One Christmas tree sale can help people fighting addiction
From choosing the right tree to carrying it to your car, each customer at Habilitat's Christmas Trees gets a personal shopping assistant. For the past 45 years, this sale also comes with a special meaning.
"All the people that you see out here in the green shirts working on the lot are actually participants in the program," Jeff Nash, Habilitat Inc executive director, said.
Habilitat is a non-profit drug treatment program for around 100 people. One development skill offered: workforce development. This Christmas tree sale is the non-profit's biggest fundraiser every year. It sells 5,000 to 6,000 trees and raises about $400,000 every year.
They're learning about sale, they're learning about management and they're learning how to operate a business, basically," Nash said. "Habilitat has been really working hard for many years to be a beacon of hope for people maybe who've tried other things to no avail."
The goal is for workers to get back into the work force once they leave the facility and have the right skills.
James Kekuewa worked at a tree lot for the last three years. He plans to become a real estate agent once he's done with the program.
"When it comes down to sales, I push myself a little harder. I'm really driven and I gained that drive here in Habilitat," Kekuewa said.
He hopes to inspire others to seek help.
"We been through the same things. That's what we do. We help the next person because we can relate and they can respect us because we relate," Kekuewa said.
There are five locations that are open everyday from noon to 9 p.m. starting on Nov. 30. Stadium Mall (Ice Palace), Central Union Church on Punahou St., Kaneohe Safeway, Koko Marina Center and Kapolei K-Mart.