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Volume 1904• Issue 47• April 2019
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The Big Picture:  Re-entry program taught to inmates


Even if an incarcerated person accepts responsibility for their crime and understands that they made mistakes, many times they don’t see how they can reach past their current circumstance and re-enter the world as a productive and respected worker.  The desire to overcome their mistakes may be there but the pathway back to the workforce and job readiness is just not clear.  This is where Tony Corrie comes in.


Tony is a Field Educator with the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi and one part of his job is working with incarcerated citizens who need help re-entering the workforce or, for some, entering the workforce for the very first time as a clean and sober, skilled worker.


Because there is more to job readiness than just being able to correctly complete a job application or prepare a resume, Tony’s ten-week sessions delve into parenthood, spousal and family relationships, substance abuse and addiction. His students learn about recovery steps, educational opportunities, and workforce programs that are available to them upon release.


Anger management in personal and work environments are addressed.  Budgeting principles and management after the job has been attained is taught.  In other words, inmates are presented with comprehensive crash courses on how to move from lives that included law-breaking habits to law-abiding lifestyles that are actually attainable. Tony works to bring the programming and curriculum taught by other field educators in locations throughout the state to the prison population.


As part of Families First for Mississippi- North, the Family Resource Center (FRC) presents programs in literacy, online high school diplomas, life skills (parenting, anger management, budgeting and much more), workforce and job readiness, addiction education and recovery, tobacco –free awareness programs, the Children’s Advocacy Center, the faith-based Beds for Kids program, youth development with healthy choices, legal help with guardianship issues, domestic violence programs, pathways to citizenship, ESOL and more. 


Each client is assessed to determine what combined course of training would help the client to resolve issues in each life.  Each plan will probably be a combination of different paths.  The bottom line, however, that this organization exists to help individuals learn to overcome those obstacles that block them from living within families that have healthy relationships, self-esteem and respect from within and outside the family, to take advantage of the opportunities that abound in this great nation and to work in fulfilling, promotable jobs that provide healthy family structures and achievable opportunities.


This is the foundation of The Family Resource Center.  This is Families First for Mississippi.


Tony Corrie, pictured above, works with inmates in several locations to assist those incarcerated move back into society in ways that helps entry into the workforce be more successful.

While he is the primary lead in the addiction area, he also teaches other life skills.  These are also taught by Jeff Finch at Dimas Charities in Tupelo, by Cynthia Hines and her team in the Delta Group at the regional correction center and by Terry Walters at the Monroe County Sheriff's Dept.  Walters also hold NLRO sessions for those working to earn high school diplomas.


Sherwin-Williams painted FRC Tupelo Office

A non-profit organization operates differently than other corporations in that funding very often comes through grants and donations.  This also means that funding and donations are related to many external events.

In January, The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC) was impacted by several government and economic actions.  One of those was the government shutdown resultant of the presidential and congressional impasse over the border wall.  The impact of this was that there was shift in governmental funding in certain areas and, bottom line, that ricocheted down to FRC. 


FRC operations were impacted by the funding changes and several employees had to be laid off.  Not only were those lives impacted but the remaining operations and processes were compromised with a restructuring of offices and a shift of project priorities.


One of these projects is that the main building in the Tupelo Campus was in the process of being painted.   The employee who was partially through the interior painting was laid off and the project has remained in limbo these two months.


Until now. 


This month, a representative of Sherwin-Williams called to offer a solution, even though he didn’t know a solution was needed.  As part of National Painting Week, Sherwin-Williams selects local non-profit organizations to get a fresh coat of paint, providing all of the paint, supplies and labor.  Those rooms that were left in limbo were painted by them on April 23rd.


Amanda Fredericks, Co-Director of Programming, who is serving a liaison on this paint project said,” This is a random act of goodness and kindness that came at exactly the right timing, exactly when we needed it.”

The project was started with Sherwin-Williams paint and will now be completed with Sherwin-Williams help and paint!  She said, “This is another example of a blessing that just seems to come out of nowhere! That call just came out of the blue.”

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Beds for Kids received donation of over $2500

Chick-fil-A, for the second time, provided a “spirit” night on April 22 to raise funds for the Beds for Kids program.  This program is one of the faith-based programs that is sponsored by Families First for Mississippi through The Family Resource Center.  A portion of the proceeds from the evening, between the hours of 5 and 7, were donated to the bed program.  On April 25th, Chick-fil-A presented a check for $2,567.03 to the Beds for Kids team. With his hand on the top of the check is Owner/Operator Jamey Finley.  To his left is the Chick-fil-A team and to his right in the blue shirt is Stanley Huddleston, who leads the program; to his left is are his team members.

Beds for Kids has placed over 250 beds during their first year of operation, celebrated this month.  The program is predicted to continue to grow rapidly this next year as there are churches and other groups that have been moved to assume some of the growth and operations needs. 

