Inside a row of rainbow-colored, neatly kept wooden houses in the 400 block of Walker Street, men suffering from substance abuse are finding a refuge to aid their recovery.
Fifty men live in the houses while participating in 12-step recovery programs, working full-time and making the transition back into society.
“We provide some structure in their life so they don’t have time to go out and look for drugs or spend time where they shouldn’t,” said Cliff Richards, the president of the Hale Foundation.
On Friday, the organization dedicated a new facility with a commercial kitchen, dining hall, food storage and two apartments. Sibley Hall was built on a vacant lot, with most of the labor done by residents of the recovery program.
“It will give us the capacity to feed 65 men, which will give us the ability to acquire more housing,” Richards said. “We couldn’t adequately store all of our food. Now with the new kitchen, we have a walk-in cooler.”
The new facility is named for the late Sam Sibley, who founded the Hale Foundation in 1991 after working in the alcohol and drug unit at University Hospital, said program director Joe Ward.
“Sam had always wanted to do something more for the alcohol and drug guys once they left treatment because so many of them are homeless,” Ward said.
The foundation started with one house on Fifth Street and moved to Watkins Street in 1998.
“Nowhere in our wildest dreams would we have thought this would be possible,” he said.
Before the new facility was built, preparations for a 6 a.m. breakfast and 5 p.m. dinner were made on two residential stoves in a tiny kitchen. Because of limited seating, the residents ate in shifts. Fifteen freezers and coolers stored the food needed for about 80 meals a day.
The number of men served by the Hale Foundation has doubled in the past four years. More court referrals have brought people from across the Southeast to the program, Richards said.
The average stay at the houses is six to 12 months. After the first 30 days, men must begin working and continue mandatory meetings at the houses.