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Elyria pastor buys vacant school, plans to open recovery center for opioid and heroin addicts

Posted at 4:14 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 17:43:02-05

When an Elyria school building on Woodford Avenue became vacant in 2009, ordained minister Paul Grodell saw potential.

He bought the building with a vision.

"They'll each have their own dresser, their own bed," Grodell said as he showed News 5 around one of the newly refurbished classrooms that can house up to eight beds each.

More rooms are under construction.

Grodell already started transforming the 30,000 square foot building into a safe haven for underserved female opioid and heroin addicts. It's being renovated into the Beyond the Walls Church recovery center, where recovering addicts can stay while they are in counseling to get away from the drug environment.

"We see the most success when people can be in a safe environment for at least a year or more," Grodell said.

Grodell personally knows the struggle that is heroin addiction. He said painkillers led him to his heroin addiction.

He said he was inspired to get clean after his son was born.
"Since I've experienced it, I can meet them at their level. They don't feel judged, They don't feel condemned, but seeing me I can show them hey I got over 20 years of sobriety," Grodell said.

During their stay,women will learn life skills, like culinary arts.

Several classrooms have already been renovated, and more are under construction. But now the non profit has hit a temporary setback.

The city told Grodell the building needs new fire proof doors at a total cost of $75,000.

He's hoping the community will come to their aid.

"So we're looking at some contractors that are willing to volunteer their time, offer their services. We're looking at some businesses that are willing to donate," Grodell said.

Grodell said Sherwin Williams has already donated a lot of paint for the renovation project.

Despite all the renovations and the temporary setback, he believes all of the work will be worth it.

"This will be a place where people can come in the darkest hour of their life and be able to find legitimate help, find love and acceptance and hope that their life can be restored,” Grodell said.

Once it's all renovated, the recovery center will be Pastor Grodell's second project to help those in need. He opened a food pantry in Beyond the Walls Church for the less fortunate and served 52,000 meals last year.
If you would like to help the church you can visit their website.