Families First for Mississippi Offers Hope for Recovery for  Mississippians Caught in 
the Grip of Addiction
by Jenny Cox Holman

There is a ruthless killer on the loose in Mississippi. From dark alleys to dimly lit streets, to winding dirt roads leading to single family homes and through gated neighborhoods to the wealthiest in town, this killer has no mercy and finds its victims of all races, creeds and incomes. The state of Mississippi has yet to stop this merciless killer and with each passing year, the lives of so many more are ended. The killer is a chameleon of sorts, taking on different forms and fashion and unrelenting in its pursuit of victims. The culprit lurks not in the form of a vicious villain roaming the street, but quietly nestled in bottles and syringes as prescription pain killers, synthetic opioids and illegal drugs such as heroin.

Families First for Mississippi looks to be a beacon of hope for those Mississippians who feel hopelessly clinched in the cycle of addiction and through educational and recovery resources to circumvent the devastating drug overdoses in Mississippi. Through offering Adult Addiction Education Program free of charge, Families First for Mississippi offers resources to begin the process of healing and recovery for those suffering with addiction and their family members. "Families First for Mississippi is here to connect the dots to get those suffering from addiction the adequate services they need to help support addiction recovery," said Dr. Nancy New, Executive Director of Families First for Mississippi. Read more...
Addiction Education Families First for Mississippi
Families First Youth and Adult Addiction Campaign Video 

Families First Food Insecurity Initiative 

Families First for Mississippi is working towards eliminating food insecurity in our state. This state-wide initiative will be a huge cross partnership between state agencies, schools, grocery stores, local restaurants, etc. The first focus region will be in North Mississippi. To kick it off, Families First is hosting a conference October 8, 2018 9:30am-12:30pm to get the conversation started!! Tell us you are coming or interested! For more information and to register,

Thank you to all our community organizations that are supporting our cause. Mid-South Food Bank, MS Food Network, Twelve Baskets, Food Bank Feeding the Gulf Coast, St Luke Church of God in Christ, Faith Food Pantry, Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, First United Methodist Church-Tupelo, MS, The Salvation Army -Tupelo, Mississippi, More Than A Meal, AmeriCorps VISTA North Mississippi, AmeriCorps VISTA Project, Food Recovery Network, University of Mississippi Medical, Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition, Soul City Hospitality, Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association, Food Donation Connection, Society of St. Andrew - Mississippi Refill Cafe-CAFE 212, The Summit Center, Park Heights Restaurant, Kermit's Outlaw Kitchen Blue Canoe, CRAVE Vanelli's Bistro Romie's Grocery, Tupelo Country Club, Todd's Big Star Kroger (960 W Main St, Tupelo, MS) Kroger (930 Barnes Crossing Rd, Tupelo, MS) Walmart Tupelo, W Main St Sam's Club (Tupelo, MS), Palmer's Shoppers Value Foods, Sysco Jackson, Cockrell Banana Co., Refreshment of Tupelo US Foods, American Academy of Pediatrics, UnitedHealthcare

National Suicide Prevention Month

First Lady Deborah Bryant joined Families First at Murrah High School to support the Healthy Teens for a Better MS initiative! Healthy Teens for a Better MS brought  awareness to teen suicide throughout the month of September statewide. Murrah High School  students and faculty did an awesome job participating in "White Out Suicide Day"! Alexandria, Governor's Teen Council member, put together a dance and chant with her peers "Your life matters. We need you!"

Upcoming Future Rallies
The 2018 Healthy Teens Rally will be held on Thursday, October 18, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., at the Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and also on February 28, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., at Washington County Convention Center in Greenville, Mississippi.

White Out Suicide in North Mississippi

White Out Suicide North Mississippi-13 Reasons Why Not:   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.   In the north half of Mississippi, the Healthy Teens team combined with the Families First Positive Youth Development team to present a social media campaign called "13 Reasons Why Not", based off the Netflix original series "13 Reasons Why", a show focused on one girls suicide and the reason she did it.   
Each campus not only dressed in white but presented one of the 13 reasons for publication on social media.   The posts were carried on a variety of social media platforms.  By doing this, Families First hopes to help reach someone suffering and give them comfort and to raise awareness for this issue.

National Recovery Month in Tupelo

National Recovery Month:   Tupelo- The month of September is National Drug & Alcohol 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 Program (AERP) of Families First for Mississippi. AERP Director Collin Billingsley presented Christy Webb, Executive Director of FRC and Co-Director of Families First, with a plaque to celebrate her vision in establishing the program. "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 here to help not only the person who is in the program but their entire family.    

