Families Free helping women in recovery find jobs and housing

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families recover from addiction is now finding ways to help beyond recovery. Families Free is helping people in recovery get access to things like jobs and housing.

“When I first came to families free I was just broken, I mean I lost all hope,” Myra Phipps said. “I didn’t believe I was worth as much as other people, I didn’t feel capable, I didn’t feel strong at all. To cope you know I would drink alcohol.”

After going through counseling and addiction treatment with Families Free, Phipps tells us she has now been sober for a year and a half.

“I’ve been in other treatments before but this was entirely different, they actually got down to the root of the problem,” Phipps said.

Now, this mother of two volunteers with Families Free teaching art classes.

“Now that I have had help I have accomplished so much I never would’ve ever believed that I could’ve done,” Phipps said.

Families Free provides families with resources and counseling on the road to recovery. And now, director Lisa Tipton says they are taking it a step further.

This year Families Free started employing women in their program at Bellafina Chocolate in Kingsport making chocolates and coffee.

“We employ women to process the coffee, packets of coffee in this beautiful bag and deliver the coffee to different places in the community,” Tipton said.

The money from coffee sales of the “woven blend” goes back to Families Free to help these women.

“This is another way to support the work that we do at Families Free but also to give women sustainable employment where they can learn skills and go on and meet the goals in their lives,” Tipton said.

Tipton said right now Families Free is also partnering with people in the community in hopes of providing transitional housing for these women.

“Our long-term dream is to have transitional housing, to have the social enterprise component with coffee, in addition to the family restoration that Families Free has done for the past ten years,” Tipton said.

Also new this year, Governor Bill Haslam has allotted $100,000 in his budget for Families Free. Now, the organization is able to have a presence in more hospitals. The goal is for a staff member to be in the hospital after women give birth to drug-dependent babies.

“What happens in the NICU doesn’t start in the NICU and it doesn’t stay in the NICU. That is a point in time that we as a community have an opportunity to come around this baby and come around this mother and the entire family with the kind of services and help that they need,” Tipton said.

The Families Free staff members talk with moms about what withdrawal means for her baby, and gives her choices to get free treatment and counseling.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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