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Kona Drug Court Team Express Appreciation to Local Businesses That Employ Drug Court Clients

By Tiffany DeMasters
May 2, 2022, 5:00 PM HST
* Updated May 2, 4:00 PM
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With May being National Drug Court Month, the Kona Drug Court team took time Monday, May 2, to visit businesses that employ participants in the program and express appreciation for their partnership and support.

Drug Court Judge Wendy DeWeese toured various locations and learned about the businesses and how they help individuals in recovery. Among the stops was Lex Brodies, a carwash and lube service establishment.

DeWeese said she reads on paper frequently about treatment facilities and job sites, but going to the locations and meeting the managers makes it more meaningful.

“It’s really encouraging the business owners are willing to give third and fourth chances and don’t judge or stigmatize,” DeWeese said.

This is the second time the Kona Drug Court team has visited businesses. DeWeese said she’s learned how many kind, caring business owners there are in the community.

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The Drug Court program is doing well, the judge added, because it has so many community partners willing to collaborate with them.

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Mark Leong, managing partner of the Lex Brodies carwash/fast lube/commercial tire, said the business started hiring participants in Drug Court about three years ago. They currently have three Drug Court clients employed at the Kona location on Kuakini Highway.

Leong said it’s important to hire clients of Drug Court because they’re good people.

“It’s not a moral deficiency,” Leong explained about alcohol and substance abuse. “It’s a disease.”

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Leong said if clients do what the program instructs them to do, they’ll flourish. One of the clients who has been successful his Cherrylyn Rivera, who went from a customer service attendant to the carwash manager.

“Just because someone has made a mistake it doesn’t eliminate them from being contributing members of society,” Leong said.

Rivera has worked at Lex Brodies for 11 months. She said the job has been helpful in keeping her on track with her recovery and busy, adding her boss and site manager are supportive.

“It helps me build a foundation,” she said.

Rivera said having a job and being there for her kids keeps her sober. The 36-year-old will graduate from the program this month.

DeWeese and the team also visited Atlas Recycling Center off Alapa Street. Operations manager Elias Allen told the group Atlas wants to help as many people as they can.

“We’re a second-chance business,” Allen said. “We depend on our community and our employees we consider part of our family.”

Allen added there are a lot of companies hesitant to hire ex-convicts.

“A lot of times people are down on their luck,” he said. “We want to provide people an opportunity to earn a second chance.”

DeWeese and the team also visited The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center, Regency Hualalai and Willie’s Hot Chicken.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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