Volume 1805• Issue 7 • May 2018

Message from Christi Webb, Executive Director of The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi and Co-Director of Families First for Mississippi

   Meet Norma Gutierrez.  She and her family originally hail from Baja California, Mexico, which is a little south of Tijuana, border town with California, United States.  Norma is known within her local network for her excellent Tres Leches cakes.  She and her family moved to the United States about 7 years ago when her husband’s employer transferred the family to this area.     Since moving here, Norma has been busy working to fulfill her ambitions and life goals.She enrolled in classes at ICC to perfect her skills in baking (completed all culinary/baking offered there) and, in October 2017, she enrolled in the Toyota Family Learning ESL program at FRC.  She has a plan and she is checking the boxes of completion toward her goals. She wants to stay in Tupelo.  In addition to the ICC completion, she has mastered a level of English language that helped her to pass her citizenship test. 

Norma Gutierrez works with Bi-lingual Educator Beverly Gonzalez to improve language skills.

   Tres Leches cake is made in three layers with four kinds of milk.  A moist and airy confection, Tres Leches is the not the easiest dessert to make unless maybe you are a master baker who is infused with the milk of human kindness and also  knows the trouble is worth the exquisite pleasure the dessert will provide—plus that spirit of doing for others.

It is with this milk of human kindness that certain community service programs were formed and are flourishing.    Toyota Family Learning Program and The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC) partnered together to offer a family learning program that includes ESL (English as a second language). These programs include classroom opportunities, online learning, pronunciation guidance and practice with onsite instructor and with internet guides. Both organizations also work together in many different community services to improve the lives within that regional community—that milk of human kindness.

ESL Improves English Aiding in Receiving Citizenship 

    As summer rolls around and schools are getting out, the Family Resource Center staff is shifting gears and looking forward to new opportunities to engage families and provide services.

    Our partnerships with local agencies who share our vision of service, training and education allow us to do so many things to help strengthen and stabilize the families we serve.

    Providing food boxes to food insecure families, bicycles to local families facing homelessness, health screenings for youth, and hosting Safety Day with fun activities and lots of great training and information for families are just a few of the wonderful things we are looking forward to this summer.

     Any chance that we get to help a family meet the needs that face us all, we want to do it. Any chance that we get to make our service a fun experience is just the icing on the cake for us. 


 Last week, Norma passed the examination and became a happy citizen of the United States.

Norma Gutierrez offers praise for Susan Russell, Bi-lingual educator in the Toyota Family Learning Program.

    Her husband of 28 years, Miguel Angel Lopez, already has attained his citizenship.   Her middle son, Edgar Paulo Lopez, passed his also with his mother and this was on the same day that he graduated from ICC.   Sebastian Miguel Lopez, age 11 and youngest son, loves studying with her and attending the Toyota Learning events also.  Miguel and Norma also have a 27-year-old son named Sergio Miguel Lopez.

   Currently an at-home mother, Norma is moving toward full preparation to join the fuerza laboral (workforce) after her youngest son completes his education and begins his adult life.  She would like to pursue a career in culinary arts and be a master baker. The community can look forward to her tres leches cakes (three-layer milk cake).  By then, she plans to ensure that Sebastian also has his citizenship.

   Norma attributes much of her success in the citizenship quest to the instruction and support of her educators at FRC.  Susan Russell, FRC bi-lingual field educator in the ESL Toyota Learning Program, has been “excellent”, going above and beyond the Burlington curriculum to provide face-to-face instruction along with online lessons, pronunciation guides and vocabulary suitable for different life or professional needs.  She also has worked closely with Beverly Gonzalez, also a bi-lingual field educator at FRC.

    The FRC organization is designed to stimulate employment through job readiness, support family financial stability, promote literacy, and increase graduation rates while continuing to support positive youth development, decreasing teen pregnancy rates, promoting positive father involvement, parenting education and parenting skills development. Other components include literacy through ESL, a high school diploma program through online resources, child advocacy and more. 


