Stories

Stories

FTF’s success has generated model duplication efforts nationwide, and has garnered international attention for its award-winning leadership concerning family and relationship issues, specifically in the areas of fatherhood, marriage and parenting.

  • Justin Washington, Work Smart, Live Well and OH Baby! Participant

    - Justin Washington, Work Smart, Live Well and OH Baby! Participant

    "I am a HUGE fan of First Things First because when I first moved to Chattanooga in 2014, I had a lot of struggles, but First Things First helped me get on the right track. I attended a Work Smart, Live Well workshop and learned a lot of skills that helped me have confidence and better communication on the job.

    I also gained a deeper knowledge of how your personal life can affect your work life and vice versa. If you’re in toxic relationships with friends or loved ones, they can take a toll on your overall mood, attitude and focus which will inevitably interfere with your motivation and performance on the job.

    Also, when my wife and I found out we were pregnant a few months ago, we realized we needed to work out a few things to keep our marriage prioritized and our careers focused in order to bring our baby into a healthy, thriving home. We went to the First Things First website and signed up for OH, Baby! It was a great date night for us and it was great insight for what to expect when we bring home our first child.

    First Things First gives the community hope. When someone wants to make a change in their life, but they don’t know what they don’t know, First Things First is there to help."

  • Tiffany Cantrell, Teacher at Ridgeland High School

    - Tiffany Cantrell, Teacher at Ridgeland High School

    "I have been an educator at Ridgeland High School for two years and in that short time I have seen tremendous, positive changes in my students as a result of their participation in the First Things First’s healthy relationship skills classes.

    The students of Ridgeland are exposed to a number of wonderful programs in our community but none of those programs reaches our students the way First Things First does.

    My students get so much more out of the classes than healthy relationship skills and helpful tips for being successful after high school. They learn about themselves and gain an appreciation for the unique characteristics that make them who they are. I have seen a huge boost in their confidence and self-esteem, which is evident in both their school and personal lives.

    First Things First has not only helped to foster relationships among classmates, it has brought me closer to my students. I have had special opportunities to get to know each of them on a more personal level which has helped me to more effectively teach them. First Things First has made a huge impact on Ridgeland and the students, and I look forward to their visits each year. I hope that they can continue to develop and offer these beneficial classes for teens for many years to come."

  • Felicia and Eundra Porter, Maximize Your Marriage Participants

    - Felicia and Eundra Porter, Maximize Your Marriage Participants

    "My husband and I were having major problems. Our marriage was in crisis. I saw an advertisement for a First Things First class on a bus, so I encouraged him to call and see what we could do.

    We went to Maximize Your Marriage, and it was eye-opening to me. Or really, for both of us. There were some things in my mind that I thought were happening in our marriage, but after attending that class I realized our problems were all about a lack of communication. Until that point, I didn’t know if I was really going to stay or walk away.

    Without First Things First, I believe, we honestly would not be married today. Or, at the very least, not as happily married."

  • Seth Miller, Deputy Chief of Administration, Chattanooga Fire Department

    - Seth Miller (and other firefighters with their spouses), Deputy Chief of Administration, Chattanooga Fire Department

    "First Things First did a great job with the Firefighter Marriage Enrichment Program. They provided some topics and moments of discussion that were truly meaningful. One exercise remember was the personality assessment that identified my color and my wife’s color. It was a really fun way to see how both similarities and differences could affect how we see or hear or interact with our spouse.

    Another exercise that I thought was fun and insightful was when we all stood in a circle and threw several bean bags across the circle at the same time, demonstrating how hectic life is and how challenging it is to focus on our marriages. It was a great reminder that in the midst of life’s craziness (represented by the flying bean bags), we could and should set our focus on our spouse.

    What I appreciated most about the classes and the retreat was that I was spending intentional time with my wife, Tracy. As all families, we have a lot going on, and it’s truly a challenge to focus on our marriage sometimes. This program provided a venue for that. They also provided tools for connection and topics for discussion that we’ll remember as we go. Intentional time is the key for us, and it can be as simple as taking a walk together. Thanks for the opportunity!"

  • Abby Beck, Bradley County High School, Class of 2018

    - Abby Beck, Bradley County High School, Class of 2018

    "What I liked most about the First Things First class was that I could find myself in the worksheets and activities, especially in the towel activity. I honestly found that I was like really controlling during that activity. I wanted to take over. But, the class helped me understand how to overcome that and work with it, and work with other people.

    The class also taught me to work well with others and still be okay with myself. I can overcome struggles or insecurities that I have with myself and with other people in almost any way, whether it’s physically, mentally or emotionally.

    I believe the class will help me in future relationships because I now know how to overcome problems in a variety of healthy ways, and how to make the smartest choices as I prepare for my future. I know I’m a teenager, but there was so much about relationships that I thought I already knew. Turns out, there’s a lot more to it like communication, dealing with conflict, personality types and healthy relationship habits that I didn’t know before that I know now.

    Thanks, First Things First."

