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Young man needs essentials after securing his own place

Editor’s note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency who could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.

Homeless for most of his life, this 18-year-old recently secured his own apartment, enrolled in college and is thriving.

Bedding and blankets for his double mattress, as well as towels, would help this man feel at home in the first dwelling he’s ever known.

His job at a fast food restaurant doesn’t afford enough for new clothing, including a warm coat, gloves and socks. He would appreciate gift cards for groceries and other sundries.

On his own since 14, this man and his mother parted ways when she said taking care of him was too difficult, say caseworkers with Community Works. Mother and son lived in her car, where his first memory was waiting alone for hours — cold, hungry and fearful that his mother wouldn’t return — while she tried to find food. He was 4.

School offered the teen’s only stability and most of his meals, so he attended while staying with classmates or living on the streets. Just before schools closed in March, a teacher referred him to Community Works. The organization’s Transitional Program provides two years of housing, supportive resources and training for homeless youth.

Distraught and exhausted when he came to Community Works, the man felt ashamed, describing himself as a failure responsible for his own homelessness. He fought back tears recalling his childhood of constant hunger with a depressed, anxious mother who struggled to maintain employment, say caseworkers.

The man hopes to obtain a degree in counseling. He earned his high school diploma over the summer and enrolled at Rogue Community College. He also learned to budget, cook and clean his apartment. A skateboard would help him get to work more quickly.

To help, call Community Works at 541-779-2393, ext. 228.