The first base for the program was through Mt. Olive Baptist church where one member, Jacob Cunningham, donated the use of his workshop as a place to build the beds.  The Career and Tech Center in Calhoun City is now building and delivering to those who need beds in that area. A church in the Tupelo area is investigating the program and seeking a site for a workshop in Tupelo.  The increased interest has also spread to other locations who have been in conversation with Stanley Huddleston about the logistics and management of the program.  As these new Beds for Kids centers come to fruition, that “spirit” exhibited by Chick-fil-A is expected to be embraced by other communities and additional good-hearted people.


Whole family assistance one family at a time; traveling to the light at the end of dark road

   Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) is involved with those who need help.  While some of the areas in which the organization provides assistance are rather transparent, others are not as visible; yet FFFM is right there helping clients in all kinds of situations through rough patches.

   One case involves a mother whose son is on the cardiac transplant list at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. When the transplant takes place, this mother is required to complete an action list before she can take her sone home from the hospital.  Most of these items revolve around psychological issues. 

   The Social Work Department at Le Bonheur had invited in some of the social workers/field educators from FFFM in DeSoto County to speak at one of their luncheons.  Shortly after their presentation about FFFM services, this mother was referred to the FFFM DeSoto group who is currently working her on several different levels.  That is what makes FFFM so appealing is that the attention given to a client addresses not just a single need but determines from a thorough assessment what is needed to help this family be able to live and deal with their particular trauma or crisis.

The Cardiac Transport Social Worker from Le Bonheur sent a message to members of the FFFM team last week: “You guys have been amazing and we are very excited about the progress this family has already made.” 

   The FFFM group has worked with the family in areas of parenting, workforce, and healthy relationships, in addition to helping the mother apply for SNAP/TANF, insurance, getting into counseling and other supportive services.

    This is just one case that exemplifies how FFFM applies the whole family / multiple essentials needed for a sustainable recovery from their current situation with an upward mobility plan to raise this family to better living circumstances that are maintainable long-term.

    Not every story is about a family with a health crisis.  Some families have lost head of household wage earners, suffered a loss of job when a manufacturer closed, lost their home to a fire or flood, or any of a myriad of reasons that have diminished their quality of life.

    This is Families First for Mississippi.  This is the whole family concept. FFFM is a hand up when one of fellow Mississippians are down.


Ole Miss Social Work Students Raise money for CAC

When a student turns a senior project into philanthropic project, members of the community are touched by the efforts and add their support to the project.  That is exactly what happened with Amanda Wilkerson and Brianna Collier.  They decided to plan and execute an event to raise money for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in Tupelo. 

The CAC is a part of The Family Resource Center for North Mississippi that works with abused children and their guardians through the process of guiding them through legal, medical, and therapeutic avenues.  They partner with a multidisciplinary team of law, court, medical and other agencies that may be involved with the cases so that the children are less traumatized through these forensic interviews and pathways to recovery. This is paired with counseling and many other services in-house at the CAC and also with other agencies.

Amanda and Brianna wanted to help with the cost of these services that are provided at no cost to the children and guardians the CAC embraces and helps to reach resolution and healing.  Their efforts turned this project into a community project that provided fun for the participants, information about the CAC program and a cohesiveness that crossed barriers of different groups, organizations and individuals.

Selecting venues, planning events for little children, arranging concession stands for comfort and profit, commemorative and memorable events for those who were fatally affected by this terrible blight in this country, collecting data to display, and engaging volunteers to help and provide needed equipment, space, and supplies.  These efforts were evident in the event enactment and the final result of $1,045 presented to the CAC to carry on their efforts.

Amanda and Brianna are Social Work students at the University of Miss in Tupelo and deserve the greatest of accolades for not only their project target but the excellent execution of their event. 

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Self-Esteem taught at Walls Elementary for a week

     Field Educators Mallory Trollinger and Pete Story from the Hernando Campus taught on Self-Esteem at Walls Elementary School for an entire week in April with every child in the school having the opportunity to participate.  For Kindergarten through second grade, discussion was centered around the uniqueness of each individual student and what made them special and included several fun and affirming activities. Each student made a star necklace with the following message: "star or no star, I like you the way you are". Instructors used this time to work with each individual student to help them realize what makes them unique and special.

     Third through fifth grade classes discussed what self-esteem is, characteristics of someone with high self-esteem and someone with low self-esteem, and tips to improve self-esteem. The students did a "trash your insecurities" activity to teach that there are things about ourselves that we cannot change and we need to "trash" those insecurities and focus on the good qualities that we like about ourselves.  In addition, each student was given the outline of a head with the name of a classmate and they were asked to write a compliment pertaining to that student. Students really enjoyed hearing all of the great things their peers said about them!

     With the help of the school's amazing teachers, Hernando FRC was able to teach all 775 students at Walls Elementary School! 

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A car seat check point was held at Wheeler Head Start on April 9th.  The Family Resource Center (FRC) sent three Child Passenger Safety Technicians to check seats and provide safety information to parents and caregivers of the children, most of whom were very appreciative as the seats were checked.

All the staff was very pleased and grateful that the FRC that the team was there to help protect the children and educate the parents.

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Messages Family Resource gets from their clients

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