Exciting opportunities are on the horizon for the Family Resource Center.
We are thrilled to have the support and alliance of Mississippians in all areas of government, the judiciary and private organizations.
We have been busy with new center locations, partnership coalitions and training sessions of all kinds. Despite our fast pace, we continue to serve our clients, both old and new, with the singular focus of helping them move from dependence to independence and self-sustainability.
Stronger families mean a stronger Mississippi.
Message from Christi Webb, Executive Director
The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi and
Co-Director of Families First for Mississippi
White Out Suicide:
13 Reasons Why Not
Monday, September 10, 2018- All over the state of Mississippi, teenagers ranging from junior high to high school dressed in white to support the White Out Suicide Campaign as part of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. In the last several years, suicide has steepened to new heights worldwide. According to save.org, nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for those aged 15-24 years. At such young ages, we wonder why such drastic actions are taken.
Researchers say that almost 90 percent were suffering from mental illness or a substance abuse problem. Depression, a now leading cause of suicide, occurs in teenagers who are being bullied whether in-person or online. The physical and/or mental pain brought on leaves them feeling hopeless,
fearful, and not having the will to live anymore.
In addition to wearing white, Families First started a social media campaign called “13 Reasons Why Not, 13 Reasons Why", a show focused on one girls suicide and the reason she did it. This campaign featured a daily post for the 2 weeks giving a reason why one should keep living and not give into suicidal thoughts or action. By doing this, Families First hoped to help reach someone suffering and give them comfort and to raise awareness for this issue.
The vision of the partnership between Families First and Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi is to promote healthy choices across a variety of areas that highly impact the health and future success of youth by providing parents with education and training, motivating teens to set goals and teach teens to choose responsible choices in their everyday lives. “We want to equip our youth with the tools they need to make positive choices so they can live long, healthy lives,” said First Lady Deborah Bryant of Mississippi.
September is National Recovery Month; FRC working to educate and lead Mississippians to recovery.
“I have an addiction. I did crack cocaine. I still have the addiction but I got help and don’t do the crack cocaine anymore,” said Ronnie Grice at the Recovery in the Park hosted by Families First for Mississippi. Ronnie (top right in the pictures below) was not a participant and was not one of the staff hosts. He had heard about the event and came over because he wanted to show support to people who were helping other people.
“I appreciate all the information and help,” he continued about the awareness program, as well as the other related agencies and supporters present for the event. “This (kind of event and information) is what opened my head and heart so that I could see more clearly than I had ever seen. I thank God that I am still here and I want to be able to help someone else who is where I was.”
“I have a lot of buddies who don’t think they have an addiction. But, they do,” he said. “My daddy told me that the leaning tree is not always the first one to fall.” He explained that sometimes it takes someone who has faced addiction and has moved to a life of recovery to be able to stand up and walk out to help others. “Tell them that they need to ‘break up’ with the drugs. It’s over,” he said, stressing that recovering addicts need to let go so they can move on.
The month of September is National Recovery Month focusing on prevention, treatment and recovery programs for addiction. Recovery in the Park was the second event held at Fairpark in Tupelo to increase awareness about addiction in Mississippi. This event featured speakers about the opioid crisis and included representation from several groups of treatment centers, mental health centers and other addiction resource centers. This event was presented by the Addiction Education and Recovery Center of Families First for Mississippi.
Director Collin Billingsley presented Christi Webb, Executive Director of FRC/FFFM with a plaque to celebrate her vision in establishing the Addiction Education and Recovery Center. “I don’t know any family that hasn’t been afflicted by addiction,” Webb told those gathered. “Until the general public realizes that we go to a hospital if we have appendicitis or we have cancer but an addiction is an illness just like any other and needs care.” She offered the assurance that the staff of Families First is available to help not only the person who is in the program but their entire family. “There is no difference in a physical illness and a mental illness. When we start to treat everybody the same, that is when we can move past (the addiction stigma).”
Amid segments of music, games, pizza, and a balloon release in memory of those who lost their battles, words of encouragement came from a distinguished group of local and state leaders:
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton opened with affirmation that addiction crosses all socio-economic strata. “Everyone knows someone in recovery or needs to be,” he said.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood paid homage to those who had moved into recovery and are rebuilding their lives. He also attributed many of those who were successful in this to organizations like Families First which not only focuses on awareness raising but also on recovery in appropriate settings and methods.
