Allison Bigbie was already on the path to a new life when she moved into one of Legacy Village’s tiny homes in June.
The 30-year-old single mother of two had experienced homelessness and substance abuse, but Bigbie had a job and a year of sobriety when she entered Legacy Village’s transitional housing program.
At Freedom Fellowship Church in Early, where Bigbie attends, she was honored Sunday as the program’s first graduate. Bigbie and her two children — son Cooper, 6, and daughter Aspen, 11 months — have moved out of Legacy Village and into an apartment in south Brownwood.
Bigbie works at McDonald’s, where she is a shift lead and on a management track.
“I’m excited for my new chapter in life,” Bigbie said. “I’m proud of myself for one of the first times.”
Linda Heitman, executive director of Brown County Home Solutions — which runs Legacy Village — also attends Freedom Fellowship. After the church’s pastor, Jim Maxwell, temporarily turned Sunday’s service over to Heitman, she called Bigbie forward and presented Bigbie with a framed certificate.
“In May of last year, Allison came to me to apply for Legacy Village, our transitional housing program, to transition the homeless back into productive society,” Heitman told the congregation. “She came in and she shared her story, where she’d come from, how hard she was working to start a new life, to get her son back and to just start over. She applied for one of our tiny homes.
“She moved in a few weeks later. We created her program and she has worked so hard. She has done everything that I have asked her to do. She has stayed focused. She has put in the work to make a new life for herself. She has stayed strong in her faith and in her vision and in her determination and I am so very proud.”
In an interview after the Sunday church service, Bigbie said her six months at Legacy Village “went by so fast. I expected to finish it but I didn’t expect it to be this much of a life changing experience," Bigbie said. "Miss Linda has helped me in every aspect of life. She’s helped me in my relationship with God. She’s helped me to be a better mother, to be a better person, to be a better individual in general. I couldn’t be more thankful for everything she’s doing for not just me but for the community.
“We need more people like her and like Brown County Home Solutions. They’ve been a lifesaver.”
When Bigbie moved with her two children into Legacy Village in June, she said then that she had previously been addicted to methamphetamine.
Bigbie, who is from Stamford, said she became sober when she “wanted something different.”
When asked in June 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.”
Bigbie had a similar message Sunday when asked what it took to complete the Legacy Village program.
“Faith, and a relationship with God,” Bigbie said. “It took me hitting rock bottom, but growing in my faith and leaning on God, and just giving him everything, just throwing it all to him and knowing I can trust him to help me conquer the world.”
Bigbie said she had once lived in a shed. “Now I have everything,” Bigbie said.
She said the Legacy Village program helped her “in every aspect of my life, in every way imaginable. I still want to be involved in Brown County Home Solutions because I view it as a beautiful thing that they’re doing.
“It’s been a journey and I hope that my story touches more people out there. There is hope. There are second chances. There is better. God is always there. God is always good. All the time.”
Brown County Home Solutions is a nonprofit organization created to help the homeless, and Legacy Village will be a community of 16 small homes. Four homes have been completed and construction of a fifth home is underway.
Legacy Village residents are initially accepted for six months, and a six-month extension may be granted. Residents are placed on a program and required to pay a small rent based on their income.
It is located on the property of the former Avenue D Baptist Church, 1105 Avenue D. BCHS receives funds from donations and grants.