A new $5.5 million building in Marietta may soon help homeless drug addicts turn their lives around.
The Extension, a state-certified counseling and long-term residential treatment program for drug-addicted homeless men and women, has been given the green light by Marietta leaders to build a 22,000-square-foot building on property adjacent to its men’s campus at 1507 Church Street Extension. Marietta Council members approved the plan at their Wednesday meeting.
Tyler Driver, executive director of The Extension, said he is confident the organization won’t have a problem meeting the $5.5 million fundraising goal. Driver said he hopes the project is complete within 3 1/2 years.
“There’s a lot of interest in this project, and we know the community will come though for us as they always have,” he said.
Driver said the project calls for demolishing an existing building, which was constructed in 1929 by the Georgia Marble Company, and building a new structure that will have 56 new beds for male clients, a dining room, kitchen, administrative office space and a meeting room. The new building would allow The Extension to accommodate up to 80 men, Driver said. Its women’s campus is at 130 Holiday Street in Marietta and can house 25.
Kevin Moore, the attorney representing The Extension at the Sept. 11 meeting, told the City Council that The Extension differs from organizations like MUST Ministries in that they do not provide day services such as meals to homeless people who are not in their programs. However, they do operate as an overnight emergency shelter when weather conditions become life-threatening.
The Extension began in 1987 when it was operating as the Marietta-Cobb Winter Shelter for homeless residents. In the early 1990s, it shifted its focus to address issues such as drug addiction and its causes.
“We realized that homelessness was not a problem, but a symptom of a problem,” Driver said.
Clients who come to The Extension are required to participate in an introductory welcome phase that lasts a month. While they are in treatment, they are required to get a job in the community during the day and attend classes and therapy sessions in the evening. On average, clients stay in the program for about a year before graduating.
Gregory Keyes, 35, is a recent graduate who credits The Extension with helping him return to a life free from drugs. The Acworth resident, who referred to himself as a former “career criminal,” said he learned about the program while he was in jail. He’d been arrested 10 to 15 times before he decided to make a change.
“I was tired of the vicious cycle I was stuck in,” he said.
He entered The Extension in June 2017, and said he felt welcomed by counselors who would help him change for the better. Keyes, who graduated a little more than a year ago, said he now has an “amazing” life. He is employed as a regional sales trainer with a car washing company and is engaged to be married in January. The Extension serves as an important lifeline for people who are desperate for a new life, Keyes said.
“I’m living the dream,” he said.
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