Just like a movie clip, Food Service Pathway Training debuted & moved on cue to a class graduating May 18th; Workforce initiative moving Mississippi forward

   A well-equipped kitchen that was not in use at the Itawamba Community College- Belden Center has been repurposed to establish a Food Service Pathway Program through a partnership between ICC and Families First for Mississippi. Under the direction of Christy Scheuer, who has excelled in the food service industry for around 20 years, the program is off to a wonderful start and has graduated its first class of students. “My husband says that I come home excited every day. I am doing what I love and helping the local workforce,” she said about the new program.

   During the four-week course, the students learn all the basics of safety and industry standards, but also provide a buffet-style cafeteria for instructors, students and visitors to buy hearty and nutritious lunches. The students are putting into practice the instruction they receive in the classroom which makes for a truly interactive educational experience.

   The real objective is that the students will receive ServSafe Certification and a Certificate of Completion from the Food Service Pathway program.  They will learn proper food handling standards, kitchen safety practices, culinary techniques, menu building and menu inventory, cost management, cooking to the suit the client and for small batches, timing for freshness and more.

   Scheuer says that many friends that are local restaurant owners or managers “tell me that it can be hard to find people who have the will, the wisdom and the desire to do this kind of work well.  What I see in this classroom is that everyone here wants to be here! When they finish, they will have enough confidence in themselves to know that they can ‘kill’ this.”

   “This industry is very serious in that that there are safety and handling standards that we have to abide by but you also need to have fun while you are doing this.  I try to bring this to the classes. My curriculum is designed to keep them involved and also to allow them to have ownership of what they are doing and learning.  It is so great to see what they can accomplish…just wonderful to see the confidence being built and as they become excited about what they are doing.”

   Two events marked the third week of May:  On May 15th, the kitchen had their “official” ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the pathway program.  Then, the first graduating class members (graduated May 18th) walked away with ServSafe Certification, a national educational program accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which has been incorporated into the ICC

program as well as a Certificate of Completion for the Food Service Pathway.

   What is all this about?

   If you have ever heard your local automobile mechanic tell you that you need a part that will cost about $5 but your repair bill will be around $500, then you understand that fixing a problem can sometimes be a complex process but that each step must be taken to make that improvement.

   In the state of Mississippi, the median household income was measured in the Census ACS-1 as being $41,754 which is at least $15,000 below the national average.  That means a complex set of steps will have to be taken to “fix” the problem—i.e., improve the work skills up to those of a medium level after increasing literacy improvement and educational advancement, along with attracting companies to the state that offer better income levels and advancement opportunities.

   Mississippi is going to have to take the car apart to put in the $5 part in order to help lower income brackets earn better incomes.  This is just what The Family Resource Center is working on in their Workforce and Job Readiness platform, through the Families First for Mississippi program.  Many of the workforce platforms are implemented through partnership with other organizations that want to solve the same problems. 

   The battle for improvement in Mississippi can be won, and great advances are taking place in many fields. One by one, in the areas of education, youth development, parenting and workforce development, programs are being implemented that will, in the final analysis as time will reveal, show a courageous march toward improved lives, higher educational achievement, increased corporate interest and increased pride and hope.  This is why Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) has engaged in the action. 

    Families First for Mississippi focuses in the workforce pillar of their organization by helping people to connect to career opportunities through several avenues.  The steps needed for each pathway can differ widely so there is a navigator at five community colleges in North Mississippi that can guide hopefuls through the maze of education needed, educational institutes (from high school diploma and forward) to job requirements, locations, resumes and many other particulars.

    The ICC Belden Food Service Pathway is one of the avenues for pathway entry and advancement.  It is one of which FRC is excited to offer and will follow as the next class begins May 29th.


Golf Tournament at Big Oaks raised funds for CAC

   Golf is fun, right? Lots of people love golf for many reasons:  wide-open beautiful spaces; dress up a little to play golf (vs. hunting); it’s okay to get mud on your clothes (no one gets mad about it); you can play by yourself or can play with friends or join a group looking for another number; getting to look around the woods and find all kinds of neat things (sunglasses, hats, etc.); or for the joy just being outside all day!

   There are some other pretty big reasons to call a day of golf a joy, like playing a fund-raiser to support non-profit organizations that support the community—to make a community a better place to live for all the residents.  When that gets even better is when two philanthropic organizations are holding hands to provide sorely needed services in the community.

