June 2023 Open Line

Congratulations to the Wilder YDC Graduates!

On June 9, 2023, seven youth from Wilder Youth Development Center put on their blue caps and gowns and received their diplomas from the Barbara Ward Cooper Educational Center. These young men, in front of their families, staff, and peers, had their names called, walked across the stage, and became high school graduates. One youth who had already been released from Wilder returned to walk with his class and receive his diploma. During the celebration, two of the graduates provided a welcome and recited a poem titled, “Graduate”. Current teacher and former Wilder youth, Mr. Ingram ignited the room with a rousing commencement speech charging the graduates to continue moving in the right direction. In closing, Deputy Commissioner Darren Goods and Superintendent Andre Bowen gave inspiring words followed by the graduates changing their tassels and tossing their caps. The graduates with their families were treated to a reception in the library following the ceremony. Despite their past, and with these diplomas, the future is bright for these young men if they continue to push themselves forward. 

The Henry Co. CAC Award

Tori Davis

The Henry Co. CAC award ceremony was held this month. Tori Davis received the award for CPIT team member of the year. She was chosen by CPIT partners, board members, and CAC staff to receive this award for going above and beyond for the children in Henry Co. Tori spends a lot of time volunteering with the CAC throughout the year also.  Much Deserved!  

USA Cycling's Olympics Day

Members of the Knox Region’s Foster Parent Support (FPS) team set up a booth at USA Cycling’s Olympic Day held at Safety City in Knoxville, TN on Saturday, June 24th.  This event offered children and families a chance to meet Olympic athletes and for the youth to participate in cycling activities, as well as an opportunity for our Knox Region FPS staff to talk with families about our need for more foster parents.  Many thanks to Tamara “TJ” Johnson, April Mathews, and Stephanie Welch from the Knox Region’s FPS team for participating in this foster parent recruitment event.  The team reports that approximately 150 people visited their booth during the event.  

Certified Mentor of the Quarter

Shante Skinner

This month we recognize our first-ever Certified Mentor of the Quarter, Shante Skinner! She was selected from several nominations across the state. Shante has been so patient with her new hire. While becoming a certified mentor and having a new hire, Shante completed CPS Academy-no small feat. Her new hire was more than ready to be certified during her case presentation. Shante even worked on ensuring team building to make the new team member become a part of the team quickly.

Award Winners

Robyn Witherspoon received the Governor’s Excellence in Service Award which recognizes employees of state government who have exceeded expectations by improving an agency’s ability to serve its customers. It recognizes employees who have improved a process or service to deliver the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost.

Frank Mix is the recipient of the Annual Phil Acord Award! From the moment Frank entered the role of Executive Director of Network Development he immediately changed the culture and relationship between DCS and the Provider Community.  He approached Providers as partners.  He was transparent and non-threatening in his interactions.  He asked questions, built ideas, and openly shared thoughts in real-time.  He continued to consistently, almost immediately respond to Providers while offering straightforward answers and explanations.  It is clear that Frank's priority is the betterment of the Youth and the Network that provides them care. With all this said that only provides a glimpse at Frank’s career in DCS as it only covers the past 2 years.  

Tennessee Teen Institute Time

TN Teen Institute

June was Tennessee Teen Institute time!!!  We had 21 foster youth from the Northwest, Southwest, Knox, and TN Valley regions attending this year on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Martin.   Our team called themselves Bright Futures Forever “BFF”.  This was the largest group of youth that’s ever attended. This is a huge commitment for our staff to attend this week-long camp with our youth to ensure they have this opportunity that promotes normalcy, independent living, and leadership skill building.  Major THANK YOU to Erika Sheffield, Quenisha Mabry, Kimberely Smith, Kevin Simpson, and Josten Jones for your commitment.  

Celebrate Smoky Event

Celebrate Smoky Event

Roughly 70 folks attended the Celebrate Smoky Event. The event was held on Friday, June 16th, at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Morristown. A video was shown of Executive Director of Communications, Alex Denis, interviewing Commissioner Quin highlighting recent department accomplishments and upcoming goals 

Best of Me is in 2023

June 30, 2023

July is National Grilling Month

July is National Grilling Month

Read the Top 10 Tips for Healthy Grilling and Barbecuing from the American Heart Association at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/add-color/top-ten-tips-for-healthy-grilling-and-barbecuing

Grilled Chicken Caesar Wraps

July 4 is National Caesar Salad Day!

Celebrate this food holiday plus National Grilling Month with Grilled Chicken Caesar Wraps. This recipe is high in protein and a good source of fiber. It’s sure to be a hit at your summer gatherings!


June 16, 2023

Men's Health Month

June is all about encouraging the men in your life to take care of their bodies by eating right, exercising, and working to prevent disease.

