Paying it Forward is Hatfield's gift back for his successful recovery

   Pay it Forward:  This was an expression first coined in 1916 by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.  Then came the movie in the year 2000.  And the movement is still moving forward.  What is going forward is genuine kindness and affection, with recovery and renewal.

   The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi is proud of strides forward made by their Recovery Team that works with those burdened with addictions and the resultant traumatic events that sometimes lead individuals into lifestyle pathways they wouldn’t have otherwise chosen.  This is what happened to Chris Hatfield who ended up incarcerated in the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility (CCRCF).

   This is his story:  After a car accident, he was given a shot of Demerol to help him deal with the pain from the accident.  When he went home from the hospital, he went home with a prescription for strong pain medication.  It began.

   He found that he had become addicted to the prescription pain killers to the extent that he didn’t think he could make it through the day without them.  Where there were no more prescriptions, he found a way to find what he needed.  “I went to the streets to find it.  Oh, I never did meth or some of the other really bad drugs.  I had heard how bad they were.  I just used the prescription drugs,” Hatfield said.

Kim Benefield and Chris Hatfield.JPG

FRC Field Educator Kim Benefield with Chris Hatfield who is now giving back 

   Things progressed and he ended up in Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility. Actually, he was in and out CCRCF four times.  The last time is when he met Kim Benefield.  Benefield leads the MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy) program in this facility and in others in North Mississippi.  Her team teaches in correctional facilities and in many other settings.  She personally conducts the MRT in Chickasaw.

   This connection, Hatfield shares, changed his life.  While in CCRCF, Hatfield worked in the admin department.  He said that the staff at CCRCF were positive and concerned.  “My change started with this positive environment the respect [that is accorded to those incarcerated] on a daily basis.  Without this, I don’t think I would have had the right state of mind to accept the help from Ms. Kim.”

   One day, the warden came to him and asked him to attend the MRT program Benefield was conducting and report back.  “I was hesitant and actually went with a negative frame of mind,” he recalled.  He explained that those incarcerated will attend some of these things but it really means nothing; they are just passing time.

   When Hatfield first observed Kim Benefield, “it really opened my mind,” he remembered.  “It changed the way I thought about things.”  He explained that it was obvious that Benefield’s presentation was “heartfelt” and totally genuine.  “She wasn’t there just to teach; she believed in all she was teaching and she cared for us.”  He said she wasn’t there for her job; she was there so she could help them.

    The impact of Benefield and the program “changed his thinking” and has changed some other aspects of his life as well.  He is no longer a resident of CCRCF but he is now an MRT mentor for others now released and desiring to become the best they can be.  He wants to help change how others think and help other rebuild their lives.  He is now paying it forward.

    While there are several different kinds of sessions conducted by the Recovery Team, MRT continues to impact lives and is recognized as an invaluable service to Mississippians seeking to recover and reestablish productive and prosperous lives.  Benefield has been instrumental in bring MRT to The Family Resource Center and in expanding its reach throughout the region.

MRT is a unique cognitive behavioral treatment approach designed for the criminal offender populations. The program is designed to alter how offenders think and how they make decisions about right and wrong.

Couple working to overcome impossible obstacles

Almost 50 years ago, a movie was released about seemingly impossible obstacles for survival.  Then, a remake of this movie was done about 15 years ago.  This movie was Poseidon. But, Poseidon was first an ancient Greek story about those affected by an ill-tempered and vengeful god who wrecked lives.  A story of having to face horrible circumstances and finding ways to overcome these is not a new one.  Today’s Poseidon is drugs.


Facing some of today’s realities is pretty challenging at times.  Here is a fact that some would rather ignore but the truth is the truth whether faced or not.  Almost 20 million American adults have battled a substance abuse disorder as of 2017.  This country has a problem and there are lots of people who are trying to swim through a raging sea at the bottom of a capsized boat.   The problem is serious, big and getting bigger.


Against all odds, there are some who recover and these are the stories that inspire hope and renewed motivation to not only face but to conquer the demon addiction that turn lives upside down with the only way out being to navigate through treacherous passageways. 


There are a few, however, that have made it through to the other side of a boiling sea of addiction, loss and pain, dog paddling in the foamy water before the breast stroke process of rebuilding their lives.  Advancing is not always easy and the pathway to full restoration doesn’t happen overnight; learning to navigate and rebuilding takes time, effort and help that comes from outside one’s self.