   On April 30th, the Exchange Club held their biggest annual fund-raiser of the year at Big Oaks Golf Club.  The tournament was held to raise funds to support the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), located in Tupelo, a service provided by The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi.  The National Exchange Club’s National Project is the prevention of child abuse.

    CAC’s mission includes forensic interviews with children aged three to ten (twelve to seventeen on referral) of sexual or physical abuse or witnesses to physical violence.  CAC is part of a multidisciplinary team that reviews each situation and provides support through therapy, medical referrals and with any legal actions that might be indicated. 

    When the case elevates to court review, CAC and the team work together to protect, provide therapy and to support victims (plus guardian or parent that is not involved in the abuse) as the accused offender is examined by the legal system and when processed through the court system.  Trauma therapists or counselors work with the victims, as well as make referrals to indicated medical or other agencies as suits the case.

    The services provided by the CAC are free!

    The Big Oaks Golf Club tournament was The Exchange Club’s fund-raiser to help fund the work done by the CAC.  All proceeds from the day will be given directly to The Family Resource Center to support their CAC clinic.

     Lisa Kawasinski, Director of the CAC center, and Christi Webb, Executive Director FRC, both greeted the eighteen teams playing and expressed delight in the generous support being shown through the event.   This was the tenth year The Exchange Club has provided this support through a golf tournament.






Pictured above:  1) Marcus Depree (back) embraces the beautiful day and all the wonderful people who had come together to raise funds for FRC.  Front are Jack Morris (grandson of Christi Webb), Christi Webb, (Executive Director of FRC), and Lisa Kwasinski of CAC.     2) FRC Staff supporting the event are front, left to right,- Veronica Agnew, Takiva Bell, Stephanie Collier, Emily Thomas, Lisa Kwasinski, back, left  to right,- Liria Frerer, Pam Morris

 3) Seated:  Dr. David Cole, FRC Director of Workforce and Job Readiness, and Shane Aguirre, Legislator     4)  A very focused golfer!     5)     Jack Morris, grandson of Christi Webb


Toyota Family Learning Program End of Year Banquet and Graduation was held at Summit Center

   Flowing conversation interspersed with children’s laughter was on the menu as 36 families joined together to celebrate the culmination of a year of family growth and educational interaction through the Toyota Family Learning Program administered by the Family Resource Center.  
   The highlight of the graduation banquet came when program participants shared the three service learning projects that they worked on throughout the year. Projects included providing a non-traditional holiday meal at Tree of Life Clinic, the distribution of care packages to a local assisted living facility through the Adopt-A-Grandparent program, and a book drive for new and gently used books for area children through the Shared Reading project. 
    Toyota Family Learning, an innovative, two‐generation model, is a solution to many of the educational challenges facing low‐income and ethnically diverse families. The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi received a three‐year $175,000 grant, from Toyota Mississippi to launch the program in 2016. 
    “Toyota is very proud to bring this innovative and impactful program to communities where our team members live, work and play,” said Toyota President Sean Suggs. “We know that educating parents and children together, along with family engagement in schools and neighborhoods, helps children, families and communities thrive.” 
   The program empowers parents and caregivers, as well as their children, to become engaged in their schools and communities. It also leverages technology as parents and children learn together and serve their communities through NCFL’s Family Service Learning approach, Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time® and family-to-family mentoring. 
    Research shows the model elevates the parent and the child through two-generation literacy, providing parents with workforce and life skills, and improving educational outcomes for students throughout their academic career

FRC professionals who joined the Toyota team at the 2017-18 End of Year Banquet.   Pictured above are Natasha Agnew (FRC), Nakimia Agnew (FRC), Sandra Blanch (FRC), Tony Corrie (FRC), Emily  Holland (Toyota), Beverly Gonzalez (FRC), Dell Hatch (FRC), Kathryn Ragsdale (Toyota).

