2010-03-05 / Front Page

LRADAC opens new 60,000 sq. ft. facility

By Julia Rogers Hook

Deborah A. Francis, president and CEO, LRADAC Deborah A. Francis, president and CEO, LRADAC It’s taken ten years of red tape, but on February 23, the employees of South Carolina’s Lexington/ Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (LRADAC) were finally witnessing their long sought dreams come true as they gathered with city officials and prominent citizens for the grand opening of the 60,000 square–foot facility on Colonial Drive just east of Elmwood Avenue. The new state–of–the–art building will combine the services and staff that are currently housed in three different locations throughout Richland County.

Debbie Francis, LRADAC’s president and CEO, said the arduous wait caused her to age ten years as she watched the grueling process, especially the budget talks, but she said it was worth it.

“We’re extremely excited,” said Francis. “We think our clients will be excited too. We think they will see the amount of respect and the dignity that we want to show them and that they deserve as they struggle with their abuse and tackle their addictions. We want to give them hope as they start moving on their road to recovery.”

The new facility has been a major project for the Midlands and has provided jobs for more than 150 individuals over the past two years. LRADAC officials intentionally selected a local architect and construction company to work on the building, and they in turn used a majority of subcontractors and vendors from the two counties.

Because the staff was consulted on the design of the floor plan and traffic flow, the new building offers a much more efficient use of the footage and gives the agency a great deal of flexibility in the use of space.

The multi–level building is located near downtown Columbia, providing easy access for clients, referring agencies, and community partners. It’s convenient to Palmetto Richland Hospital and Columbia Area Mental Health as well as near public transportation bus lines, Francis said.

“This is the dawn of a new day,” she said. “We had a vision more than a decade ago for a building that would better serve our clients, and today is the culmination of that dream,” said Francis

Representative Todd Rutherford spoke at the grand opening and said the building offered hope to those suffering from addiction.

“This building and its staff represent a hand to someone in pain,” Rutherford said. “The hopelessness and suffering of addiction ends at these front doors.”

David Childs was at the opening from Greenville where he runs the treatment program SC FAVOR–Faces and Voices of Recovery. He spoke about his own addiction and how he got sober 33 years ago when there was no place to go where he could be safe and in touch with his family.

“I hit bottom in Delaware, and there was no place like this,” Childs told his audience. “I worked for a company that was years ahead of the game, and they sent me to Greensboro, NC, where a new treatment program was just beginning. I was 500 miles from home, and there was no place for my family to come and visit me, and I really needed them at that time. With this building, you are saying that addiction is not a dirty secret to keep hidden. You are saying come on in; we can help you. Congratulations. Well done.”

LRADAC will host a community drop–in for the public this Sunday from 2 to 4 pm. The building is located at 2711 Colonial Drive between Bull and Harden Streets.

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