By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Cullman has a home away from home for people who want to free themselves from addiction, and in turn many have found a relationship with Christ which offers a new outlook on life, participants say.
The Foundry Farm is a year-long recovery center located in the outskirts of Cullman County near Holly Pond. Located on an 80-acre piece of land, the center hosts 60 male residents at any given time in the plantation style homes surrounded by two lakes. The farm offers participants a chance to work, go through spiritual classes and Bible studies, interact with other residents through wood shop, gardening and other opportunities to keep them focused on the goal of freedom from addiction, Stewardship Coordinator Doug White said.
“We have been able to take on men often as their last-chance opportunity to get clean,” White said. “We tend to see them after they have failed multiple times at other locations or keep falling back into their addictions. Judges often recommend our facility because it is after they have hit rock bottom and is their last hope-type of rehabilitation center. I can say that because it was my last hope several years ago.”
White said he was a heroin addict for 12 years and in that time went through more than 10 rehabilitation programs, but did not shake the addiction. He started using the drug in college in 1996, and even after multiple near-death experiences and hospital visits, he said he still just wanted to get high.
“I was embedded in it, selling, using it, it consumed me and it didn’t let me go for 12 years,” White said. “In 2002, I got an infection in my heart, was rushed to UAB and had two open heart surgeries and three lung surgeries and spent seven months on life support. That wasn’t enough, I got out and started using drugs again. At the end of 2002, I had to have another surgery. After that I had to face the 14 drug felony charges in 2004. I was hopeless and decided to embrace the fact that I was going to die an addict. l had turned my back on God and only cared about getting high, that was it. The thought of overdosing and death as a whole never bothered me because I never really considered it. I just knew that I wanted to get high, I didn’t care about death.”
After going through and graduating the program in 2008, White said he beat the addiction because of Jesus and the encouragement he received through the Foundry and is now able to speak on the behalf of the rehabilitation center.
“Once I was free from that addiction, I was no longer suffering from anxiety, I didn’t have mood swings and I wasn’t depressed,” White said. “Once I let God take control of my life and I gave him my addiction, everything changed. I had a peace that I never had before that time. It really came about two weeks after I arrived at the Foundry. Once I turned my life back over to Christ, I have not had a want for drugs, I have not been tempted by them, it has completely fled from me.”
Program administrator Eddie Wilson said a judge sentenced him to the Farm in 2005 after he received his third felony DUI. At that time, he also had a cocaine addiction.
“Judge Glenn Thompson in Morgan County looked at me in the face and said go to the Foundry, they will have a bed waiting on you,” Wilson said. “I had always been a believer in God, but it took about two months to realize after I had got here that I didn’t have a relationship with God as I saw people here walking the walk. It didn’t’ take me long to understand that I wasn’t here by accident. God led me here and had a purpose for me. There were several positions that came open after I graduated and I’ve been able to stay here eight years. I just want to give back to the men that come through and hopefully make a difference in their lives the way the staff members made a difference in mine. When you can sit on this side of the desk when people are coming through the door having experienced what they are experiencing, you can relate to them on a personal level.”
The big picture for Wilson, besides gaining a relationship with Jesus and beating his addictions, was preparation to become a parent after tragedy hit his family in 2010.
“My sister passed away from a heart attack and had a 15-year-old son,” Wilson said. “I stepped up and I wasn’t married or had any kids, and I took him in as my own son. I was living at Bessemer at the time and he was attending Hartselle school. So I transferred to the Foundry Farm and moved to Hartselle so he could finish out high school there. Looking back now, I know that God was preparing me by allowing me to come to the Foundry in 2005, for what was coming in 2010. Otherwise, with the substance abuse, I would never have been fit to be a parent. I’m a believer and I want to teach these guys the big picture. They might not have any idea why they are here, but there is a reason for it.”
Wilson said the intent at the Foundry is to make the Farm feel like home to all of its participants, so when they graduate they can live out their success story with the skills they need to function in society.
“Men can go to our online page and fill out the paperwork and we go through the applicants and see who qualifies,” Wilson said. “We want to make the Farm their home to come home to and use everything they learn here to be successful when they graduate, not just a program you have to go through. Anyone can come to the Foundry and stay clean and sober when they leave, but do they have purpose once they leave here to fill the voids in their life that were once covered by drugs and alcohol? What we teach here is Christianity and how to rely on God and scripture when things aren’t going your way, as well as maintaining a job and getting an education.”
Wallace State partnered with the Foundry Farm and provided computers so that residents are able to get their G.E.D. or to work on building resumes.
“The Farm gives men a chance to be held accountable to abstain from their addictions by detoxing in an atmosphere that includes counselors, a work-therapy manager, administrative staff, an orientation chaplain, dorm advisors, case managers, and staff interns who provide direction for all of the participants,” White said. “Many people have shared their testimony over the years in what The Foundry has done in their lives, and it’s nothing short of a Godly change in which many of those miracles have come back to the Foundry Farm and work with the program as volunteers or paid staff members. They continue to share about overcoming their addictions with the help, love and support of God through the Farm.”
One of the less-expensive rehabilitation homes, The Foundry Farm only requires a one-time fee of $899. Residents require about $14,000 per year, which is paid for by donors, events, and fundraisers through the Foundry.
For more information on the Foundry Farm, visit www.thefoundryonline.org or http://www.thefoundryonline.org/farm/contact_us.php.
* Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.