Family Resources celebrates 20 years in Bow with new office, new therapist

Family Resources of Greater Nebraska, P.C. may be a new business in the Broken Bow area, but it isn't the first time Seanne Emerton has set foot here. In 1976, Seanne married her husband, Tom Emerton, who grew up in Loup County and was the county attorney in Taylor. In 1977, Tom and Seanne moved to her home town of Cairo. Tom began employment at Pathway Bank and Seanne took a job as a caseworker with the Depart-ment of Health and Human Services (DHHS) out of Grand Island. She began graduate classes for her master’s in counseling through UNK, and upon completion was hired as a staff family therapist with DHHS. Her job included traveling to peoples' homes to prevent out-of-home placement for children or to help reunify children with their parents after a placement. Seanne and her colleague in the Grand Island DHHS office, Carlene Headrick, were received with open arms by Nancy Ferguson, an administrator in the Broken Bow DHHS office. They traveled the area with the trainer the state hired, named Jamshed Maranas, who was an "expert in families" and worked through Philadelphia Child Guidance Center. Seanne stated it was an honor to work with him and it taught her a lot. She says she fell in love with the people of the Sandhills and she wanted a presence in serving this part of the state. Through her experiences at DHHS, Seanne was aware of the needs in the rural areas of Nebraska...and how those needs were not being met. In 1990, Seanne felt a calling to leave DHHS to provide mental health services to the rural communities she'd fallen in love with. She started a home-based business to provide those services. Nancy Ferguson worked with Seanne, writing and receiving a grant that provided Seanne with a DHHS contract for home-based work in Custer County to help prevent out-of-home placement of children. Thus, Family Resources of Greater Nebraska (FRGN) was born in Custer County, although it didn't receive its official name until 1991. The contract and funds only lasted for a year. Without the financial support from the state, Seanne had to make the choice to stay closer to home. So in 1991, Seanne opened an office in Grand Island. (Seanne and Tom still reside near Cairo on the land her great-great- grandfather homesteaded.) Even though Seanne was located in a "little" office in Grand Island, word of her passion and integrity spread. Therapists began approaching her, asking to be a part of FRGN. Seanne's business expanded the services it provided and the area she covered. From Grand Island, FRGN spread to providing services to a 23-county area in Nebraska. Seanne added offices in York, Kearney and Ord. Therapists continued to approach her, seeking internships and jobs, each one bringing his/her own areas of expertise. She's gone from one to a team of 20...and still looking to grow. While therapists at Family Resources now work with children, adults and families and with a large variety of presenting issues, Family Resources is rooted in helping kids have "as functional a childhood as possible." (Check out their website at to see the large variety of services now available.) After 10 years of expanding their mental health services, Family Resources took on a new service - the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island had provided the service for years but was looking to outsource. They approached Family Resources with the proposal and FRGN became an EAP provider. An EAP helps create a healthy workplace environment through the benefits of early intervention. Employees receive opportunities to work through difficulties and struggles that life presents. Individuals employed by a business that contracts with FRGN, receive a number of free counseling sessions with FRGN per year. Employees’ family members are also eligible for free services. Family Resources also added a unique feature to their EAP. Only a year ago, in January 2011, FRGN added a health coach to their team. This makes them the only EAP in the country to provide both support services and healthy lifestyle services. Not only did Family Resources expand the services through providing more therapists to more areas, they also grew their EAP. When St. Francis outsourced to FRGN, they had five businesses. Now, almost 100 businesses receive EAP services nationwide. FRGN contracts with providers in other states to provide services to out-of-Nebraska employees. Even college students whose parents are employed by an EAP business can often find local services in their areas. Twenty years after starting Family Resources, Emerton looks back and states, "Where does time go? It doesn't seem like it's been 20 years." Although she has no plans to limit the services or areas covered, Seanne notes they seem to have come full circle as they celebrated 20 years of business by opening their newest office Jan. 1, 2012, in Broken Bow. One of Seanne's goals has always been to go where the need presents itself. She takes pride in the fact that her therapists live in their communities. "They (the therapists) 'get' their communities. They live there. They know what's going on. They're involved and do things within the community," Emerton stated. "And most importantly, they understand the rural population." Seanne hired Jessica McCaslin to work in the Broken Bow office. McCaslin has had a private practice in mental health in Broken Bow since 2006, and was looking for a different opportunity. "My billing person was quitting and I was stressing about the how-to's of billing when I received a call from a person I used to work with in Kearney who had recently taken a job with FRGN saying they were looking for a therapist in the Broken Bow area. The opportunity literally fell into my lap and I took it as divine intervention," said McCaslin. McCaslin interviewed with Seanne and her EAP coordinator, Judy Sandstrom. She accepted the position in December and moved her office to the location chosen by FRGN at 702 South D Street, the north door adjacent to the Sennett Law Office. Jessica brought her clients, lots of toys and furniture, and the required community involvement to the FRGN family. Besides serving as a mental health therapist since 2006, Jessica works part-time at the newspaper and coaches junior high track for Broken Bow in the spring. The Broken Bow office is essentially set up as a private practice. Local EAP business employees or anyone looking for mental health services can contact the office to set up an appointment. In addition, FRGN sends the health coach to Broken Bow to meet with clients. (Appointments may be made by calling 800-381-7487). As Seanne reflects back on her 20 years with Family Resources, the experiences she's gained and the people she's met, she comes back to speaking about Broken Bow. "I'm glad to have a presence again in Broken Bow. I have always loved Broken Bow and the surrounding area because of the people - their genuineness and authenticity that you only find in this part of the state."