Work on $1.5 million addiction-to-workforce facility begins in Greene County

The Emerge Recovery and Trade Initiative hopes to open in spring 2023, helping people recover and find a career

Emerge Recovery and Trade Initiative has begun a $1.49 million renovation of the former Greene County Career Center to create a one-of-a-kind addiction recovery center, which they aim to open to the public next spring.

AKA Construction of Xenia is spearheading the project, which will cost more than the $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds Emerge was awarded by Greene County commissioners in April.

“The price of everything has gone up,” said Elaine Bonner, director of philanthropy at Emerge. “We will be looking to raise that money through a combination of ways — including donations from individuals, local businesses, corporations and other avenues.”

Renovations are underway for the men’s portion of the building at 2960 W. Enon Road in Xenia Twp., which will house and train 50 men in recovery upon completion. Emerge will also serve 50 women in recovery and 40 youth aging out of foster care when fully operational, according to a statement by the nonprofit.

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Construction began the first week of December, with an anticipated completion date of the end of February, said Amy Gostomsky, owner of AKA Construction.

Shortly after completion, Emerge will officially open its doors for the men’s program, and organizers will begin work to get the women’s side up and running.

Emerge leaders are asking residents, business owners and community leaders to get involved, saying the opening of the women’s side and the official start of the emancipation program will very much depend on the level of community support.

“We are looking for people who can become mentors and people who can volunteer, in addition to individuals and organizations who are able to donate,” said Kip Morris, co-founder of Emerge and CEO of Five Star Home Services.

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Emerge’s founders are all business owners of Five Star Home Services, which offers plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services. Five Star is donating a portion of their profits to Emerge, donating time and nearly $200,000 in plumbing materials toward the renovations.

Five Star also will serve as a second-chance employer for those who go through the program. Five Star already has more than 100 full-time employees at various stages of their recovery.

Emerge’s model aims to give those recovering from substance abuse the tools and knowledge to have a career and a stable income; and to supply local plumbing, HVAC, and electrical businesses with more skilled workers.

Those workers are currently in high demand, as many electricians and other trade workers are reaching retirement age. Demand for HVAC technicians is expected to increase by 13% in the next several years, with more than 46,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the skilled workforce strained and addiction a continuing issue, employment is an essential component for people trying to walk into long-term recovery successfully and walk away from a life of drugs and alcohol, said Nathan Crago, director of recovery services at Emerge.

“There are so many important things tied into gainful employment other than income,” he said. “Gainful employment helps people in recovery with their sense of self-worth and their self-esteem. It’s also important to have financial security and financial independence.”

Christian Life Center, one of the largest churches in the Dayton area, recently awarded the project $175,000 grant, and CLC volunteers helped with the demolition of the former career center building in June.

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