A neighborhood that feels like a family.
Above Photo: Neighborhood HOA standing behind the Southfield Gardens wall. From left: Robyn Fleming- Activities and Decorations; Kitsy Sullivan-Secretary; Renee Bailey-Activities and Decorations; Tim Willmert-Vice-President, Architectural Review; Ron Bell-HOA President; Gary Blankenship-Vice-President, Architectural Review; Not pictured: Karolyn Bell-Landscaping; Spurgeon Henderson-Welcome and Bereavement.


By Carmen Brown
Photos by Steven Ross

Renee Bailey was taking a walk through her neighborhood when she noticed that two women—sisters Rochelle and Roslin Clemons—were moving into a house a few doors down from her. “They didn’t know me from Adam, but I walked up and started talking to them and found out they had moved from New York,” Bailey says. “Later I told them I needed to get back because I was having some new flooring put in, and they said they were thinking about doing that, too. They asked if they could come take a look and I said, sure.”

Not long afterward, Bailey says, several other neighbors saw the moving truck outside and all gathered to welcome the new neighbors and to discuss floor plans. She was not surprised. “That’s the kind of community we live in,” Bailey says. “Everyone is friendly, and we look out for each other.”

Hearing stories from the residents of Alabaster’s Southfield Gardens may conjure up memories of times thought by many to be long gone. Children play together on the sidewalks until dark. Neighbors come by to offer a dish or homemade soup.

Located off of Highway 119 just six miles from the Promenade and a half-mile from Veterans Park, Southfield Gardens is not only a convenience that the residents appreciate but a place where everyone feels like part of a large family. “I can’t tell you how many things we’ve had to borrow from each other,” Bailey says. “One day my car wouldn’t start, and one of my neighbors said, “Just borrow mine.’”

Bailey, who moved with her husband to Alabaster from Hoover in 2016 after her son went to college, says they had looked at a lot of areas but fell in love with Southfield Gardens’ walkable community. “Half of the people here have an animal, so we see people out walking their dogs and walking with their kids and babies in strollers,” Bailey says.

Bailey even walks her neighbor’s dog, also named Bailey, during the warmer months. “I just text my neighbor Tim and tell him I am going walking and want to take Bailey, and he meets me outside with his leash on him,” Bailey says.

And for cat lovers, there’s Kitty, the “Community Cat.” Also known as Boots due to his white paws, Kitty is a tomcat that Southfield Gardens HOA President and

Jackie( left) with dog Lucas and Margie with dog Charlie

Treasurer Ron Bell found and started taking care of when he moved to the neighborhood from Tennessee seven years ago. Although he stays with Bell, he loves to explore the area and visit with residents and children. “Everybody loves him and pets him,” Bell says. “He loves children.”

Like Bailey, Robyn Fleming also moved to the neighborhood with her husband in 2016. Fleming appreciates the retention pond in the neighborhood where she can take her golden retriever, Charlotte, as well as the natural beauty of Southfield Gardens. “I like how it’s far out enough that there’s still a lot of green space,” Fleming says. “We have several neighbors with green thumbs who grow some beautiful gardens here.”

Fleming and Bailey together head the Activities and Decorations Committee of the Southfield Gardens Homeowners Association. Bell said another aspect of the community that fosters a sense of togetherness is that all HOA Board Members are also residents. In addition to Bailey and Fleming, members include Karolyn Bell-Landscaping; Tim Willmert, Vice President and Architectural Review; Gary Blankenship, Vice President and Architectural Review; Kitsy Sullivan-Secretary; and Spurgeon Henderson, Welcome and Bereavement.

“Spurgeon is a retired minister, so the bereavement committee was perfect for him,” Bailey says. “We all know each other pretty well, so when someone passes away it is especially hard on the neighborhood.”

Because the community is small—just 63 houses—the HOA hosts two major neighborhood parties each year to bring residents together: a Back-to-School party and a holiday-themed party toward the end of the year.  “The Back-to-School party is really for everyone—adults and kids,” Bailey says. “We get the tallest inflatable waterslide we can find, and the kids play lawn games like badminton and cornhole. They absolutely love it.” Bell also offers up his pool and his karaoke machine. “There’s something for everybody with the karaoke,” Bailey says. “We have so much fun.”

Bailey and Fleming also team up to give the neighborhood a warm and inviting atmosphere for the holidays.  “Last year, the people in the front two houses let us use their electricity,” Bailey says. “We had Lowe’s ornament balls on each side with a wreath and garland. It really lit up the front entrance.” The front entrance Is decorated for all of the major holidays: Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. “For special events like back to school, we will put up a Welcome Back to School sign for the kids to see on their way out of the subdivision,” Bailey says.

Bell has plans to continue building up the community. He wants to build a dog park near the pond as well as a commercial playground to further enhance the camaraderie of the homeowners at Southfield Gardens. “No one here has any plans to leave,” Bell says. “Our turnover rate is very low.”


We were able to build our perfect forever home in Southfield Gardens and have happily lived here for 11 years. Our neighbors are our family”.
-Melissa Bailey 

“My wife Fran and I chose Southfield Gardens because we love peace and quiet and the friendliness of people who have retired and care for the neighborhood.”
Ron Drolet

“I was impressed with the beauty and cleanliness of the community.  The people are friendly; it’s quiet, clean and well maintained.”
-Roslin Clemons

“I liked the small quaint community. I love the hospitality and friendliness of the neighbors who have come to introduce themselves.”
-Rochelle Clemons

“I feel very blessed to have found a place in Southfield Gardens. It’s been such a pleasant area filled with such a great, close knit feel. It’s nice to have neighbors who are also friends.”
-Maggie Wolter