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Shaky Acres Thrift Shop is Thriving
by Norita Lee - Island Trader

 Shaky Acres Thrift Shop at Smith Bay is thriving, thanks to the infinite energy of Gary Hellyer, VI fund director for that group.

Shaky Acres is a nonprofit recovery house dedicated to reducing the incidence of homelessness among residents of the Virgin Islands, particularly those with substance abuse problems. The home provides food, shelter and support services on a long term basis. The group was founded in 1981 to help recovering alcoholics and their families. In order to expand services of Shaky Acres a Thrift Store located in Smith Bay helps to supplement income. The original intent was a thrift store but it soon evolved into much more.

Hellyer has been conducting basic computer classes, in Spanish and in English, for a nominal fee. "We should be doing more for the Hispanic community," said Hellyer. "We need more programs directed to their needs."  To do this he has enlisted the aid of "All Latin USVI", a publication directed to the Hispanic community, to help spread the word. "We teach basic skills so our residents can enter the workforce with some knowledge of the tools of today."

The classes are a success and Hellyer is currently negotiating for a more affordable site within the Smith Bay center. "Well still be in the same mall," he said, "butt in a unit that will cost us less in rent yet still give us the freedom to continue our work."

The thrift shop also gets donations from area hotels. David Abers, the new owner of Blackbeard´s, has donated furnishings.  Wyndham Sugar Bay, in the process of upgrading their rooms, will donate furnishings. "In mid-July," said Hellyer, "you can call up our web page, at www.shakyacres.vi to see what we have for sale."  He also plans to contact the larger business firms on the island for help. "We want to arrange for our van to visit their place of business so their employees can donate items to us."  Hellyer is grateful for any donations he can get. "Cobex provides our web site, WICO has donated a large section of local mahogany which we'll use to make and sell small pieces of furniture, and thanks to Rotary St. John, Patrick of Appliances Plus has donated used appliances so we can train residents of Shaky Acres to repair Them."

And Hellyer has just begun his crusade. "My goal now is to open residences and thrift shops on St. John and on St. Croix."." Shaky Acres and the Thrift Store are funded by public and private donations, with a good deal of help from United Way and HUD. "United Way funding is a substantial part of our budget," said Hellyer. "Without them we couldn't  properly serve the community."  If you can help, call Hellyer at 775-3006.