Meet Daniel and Melanie Stewart and hear their story.  They are in recovery and rebuilding through the Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) program which has helped give them direction and hope in their journey of recovery.  They fell from stable and promising lives into a world of drugs, lost their way and ended up on a current that was pulling them under and from which they saw no way of overcoming.  They had lost not only their hope but a place to live and Daniel’s two precious children to the state because they were unable to properly care for them.


Moving from this hopelessness to a place where they are currently in a house, a home, for the first time in years and are current working to be able to adopt their children back to their home is happening now because of MRT through FRC, the FRC team, the community support and hope renewed.   This is their Poseidon story.


Daniel’s parents were killed in a car accident when he was sixteen.  That was the real beginning of his stepping into the drug world.  There were semblances of “normal” life from time to time but drugs were always there, sometimes in the background, sometimes as his primary objective.  Addiction supersedes everything in those who have crossed to that life.

During those earlier years, Daniel was in a twelve-year relationship and became the father of two sons, sons he loved but sons that sometimes were not the primary focus in his life.  As might be expected, separation was also on this pathway and then his actions resulted in him losing his home, his vehicles and his sons.  Even now he no longer has parental rights to his sons.   The horrific impact of the life Daniel has lived, and all the subsequent consequences, is loss of partner, children, home, vehicle, a place to live and self-respect.


Daniel has been in and out of jail/prison.  During those times out, he lived in tents and lived in an RV with no electricity or heat; he had bunked out with friends and slept in the car.  He was chasing that demon drug that had throttled his life and he took Melanie with him.


Daniel and Melanie met about four years ago.  “I fell in love the first time I saw him,” she said.   He loved her back but he took her with him as they moved into a life of homelessness and hunger.  “It was so bad that we didn’t see a way out,” Melanie remembered.  Daniel once told Melanie, she said, that she was chasing him and he was chasing drugs.


There was a store near Elvis Presley Park where they lived in a tent for several months.  “The store would put out food that we could get only between 9 p.m. and midnight,” Melanie remembered.  To go get this food, they had walk a long distance because they no longer had a vehicle of any kind.  Sometimes, she was alone in that tent and sometimes “didn’t want to come out.  I was so scared.”  And, she was

hungry.  When Daniel could get food, he would bring it back to her but that was after a drug haze cleared.  “We were homeless.” At one point, they lived in an RV with no utilities.


Sometimes, they would get back to her parents who helped all they could.  But, the parents didn’t help get the drugs that had them bound.  During one period when Daniel was incarcerated, Melanie was provided a home with an uncle and he also gave her a job.  She worked and saved money so that the couple could get a place to live when Daniel got out.  That Poseidon boat was still capsized and they were still swimming through a riptide current that was drowning them.


 “We both prayed,” Melanie said.  Their prayers began to be answered when the Mississippi Department of Corrections required Daniel to report on his first day out of his latest incarceration to The Family Resource Center Recovery facility.  This was the day Daniel met Kim Benefield, who leads the recovery team in many areas but with a strong focus on Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT).  On that day, as she interviewed him and assessed his needs, she told him to get Melanie and bring her in also.  They both would need to receive the therapy.


Their future changed that day.


Kim’s assessment conclusions were that their recovery should include several segments of the FRC education process.  The FRC team provides educational therapy in healthy relationships, conflict resolution, parenting, budgeting and more.  “That is the beauty of the FRC concept.  We approach recovery through a joint effort of education from different FRC specialists to overcome each of the problem areas but it is also larger than just our FRC team.  We work with the judicial system and the MDOC (Mississippi Department of Corrections), community colleges and other organizations to provide alternatives to the former lifestyles.  It is a community coming together to help individuals achieve sustainable recovery and to then live better lives from this time forward,” Benefield explained.  “Our field educators led Daniel and Melanie in these areas:  Erika Jones taught the parenting classes; Tony Corrie led the conflict resolution sessions; Claire Goodson instructed in healthy relationships. We all have the same objective and the combined impact is successful.” Daniel said, “We love the classes there,” Daniel said.  “We learned how to beat this.” 


Daniel and Melanie began to make progress as they swam through treacherous waters.  MRT is a cognitive-behavior approach that teaches those with substance disorders and helps them to reach a place where they can overcome the addiction and make moral decisions with clearer thought processes about what is right and wrong. 


They began their education on that day of assessment and have also elected to continue this process in a spiritual realm. Not only have they joined Anchor Church, an inter-dominational church, where they work in the Go Ministry to go out and help others find their paths toward recovery and renewal.