Also speaking words of encouragement and support was Kelly Mimms who is running for First District Circuit Court. Mimms spoke about the importance of a drug court that goes beyond incarcerating judgments but who will “do what it takes to save this young generation that is lost” and order involved sentences that include recovery practices plus probation.
Pharmacist Jonethan Morris of Midtown Walgreen offered assurance that pharmacists are in the business of helping. “We want the best outcomes for our patients.”
Dr. Collin Billingsley, Addiction Program Director, said, “The changes in perception happening with addiction are promising. We see less shaming and judgmental views from society in general, health care professionals, and the criminal justice system. I think we will see even more movement to a clinical and helping view as the genetics and neuroscience research contributes more to our understanding.”
In the photo, (left to right, top to bottom), the Recovery in Park was held in the center of downtown Tupelo at Fairpark, located on Main Street. One visitor, Ronnie Grice stopped by to take the opportunity to tell FRC staff how much their support of those battling addiction means to the community. In the second row, Gloria Holland, FRC Mental Health Counselor, served as facilitator and welcomed Mayor Jason Shelton who opened the program. FRC Director of Addiction Education and Recovery Collin Billingsley presented Executive Director Christi Webb with a plaque for her vision of bringing this program to Mississippi residents. Jonethan Morris of Tupelo Midtown Walgreen pledged the support of always maintaining the best interest of all patients. In the bottom section, during the musical entertainment, FRC staff talked with guest speakers. (Bottom row, FRC Debbie Hood, Exe. Dir. Christi Webb, Kelly Mimms, Atty. Gen. Jim Hood and FRC staff Patti Coggins. FRC Addiction Team enjoyed pizza after serving guests and participants: FRC team: Will Rowan, Gloria Holland, Vanessa Macha, Mark Cox, and Jonathan Swain. Bottom right, Jonathan Swain and Media Coordinator Brennan Butler greeted guests and provided information and favors for the event.
Quarterly Coalition Meeting held at Tupelo FRC Campus
Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) embraces the concept of “working together” and “partnering” with all kinds of organizations. These partnerships range from in-school classes, presentation in churches, shared administration of projects from other social improvement organizations, to financial supports between agencies to many kinds of collaborations and partnerships.
Because this view is entrenched in all the programs and activities of the organization, coalition meetings are being held all across the state by Families First staff to establish a strong network with community professionals.
Mickey Holland of Tupelo Transit (picture breakout) spoke about the new transit service that is now offered in the Tupelo community and cited examples of how these new lines are helping struggling families. This service is another example of the efforts of people working together. Toyota funded a study to identify transportation options for the town. From this, the plan grew and the system was implemented.
Our collective future depends on all people working together. Families First was certainly not the first to adopt this stance but the staff lives it daily in every department, program and partnership, to benefit the generation just being born and those who were born decades before.
The shape and solutions of the future rely totally on the collective effort of people working together. We are all an integral part of the web of life. Jacque Fresco
Mantachie High School: Youth Development
During an assembly of 7th through 12th grades focusing on Teen Dating Violence, Healthy Interactions, and a short bit about Suicide Prevention & Awareness, Families First Field Education reached out to about 400 students. The picture (left) show just a few of the students out of about 400 in the assembly. This group took the message to the "wall" to keep the awareness going.
THINK stands for True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. The Families First team created letters for the assembly and added positive notes and inspiring quotes to show what healthy interactions look like.
The school sent this group picture to Families First show that they decided to post the letters on a wall in the school for students to continue to write on them. The Families First team consisted of Eddie Begonia, Semily Ramsey and Kiana Davis.
Southaven Grad rings the bell, earns diploma in NLRO
The NLRO program provides students with an opportunity to earn a high school diploma through online study. Students can go online from home, a public facility or in one of the Family Resource Centers (FRC) at their own pace. All tests are proctored by qualified FRC staff.
Latavius Autman completed the NLRO high school diploma program on September 6, 2018. In Southaven, the tradition is to “ring the bell” when graduation is earned. He rang the Southaven FRC bell in celebration and then took a photo with his NLRO Facilitator, Susan Zeringue - who is actually 5' 5"!
Latavius plans to attend Northwest Mississippi Community College.
FRC Staff volunteers to help end hunger
In order to donate, advocate, and educate the community as part of the National Hunger Action Day, Brandy and Hannah Maharrey volunteered at the Saints’ Brew community breakfast program. They serve a free hot breakfast to the Tupelo-Lee County community from 7am-8:30am Monday-Friday. This day, the FRC team assisted Saints’ Brew in serving 78 guests a filling and nutritious meal that prepared them for their work and school day. Saints’ Brew has served over 150,000 meals since 2010 and helps address food insecurity in our area.
