July 2023 Open Line

Brett Donnals – Media Director for Central Office

Employee of the Month

Brett Donnals – Media Director for Central Office – was recognized as Employee of the Month for July 2023.  As his colleagues will tell you, Brett is eager to take on projects and sweats every detail of his work.

Brett Donnals recently provided his expertise on a project for our training department and went way beyond the scope of his commission. Most notable was his professional demeanor and meticulous attention to detail, which created a valuable working environment. When there were change requests, he did not complain or show any signs of impatience; he quickly completed the task helping us to roll out our training project on time. It was a pleasure working with someone who clearly enjoys his work and works well with other departments. Brett did an excellent job partnering with the DCS trainers and our foster parents on this project. The outcome is remarkable.

All-Star Award at the 10th annual Working for a Healthier Tennessee Awards Celebration

Congratulations to Venus Singleton for receiving the All-Star Award at the 10th annual Working For A Healthier Tennessee Awards Celebration. Venus earned recognition for her positive attitude and for encouraging others to lead healthier lives. 

The Department of Children’s Services earned a platinum award during the event for showing consistency in workplace wellness programming for two fiscal years in a row.

"Thank you for Helping Grown-Ups be Better!"

Students from Van Leer Elementary brought the sweetest cards to staff at the DCS office in Dickson to show their appreciation. Take a look at some of the messages they wrote!

Have Lemons? Make 44 Lemonade Stands!!

Community members hosted 44 lemonade stands to benefit Isaiah House 117 Monroe-McMinn County.

Every July, Isaiah 117 Houses across the country encourage their communities to hold lemonade stands to raise awareness and funds for their location.

Thanks to East Regional Director Marcy Martin for visiting 9 of the lemonade stands to express DCS’s appreciation for their support.

Door Painting Celebration

Door Painting Celebration!

A door painting celebration was held for the Isaiah 117 House in Davidson County. The location will soon be under construction and to celebrate, the door which will be installed on the home was painted red.

Happy Retirement, Carla Tucker!

Happy retirement to Davidson County Deputy Regional Director Carla Tucker! Carla served the department for 34 years! She joined DCS in 1989 as a ‘social counselor’ (now known as a case manager). We wish her the very best in this next chapter! Congratulations, Carla!

Staff standing from left to right - Rout Wang, Terry Young, Program Coordinator Larissa Hutchings, Johnnie Tinker, Leslea Hayes, Trevon Boy, and Nate Dale

West Grand Region's Absconder Unit

The West Grand Region’s Absconder Unit completed training with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

[Staff standing from left to right - Rout Wang, Terry Young, Program Coordinator Larissa Hutchings, Johnnie Tinker, Leslea Hayes, Trevon Boy, and Nate Dale]

Sherri Muse Retirement Party

Happy Retirement, Sherri Muse!

West Grand Region celebrated the retirement of Sherri Muse, who served the state for 34 years! Sherri was previously the Northwest Team Leader for Crockett, Lake, Obion, and Weakley counties.

[Staff standing from Left to right-Team Coordinator Beunca Logan, Laura Vickers, Cynthia Langford, Sherri Muse, Heather Gibson, Chris Stephens (seated)]

Backpacks for the youth!

Over 200 Backpacks for the new School Year!

The South Central Region received over 200 backpacks full of school supplies from Kids to Love to help the children and families they are working with prepare for the new school year!

Best of Me is in 2023

July 28, 2023

Stay Safe

Stay Safe This Summer

Read: Tips to Stay Cool this Summer https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/wfhtn/documents/wfhtn_stay_cool_this_summer_july_final.pdf

Join: A Safe and Savvy Summer webinar presented by ActiveHealth on Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 10:30-11 a.m. CT. Get tips on how to keep cool and hydrated in the blazing temps. Find ways to save your skin from biting bugs and scorching sun.

Download calendar invite.

Access all upcoming events: https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html

Can’t attend a live event?

Check out Here4TN’s well-being resources: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/wfhtn/documents/here4tn_wb_videos.pdf

Healthy TN

Spotlight on Working for a Healthier Tennessee

Working for a Healthier Tennessee is the workplace wellness program for all Tennessee State Government employees. You don’t even have to sign up! WFHTN aims to provide employees with the tools and support they need to lead healthier lives by focusing on three key areas:  physical activity, healthy eating, and well-being.

