You buy a lot more than a Christmas tree

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By Kelly LeVan

Delancey Street is a whole way of life to those who had the good fortune – or the guts – to join.They used to live on the streets or behind bars. Now, they’ve moved onto a 17-acre ranch in the San Juan Pueblo. They’ve become craftsmen, caterers, movers, students, teachers and retail experts. They built their 38,000-square-foot house themselves, and take care of all the housekeeping themselves as well, oftentimes after working 12-hour days.No one earns a paycheck for any of this. And the residents teach each other how to stay clean and reclaim their lives. Like many residents, Cornelius McCaster, who heads up the crew at the Christmas tree lot at the corner of DP Road and Trinity Drive, found his way to Delancey Street through the court system.“For me, it was prison term after prison term,” he said. “I could do what I wanted in prison because I knew the system so well. I tried rehab in the prison system, but it’s completely, 100-percent different from being in Delancey Street.

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