Also, that morning Sandy Tyes of FRC volunteered with St. Luke Food Pantry. Sandy helped pack boxes for the 400 families that visit St. Luke Food Pantry every Thursday. Through the St. Luke Food Pantry over 1200 families are fed per month.
Both organizations are partner agencies with the Family Resource Center and Families First For Mississippi Food Insecurity Initiative on addressing food insecurity in the local communities.
NLRO Student's Inspiring Story of Rapid Accomplishment
Tina King has faced and is overcoming some daunting challenges. She spoke at the South Calhoun Head Start on September 18th to parents about the NLRO program in which she is currently enrolled through Families First for Mississippi, sharing her quest for a high school diploma. She carried brochures about the organization to share with the parents.
The New Learning Resource Online (NLRO) program is so that those who would like to earn their high school diploma, but have been unable to do so through the traditional school system, can study online to gain all the Carnegie Units needed for a high school diploma (between 18 and 24 needed).
Tina entered the Houston NLRO program in March of 2018 with ZERO units and had been enrolled in special education classes from 5th through 12th grades. Motivated to obtain her diploma, she has completed 15.5 credits at this point and lacks 5.5 to receive her diploma. She studies some from home and also at the center 4 to 5 days weekly.
During the presentation at the head start center, Tina shared that she first learned about FFFM NLRO program from FFFM staff educator, Sharon Petty, who gave a presentation at a local church in Calhoun City.
“She is such an inspiration and encourages all the NLRO students who come to the center,” said Kathy Austin, Regional Coordinator at the Houston/Chickasaw Family Resource Center which administers FFFM and NLRO.
Pictured above are Tina King (left) with Annie Brown of the South Calhoun Head Start Center in Calhoun City.
Baby Shower in Clarksdale brings together community service organizations
A Community Baby Shower was held on Monday, September 24, 2018, at the Northwest MS Regional Medical Center in Clarksdale, MS.
The event was sponsored by the Delta Health Partners and provided pregnant women and women who had delivered in recent months an opportunity to network with community partners that provide services in the community related to health, wellness and education.
The attendees received prizes from diapers to car seats.
Pictured here is Carolyn Quinn, Regional Coordinator for the Clarksdale Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) office, who provided the attendees with information about the various programs for life improvement offered by FFFM.
Highlights & Recognition on FRC Social Media Posts
Marissa Johnson is the first to graduate in the New Learning Resource Online (NLRO) Clarksdale Campus.
She completed her course work and earned all the needed Carnegie credits for completion and award of her high school diploma.
The Clarksdale office is located on Ohio Avenue in the Mississippi Department of Human Services building.
Ms. Johnson is pictured her with Mandolin Smith, Family Resource receptionist.
First To Graduate in NLRO from Indianola Campus
Pictured above are photos of the ceremony to celebrate the First NLRO Graduate from the NLRO program in Sunflower County. The names and titles of the individuals are listed from left to right:
Miska Davis (Superintendent Sunflower County Consolidated School District), Mrs. Jackson (Mother of Graduate), Darrielle Jackson (Graduate), Ben Gaston (FRC Regional Coordinator), Lora Dean (Gentry High School Counselor), Janice Galloway (NLRO Facilitator) and Raschica Armstrong (Field Educator). Darrielle was a senior at Gentry High School in Indianola and entered the simultaneous enrollment NLRO program.
She was able to complete her diploma requirements and will be attending Mississippi Valley State University in January, 2019.
"Celebration of Cultures" working to unify diverse cultures in Tupelo area
September 23rd, residents and guests of the Tupelo area gathered at Ballard Park on Main Street for "Celebration of Cultures" exhibitions. The event celebrated diversity through unifying cultures. The purpose of this event is to share and learn about the cultures of all the ethnic groups that
are available in Tupelo and the surrounding areas. Guests enjoyed food, arts & crafts, music and dancing from 3 to 6 pm.
Families First for Mississippi was one of five exhibitors onsite to support the event. In the picture above, FRC Field Educator Dell Hatch talks with children at the event.
Indianola Field Educators presenting variety of opportunities
Field Educator, Brenda Collins conducted the first Adult Basic Computer Skills class during the month of September.
This is a new and important program designed to elevate connection and productivity to adult students who want to enhance computer skills.