Among families graduating from Toyota Family Learning in 2018: 

  • Five parents gained employment since starting the program

  • One parent received a promotion through improved communication skills 

  • Two parents enrolled in college

  • One parent enrolled in the GED program 

  • One parent earned citizenship

​This is the second year the Family Resource Center has offered Toyota Family Learning. The success of the program has led Families First for Mississippi to implement the Toyota model in all 82 Mississippi counties

Graduates received a gift bag in honor of their accomplishment.  All names were entered into a drawing for a television and an iPad.  Children were delighted with the games played that demonstrated their newly learned skills.  A great time was had by all!

  Juanita Floyd, of the Create Foundation, and author of "The Summer of 1969" was the guest speaker.  Her book reveals a real-life experience of a parent that spent the summer laying the foundation of strength and love which would be needed to face challenges in the upcoming school year. 


FRC Partners with CREATE Foundation and United Way in Tupelo/Lee Co. Hunger Coalition

Joyce Johnson, FRC Board member, represented FRC at BancorpSouth Conference Center conference to announce new partnership.

. Estalla Mayhue-Greer, CEO of Mid-South Food Bank, accepted a $25,000 check from Dr. Dick White of the Coalition.

Jason Martin, Joyce Johnson and Estalla Mayhue-Greer joined together as the partnership was announced and the details of the Hunger Coalition were provided.

   “This is one of the most important projects we have ever undertaken,” said Mike Clayborne, President, CREATE Foundation. He was referring to the Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition which just named The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi as a partner in the coalition.  This was during a press conference on May 23rd to announce the newly selected Director of the project. 

   One in 5 people in Mississippi struggle with hunger, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Over 176,000 of those hungry are children.  Some reports indicate that 19% of Lee County residents suffer some form of food insecurity. With a population more than 82,000, that means well over 15,000 individuals potentially face food insecurity in Lee County.  Food insecurity means many children rely on free or reduced-cost lunch programs during the school season.  It also means that parents sometimes go hungry in order to be able to feed their children and to also pay the rent or utility bills.  During the summer break, the school food source is gone for the children and the situation becomes more severe.

   This serious state of affairs in Lee County was the basis for the establishment of the Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition, which includes the Baldwyn School District.  When the CREATE Foundation first became aware of how great the need was in Lee County and initiated a fact-finding mission about the problem, they discovered it was so large that they would need help to provide significant solutions.  That’s when they first partnered with United Way and thus the impetus for CREATE to begin contributing to the Mid-South Food Bank, part of the national Feeding America campaign. As a food bank, Mid-South collects and distributes food to hunger-relief charities; food pantries are located in churches, in civic organizations distribution points and other food provision programs.

    The Mid-South Food Bank distributed 1,245,139 pounds of food in Lee County in 2015.  The current need is over 3 million pounds. 

   The newest addition to the Hunger Coalition partnership is The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC). FRC is a non-profit organization with many services all designed to help improve lives for Mississippians through many different educational and assistance programs.  In addition to a small pantry with emergency food for babies and adults, FRC has connected clients with food insecurities to meal services and food pantries for a number of years. The opportunity to partner with CREATE was a natural fit.

   “We are delighted to partner with CREATE Foundation and United Way in this Hunger Coalition,” said Joyce Johnson on behalf of FRC.  Johnson is currently a Board Member of FRC and served as Interim Executive Director for six months (at no pay!) just before Christi Webb filled the position in 2005.  She remains a staunch supporter and advocate for the causes FRC addresses. 

    “I am amazed at what has been accomplished by FRC,” Johnson said, enumerating the various social and educational services offered by the organization.

    “Food, clothing and shelter are the basic needs of all of us; but, if you don’t have food, what do all the other needs mean?” she said about the coalition objective.  “This is a very important step in doing the right thing.”

    Jason Martin of St. Luke United Methodist Church has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Hunger Coalition.  He brings to the position five years’ experience as director of St. Luke’s Food Pantry.  During the press conference, he said this coalition will be a great expansion of the kind of work in which he is already engaged.  He added that current plans for the coalition will include segments for hot meals, for back packs for children during the out-of-school season and also expanded food pantry availability.

