Dust covered most of the floorboards, highlighted by light coming through windows that looked out to the backyard at CrossRoads Freedom Center. Insulation could be seen where the walls and ceiling met.
Nearby, Joe Tarasuk stood among the wooden beams, in a room that was once part of the Riggs Center, a sanatorium. After that, it was a residence, but it eventually fell into shambles.
Tarasuk saw the opportunity, and he and his wife opened a recovery center there four years ago.
Now, he has his eyes on expanding.
He has been able to offer eight beds for men, who are housed in a different part of the building. All that had to be renovated to bring it to where it is now, he said.
He wants to bring eight more beds, then nine more to CrossRoads. Once finished, the rooms will house one or two men.
The first step to remodel 20 rooms is getting the building up to county code, which means getting a sprinkler system in place, he said. The building will need to be rezoned from a small recovery center to a large one.
He also needs to recruit more staff.
“We’re kind of in a Catch-22. Building the recovery center so it’s affordable for guys in recovery is very hard,” he said.
Right now, the full-time employees are Tarasuk, his wife, Maria, and another person. He often relies on volunteers for help redoing the buildings. His wife cooks the meals, although Tarasuk said he hopes to redo the kitchen and open a culinary class for the men in the recovery program.
He has gotten state grants to help with the costs, but he is actively raising money. On Oct. 5, CrossRoads Freedom Center will hold a pig roast and chili cookoff fundraiser, with proceeds going to the recovery organization.
There will be yard games, music and testimony, in addition to the pig roast and chili cookoff. More importantly, the day will give the community a chance to learn more about CrossRoads, he said.
CrossRoads has operated for about four years, although Tarasuk has owned the building for 10. It took about six years for him to open the current operations, he said.
“From where it was and where it is, it’s night and day,” he said.
The one-year program has had about 11 or 12 men finish, he said. Some finish in a year; others need a little more time.
Tarasuk is personally connected to becoming free from substance use, he said — his first wife died of an overdose, and he went through recovery himself.
“There’s a difference between being clean and free,” he said.
The men who come to his program, which has a religious focus, should be clean, he said. The program does conduct drug tests on participants, but CrossRoads offers detox services.
Frederick County is working to partner and open a detox center at the work-release site on Marcies Choice Lane near Md. 85. Renovations to make that happen should begin in the next few weeks.
But that still won’t be enough.
More recovery beds are needed in the county, said Jonathan Switzer, co-organizer of Frederick County Goes Purple, a monthlong grassroots effort to advance the conversation about opioids in the county that began Saturday.
One thing that makes CrossRoads stand out is the integration of jobs, Switzer said. All the men in the program should have a job as they go through recovery, Tarasuk said.
Having multiple organizations offer recovery services gives more options to those working through substance abuse, which is important, Switzer said.
“Whenever you make a choice, it increases the sense of personal dignity and freedom in the process,” he said. “And, so for those that are entering recovery, I think it is meaningful that they can have some really legitimate choices ahead of them.”