Rev. Gilliam said the cafeteria in the facility will be dedicated to the late Tunch Ilkin who worked with the group for more than 35 years.By Chris Hoffman

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Light of Life Rescue Mission is embarking on a multi-million dollar renovation project on a new North Side facility. It’s expected to make more room for their efforts to combat addiction and homelessness.

They will be consolidating into the old Columbus Annex Middle School on Ridge Avenue.

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On Monday morning, they had a “ground-blessing” ceremony to kickoff the project.

For people like Barb Grimm, Light of Life changed her path.

“Before I got here, things were so dark I didn’t believe in miracles,” she said.

She hopes this renovated property will help others battling their own personal demons.

“It’s only through all the compassionate people that have put their whole heart into this program,” Grimm said.

The renovated facility will house administrative offices, a 12-bed emergency shelter, and 28 beds for their long-term residential program.

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“For those who have come off the street, but committed to long-term recovery,” Light or Life Executive Director Rev. Jerrel Gilliam said.

There will also be a floor devoted to women.

“Who are here learning parenting skills, recovery programs,” Rev. Gilliam said.

He said the project took about 25 years to get together and it will cost about $22 million. The mission has owned the building for about eight years because part of their agreement was the construction of their new emergency services building near Veterans Bridge.

“This is an amazing program and I can’t wait to see what becomes of this building,” Grimm said during the ground-blessing ceremony.

Rev. Gilliam said the cafeteria in the facility will be dedicated to the late Tunch Ilkin who worked with the group for more than 35 years.

“Even though he’s not with us here physically, his spirit is enduring. We want to continue to honor that legacy of Tunch,” Rev. Gilliam said.

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The renovation is expected to take about 18 months.