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Jackson Andy's Place looking to expand facilities and hopes to help pregnant women

Andy's Place
Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 17:52:14-04

JACKSON, Mich. — Mike Hirst has made it his mission to help people struggling with addiction get their lives back on track.

You may know him from his work as the founder of Andy’s Angels, which is a nonprofit organization formed to educate the community on opiate abuse and provide support for families and those suffering addiction.

It was made in honor of his son, Andy, who passed away in 2010 from a heroin overdose.

In 2021, Mike expanded his work to create Andy’s Place, the first of its kind apartment complex and drug treatment pilot program that you can only get into if you’re recommended from recovery court.

“It’s going to take facilities like this that have long range recovery, in a safe, drug free, alcohol free environment to get them better,” Hirst said. “It takes a couple years for the brain to heal and what we’ve been doing is getting somebody into rehab 30, 60, 90 days, and then, put them in outpatient but they’re really back in their own neighborhood, they’re back on the street, they’re back around the same people they were before and it’s a recipe for disaster. So, we’re trying to get that brain a chance to heal just like any other injury that occurs to the body.”

And now, he’s ready for expansion.

“We’ve had such success here and we see the people that are thriving that live here,” Hirst said.

Through his proposed expansion he wants to help pregnant women who are in jail. According to statistics from the Michigan Department of Corrections, there were 13 women incarcerated while pregnant at their only women’s facility in 2020. In 2021, there were 12 deliveries, and so far in 2022, there have been eight deliveries and two pregnant patients to date.

“I want to get her out of that environment,” Hirst said. “I want to get her healthy and clean. I want to give that child a great a shot at becoming the person that the mom always wanted to be, the dad always wanted to be and the person that is being born always wanted to be. I think they deserve that chance, deserve that shot and nobody’s doing it. So, we’re going to do it.”

They would have to go through the process of getting into the Michigan Drug Court System and go through rehab to apply for residency at Andy’s Place. But, he’s also proposing another building for those that need help regardless of if they’ve been behind bars.

“There’s a lot of people out there that they haven’t been arrested, they’re in big trouble, but they haven’t been arrested,” Hirst said. “Where do they go? You know they have nowhere to go that’s affordable. So, that’s the third building. We’re excited about that because there’s a lot of great people out there trying to recover, but they just can’t do it in their own neighborhood.”

The apartments would match the first two with solar roof panels, cameras and 24/7 security to help keep drug dealers and other people who are on the tenants' do-not-contact list out. Hirst says the first phase of Andy’s Place has been nothing but successful.

“We have had nothing but good news from all around the state and other states also looking at this concept and we have not had anybody say, ‘Oh, what a waste of money. What a waste of time. What a waste of effort, everybody.’ It’s been totally the opposite,” Hirst said. ‘We’re being extremely fiscally responsible on this project and we’re going to keep it that way.”

Hirst said his next steps are to get approval from the state. He feels optimistic that will happen. If it does, they will start construction in 2023. If not, Mike says they will try again for approval in the spring.

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