“I’m not sure how to say this.  I have always had a relationship with God but I never let God have a relationship with me,” Daniel said.  “God is the only way I could have ever have done this.”  Melanie said she was in complete agreement, “There is (was) a better way and this is it.”  Daniel added, “We want to help others so they can get better and they can go on to help others.  We want it to snowball.”  They both said the depression is gone and so is the desire to get high.


He is in recovery now and working closely with MDHS to qualify to adopt back his sons.   Daniel and Melanie are both employed and both are very happy to be drug-free.  They have a house, a home.  No one who has had addictions is every really addiction free, they said, but they are rejecting that lifestyle of feeding their drug addiction and choosing to remain drug-free. 


They have been succeeding in this now for several months and are excited about the possibility that

that they soon may be able to begin the 90-trial of having their fourteen-year-old son and their ten-year-old son back in the home.  While this is not yet determined, they are hopeful for positive results during the review that will take place in early December.  If they are approved, they would be able to adopt the children back which would be a historical event.  This would be the first parental adoption in Lee County and the third ever in the state of Mississippi.

Adult Recovery Program

The general purpose of the Recovery Program Coordinator classes is to enhance client awareness, knowledge and understanding of:

  • How addiction affects individuals and families

  • How to identify and address addiction risks and behaviors

  • Where and how to seek help for addiction

  • What to expect from treatment and recovery

  • How the dynamic of the change process happens to achieve recovery

Addiction Educators will use instructional and group interactive strategies to create a dynamic that engages client learning and change.


Call (662) 205-6089 to schedule an ASSESSMENT date and time.

Office Hours: 

Monday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday - Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kim Benefield

Recovery Program Coordinator

Phone:  662-432-1884

Open document on the right to read

more about RECOVERY and FRC's presence during recovery

Class Schedule

Admission is OPEN.

Students may start classes at any point in time.

There are ten classes that last one hour each


Assessment Scheduling

Call 662.205.6089 Schedule an Assessment Date & Time



6:00-7:00-Kim Benefield

LOCATION: Northeast MS Community College

                      2759 Harper Rd Corinth, MS

6:00-7:30--Kim Benefield (MRT Group)

LOCATION: Northeast MS Community College

                     2759 Harper Rd Corinth, MS


10:00-11:00--Jonathon Swain

LOCATION: Itawamba Community College - Belden Campus

                     3200 Adams Farm Rd, Belden, MS

6:00-7:00--Jonathon Swain

LOCATION: Itawamba Community College - Belden Campus

                     3200 Adams Farm Rd, Belden, MS

6:00-7:30--Kim Benefield (MRT Group)

LOCATION: Itawamba Community College - Belden Campus

                     3200 Adams Farm Rd, Belden, MS


5:00-6:00--Kim Benefield

LOCATION: Family Resource Center

                     60063 Puckett Drive, Amory, MS 38821



6:00-700--Jonathan Swain and Tony Corrie

LOCATION: Family Resource Center

                     603 S. Cummings, Fulton, MS



3:30-4:30pm--Becca Crenshaw (Youth Recovery)

LOCATION: Family Resource Center

                      603 S. Cummings, Fulton, MS

5:00-6:30--Becca Crenshaw (MRT Group)

LOCATION: Family Resource Center

                    603 S. Cummings, Fulton, MS


5:30-7:00--Eddie Begonia (MRT Group)

LOCATION: Northeast MS Community

                    2759 Harper Rd (RM 161),  Corinth, MS


430-5:30--Eddie Begonia (Youth Recovery)

LOCATION: Itawamba Community College - Belden Campus

                    3200 Adams Farm Rd (RM 406), Belden, MS

5:30-7:00--Eddie Begonia (MRT Group)

LOCATION: Itawamba Community College - Belden Campus

                    3200 Adams Farm Rd (RM 402), Belden, MS

Family Resource Center of North Mississippi does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status, political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, or age in the administration of any of its programs or in the employment of any staff.

The emotional strains of holidays and winter weather take a grave toll – during the holiday months of December and January, the CDC reports that alcohol-and-drug-induced deaths spike.

© 2016 por el Centro de Recursos para la Familia del Norte de Mississippi. Todos los derechos reservados.

El Family Resource Center of North Mississippi no discrimina por motivos de raza, etnia, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, condición de veterano, creencias políticas, religión, orientación sexual o edad en la administración de cualquiera de sus programas o en el empleo de cualquier personal.

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