Will’s Place announces next big move
Published 2:07 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2022
After five years of largely operating in a small space across from the courthouse, the recovery resource center Will’s Place is looking to move to its originally planned location.
Thanks to a $1.5 million grant it received as part of the state budget passed late last year, the organization in the coming months will be constructing a new facility at 540 N. First St., Albemarle, in a 9,000-square-foot, three-story property.
Will’s Place founder and executive director Allison Hudson made the announcement in a recent newsletter on the organization’s website. The construction of the facility is set to begin in May, she wrote, and should be finished by April of next year.
The new facility will include a private counseling room, retail space and meeting space, and an outdoor prayer and meditation garden. The second floor has three bedrooms which will be used for emergency housing.
The words “Future Home of Will’s Place” are scrawled in big white letters on the outside of the building.
Once she learned she would be receiving the grant late last year, which will solely address building costs, Hudson was at a loss for words.
“I’m still in shock over it,” Hudson said.
The move represents a full circle moment for Hudson, 42, who first set out to create a facility for men struggling with addiction seven years ago as a way to honor her brother Will, who died from a fentanyl overdose in 2012.
Opening the organization to help those in need
In 2015, Hudson decided to open a sober living facility. She had her designs on moving into a vacant building her parents owned along North First Street in Albemarle.
“It was perfect for what I wanted to do,” she wrote in the newsletter.
But once she learned the project would cost over a million dollars, she had to re-calibrate. Hudson opened a bank account with a $2,600 check from the sale of a Ford Crown Victoria and used the account to rent space across from the courthouse in downtown Albemarle. Hudson officially opened the resource recovery center in November 2017.
With no specific business plan and no budget in place to pay employees, the organization initially consisted of Hudson and a few volunteers trying to help as many people as they could.
“I sat behind a desk, answered phones and would drive individuals to and from treatment,” she said.
But Hudson had some powerful financial supporters, including Dave Gettleman, former general manager of the Carolina Panthers, and his wife Joanne, a Will’s Place board member.
“They believed in me when Will’s Place was just an idea,” Hudson said.
Since opening its doors five years ago, the organization has helped more than 1,700 individuals and families get access to key resources such as detox centers and rehab programs in the area. Will’s Place offers services such as recovery programming, youth programs, summer camp for kids, 12 step meetings and family support groups.
Last April, Will’s Place moved from its downtown Albemarle space to a site at the Sun Plaza shopping center along N.C. Highway 24-27.
“I am blown away with where we are today — the families we assist and the individuals we help,” Hudson wrote in her newsletter about the current outlook of the organization. “It is easy to look back and see God’s hand in all of it; the challenges, the doors that were closed, the ones that were opened, the setbacks and the small victories. He always provided just enough to keep us going and growing little by little.”
Working to find a permanent location
Despite being a resource for so many people struggling with addiction, Hudson never gave up hope on establishing a permanent location at the North First Street site.
“We never gave up and knew it would happen eventually, I just wasn’t sure how or when,” she said.
Hudson met with N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser last spring, around the time he was preparing for the upcoming state budget, about her ideas for expanding the organization. She had talked with him many times over the years about Will’s Place and its mission. As a local pharmacist and co-chairman of the House’s Health Standing Committee, Sasser was aware of how widespread a problem the opioid epidemic had become in Stanly County, which led the state in opioid overdoses several times over the past few years.
“The thing about opioid addiction is it’s an equal opportunity offender,” Sasser said. “It doesn’t care what your economic status is, what your religious status is, it affects all of us. There’s probably not any families in this county that have not been impacted in some way by opioid addiction.”
In her conversation with Sasser, Hudson told him about her dream of relocating to the North First Street property and establishing a permanent home there for Will’s Place.
“He said, ‘I’m not making any promises, but I’ll see what I can do,’ ” she recalled.
Sasser was able to secure the $1.5 million grant for Will’s Place as part of the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund. The windfall allows Hudson to realize her long-awaited dream of opening a new treatment facility, in a space much larger than her previous locations.
“I’m honored to be just a little part of what she’s done for all these years and she’s earned it and she will continue to have a big impact on what goes on in Stanly County,” Sasser said.
Even though Hudson does not know what Will’s Place will specifically look like once the new facility is completed, she is confident in its future.
“Who knows how we’ll be able to grow with all the space we have at the new facility,” she wrote. “Well, God does, so we’ll just keep doing what we do and rely on God to direct our growth.”