Recovery facility to open in Midland

It’s not a half-way house, or a recovery facility, but a new apartment building planned for Midland will provide housing for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Judge Michael Beale helped spearhead a project that he expects to provide housing for up to 50 people in need of long-term housing. Andy’s Place was named for a Grass Lake man who lost his battle against drug addiction in 2010. His dad, Mike Hirst started the first Andy’s Place and a foundation called Andy’s Angels to help people looking for recovery. Judge Beale says helping people long term makes them more successful.

The project will provide a safe, supportive, structured environment for people trying to break the cycle of addiction. Michael Hirst, who opened the first Andy’s Place in Grass Lake says it’s his legacy to his son Andy.

Hirst says his son Andy was an athlete, had good grades and the support of a loving family. His life changed dramatically became addicted to prescription pain killers. After three treatment centers and 4 overdoses, he was dead. After his son’s death in 2010, Mike Hirst didn’t want his loss to be in vane.

Living in a small community near Jackson, Hirst learned the hard way that all too many families are facing the same struggle. After his son’s death he founded Andy’s Angels, which is helping to bring the recovery housing project to Midland, and keep his son’s memory alive. Hirst met Judge Michael Beale at an open house at Andy’s Place in Jackson County, and the judge decided to bring the program to Midland, but it wasn’t without some controversy. Hirst says at a public hearing on the Bayliss Street project there were a handful of people who had signed a petition against it.

Andy’s place will have structured requirements and the people who will live there will likely be part of the specialty court system in Midland County. Judge Beale says the apartment community will be a place where people can learn to live sober. Judge Beale is working with other specialty court judges and the MiHOPE program to help people wanting recovery.

Judge Beale not only has the support of local law enforcement, but the project is being funded with a $100,000 grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation.

Both Judge Beale and Hirst say the biggest obstacle to opening the residences is stigma around drugs. Hirst says when he first decided to talk about his son’s overdose, he received pushback from the school district. He says he told them, “I got news for you, it’s a problem in every single school.”

At a public hearing about the project, Judge Beale says there were a handful of people who came out against Andy’s Place, but he says there are safeguards in place to protect both those who live in the community, as well as those who will move into the apartments.

Hirst says after he got people to open up about the drug problem in his home town, he’s been asked to speak in other schools, too.

Building a home for people in recovery is not without controversy, but Judge Beale wants to dispell any concerns. He also knows that living in a supportive environment helps those in recovery to be successful.

Andy’s Place is being funded through Andy’s Angels, grant funds from from the Midland Area Community Foundation, and other state and federal funds. Hirst says the idea is to provide a safe community-like environment where people can break free from the cycle of addiction and support each other.

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