It was a tough decision, but someone had to do it.
Crossroads Mission Executive Director Myra Garlit said Tuesday morning during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the mission's new treatment center that with all the local dignitaries who were present, she had a hard time deciding who would cut the ribbon.
Ultimately she selected two people who had successfully undergone treatment at the mission to cut the blue ribbon, which stretched across the front of the new center.
"They represent the alcoholic and the addict who still suffer," she said. "The people who really help the community are the people who have turned their lives around and moved away from addiction to become engaged, productive citizens of our community."
The new 3,300-square-foot First Step Center of Excellence, which is furnished entirely by donated or discounted furnishings, is located at 944 S. Arizona Ave., adjacent to the current facility. The current facility is roughly 2,500 square feet.
"We are just a few days from operations," Garlit said during the ceremony.
Although the center is ready to go, Garlit said the mission is waiting for its license from the state.
"We will move in when we get it," Garlit said. "We still have a few touch-up things to do also, such as paving the parking lot and removing the light poles and replacing them with ground lighting."
The new center will be licensed at the state maximum of 16 beds in the facility, 12 for men and 4 for women. At its designation, it can operate without a staff of doctors.
Construction on the center began in October 2007, two months after the formal groundbreaking was done.
The center, according to Garlit, will be available to all types of addicts, although it will use a new treatment plan for methamphetamine.
In addition to a $90,000 grant from the city of Yuma, the mission also received roughly $400,000 from a state grant to build the center.
"I'm very impressed," said Braulio Gomez, director of adult network operations for the Arizona Department of Health Services. "I really believe this center is an example of how residents, elected officials and state agencies all recognize a need in the community and take action."
Gomez said projects like the center involve many hours of collaboration between all the involved parties.
He added that the mission's new center is just one of five projects the state department of health services is involved with that will be opening in the next two months.
"The fight against substance abuse is one of the top priorities of the state health department," Gomez said. "Now the real work can begin here, which is providing the care and treatment to people who want to turn their lives around."
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.