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.
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.
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
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.
Change can be both scary and painful – but it can also be the greatest gift we give to ourselves. Janessa’s story is one where change leads to success, and it serves to inspire everyone around her. It’s a true testament of how #LoveRestores.
In May 2016, Janessa decided to apply for Washington County, Tennessee’s Drug Recovery Court while she was in jail. “Because of the decisions I made entering Drug Recovery Court and joining Families Free – I have my children back, and I’m raising my children sober,” said Janessa.
More than a year later, Janessa’s first steps toward sobriety have allowed her to stand before her peers, friends, and our Families Free team to celebrate her success. This accomplishment means everything to Janessa.
“Before entering the Recovery Court program, I held on so long to dark places and dark people. I didn’t have my children; I didn’t have anything. I was actually sleeping in the woods at the time, because I didn’t even have a place to go. I’m walking out today knowing I can do it by myself. I’ve made so many changes, and it’s all because of Recovery Court. I did choose to change, but I wouldn’t be here today without Families Free,” said Janessa.
Janessa with Families Free’s Judy Clark and Lisa Tipton.
Janessa receiving her diploma from Assistant District Attorney Michael Rasnake and Megan Price, coordinator for the Washington County Drug Court.
Partnerships with programs such as Washington County, Tennessee’s Drug Recovery Court are vital in our work to support the community. However, it’s the incredible transformation of women like Janessa that truly showcases how love guides both the Families Free team and the individuals we serve.
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.