Families Matter was founded in 2004 as an outreach program of Christ Community Health Services. Interest in FM grew rapidly among Memphis churches, and many mentors received marriage strengthening education.
In 2008, the Second Presbyterian Church Foundation, Hope Christian Community Foundation, and the Irvin Lansky Foundation funded the development of a more comprehensive FM program supporting healthy marriages and families through a broad cross-section of activities.
In 2009, an Advisory Board of pastors, educators, psychologists, and business leaders was established to support the FM program staff, led by Herman and Carol Jackson. Ken Glass, retired Chairman of First Horizon Corporation, serves as Chairman. Ken works closely with Burt Waller, Executive Director of Christ Community Health Services, recommending strategies, policies, and procedures for FM activities.
Currently we work with 80 area churches, training their trainers and providing support and educational curriculum. These churches teach healthy relationship skills training for their youth, pre-marital and marriage enrichment training for individuals and couples, as well as marriage mentoring classes, seminars, and retreats for their married congregants. The churches range in size from 40 to 4,000 members, allowing us to touch 6,500 members with resources and encouragement for strong, Christian families. Our planned growth model looks to touch 14,000 members in 2015.
During 2011, FM reached 5,411 people through events, the Memphis City School Connections course, and its Fatherhood Initiative. Events included Before You Tie the Knot, Marriage and Relationship, Congregational Health, Relationship Management, and Bridges Out of Poverty.
The high school Connections course was taught by 20 MCS teachers at 15 high schools during the 2011-2012 school year, as well as in two classes in Memphis apartment complexes, taught by FM staff. In the 2012-2013 school year, this course was taught in 30 schools to approximately 4,000 students.
Fatherhood Initiative began in late 2010 and greatly expanded in 2011. Fatherhood classes were taught at Baptist and Methodist Hospitals, Teachers Learning Academy, several area churches, Cottonwood Headstart, Perea Headstart, and Shelby County Headstart. These classes, given at hospital maternity wards and Headstart offices, teach basic skills in child and baby care and the father’s responsibility to the child and new mother.
FM was also invited by AGAPE to participate in their Power Lines Community Network (PCN) ministry to children, mothers, father, and families in the Hickory Hills/Southeast Memphis area. PCN connects under-resourced neighborhoods with resources for nurturing successful children and families.
Of special note, our Training Camp for Dads is currently being promoted by Mayor Wharton’s office. LeBonheur and Shelby County Head Start are also valuable sponsors of this event. In addition, three presentations were made to the Mayor’s Ambassadors Program which is a select group of Memphis high school students. Over 110 attended each session to learn to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy teen relationship skills, and the first session was originally scheduled for 45 minutes. It lasted well over two hours and ended only because the students had to move on to their next program, not because the students were out of questions.
FM also made five television and radio appearances, including “Memphis Today,” “Good Morning Memphis,” “Saturday Morning,” “24 Eyewitness News,” and “Fox 13 News.”