“I cannot thank you all enough,” Allison Bigbie, overcome with emotion, told members of Freedom Fellowship church — where Bigbie has been attending — and others who attended Saturday’s open house at Legacy Village.
Bigbie, 30, spoke as she stood in the small but brightly decorated bedroom that will be occupied by her 5-year-old son, Cooper. Bigbie held her 4-month-old daughter, Aspen, who will sleep in a crib set up in Bigbie’s bedroom.
The open house guests — some of them Bigbie’s relatives — marveled at the small but attractively decorated tiny home and offered words of encouragement to Bigbie.
“It is so pretty. This is home, baby,” Bigbie said, addressing the comment to Aspen.
“You all will never know how much this means to me and my kids. Just thank you all for everything — for making my dream come true.”
Bigbie, who is from Stamford, said she was addicted to methamphetamine for 10 years. “I’ve been sober for one year this month,” Bigbie said. She said she became sober because she “wanted something different.”
Bigbie moved in with her sister, Amber Ray, in Brown County, where she lived for a month. She then spent six months at the New Beginnings women’s recovery house in Abilene.
Bigbie returned to her sister’s home, where she lived until moving into Legacy Village Saturday. She works at McDonald’s.
Bigbie said she learned about Brown County Home Solutions and Legacy Village through her uncle, Randy Woody, who has helped construct the tiny homes. Bigbie contacted Linda Heitman, the organization’s executive director, and applied to be accepted into a home.
Bigbie said her son — who is living with her parents in Stamford and will be coming to live with her and Aspen — is “beyond excited.”
When asked what message she’d give to addicts, Bigbie said, “there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t have to live that way. You can get through it with God and with good people.
“I turned my life over to God and I started living right. Just never lose hope, never give up.”
A few minutes later, open house guests gathered in the unit next door, where Jimmy Hallum, 28, will be moving in. Plans had been for Hallum to move in Saturday, but a last-minute plumbing glitch delayed his move-in until Tuesday.
Hallum was both stunned and joyful as he saw the well-equipped tiny home that awaited him. “You need to look under your sink,” a woman told Hallum.
Hallum opened a cabinet and saw cleaning supplies that had been neatly placed inside. “I guess I have no reason for this place to be dirty!” Hallum said. Something else in the tiny home caught Hallum’s attention, and he called out, “oh man, look at this!
“Words couldn’t describe … I am so grateful.” Hallum said there was no way to show his appreciation other than “to make this program successful.”
From next door, Bigbie entered the tiny home and introduced herself to Hallum. “Hi, I’m your neighbor,” she said as the two exchanged a hug.
Anita Maxwell, the wife of Freedom Fellowship pastor Jim Maxwell, told Hallum, “We just want you to know you are loved, and God loves you. It was a joy to bless you.”
Hallum said he works for Hank Hunter, who owns the Texas Clean business but has lived from “couch to couch” and in motel rooms.
“My boss has always pushed me to do better,” Hallum said.
He said he’d gone “downhill, into a rut” the past couple of years. He said his issues were caused by “poor choices, bad company and being guilty by association.”
Hallum said when Hunter encouraged him to apply to Brown County Home Solutions, he was skeptical. “Things like this don’t happen to me,” Hallum said. But he agreed to check it out.
When Hallum learned he’d been accepted, “it was something out of a fairy tale. I’m going to work the program. I’ve never had a home of my own.”
At Unit 1 — the first of the tiny homes to be completed several months ago — 62-year-old Bryan McFarland answered a knock on his door and invited visitors inside.
McFarland, a quiet man, said he was working as a groundskeeper at Greenleaf Cemetery when he was injured in a bicycle accident. McFarland said he hasn’t been able to work since the injury, but he hopes to return to work.
McFarland said he’d been staying on a farm before moving into Legacy Village in August.
McFarland’s home was more spartan than the bright, colorful units that were recently decorated by a sponsor.
Anita Maxwell and other women from Freedom Fellowship including Mary Thomas asked McCardy if he would let them decorate the tiny home.
“We won’t make it girly,” Maxwell assured him.