The tomatoes and sweet corn of summer have been replaced by Christmas trees, but the men who sell them are supporting the same worthy cause.
Hope Thru Housing (HTH), a comprehensive residential treatment center for men with substance-abuse problems, has opened a tree lot at the farm market it had operated in the spring and summer on West Dublin-Granville Road in Linworth.
They are selling the full range of sizes and types of trees, with all of the proceeds going to the program, which provides housing, vocational training, education and counseling to men looking for a fresh start, sometimes following years of substance abuse and failures at other types of treatment programs.
The men in the program operate the farm market and the tree lot as part of their vocational training, as well as their contribution to the HTH program. The participants live together in a house, where they are responsible for sharing house chores and yard work while learning daily routines, developing a sense of community and practicing new behaviors.
HTH was started by Columbus native Dennis Kerr a little more than two years ago. He had completed and worked for a similar program in North Carolina and wanted to provide the same kind of opportunities to men in central Ohio, where, he said, a long-term treatment program was needed.
Thus far, four men live in the HTH house, but the recent purchase of a small apartment building will provide space for up to 14 men. Participants will rehabilitate the building, learning valuable skills in the process.
Through the farm market, tree lot, the sale of a craft item at art shows and other commercial ventures, the program provides 60 percent of its funding. It depends on donations for the rest and recently launched a drive to raise $185,000.
Besides needing the money to fix up the apartment building, HTH intends to purchase lawn-care equipment so participants could earn money and learn yet another vocational skill.
People from Worthington have been quite generous in supporting the program, Kerr said. Donations have been dropped off at the farm market and sent to the organization. Donations at the Christmas tree lot are welcomed, he said.
He said he also needed to share some troubling news with the community. The Linworth property has been sold and will be developed with an apartment complex, he said.
He is looking for another site for the farm market and tree lot and wants to stay in the Worthington area, he said.
The future of the Linworth market for spring 2013 is uncertain.
To learn more about the program, to make a donation or to learn about the future location of the farm market, visit the HTH website at hthohio.org, the farm market website at farmersmarketcolumbus.com or call Kerr at 614-266-9377.