The initiative creates a healthy, positive workplace and shows how taking small steps can help employees achieve their larger goals.

Learn more: https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn.html

Watermelon Whip

Recipe of the Week

Satisfy your sweet tooth with some Watermelon Whip.

Made with just five simple ingredients, this frozen treat is a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. Watermelon is a good source of antioxidants and nutrients. In addition to supporting hydration, it may also promote many aspects of health and prevent certain health conditions.


July 21, 2023

Happening This Week

Happening This Week!

Stretches for Walking
Thursday, July 27 from 12-12:15 p.m. CT
Walking is a great way to add physical activity into your healthy lifestyle. Another important part of your activity program is stretching. During this session, we’ll practice stretches that can help you prevent injuries.

Download calendar invite.

You can access all upcoming activities, webinars and workouts at https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html.

In case you missed it:

Last week, Tennessee State Government employees gathered virtually to test their nature knowledge. If you couldn’t join the fun, take this quiz by Friday, Aug. 11 for a chance to win one of three prizes!

Get Outdoors Trivia: https://stateoftennessee.formstack.com/forms/get_outdoors_trivia_submission_form

Recipe of the Week

July 26 is National Bagelfest!

Celebrate with these 2-Ingredient Dough Bagels.

The dough calls for flour and Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of several nutrients and can even offer health benefits. Enjoy!


July 14, 2023

Park & Rec Month

July is National Park & Recreation Month

Visit a national, state, or local park, and submit photos to WFHT.TN@tn.gov.

Join us for Get Outdoors Trivia!

Friday, July 21 from 10-10:30 a.m. CT

Getting out in nature has many health benefits. Test your outdoor knowledge in this live trivia game led by Wellness Coordinator Morgan Blake. The top three winners will be awarded a prize. An additional prize will be awarded to a participant chosen at random! We’ll play using Mentimeter.

Download calendar invite.

Can’t join us live? A link to this quiz will be available on the Wellness Events webpage after July 21: https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html

Upcoming Virtual Events

Upcoming Virtual Events

Meditation Break with Nat
Wednesday, July 19 from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. CT
Give your mind a break with live, virtual meditation.
This class is brought to you by volunteer instructor and Tennessee State Government employee Nat Chapman from the Department of Human Services in partnership with Working for a Healthier Tennessee.

Download calendar invite.

Access all upcoming events: https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html.

Can’t attend a live event?

Try this 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique for Anxiety:

TN State Parks

Spotlight on TN State Parks

Tennessee State Parks offer many activities and events across the state. Find a park and event near you: https://tnstateparks.com/events

Eggplant Parm

Recipe of the Week

Enjoy a comfort meal with this Lighter Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplants are a nutrient-rich food that contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can benefit your overall health, including your heart.


July 7, 2023

Build Up Your Support System

Build Up Your Support Systems

According to the National Institute on Aging, the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation and loneliness have even been estimated to shorten a person’s life span by as many as 15 years.

Positive social habits can help you build support systems and stay healthier mentally and physically. Get tips for connecting with others: https://www.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-info/wellness-toolkits/social-wellness-checklist-2.pdf

Join our Summer Social on Thursday, July 13 from 1-1:15 p.m. CT

Honor Social Wellness Month by taking a break with fellow Tennessee State Government employees to connect and celebrate the season.

Download calendar invite.

Access all upcoming activities at: https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html

Can’t attend a live event? Check out these on-demand optionshttps://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/resources/video-library.html

Team Building

Spotlight On Team Building

The Working for a Healthier Tennessee team has created several team-building activities. You can use these as written or easily customize them for your team. If you need assistance with customizing an activity, please reach out to WFHT.TN@tn.gov.

Peach Pear Smoothie

Recipe of the Week

Cool down with this nutrient-packed Groovy Peach Pear Smoothie.

Pears are a powerhouse fruit, packing fiber, vitamins, and beneficial plant compounds.

These nutrients can help fight inflammation, promote gut and heart health, protect against certain diseases, and even aid weight loss. https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/resources/recipes/smoothies/groovy-peach-pear-smoothie.html