Those interested in the next sessions can contact Ms. Collins at the Indianola Campus.
Field Educators Rashica Armstrong and Brenda Collins of the Indianola- Familly Resource Center participated in the Indian Bayou Arts & Craft Festival in Indianola,
MS on Saturday, September 22, 2018.
Armstrong was able to not only inform the community about the wonderful services offered by the Family Resource Center/Families First for MS but to also provide treats and enjoy children attending the festival.
" Making Your Money Work" hosted by FRC Oxford
The Family Resource Center of Oxford along with Mississippi Federal Credit Union presented "Make Your Money Work For You" at the Chartre Apartments of Brittany Woods in Oxford in September. Joining Laura Gillom of the FRC staff were Jennifer Houpt and Mary Corrie of Mississippi Federal Credit Union.
FRC Oxford hosts Coalition Meeting for Six Counties
On September 25, Families First for Mississippi in Oxford hosted a coalition meeting at its center. Once per quarter FRC Oxford hosts other non-profits and partnerships to further connect with the six-county region it serves – Lafayette, Panola, Yalobusha, Grenada, Marshall, and Benton.
Speakers for the event were Wesley Bell, who talked about his role as court liaison for Families First and the referral process, while Ashley Pfahler presented about her role as a drug addiction educator and goals/outcomes for the program.
More than 35 people from Oxford, Lafayette County, and the surrounding counties attended. Dr. Debra Moore, Regional Coordinator, also introduced the Oxford office staff and spoke of the role and services provided by the Family Resource Center and Families First for Mississippi.
Oxford Families First attends Ole Miss Health Fair
On Wednesday, September 19, Families First for Mississippi, Oxford campus attended the Ole Miss Student Health Fair on campus at the University of Mississippi. The team sent from Families First consisted of Ashley Pfahler, drug addiction educator, and two field educators, Hunter Grissom and Blakely Beggs.
The event was a huge success, featuring a “Wheel of Fortune” with fun facts and myths about drug addiction made into questions. Participants who answered correctly were awarded Chik-fil-a gift cards.
“Involvement like this is so important, not only for the community’s benefit but for our own. We get to see other organizations gathered at events like this with their own resources and services made available,” said Hunter, who just graduated from the University of Mississippi and is now working full-time as a field educator in Oxford. “It’s encouraging to work together and build relationships for future events.”
Healthy Teens Program Focuses on Teen Issues Monthly
Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) responded to Governor’ Bryant’s initiative to provide educational and motivational programs so that teens can make healthy choices. From this decision came the partnership to “connect” with teens all across the state of Mississippi through an app specially designed to provide information about many of the decisions they will have to make. In addition, these issues are being addressed in schools all over the state and in multi-school rallies and events.
During the month of September, the focus was on Suicide Awareness among teens. One in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year. FFFM has been plugging the information and filling in gaps by being there for the teens:
The HT team is on Social Media, on posters in schools all over the state, in the news media for gatherings to bring in teens and provide those needed coping skills and strategies.
Between now and the end of the year, three more campaign will run—one per month. October will focus on Bullying Prevention; November will highlight Fun and Fitness; and December will guide in Giving Back.
To “Connect,” teens are provided with many informational resources:
https://www.familiesfirstforms.org/healthyteens; app for all kinds of cell: http://healthyteensapp.com; and several on line social media sites including facebook.com/HealthyTeensForABetterMississippi.
September is National Hunger Action Month and is a month-long effort to advocate for and alleviate hunger throughout the nation. Families First for Mississippi is dedicated to addressing food insecurity in our communities.
Families First of Mississippi, The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi, and the Mississippi Community Education Center are partnering together to address food insecurity in Mississippi. This state wide initiative will support and supplement the efforts of our hard-working and generous food pantries and meal services. FRC also plans to develop a food recovery network with a comprehensive approach including the public and private sector. FRC is asking local organizations to participate due to the efforts already currently implemented within our community. These current and past experiences are greatly valued and essential to properly create a food recovery network to alleviate food insecurity and reduce food waste throughout the state.
The Tupelo-Lee County Hunger Coalition will provide a presentation on the collaboration and partnership already at work within Northeast Mississippi.
Red Ribbon Week® (October 23-31)
The Red Ribbon Campaign® is the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the Nation and a fun and effective way for communities to show support for healthy lifestyles.
This year's theme, "Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free.™", was created by a middle school student in Solon, Ohio. It's a reminder that we only have one life to live and we can make the most of this journey through life by prioritizing our health and well being.