  • Scotty McClure, Dads Making a Difference Graduate

    - Scotty McClure, Dads Making a Difference Graduate

    "Thousands of dollars behind in child support, Scotty had been an uninvolved father for the past eight years. He’s a former aircraft mechanic and father of three children - a 16-year-old and two 14-year-olds (not twins). Because of a felony conviction, he lost his job in 2009 and hadn’t had a full-time job since then. In January of 2017, Scotty sought help during Amnesty Week since he was behind on child support. He discussed his situation with professionals without fear of being arrested and soon became part of FTF’s Dads Making a Difference class.

    During his first day of the class, Scotty quickly realized he needed to have an open mind, which was not usual for him. He discovered that he could learn a lot from people who were willing to help if he was willing to listen. Through DMD, Scotty has taken full responsibility for his mistakes and lack of parental involvement. He learned that it takes time to earn his kids’ permission and the right to speak back into their lives after being absent for so many years. He also realized he needs to be more intentional, and he truly wants to spend time with his kids, especially after discovering that one of them is involved with a gang.

    After many years of infrequent contact, he is taking action. Recently, Scotty kept his kids overnight and they all watched movies together for the first time in a really long time. He also landed a full-time job, graduated from DMD, and is excited about catching up - not just on child support - but on being there for his children."

  • Marie Webb, Vice President of Human Resources at EPB

    - Marie Webb, Vice President of Human Resources at EPB

    "First Things First has been a great benefit to the lunch and learn program at EPB. The topics are always extremely interesting, relevant to the work that we do and the meetings are well attended by our employees. First Things First is very knowledgeable and we would recommend them for anyone looking to better understand relationships and the dynamic that they play in business.

    Through FTF, our employees have a better grasp on how relationships outside of the office can affect their overall motivation in the workplace. They also have a better grasp on healthy communication skills and techniques for dealing with conflict that have greatly benefited their productivity."

  • - Aaron Quinn, Maclellan Shelter for Families

    - Aaron Quinn, Maclellan Shelter for Families

    "I’m the one on duty when the First Things First staff comes to the Maclellan Shelter for Families to do relationship classes. I just want to say that I love this class and what it provides for families. I sit back and nod my head in wonder at the task that First Things First has on its shoulders.

    To hone in on a more specific moment, one night I sat at the desk watching one of your staff members interact with four of the children. The value of what was going on in that moment froze me for a few minutes. One of the unfortunate side effects of poverty is that social development can be stunted by the lack of positive social interaction. When I saw this positive interaction, it struck me that the kids experiencing your program will never be able to duplicate such a positive time again unless they are able to create one when they are older.

    Seeing your program foster such a positive, unique environment for children is something that cannot be appreciated enough. PLUS, add the fact that young mothers are getting the chance to hear life skills from a seasoned veteran of motherhood has a worth that everyone should appreciate, even if they don't get to see it.

    Thank you, First Things First, for having a valuable program available. It is a pleasure to experience it."

  • Delaney Gorman, The Nearly-Wed Adventure & OH, Baby Participants.

    - Delaney Gorman, The Nearly-Wed Adventure & OH, Baby Participants.

    "We heard about First Things First through some friends at work. We knew we wanted some type of marriage education. I knew we had some challenges we needed to work through before we got married, and The Nearly-Wed Adventure helped us do just that.

    The biggest thing we learned was that communication is a huge part of a healthy marriage. We also discovered that our minds work totally different and now, as newlyweds, we always try to be aware of that when we communicate with each other.

    A year into our marriage, when we got pregnant, we looked to First Things First for guidance. We registered for OH, Baby and learned a ton. It helped us remember to be open with each other always, and acknowledge that before we welcome our new little one into the world, we need to set boundaries and be intentional about making time for each other. Our baby is due very soon, and we are so excited to begin a legacy for the generations to come. No marriage is perfect, but we want our children to know that marriage is more about making memories than having fights. First Things First has something for every season of life, and we recommend it to everyone."

  • Kristy and Ralph Cousins, Maximize Your Marriage Participants “Revolutionary.

    - Kristy and Ralph Cousins, Maximize Your Marriage Participants “Revolutionary.

    "That’s the one word I’d use to describe the Maximize Your Marriage class. I thought I knew a lot about marriage. I now know I knew some, but not as much as I needed to! I understood the “stages” and “seasons” of marriage and thought my husband and I were resigned to make the best of it and weather the storm of the low times. (And, we’d just come through a low time when we took the class...which is exactly why I wanted us to attend!)

    As the years have rolled by (14 now) and our kiddo was added to our family 3.5 years ago, our relationship has been more strained. We get along and have had a good marriage, but not a great one for some time. I didn’t realize how difficult things had gotten until we attended that class and exchanged some serious honesty.

    Breakthrough!! There’s been a “lightness” about our home since and I know we’ve turned a major corner. We know too much now to settle for less. There is hope for so much more!! I would recommend First Things First to EVERY married couple out there."

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