Tucked away off a backroad of Hayden, Alabama, there’s a gorgeous piece of land filled with pine trees and bright green rolling hills. It’s called Royal Pines, and it’s a place where lives get changed. I drove out to see it for myself and meet some of the men who live there. Come tag along.
After getting the grand tour of the facility, I had the privilege of sitting down with Michael to hear his story. Michael is a native of Hueytown, Alabama; he was soft-spoken, generous with his time and incredibly kind.
We sat down in one of the offices on-site at Royal Pines, and Michael told me about his life outside of it. He’s a locksmith by trade, which is a stressful job, as you can imagine. Michael said that was a big contributor to his problem.
Royal Pines is an addiction recovery center, part of Jimmie Hale Mission. When I met him, 39-year-old Michael was in his 12th week of the program.
“I didn’t touch alcohol until I was 33 years old. My upbringing was great—I’ve had my own house, I have one son. I was doing everything right…
One day I just thought, ok, I’m going to try that. And then the next week, it’s like, I’m going to do that again. Then it just snowballs.”
Michael went through several attempts at sobriety before entering Royal Pines, none of which stuck. He knew it was time to make a change, but he also knew he couldn’t do it on his own.
“Everything in me said no, just get another drink. But in my mind I knew—I had to face this now.
When they called me and said they had a bed ready, I told them, ‘I’m ready.'”
Life at Royal Pines
Royal Pines has 40 beds at their facility in Hayden. Most of the time, every one of them is filled with men from all ages and walks of life. While walking around the facility, I was met with easy smiles and friendly greetings at every turn.
Residents participate in a 13 to 15-week program that utilizes a Christ-centered approach to overcoming life’s struggles. Their clinically-structured Active Recovery group process is unique, and it’s a huge part of what makes Royal Pines so successful.
“The structure this place gives is really important, but the biggest thing is the active recovery program. We have that 2 hours a day.
It’s like somebody wrote out the directions for life and put it right in front of you. We just have to fill in the blanks.”
In addition, each client works individually with a NAADAC certified counselor (National Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors) throughout the process.
Michael talked a lot about how vital having structure is, especially for the younger men that may not have held full-time jobs before. Each resident is assigned different jobs to keep the place running—in Michael’s case, laundry.
Impact of a Lifetime
Royal Pines doesn’t stop at addiction recovery, however. They aim to give participants their lives back, which means preparing them to go be self-sufficient, productive citizens.
They provide individuals with a curriculum that includes adult basic education, GED preparation and workplace skill sets as well as training for accredited short-term certificates, industry-based certifications and collegiate enrollment.
“Coming here has truly been a life experience for me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world…
I’ve talked to a lot of guys here who have been through a lot of stuff… You will make lifelong friends here.”
Hearing Michael’s story was incredibly impactful on its own, but as I met other employees at the facility, I learned there was one thing many of them had in common, from the head cook to the maintenance man. They had all gone through the program themselves.
Royal Pines gives people their lives back, and so many of them turn right back around and donate or volunteer in the hopes they’ll help give someone the same gift they received.
“The people here are tremendous. They have a servant’s heart, and you can’t beat that…
I know that when I’m making money, some of it’s coming here.”
A Place Where Lives Get Changed
Jimmie Hale Mission has been serving the Birmingham community for over 75 years. Every facet of the Mission is focused on helping those who need it most—and not letting anything stand in the way.
The life-changing experience that happens at Royal Pines comes at no cost to participants, allowing them to focus solely on getting the help they need. Michael, and so many others, get their lives back because of donations as small as $5.
Give up something small and be a part of something huge. Donate to Royal Pines today.
“Anything you can do to help this organization—they do great work here, and I think they’re changing lives. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Not just my life, but some of the men that came here the same time I did—they’re completely different people now. That’s something worth giving toward.”
Something worth giving toward, indeed.