlimited potential to achieve great things. #LoveRestores
Lisa Tipton has served as the Executive Director of Families Free since 2008. She is a strong advocate for women’s ministries, drug and alcohol treatment, and the restoration of her community. Lisa is also a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor and currently serves as the clinical supervisor of the drug and alcohol clinical component at Families Free.
As a result of her continuous efforts to build a successful nonprofit organization, Families Free holds the Regional Therapy Family Preservation Contract for the Northeast Region of Tennessee – this is in addition to being a credential service provider for drug and alcohol assessments, clinical parenting assessments, drug and alcohol treatment, parenting education, and homemaker services. Families Free also holds the contract for the First Judicial District Felony Drug Court in Elizabethton, TN where services began in early 2017.
Families Free is a licensed co-occurring drug and alcohol treatment facility and is responsible for creating the model for the Woven Program – serving mothers of NAS infants funded through the Department of Health. Families Free consists of 14 employees whose passion, skills, and desire to serve have the ability to reach more than 155 families a month through outreach programs, various community agencies, and the services provided for female inmates. Lisa’s mission is to strengthen our community by building the capacity of vulnerable families through education, intervention, and restoring relationships – a mindset she has infused within the work of Families Free.
Lisa’s knowledge and passion mirrors our organization’s dedication to making positive impacts on at-risk and often overlooked populations, by providing quality, evidence-based services that are combined with the faith-based principles of compassion, healing, and restoration to promote positive lifestyle changes.
When not working within her various roles, Lisa enjoys serving at Calvary Church in Johnson City, TN and she was also recently honored as an ETSU College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame Recipient, in addition to being named one of the Leaders in Christian Service by Milligan College in 2017.