Save the Date: Friday, June 16, 2023

We invite you to Wear Blue to raise awareness about the importance of male health and to encourage men to live longer and healthier lives.

*Send in photos (with permission) of you and/or your coworkers together to: DCSWellness.Council@tn.gov

National Fresh Fruits and Veggies Month

National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

Make a fruit and/or veggie-focused recipe in honor of this month. As you’re making your recipe(s), check out Seasoning with Herbs & Spices for tips and recipes. Send a snapshot of your creation (with permission) to WFHT.TN@tn.gov.

Five participants chosen at random will win a prize

Red Potato Salad

Recipe of the Week

Looking for a healthier side item to take to a summer picnic? Try out this Red Potato Salad Made Healthy. This recipe lightens up a classic potato salad with Greek yogurt. Steaming potatoes in the microwave means it's done in 20 minutes!


Upcoming Virtual Events

Upcoming Virtual Events

Meditation Break with Nat
Wednesday, June 21 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.

Lets Laugh

Let’s Laugh
Friday, June 23 from 10-10:15 a.m. CT

Laughter really is the best medicine! Join this short session to learn more about how humor can lead to improved well-being. You might even giggle a little! Two attendees chosen at random will win a virtual door prize!

Download calendar invite.

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

Can’t attend a live event?

Check out this Low Impact Fun Cardio Workout: https://youtu.be/tYyNM9pmOlA (10 minutes)

Work-Life Balance

Week 3: Work-Life Balance

Not enough hours in the day? Pause for a moment. Write down what’s most important to you – family, friends, work, volunteering. Now write down how you spend your time. Do they line up? Think about changes you may want to make.

For more on work-life balance, check out the below handouts:

Take Control - Keep Work-related Stress in Check

Color Yourself Calm

June 9, 2023

Take back lunch time!

Take Back Your Lunch Break!

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day is this Friday, June 16!

Show off your favorite spot to take your lunch hour, and send us a snapshot (with permission) to WFHT.TN@tn.gov.

Five participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Veg Out with Veggies

Upcoming Virtual Events

Veg Out: All About Vegetables
Thursday, June 15 from 1-1:30 p.m. CT

National Eat Your Vegetables Day is June 17! Despite the positive health effects veggies provide, few adults get the recommended amount. Join Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coordinator Morgan Blake to learn more about the benefits of enjoying vegetables, get ideas for increasing your intake and pinpoint your personal recommendations for vegetables.

Two attendees chosen at random will win a virtual door prize!
Download calendar invite.

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

Can’t attend the live event?

Check out these on-demand healthy eating video resources: https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/resources/video-library.html (Click 'Healthy Eating' to expand the menu.)

Week 2: Mindfulness

Week 2: Mindfulness

There’s no mystery to mindfulness. It’s being aware of the world around you and being present at the moment. Be open and curious. It can be as simple as noticing your breath as it goes in and out. Give yourself a chance to stop and just be. Check out the below handouts for more on mindfulness:

Mindfulness Placemat

Mindfulness Coloring Card

Baked Cale Chips

Recipe of the Week

National Eat Your Vegetables Day is June 17!

A tasty way to celebrate is with Baked Kale Chips. Kale is a nutritious food rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and beta-carotene. It also contains nutrients that can support eye health, weight management, heart health, and more.


June 2, 2023

Join the Happiness

Join The Happiness Challenge!

Monday, June 12 – Friday, June 23

Happiness and good health go hand in hand. In this challenge, you’ll complete daily activities that support a happier and more fulfilling lifestyle! Visit https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html to sign up for the challenge communications by Friday, June 9, and/or grab the challenge calendar! Click 'Challenges' to expand the menu.

Ten participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Upcoming Virtual Events

Upcoming Virtual Events

Men’s Health (Presented by ActiveHealth)
Wednesday, June 7 from 11-11:30 a.m. CT

Gentlemen, how well do you know your health? Do you know when to get a physical or a preventive exam? Learn how to understand specific risk factors and health needs for men. Learn how you can help the men in your life stay on top of their health.

Download calendar invite.

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

Can’t attend the live event?

Check out the Men’s Health Month Handout:


Be Active

Week 1: Resilience

Your mind and body are powerful allies. The kinds of thoughts you have can change the chemicals your brain produces. When you have negative thoughts, ask yourself if they’re true. If they’re not, change them into something positive that is true. Check out the following for more on resilience:


Wellness Challenge: Resilience

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Recipe of the Week

June is Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!

One way to enjoy fruits and vegetables is with this Blueberry Banana Smoothie. This smoothie is packed with nutrients from blueberries, a banana, grapes, kale, and carrots. Blending vegetables into smoothies is a great way to get a serving of vegetables!