Carnival to benefit My Sister’s Place

From left, Jessica Roop, Leigh Epperson, Arryon Kelley, My Sister’s Place Resident Manager Brooke Kelley, Summer Douglas, Laura Partridge and Stevie Belser. (contributed)

From left, Jessica Roop, Leigh Epperson, Arryon Kelley, My Sister’s Place Resident Manager Brooke Kelley, Summer Douglas, Laura Partridge and Stevie Belser. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

After 15 years of substance abuse, Brooke Kelley found hope of a better life at My Sister’s Place, a transitional living home in Montevallo for women in need of a fresh start. Kelley doubts she would be alive today without the love and acceptance she found there.

“I began drinking and smoking pot at fourteen with friends who made life happier, then hard drugs at sixteen,” Kelley said. “My first offense was in 2001 for growing marijuana, my last for manufacturing crystal meth in 2011.”

Kelley was looking at 20 years in Julia Tutwiler Prison, but a fluke she believes was divine intervention omitted her prior arrests and she was offered a probation sentence. Kelley returned to her former residence, but quickly realized she wouldn’t be able to stay clean.

While incarcerated, Kelley received an application for My Sister’s Place from founder Cindy Hildebrand who teaches Celebrate Recovery at the Shelby County Jail. She mailed the application, received a call from Hildebrand two weeks later, moved into the home and is now the resident manager.

Hildebrand opened the facility in October 2011. “The house began as a three-bedroom unit which held up to four ladies, but now there’s ten beds and we’re at full capacity,” Hildebrand said. “The oldest is a 47 year-old lady arrested in Pelham while traveling from Arkansas to Florida and the youngest is 21.”

Women who live in My Sister’s Place must commit at least four months to the program. Residents are required to remain alcohol and drug free, find employment, attend church services, perform housekeeping chores, and devise a plan to better their future. Though residents pay a weekly fee for their support, it doesn’t meet the fixed expenses.

A carnival planned for August 10 from 4-8 p.m. at Oliver Park will benefit the home. There will be pony rides, inflatables, games, face painting, food, music and a prize walk for gifts donated by businesses in the community. Shelby County Probation Officer Paula Bloom and other officials will take turns in a dunking booth.

For more information about My Sister’s Place or to donate prizes, contact Hildebrand at 434-0701 or email mysistersplaceinc@yahoo.com.