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Walters family donates J’s Place building, dedicates it to longtime advocate Dallas Gay
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J's Place Recovery Center holds a building dedication Monday, March 27, 2023, at their Lanier Park Drive Center in honor of Dallas Gay and the Walters family. - photo by Scott Rogers

After losing his 21-year-old grandson to an opioid overdose in 2012, Dallas Gay spent the next decade of his life working to prevent it from happening to anyone else.

Now more than a year after Dallas’ death, the recovery center bearing his grandson’s name, the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Recovery Center, was dedicated to Dallas.

Jim Walters, one of Dallas’ biggest supporters, was also honored. Walters, a Gainesville businessman and philanthropist known as “Big Jim,” died in February 2021

“Even before J’s Place, Jim Walters was a big supporter of all of Dallas’ efforts and all that he’s done,” said Jeffrey’s mother Cindy Gay.

Members from the Gay family, the Walters family and the center known as J’s Place gathered Monday, March 27, for a dedication ceremony honoring Dallas Gay and the Walters.

J’s Place previously rented the Lanier Park Drive facility, moving to the much larger space in 2021 from its Juanita Drive beginnings.

But the building was donated by the Walters family to honor Dallas and the mission of J’s Place, which tries to remove the barriers preventing people from seeking or maintaining substance abuse recovery.

“The wisdom, love and compassion expressed by Dallas Gay and family, the Walters family, and others in establishing J’s Place Recovery Center, demonstrates their dedication to the betterment of the quality of life in our community,” former Georgia State Sen. Butch Miller said in a statement.

Miller was one of the sponsors of the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Act, which was signed in 2017 by former Gov. Nathan Deal. The bill made naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug often seen as Narcan, available at pharmacies.

In his last interview with The Times before his death, Dallas said he couldn’t “think of anything that would have honored” his grandson more than the recovery center.

“I know if Jeffrey had J’s Place after he relapsed, I think he’d still be here, and J’s would be named for somebody else,” Dallas Gay said in October 2021. “I really think it would (have) made the difference in him living and surviving.”

J’s Place Executive Director Jordan Hussey said they are working on a plaque and will plant a Japanese maple in honor of Dallas Gay and Jim Walters.

The tree is “such a unique gift of beauty,” Hussey said, symbolic of the lives led by Dallas Gay and Jim Walters.

Hussey said they are currently providing between 1,200-1,500 services each month, which can include support meetings, individual counseling or other assistance.

“Looking at where we started, it just makes me really proud, and I know Dallas would be as well,” Cindy Gay said.