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The Ezekiel Project: Hope, healing and a new way of life

Kris Lemmon, left, and Rick Arredondo stand outside the building on Ashwood Lane in New Philadelphia that will house Project Ezekiel, a for-profit business aimed at helping former opioid addicts with repurposing their life.

Teri Stein

After moving to the area from California, Rick Arredondo, a banker by trade, thought his niche would be as a mentor and advisor to those in business or consulting with area residents to get needed banking services, but he soon discovered a more pressing problem: opioid addiction.
Arredondo said “one person can generate a lot of potential,” and “you don’t run from your problems, you run to them.”
When Kris Lemmon lost his screen T-shirt business in Durham, North Carolina, he moved to a Tuscarawas County farm owned by friends.
“I learned what hard work is all about and how much I loved it. There are three parts of recovery: body, mind and soul. To occupy your mind, you have to love what you are doing. I discovered that on the farm. I was living day to day, but I found purpose in the community when I moved here. We need to reach out to people who are not reaching out to us.”
Lemmon and Arredondo met, and through conversations at the Daily Grind coffee shop in New Philadelphia, an idea to help others developed. The result was Project Ezekiel, a for-profit T-shirt screen printing business aimed to teach those breaking free of addiction a trade and a new way of life. The business will have its own Ezekiel 37 branded products for sale and be guided by a board of successful local people.
“We want to get people out of the terror of ‘am I going to lose my life today,’” Arredondo said, adding that the concept for the business is not a new one, and it has proven successful in other cities.
The two friends are now actively working to transform a small building in the 100 block of Ashwood Lane NW of New Philadelphia into a place for new beginnings. They also would like to make the home for Project Ezekiel a gathering place for area artists, give them an outlet to sell their work and provide a relaxing place to gather for an evening of music.
The screen printing business will operate during the week with other artists and activities using the space on evenings and weekends.
“We are in the people business. We want to attract people to the awareness that the opioid 
epidemic needs to end,” Arredondo said. “Let them go die is not a better solution. We want to be a part of the solution, but we are not the solution.” 
The business will officially open on the June 10 Second Saturday event. “It will be a ministry masked as a business,” Lemmon said. “It will be fringe Christian. We don’t want to throw people in the fire, but we don’t want to turn them away.”
Project Ezekiel will occupy a former garage building on Ashwood Lane in downtown New Philadelphia. Lemmon had eyed the building as a possible business site, and it turned out Arredondo had secured the site for the project. 
Another goal of Project Ezekiel is to revitalize the downtown. One of the first orders of business is to complete a large mural to cover vandals’ graffiti on a building across the alley from their location. They plan to ask area students to submit designs and will depend on donations of paint and volunteers to complete the project.
In the future the men would like to see other types of businesses open in the area to teach skills and a new way of life to those in need of help. “It’s time people took a stand,” Lemmon said.
For more information about Project Ezekiel call Arredondo at 330-556-0006 or Lemmon at 330-432-8482.

Published: May 16, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170519976