Saturday, April 15, 2017

Martinsburg Renew

Today is Day for the letter M of the April Blogging Challenge. Today we are halfway through the challenge. Today is the day for the Letter M and my post is about Martinsburg Renew. I feel very honored today to share with you Martinsburg as well as to share a wonderful story about the founder, Andrew Garcia. On many days he is known around here as Officer Garcia.

Martinsburg Renew is a grassroots ministry focused on building up the community by giving everyone opportunities for enrichment. Our hopes are to build a giant network that will make sure that everyone who needs or wants an opportunity for enrichment (be it recreational activity, social opportunity, employment, or addictions
counseling) can be directed to the appropriate agency/organization. Where certain initiatives and programs don't exist, we plan on providing them.

Our first project is to establish a Martinsburg Interwoven Community Center. The center will incorporate three facets: a business center, a social center, and an addictions treatment center. This

The Interwoven/Dunn Woolen Mills Factory
will offer economic development, community development, and recovery. The Interwoven Mills site is over seven acres and offers a campus environment that will be able to house all of these initiatives while keeping them separate when necessary. The three facets are described as follows:

1) A business center that will focus on bringing attention to Downtown Martinsburg, revitalizing the economy from the center out. It will also give small, local businesses the opportunity to present their services and products risk-free.
2) A social center that will provide activities and information to people of all ages. The Martinsburg Social Center will provide teens and young adults with recreational activities for free. It will coordinate community organizations so that people can get information and all the help available to them.
3) A substance abuse treatment center. The Interwoven Life Treatment Center will focus on those gripped with addiction in our community. It will be a year-long, faith-based, residential program. Based on numerous successful models, it will not only try to break people free of addiction but help them shape themselves into productive citizens who have earned the right to be readmitted into society.

Founder: Andrew J. Garcia says,

Thanks for the opportunity to bring our ministry to a bigger platform.  So a little about me.  I am originally from Baltimore.  I lived on the east side of the city until I was seven and then moved right outside the city limits into Towson.  When I was 13 we moved to Frederick and I lived in the middle
of nowhere for two years before moving into Frederick City.  When I was 18 I went to college for two years in Indiana before I enlisted in the Marines.  I got out when I was 25 and moved back to the Baltimore area and got married to my wife, Jen.  We were there for two years before we moved to Martinsburg to begin work as a police officer.  We now have four boys (two whom are our nephews we've raised for the past eight years): Brad, 22; Bailey, 19; Jayden, 7; and Lex, 2.

I have been a police officer for nine years.  My training officer was big on drug interdiction so that's all I did the first six months on the road.  I tried to focus on drugs and gangs (two of the biggest impacts I witnessed on Baltimore) the first part of my career.  The local gang problem is mostly the guys passing through who are here to sell drugs.  The drugs, however, have been quite present since I have been here.

My story on helping the addicted started about three years into the job.  Like many officers, I became jaded toward the addicted and figured they just needed to stop making bad decisions and stop using.  While monitoring a suspicious vehicle one evening, I saw a local drug-addicted prostitute get out of a vehicle.  Figuring she was getting dropped off by her latest trick I remembered thinking something to the effect of, "That's just gross.  Why doesn't she stop being such a piece of trash and get off the dope?"  It was then that I felt God pulling on my heart and asking me, "Do you think she woke up one day and thought, 'I think I'll be addicted to a substance and sell my body to random guys to support my habit"?

I realized that I was no better than her.  From a Christian sense, we are all sinners and fallen from God's grace.  From a realist sense, we are all products of the opportunities we are given and the choices we made.  I was probably given better opportunities and learned to make better choices.  This young lady had simply made a series of bad choices that led her to the lifestyle she had now.  I know for a fact I could have been another statistic.  I grew up in the inner city, my father left when I was 6, I was sexually abused by a family friend, and my mother died when I was 7.  I could easily have been a gang banger, drug dealer, drug addict, in prison, or even dead.

It was then that I chose to make an effort to learn many of these people's stories.  I spoke to the marginalized - the alcoholic, the prostitute, the drug addicted, the homeless, the juvenile delinquent - and each of them had a story.  Some of them, the vast majority of them, had terrible pasts; others had excuses.  It was also then that I realized that 1) I cannot arrest people into sobriety and 2) I could not impact my community to the extent as I wanted by only being a cop.  However, being a cop has given me the opportunity to meet and speak with many people as well as work against and understand better the dilemma we have in dealing with the drug problem in our community.  Being a police officer has almost made it better for me to work in my community on my off time.  Just like I am a cop 24/7, I am almost a community leader 24/7.  More importantly, I am a full-time man of God and hope that that shows in what I do and how I act, although I know I am in serious need of improvement.

At the block party
All of this made me better understand that there needed to be a serious change in my community.  I say "my" community because not only am I a police officer here but I am also a resident of the city.  We shop here, eat out here, and my kids go to school here.  I knew that the change needed to be more than superficial.  It needed to be on a deeper level and from within the community itself.  After much research, I came up with a plan.  My first main project was (and still is) to purchase the old Interwoven Mills on King and John and repurpose that into a community center with a small business development center, a social center, and a year-long, residential, Christian-based drug treatment

I hosted a public forum in October of 2015 to present my idea and to ask for help.  From that I had 12 people join me in a sort of advisory board.  I thought that we should look beyond just the Mills and form an organization that was more than just a building and would not stop at that.  We decided on calling our organization - what I feel to be my ministry - Martinsburg Renew.  By February we were an official state non-profit with a board of eight.  By October of 2016, we were officially a federal 501(c)3 non-profit.  Danny Staggers of the local Staggers and Staggers office put the application together and filed it pro bono.  Kim and David Dando donated the $850 required for the application fee.  They were a true blessing and instrumental in us getting moving so quickly.  Since then we have set up public forums on addictions and race relations, had an art auction, set up a 5k, held a block party, and have another speaker from Winchester coming on the 16th to speak about his battle with and victory over drug addictions. Thanks again for this opportunity and your interest in what we are doing.  God bless.

Many thanks to Officer Andrew Garcia for your tireless work as one of our city's finest police officers and for your work in helping our community and those suffering from drug addiction.

Thank you also for sharing your story today with the readers of The Chronicles of Loving a Heroin Addict. Because of your work here in our community, I now have a renewed look at those officers who are out in our community and care about those with substance abuse problems. God Bless you as you continue your work in our community with renewed hope and healing for our locals suffering from substance abuse problems.

I hope that after reading that you will please visit his website @ Martinsburg Renew or his Facebook Page @ Martinsburg Renew for more upcoming events from Officer Garcia and Martinsburg Renew. Martinsburg Renew has an event planned for May. It is the Martinsburg Multicultural Potluck. Visit the Facebook page at Martinsburg Multicultural Potluck for more information on this event

So let me know what you think about this post, about a police officers tireless work helping those less fortunate and those suffering from substance abuse problems in our community. Leave a comment. I hope that return on Monday for the letter N when my post will be Into the Neighborhood: Boot's on the Ground

Credits for this post
pics for this post belong to Andrew Garcia and Martinsburg Renew
pic of Interwoven Mills locationhub
Letter pic Blogging A-Z

© 2017 Gossip Girl


  1. What a great initiative. Hopefully it will come together and help the people who need it.

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

    1. Officer Garcia is making a difference in our community. He sees first hand how devastating this epidemic has been on the lives of people. He knows what it will take here as far as the pillars needed for recovery.