Founded in 2005 by John Colvert and a friend, both sober and involved in the 12-step community, First Things First (FTF) is a sober living facility in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. After acquiring the property, Colvert decided to offer it as a housing option to two other friends in the sober community. Soon after, they decided to start providing transitional housing units, and by 2008 had three homes fully dedicated to the program. Aiming to offer affordable housing for those struggling with substance abuse, FTF is based on the 12 steps and caters specifically to men.
Accommodations and Amenities
The three housing units of FTF, known as Clydeway, Horncastle and The Farm, accommodate between eight and 11 males each. The Clydeway, the first of the homes in the program, is a four-bedroom, one-story brick house with two men per bedroom. Horncastle also has four bedrooms, though one is a master that fits three beds. Two other bedrooms hold two per room and a private, smaller bedroom is available for one. The Farm, which also serves as the FTF headquarters and offices, fits 11 clients between four bedrooms. One very large master bedroom contains four beds, another bedroom has three beds and the other two contain two beds each.
All the houses have eat-in kitchens, patios and on-site gyms with weights and simple machines. Clients also have access to washer-dryers and cable TV. Each location is close to local shopping, employment agencies and public transportation. The Farm has the added bonus of being situated on three acres of property complete with a garden for clients to tend, a game area for horseshoes and an outdoor picnic space.
Sober outings for FTF clients include group picnics, bowling and movie nights and, for those who are considered senior house members, concerts.
Transportation is provided to AA/NA meetings and appointments, as well as resources to obtain work, medical care and food services. Basic food is provided to clients at the weekly house meeting. However, clients are required to shop and cook for themselves the rest of the time.
Rules and Regulations
FTF accepts those who voluntarily come to the facilities for help, as well as those who are court-ordered to attend. All clients must attend daily 12-step meetings and obtain a sponsor in the sober community. FTF provides referrals to over 50 different meeting locations near the facilities. Attending outside Big Book study is also encouraged.
Clients are required to work, or actively seek work, and are encouraged to apply at local temp agencies until full-time employment is secured.
Those who are court-ordered have slightly different rules than the clients who come into the program on their own volition. They include signing out with the house manager before leaving and providing detailed information as to their whereabouts throughout the day. Daily employment verification from the employer is required, as is daily meeting attendance verification.
Clients who wish to apply for senior status in the program, which entails a lower rent and more outside freedom, must at least have completed step five.
Many clients attend Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) through local organizations including the VA, Pathfinders in Murfreesboro, and Cumberland Heights of Nashville. These programs offer a variety of outpatient services several days a week, with both group and individual therapy.
Every week, there is a mandatory house meeting in each facility that serves as a check in and sounding board for all clients and staff. Every house has an on-site house manager who oversees the client’s needs, makes the chore schedule and is an on-hand reference. Many former clients are now on staff with FTF and live in a fourth housing unit in the area.
Aftercare programs are available for clients who are getting ready to discharge from the home. They usually take place at a local outpatient facility.
First Things First offers supportive care for those who are seeking an additional period of time and structure before returning to work and family life. In this program, the client’s desire to stay sober is the main component of success.
First Things First
4014 Old Nashville Hwy
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
First Things First Cost: $150 per week. Reach First Things First by phone at (615) 896-6697. Find First Things First on Facebook
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