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Music, gift cards would cheer up mom, son

EDITOR'S NOTE: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. The series continues daily until Dec. 23. To see previous stories, go to www.mailtribune.com/holidayneed.

The gift of music will help this teenage son bring a smile to his mom, who is struggling to overcome sexual assault.

The day before the assault happened, Julie would have described herself as a happy and successful person. She was working full time at a job that paid well; she and her teenage son, Ryan, had a good life. He was a junior in high school; she was considering going back to school to be a nurse.

Julie learned how much life can change in a few short hours.

She had dated the man several times and thought he seemed like a nice enough guy. He wasn't.

After he sexually assaulted her, she went to the hospital, talked to the police and to a Victim Services advocate. She was numb; shocked and scared. When it was time to go home, she panicked. What would she say to her son? What would happen to her? Would she ever feel safe again?

It's been six months since Julie was sexually assaulted and began working with her advocate from Community Works Victim Services. Since then she has learned to live a new way — day by day. Still, it took her awhile to open up to her advocate, to find a counselor, and to tell her son what had happened.

"That was the hardest thing I ever had to do," Julie says.

"I wanted my son to grow up believing that we were safe. The assault destroyed that sense for both of us."

Julie has cut back her hours at work because she is still haunted by the assault; healing is difficult and she is focusing on rebuilding her life.

Julie knows that she needs some help right now — help to support her and her son to have a Christmas. It was always their favorite holiday — and she's struggling to make this year special — to have something positive in their lives.

Ryan, who will turn 17 on Dec. 26, would really like to go to the movies with three of his friends for his birthday. He would like a pass to the Tinseltown theaters, an MP3 player, and a pencil sketching/drawing/cartooning set, a gift card to Best Buy to get a new computer game, and a gas card so he can take his mom to Roseburg to the Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights and to dinner.

Julie would like some CDs by her favorite artists (Josh Groban, Rihanna, Katy Perry, the cast of Glee, Adelle), and a gift card to Barnes & Noble so she can get some books to help her with her healing process that her counselor has recommended. She also would like some healthy cooking cookbooks, and a nice journal to write in for the new year. She has expressed an interest in taking up photography, so a camera and gift card for developing film would be much appreciated.

If you would like to help this mom and her son, call Gerry at Community Works, phone 541-779-2393 ext. 222.

Note: Once each family/person featured in the Light One Candle series has had their needs met, any additional donations will be given to others in need within the agency's client list.