Cindy Gay was in her basement looking through artwork when she stumbled upon a picture of her son, Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr., who died six years ago of an overdose.
“When I see Jeffrey’s face, I see the recovery community. And that’s what this is about, as simple as it is. It’s about meeting needs in the recovery community,” she said at the grand opening of a Gainesville recovery center named in his memory.
The Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Recovery Center, or J’s Place, held its grand opening Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 1362 Juanita Ave. The “J” in the center’s logo resembles a fly-fishing lure, a nod to one of Jeffrey’s hobbies.
Cindy said she hopes the place becomes a “home away from home” for those in recovery.
“We can’t bring Jeffrey back. I wish we could. It’s taking me a long time to not to live in that denial, but I know the only way for me to heal and the healthy way is to honor Jeffrey. And by honoring Jeffrey, I serve you,” Cindy said as she pointed to the crowd.
Addiction is a “family disease,” Cindy said, as many people struggling with addiction tend to lose everything.
“When you get in recovery, that’s a hard place for family as well, because now they’re told that they have to come second. That we have to put our recovery first in order to make it,” she said.
Phil Rogers performed the national anthem and entertained on guitar while guests milled around the rooms of the recovery center, which includes a workout room, crafts room, computer room and child care room.
Each room had a “wish list” of things attendees and others could choose to donate to the center. The items included desks, chairs, children’s books, toys, lamps, a rocking chair, a medicine ball and other household items.
Executive Director Mary Paglia said she envisioned the center being a “place for recovery (and) for healing, a place for personal connections.”
The Gainesville/Hall community received a $250,000 grant in September from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disorders.
Deb Bailey, government affairs executive director for Northeast Georgia Health System, previously told The Times the Georgia General Assembly budgeted $4 million for recovery community organizations.