Foundry Farm dedicates new 80-bed dormitory named in memory of Thomas Anderson Black and Donald Wayne Sanders


Rain moved the dedication ceremony for Black-Sanders Hall inside but did not prevent a large crowd from attending. (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)

CULLMAN COUNTY – At the end of a gravel road between Holly Pond and Berlin sits a 60-acre facility known as The Foundry Farm.  Most Cullmanites are more familiar with The Foundry’s thrift store, located on US Highway 31 on the city’s south side, which helps fund the ministry’s programs.

Jay Weatherly, who sits on The Foundry’s Board of Directors, told The Tribune, “The Foundry’s mission is to restore hope and rebuild the lives of the addict, the ex-inmate and the destitute through Christ-centered Rescue, Recovery and Re-Entry.  The Foundry Farm is where the men going through our Recovery Program spend the vast majority of their time.” 

On Sunday afternoon, The Foundry Farm dedicated a new dormitory that will bring the facility up to code and significantly increase the number of clients it can serve.  

According to Weatherly, who was recognized as a major catalyst in the building project, “Several years ago we faced a couple of significant challenges at the Foundry Farm: we had insufficient housing capacity to meet the needs, and we discovered a significant fire code issue.  This led to a commitment to raise the funds necessary to construct a new dormitory. This fund-raising effort was named the Rebuild Campaign (See  The end result would increase the capacity from 45 to 80 men in addition to alleviating the fire code issues, of course.”

Foundry CEO Mike Andrews spoke to The Tribune before the dedication ceremony:

“Today is actually the dedication of our men’s dormitory here at the farm.  And so, we did the groundbreaking, obviously, and then we did a grand opening.  But today is where we kind of take it to that next level of dedicating it to two men that had a great impact on a lot of people’s lives: Andy Black and Don Sanders.”

During the ceremony, Weatherly told the assembled crowd about the two honored men, “They had big personalities, bigger than this dorm could handle.  They had big dreams, and probably like all of us, none of those dreams was completely fulfilled in this lifetime. But they infected everybody that they knew with their hopes . . . At The Foundry, this (place) symbolized hope, and not just for them.  But that’s what characterizes this place: hope in this life and then hope in eternity.

“Sometimes we find it in this life.  We all, if we know Jesus Christ, will find it in eternity. Amen?  But the last thing that Don and Andy have in common is that they’re watching all this right now, I think in a rocking chair somewhere, and they’re both smiling.”

The building has open bay dormitory rooms with bunk beds for up to 80 residents, along with restroom shower facilities and a common room for recreation and relaxation.  In the center of the structure is even a storm-resistant safe room.

“Obviously, in this community, we thought that was an important piece,” said Andrews with a smile.

He continued, “The men that are actually in this house are part of the nine-month residential program . . . and then they’ll transition to our non-residential piece, which is the last three months of the one-year program.”

What is the one-year program?

“It’s all about substance abuse recovery, and our whole premise is relapse prevention.  And it comes from a faith-based perspective, and so our approach is a faith-based recovery program: residential recovery program which involves the classroom setting, a case management component helping put some of the pieces of life back together–some of the practical pieces, everything from driver’s license to fines, to some of the things that we tend to just let slide,” Andrews said. “There’s a one-on-one counseling component, and then employment readiness, employment training. And so, we’re trying to get them prepared to be better off when they leave than they were when they got here and set them up for success on the back end of it.”

The Foundry Ministries operates multiple facilities in Shelby, Jefferson, St. Clair and Cullman Counties with a total of 410 beds, and tends to stay close to full capacity at all times.

“You’ve got guys that are going out on Friday,” said Andrews, “but we’re filling their spaces on Monday.”

The Foundry and the community of Cullman County

“One of the greatest things about being able to lead an organization and a ministry like The Foundry,” said Andrews, “is the support of our Board of Directors, who really have made this project happen almost single-handedly; the support of this community–we got here about nine years ago and have been embraced from the very beginning, because I think we bring something to this community that helps this community be better.  And so, everything from business owners to those that support our thrift store–because everything that happens at that thrift store completely benefits this property, this facility, our recovery program.

“And so that, coupled with the staff that do serve here, helps the men that come in that gate looking for life change, they’re the ones that make it happen.  And so it would not happen without them; and, ultimately, our heavenly Father.”

For more information on The Foundry Ministries, visit

Click here for a photo gallery from Sunday's dedication.

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