    “During the nine-week summer back-pack program, around 600 children will be served,” he said.  One of the problems to be overcome in the back-pack program is that volunteers will be needed to help with filling the boxes for distribution. This first call to action for willing community volunteers is May 31st at the Bancorp South arena, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.  The plan is to pack 4500 boxes of food.  “Thanks goes out to Southern Bell” for providing storage of these during the summer distribution, said Martin. 

    Also requested was to spread the word to all the area that parents who want to register their children for the program should go to https://www.unitedwaynems.org and follow the links to the Summer Backpack registration.

     Because Mid-South can purchase by the truckload, they will be the primary source for much of the needed food support for Lee County. Estalla Mayhue-Greer, CEO of Mid-South Food Bank, accepted the commission to procure the products for these coalition projects and voiced her appreciation for the community concern and response to the need.


In Indianola, the FRC facility conducts parenting classes each Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. During this month, activities were structured to honor mother’s and family unity.

In Columbus, the FRC facility partnered with the Mississippi University for Women, Parent and Child Care Center.   Diane Sherrod of FRC facilitated a literacy class and conducted an art activity that will help children learn to honor mothers and family.

In Hernando, they tied front-office PACT (Parent And Child Together) activities into Mother's Day for the week! The PACT activity focused on children's reading and writing as there was a print out for kids to write all the things they love about their mom or grandma. It asked questions like "Grandma and I like to ___" and "If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would go ___." The activities were two crafts that the kids could then give their mom/grandma. One was a pop-up tulip in a heart card and the other was a flower planted in a "pot." These activities were pre-packaged and ready to go home with any family that participated!!


During classes on Thursday, they emphasized communication techniques and appropriately expressing affection. The classes used Mother's Day as the connecting factor here to apply the concept to real life.


     These kinds of activities stem from the Gen+ approach multi-generation learning program that extends beyond traditional education and into daily family life and relationships. The intent is to change not only the individual, but also the culture of the family.  All this is part of a state-wide effort to empower parents with needed skills and confidence to elevate life situations and combat poverty.

      FRC partners with the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) along the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the Families First for Mississippi program to improve family life, unity and educational advancement.


HOT CAR Campaign in Philadelphia

In 2014 in Georgia, one man was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the death of his 22-month-old son who was left in a hot car and died.  There were additional circumstances that caused this sentence to be this severe but, according to CNN in an August 7th, 2017, release, “more than 36 kids die in hot cars every year.”

Hypothermia from being in hot car can cause heat strokes in children and animals left in cars. Contributing to this is that children’s body temperatures can rise 3 to 5 times faster than adults.  Also, the temperature in a car can climb 20 degrees in ten minutes.

When the body temperature reaches higher than 104 degrees, there are cases  when deaths occurred but there can also be many other dangerous consequences from high body temperatures caused from being left in a hot car.  Heatstroke can damage the brain, kidneys and muscles.  “The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing risks of serious complications or death,” reports the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20353581).

Warnings and information like these were presented in a HOT CAR Campaign held in the FRC Philadelphia Center.  The Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services partnered with FRC for this two event held on May 11th.

Pictured above are FRC and MDCPS working together at the FRC HOT CAR Campaign held at the Philadelphia facility.

Below are workers and visitors as they perused the information booths.


Indianola Meet and Greet attracts support of local dignitaries

Pictured top left are Ben Gaston, Lindell King, Raschica Armstrong,

Shashelia King, Mayor Steve Rosenthal, Janice Galloway, and Brenda Collins.

    Early in May, the Indianola Family Resource Center held a “Meet and Greet” so that the community could better understand the services offered by the facility. Nearly 80 guests mingled with the staff that day, including Senator Willie Simmons, Representative Sara Thomas, Mayor Steve Rosenthal, Sunflower County Board President Glenn Donald, majority of the Indianola Board of Aldermen, majority of the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors, Todd Donald VP Mississippi Delta Community College for the Capps Center, Judge Pernell, Miskia Davis - Sunflower County Consolidated School District Superintendent.

   Operating since January, the center is located downtown directly across the city hall.  “This is a great location with high visibility and easy access for clients,” said Ben Gaston, Regional Coordinator of the center. Pointing out that the three field educators all have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in social work and the NLRO facilitator is an experienced teacher.

