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Families First opens its doors locally to reach those in need

From the very young to the elderly, reaching out to families in need is the goal of Families First for Mississippi.

And with services delivered by two community agencies, the Mississippi Community Education Center and the Family Resource Center, Families First is committed to strengthening families of all backgrounds and life circumstances.

On Tuesday, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 1100 Cherry St. as the organization opened its doors here in Vicksburg.

Families First is a nonprofit organization with 20 sites across the state of Mississippi, Vicksburg center coordinator Beverly Raddin said, and some of the group’s offerings include parenting classes, fathering classes and classes for foster parents.

These classes are not designed to duplicate what other organizations are already offering, Raddin said, of the Families First programs, but are to add additional support.

“We don’t want to do overlap with other organizations in the community. We are supplementing,” she said.

One of the many ways Families First plans to reach out to the River City will be by offering a life skills course, in which participants can learn how to develop and maintain healthy relationships as well as understand how to resolve conflicts.   

Many times the Department of Human Services will refer individuals to Family First in an effort for them to gain these skills, Raddin said.

Other programs Families First will be offering include educational assistance courses and job readiness programs, Raddin said.

“We provide high school diploma classes, which are free,” she said, adding that for those interested, it just takes filling out an application and providing an unopened transcript to participate in on-line courses.

The job skill readiness programs offered through Families First will assist participants with their resumes and or job search.

“We also talk about interviews, how to dress, how to keep a job and how to deal with stress on the job,” Raddin said.

Early literacy programs will also be offered through Families First.

Raddin said this would include going into the library and childcare centers. Books will be read to the children and then they can participate in activities that will coincide with the story.

“We also talk to the parents about how important it is to read books to their children,” Raddin said.

On the high school level, Raddin said, Families First visit schools and talk to students about character skills, abstinence, drug prevention and being tobacco free.

Families First can also present programs to individual organizations, clubs and or churches. 

“If another agency, clubs or church would like a workshop we are glad to do it,” Raddin said.

In addition to programs and workshops, Families First also offers a clothes closet that is geared toward helping those seeking jobs.

“We also have a clothes closet with professional clothes that people can wear to work, they can get up to five outfits,” Raddin said.

For more information on Families First or to volunteer, call 601-352-2461 or 601-366-6405.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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