After three years of making drug arrests, Martinsburg City police officer Andrew Garcia said he came to a revelation when he saw a prostitute using drugs on the street.
“I was kind of judging her. Then in my own mind, I felt God telling me that I was no better than she was, that she just made a slow series of mistakes that sent her in a downward spiral,” Garcia said.
Following that experience, he created Martinsburg Renew, a non-profit that focuses on educating and offering opportunities to those who are involved with addictions. The group’s first project is to create a community center at the Interwoven Mills facility near downtown Martinsburg.
“This community center would have a business economic development center, a social center to give people recreational activities, and also a drug treatment center that would be based on a year-long residential Christian based program.”
Garcia said the 450,000 square foot building will cost about five million dollars to buy and another 40 million dollars in repairs. Garcia said it is an expensive endeavor, but it can be accomplished with the help of others.
“What’s going to cover this is grants and large investors of sorts.”
Board member, Janis Wright said the time is now to better the community because this drug problem has reached every level of society.
“Everybody is being touched by all the things that are going on, whether it is by drugs, whether it is by violence,” Wright said.
At the end of the day, board members said the project is not only about saving lives but enriching them.
“When we work to show people how they can enrich their own lives, it enriches all the lives in the community,” Board member, Judy Boykin said.
The group is holding a discussion about race and wealth disparity as a way to promote peaceful discussion and branch out to the community on Thursday night at 6 p.m. at St. Joe’s in Martinsburg.