    The center will provide guidance and training in parenting, youth development, job readiness, literacy and education, as well as providing a program that allows teens at risk of dropping out of school a means to obtain their high school diploma through online resource learning.   Students can study through the internet from home or from the center with testing proctored in the FRC center. 

     Gason explained, “There are ten learning stations in the NLRO lab at the FRC and then we have fifteen more learning stations that are located in the NLRO labs established with our partners in Shaw (Delta Hands for Hope), Cleveland (Bolivar County Literacy Council) and Drew (We2gether).”

The group also works closely with MDHS and other governmental agencies to supplement, refers and partner on various initiatives.


FRC is recipient of fund-raising event by a state agency

FRC Executive Director Christi Webb addresses social workers at fund-raising event at Ballard Park.

     MDRS (Mississippi Department of Rehabilitative Services) is the largest state agency committed solely to helping people with disabilities achieve independence through employment. Services may include vocational evaluation, counseling and guidance, educational assistance, job training, job placement, and assistive technology. At MDRS, we are dedicated to meeting the employment goals of our consumers.” –Lavonda Hart, Director (http://www.mdrs.ms.gov/VocationalRehab)

   MDRS sponsored a May Day Event that not only provided games and fun activities but also served as fund raiser for a selected non-profit organization.  This year, that organization was The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi. The all-day event was held at Tupelo’s Ballard Park May 11th.

     When informed about their intent, Christi Webb, Executive Director of The Family Resource Center said, “Wow!  What a surprise!  That is fabulous and so appreciated. You are one of the first to raise money for us and it means so much.  Thank you, Thank you!” 

      There were a couple of events during the day targeted to provide support to FRC.  Luck of the Draw is a drawing that rewarded winners with gift bags of gift cards!  Also, a pie in the face contest brought in additional dollars and provided lots of entertainment.

      Spokesperson Melanie Hickman explained the selection was because she knew the FRC organization and was familiar with the help provided to Mississippians and had worked with them several years earlier during a joint umbrella of United Way and FRC.      

   FRC’s mission is to provide quality educational support services in a family based and child-friendly environment to promote healthy families and communities.  This education ranges from many areas of family issues and relationship needs, workforce and job training, youth development and improving high school graduation rates by providing access to online high school program to achieve a degree. Additional programs include addiction prevention, education and recovery, as well as child advocacy for victim of sexual abuse or witnesses to violence.

  The MDRS focus parallels FRC’s mission stated above by helping Mississippians with disabilities achieve independence through vocational training, equipping them with the education and special equipment needed to succeed in their chosen field.  They also help those with deeper disabilities to maintain self-sufficiency through in-home counseling and assistance for self-sustenance.      

    Both organizations, a state agency and a non-profit organization, work through their own efforts, with multiple partners and through referrals, to improve the lives of the state residents.

       For more information about the services of FRC, visit https://www.frcnms.org.   The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services can be reviewed at http://www.mdrs.ms.gov/VocationalRehab.


Puppet Shows in DeSoto County teach children how to combat child abuse

    During the month of April, the Family Resource Center teamed up with Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center to teach preschool age children at multiple Head Start centers about the different types of child abuse.

    The children watched an age appropriate puppet show that discussed three types of child abuse: bullying at school, parent/caregiver inflicted injuries, and sexual abuse. The program is referred to as SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect). Throughout the show, the children were taught how react if any of the types of abuse were to happen to them. By the end of each show, the children were able to tell the puppet who was being abused to “Say no and go tell.”

   In total, four Head Start Centers will be visited. Southaven, Hernando and Walls were visited in April and plans are in place to visit Clen Moore Head Start in Coldwater.


