MISSOULA — Right off of Russell Street, you will find young women from the Adult and Teen Challenge program, selling Christmas trees.
It's a nonprofit that aids in helping these women overcome addiction. And this Christmas, if you buy a tree from this lot, you are doing more than decorating for the holidays.
“For every tree sold you're helping a lady be able to step out of their addiction and into a new life,” said Missoula Adult and Teen Challenge Director Jana Roberts.
Through an application, women can join the program and no one is turned away.
“They can have very simple stories that they just got in with the wrong crowd in high school and parents decided young that they needed help. Or they can have 30, 40, 50 years of addiction behind them that has taken everything that they've just gone from successful careers to homelessness. And Adult Teen Challenge provides that safe place where they can really take time out away from where they've been to really rediscover who they are, their purpose and find that drive to move forward," - Missoula Adult and Teen Challenge Director Jana Roberts
The Adult and Teen Challenge has been around for about 60 years and the Missoula campus is home to 18 women from the ages 18-to-60. Through a 12-to-15 month process, they are transformed, loved, and given hope.
“My marriage failed," Missoula Adult and Teen Challenge participant Tara told MTN News. "I lost my children, I lost my home, my job, my cars, everything that defined me as me, I lost.”
Tara is 51 days away from completing the program and becoming an intern at the nonprofit. She was an alcoholic for 30 years and says that after multiple failed rehab treatment centers, hope was added to the list of things she had lost.
“They put hope within reach and I really thought that that wasn't for me," said Tara. "I thought that that could be for everyone but me. But six or eight months in I just felt different in my heart. And for the first time in probably 20 years, I did start having some hope.”
The tree lot is not only a fundraiser for the faith-based organization but is a way for the students to showcase their growth.
“That is part of the tree lot or even is how to take what they're learning in the classroom and apply it to talking to people out here sharing their story,” said Roberts.
The trees are located in the Christian Life Center parking lot and are open from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday-to-Thursday and from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, until all the trees are gone.