Mantachie Youth Development
Teen Dating Violence, Healthy Interactions, and 
Suicide Prevention & Awareness

Mantachie Youth Development:    Mantachie- During an assembly of 7th through 12th grade focusing on Teen Dating Violence, Healthy Interactions, and a short bit about Suicide Prevention & Awareness. These pictures show just a few of the students out of about 400 with whom the Families First team talked to.
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 the group pictured here to 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.

Families First/NLRO 
Online High School Program

Clarksdale and Indianola Families First for Mississippi campuses reported their very first NLRO graduations during September 2018 since the opening of these centers. 
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.   
Darrielle Jackson was a senior at Gentry High School in Indianola but also enrolled in the NLRO to finish all of the extra credits necessary for graduation. She was able to complete her diploma requirements and will be attending Mississippi Valley State University in January, 2019.      
Latavius Autman completed the NLRO high school diploma program on September 6, 2018, through the Southaven campus.  As per tradition at the campus, students "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.

Community Baby Shower in Clarksdale 

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 related to health, wellness and education.  The attendees received prizes from diapers to car seats.

Aging and Adult Services Conference 
in Natchez 

Families First for Mississippi was a part of the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services Conference in Natchez this past September. John Owen, Families First Addiction Education Director spoke on the "Explanation of Opioid Abuse in the Aging Population".

Food Insufficiency Campaign

In order to donate, advocate, and educate the community as part of the National Hunger Action Day, Brandy Gant 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. Today the FFFM 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, 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.

National Awareness Topics for the Month of September  In Greenwood!
Families First for Mississippi Resource Center in Greenwood promoted monthly awareness topics for September. For National Suicide Prevention, the team dressed in white as part of a statewide campaign in partnership with Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi to "white out" teen suicide on September 10th. On September 13th, they wore the color orange to bring awareness to National Hunger Action Month, where people all over America stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to take action on the hunger crisis.

"Breaking the Chains of Addiction" 
in Vicksburg

Families First for Mississippi-Vicksburg had a celebration in honor of Nation al Recovery Month and teamed up with  Beautiful Deliverance , a local rehabilitation facility that is "Breaking the Chains of Addiction." The Vicksburg staff is pictured below with members of their coalition and some of the ladi es of Beautiful Deliverance to help celebrate their sobriety and recovery. For more details contact Virginia Campbell

"Back To School Bash" in Meridian

Fam ilies First for Mississippi-Meridian had their "Back to School Bash" at the Meridian Families First Resource Center.  We had vendors from  Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services , Happy Smilies-Meridian , Magnolia Health Plan K&R Optical Solutions , Mississippi Department of Human Services, and volunteers from the  Meridian Community College. This was a community event to celebrate the upcoming school year. We gave away hotdogs, backpacks, and several other school  supplies

For more information about the Families First Meridian Office and a list of our upcoming events call Gretchen Luvene at 601.366.4605 ext. 419.

Senior Fun & Fitness Event
In Crystal Springs!

Families First participated in the Senior Fun & Fitness event in downtown Crystal Springs! Health and wellness vendors were on site with valuable information and attendees participated in a Health Walk around downtown.. There were discounts for seniors (ages 55 & up) at participating retailers and restaurants.  

Jackson Cash & Carry Family Fun Day!

Families First for Mississippi hosted a Family Fun Afternoon in partnership with Jackson Cash & Carry. This was a FREE event for the South Jackson community. There was an IHeartMedia remote, jumpers, dinner, games, face painting, activities, multiple giveaways, and music! 

Promoting the Healthy Teens Rally in Hattiesburg!

Families First For Mississippi and Healthy Teens For A Better Mississippi has been on the radio for the past two weeks promoting the upcoming Healthy Teens Rally on October 18th at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg. Thank you  SuperTalk Hattiesburg - WFMM 97.3  Supertalk Laurel 99.3 and  WUSM 88.5 for having us on air.  Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi.

Healthy Teens Council Member

Did you know one of our Healthy Teens Council Members is a published author? Lauren Hill, a student at Richland High School, is the author of "Standing Up," a book about the realities and issues teens face daily in high school. We are so proud of you, Lauren! 

Bay Waveland High School Supporting
White Out Suicide Campaign!

Bay Waveland High School, you guys are incredible! Thank you for supporting our White Out Suicide campaign. Your student body is inspiring, and we are so proud of you!

Families First Partnership 

Families First for Mississippi visited with the BEES (Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Lower-Income Families) to learn more about what all we do for families in the state of Mississippi. The BEES project has a broad focus on programs that aim to improve employment outcomes for low-income adults. Programs could be operated by states, counties, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, or others. Our main goal for Families First For Mississippi is to impact the entire family by connecting the dots between all of the Mississippi family services.