Govenor's Teen Council is being selected

Pontotoc High School (left to right) Dierdre Berry (FRC Regional Coordinator) , Gabrielle Golden, Erica Golden (Healthy Teens Leader).  Healthy Teens not pictured (Janiya Buchanan and Xavier Julkes)

   Selection is currently underway across the state to serve on the Healthy Teens State Council.     “They have been selected to be a part of the Governor’s Healthy Teens State Council for the 2018-2019 year.  They will be advocating and educating teens in their school, community and across the state to make good decisions and avoid risky behavior.  Healthy Teens is an initiative to promote physical, emotional, social and intellectual well-being among teens.” –Liz Ketchum, State Director of Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi

     The Governor's Healthy Teens For A Better MS Council is made up of 42 high school students across the state of Mississippi. Council members advocate and educate their peers to make healthy decisions in their schools and communities. The Governor's Healthy Council works to build their own local councils that conduct awareness campaigns on issues that are important to their schools, student and communities. Council members will receive support and resources from their Healthy Teens Families First Regional Coordinator.

   Governor Phil Bryant signed an initiative early in his term that has started a movement across the state that is exciting and projections are that this movement will instigate significant changes for the future of Mississippi.  “We want to equip our youth with the tools they need to make positive choices so they can live long, healthy lives. We need more advocates, like Families First for Mississippi, supporting our initiative to help teens stay in school and lead successful careers. This partnership is key to building a better future for the next generation of state leaders.”                 -First Lady Deborah Bryant

   In addition to materials and support provided to the teens, FFFM  is providing a free app found on apple app store and google play.  (http://healthyteensapp.com).  This was designed to help teens with needed information so that they can make healthy choices .

These girls are from Coffeeville High School:  left to right (Kelsei Harris, Jahra Martin, Jada Steen).  They have been selected to be a part of the Governor’s Healthy Teens State Council for the 2018-2019 year.  They will be advocating and educating teens in their school, community and across the state to make good decisions and avoid risky behavior.  

Top (left - right) are Colby Cockrell, Skylar Breland, Yalani Smith, and Chad Holt. These students from Ripley were selected to serve on the Governor’s Healthy Teens for a Better MS State Council for the 2018-2019 school year.


FRC Oxford Begins Social Work Internship Program with Ole Miss 

   The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi in Oxford welcomed two BSW social work interns from the University of Mississippi this past spring semester. Bremeika Jones and Ben Salvador were excellent additions to the staff and were involved in many aspects of FRC’s work in Oxford and the region. And since they were with the staff five days a week, all workday long, they were valued as equals just like everyone else with FRC. 
     “Bremeika and Ben were our very first interns,” said Oxford FRC administrator Jeff Roberson. “We enjoyed them being with us for more than three months, and we hated to see them leave us. They set a high standard for future interns we will have.”   Dr. Debra Moore, formerly of the Social Work department at Ole Miss, was familiar with both as former students. Dr. Moore was also in her first spring working with FRC Oxford. 
    “Ben and Bremeika were of vital importance to our office,” she said. “They assisted our field educators in teaching several classes in our Oxford office, in public schools in Lafayette, Yalobusha, and Panola Counties, and at the Chartre Property programs in Lafayette and Panola Counties. Ben and Bremeika also developed an afterschool social skills project for two elementary school children who were having difficulty with social interaction.” 
    Dr. Moore added more to the list of positives for the two interns this spring. 
     “Our Dr. Seuss events (at the FRC Oxford office and Kids College in Abbeville, Mississippi) were a major success because of Ben and Bremeika’s active participation,” she said. “The Kids College project has progressed into a weekly reading program.” 
     Another major accomplishment the two brought to the center was something the Oxford staff had wanted to establish for months. Ben and Bremeika were in charge of, and successfully established, a career clothes closet in the FRC Oxford facility. 

    “We had talked about that since not all that long after we opened,” Roberson said. “We knew we wanted to do it, and it took Ben and Bremeika to help us carry it through. We now have another aspect of our center to be able to help people who need what it provides. We’re really happy to have that done, and we thank Ben and Bremeika for seeing it through.” 

Ben Salvador and Bremeika Jones, two social work interns from Ole Miss, stand inside the Career Clothes Closet they established in the Oxford Family Resource Center this spring.

    Any individual needing a professional outfit to wear to an interview or clothes to build a professional wardrobe are encouraged to contact FRC in Oxford at 662-638-6999. 

     “This summer we have three BSW social work interns and one MSW intern,” Roberson said. “They will do an excellent job as well. But Ben and Bremeika will always be our first ones, and we wish them well in their professional careers.”