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LA HABRA : His Giving Nature Gets Him an Award

It was not Chris Morales’ business acumen that got him named Businessman of the Year.

Morales, who owns a paint and body shop, was given the award for his community help.

The 35-year-old father is known in the city, where he grew up, for his giving nature, said Richard Flores, president of La Habra Sportsmen’s Assn., the organization that gave the award.

He said Morales, who lives with his wife and five children in a Westside neighborhood, helps low-income neighboring families by buying them groceries or giving them money when they can’t afford to buy food or pay their rent.

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Morales also tows automobiles for free when motorists need a lift and cannot pay, and he also contributes money to a number of youth sports’ leagues.

“It’s a nice honor. I’ve worked hard for 13 years. It makes me feel happy,” Morales said.

“Chris Morales is there for the community. He has been since he opened Morales Paint and Body 13 years ago,” Flores said. He said Morales buys Christmas trees for needy families during the holidays and repairs cars for free when the owners have no money.

“Chris is a very positive role model,” Flores said. “He plays a vital role in this community. His heart always opens up for everyone in need and he still feels he doesn’t do enough.”

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At his business, Morales recruits teen-agers and people who are having trouble finding jobs “so they’ll have an opportunity to get off the streets, learn a trade and make some money.”

In an effort to help curb gang violence in La Habra, Morales hired rival gang members about seven months ago to work in his shop so they could get to know each other, become friends and forget about their war.

“Chris hired me one day after I was released from jail,” said Enrique Garcia, who has worked for Morales for three years. “He’s a real good man and more than just a boss. He’s a friend to me and everyone he meets.”

For police, Morales painted the department’s DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) van a lively red, white and blue.

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Morales’ actions have a purpose.

“I’ve got five kids,” he said. “I want them to grow up in a good environment and live a good life. . . . And, I like to help people because I come from a poor family and I know what it’s like to need help.”


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