Families First has been around for over twenty years and provides a range of educational services that aim to make the family unit stronger. “Families First goal is to impact the entire family—it’s not just one aspect of the family, but the whole family. Families first goal is also to see families be self-sufficient,” said Field Educator Tonya Thomas. The Families First of Mississippi- Meridian Resource Center opened just over a year ago, and they provide classes that go over life skills, workforce development, and even anger management, with one of their biggest focuses is on parenting. “We talk about the behavior of our children, what to expect when they’re growing, and how to deal with conflict resolution between siblings, parent and child, or parent and parent,” said Field Educator Pamela Edwards. “Several of our parents have been able to be reunited with their children. Some of our parents have been court ordered to take these classes. Through our workforce development, we’ve seen people go to work,” said Thomas.
The resource center, which provides all services for free, has a computer lab along with clothing to provide for parents looking for work. “We go from teaching in these parenting classes to providing professional wear to some of our participants to go out and seek jobs. So, we’re offering a hand-up here,” said Edwards. They have several summer events coming up, such as their Kids De-Stress Workshop happening on Saturday, July 13th at their location on 8th Street. They also offer classes for those wanting to finish their high school diploma. “Individuals who have dropped out of high school, or who just probably wasn’t able to pass the Exit exam, that want to finish their accredited high school diploma, they can do that as well,” said Thomas.“The community has been pretty open to the resource center, and, now, it’s getting even more fluent with people coming in because the word is getting out there.” Families First-Meridian serves Lauderdale, Newton, Jasper, and Clarke Counties. For more information on their services, contact them at 601-366-6405 ext. 419, or visit their website: www.familiesfirstforms.org.