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Lonnie Thomas II

Lonnie Thomas II is a homeless youth who grew up in severe poverty and had been living on the streets or couch surfing with friends when he came to the ELY Program in June 2015. Lonnie had dropped out of high school and had been out of school for more than two years. A tumultuous home life and substance abuse made it difficult for him to stay in school, so he dropped out and started hitch hiking along the west coast. Lonnie was living day to day, often relying on the kindness of strangers, but sometimes putting himself in harms’ way. He had no money except the few dollars he picked up doing odd jobs and while he enjoyed the adventure, he lacked stability.

Lonnie returned to Salem, residing in a tent he had pitched under a bridge in West Salem. Lonnie knew that it was time to get serious and work on his education leading him to approach the ELY Program about enrollment. Lonnie was informed of ELY services and opportunities, and he enrolled immediately. He wanted to obtain a GED and a job. At enrollment, ELY staff assisted Lonnie in setting goals and timelines to obtain a GED. He became knowledgeable of the services ELY had to offer and then immediately set to work using those resources to help him achieve his goals. ELY enrolled him in the GED Program at the Mid-Valley Literacy Center in July 2015 and paid for his assessments, texts and school supplies. During his time at the Mid-Valley Literacy Center he also participated in ELY job training classes, financial literacy training, resume development and other Program education activities. Within two months, Lonnie obtained his GED. Lonnie decided he needed to build his resume so he obtained a food handler’s permit, fork lift safety certification, an NCRC Silver Certification, and a certificate for Barista Training.

Lonnie receives no financial support from his family, so he has few personal material possessions. ELY has worked with him to obtain clothing and shoes, clothes for interviews, a back-pack, hygiene products, tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. He has what he needs to be interview-ready and receives assistance from ELY to wash his clothing at a laundry mat because he lacks a washer and dryer.

Lonnie spent the summer of 2015 attending ELY Job Readiness Training, Entrepreneurial Spirit Training, Financial Literacy Training and he obtained seasonal employment at Norpac Foods. He obtained his Oregon driver’s permit and wants to obtain his license. An on-going challenge for Lonnie has been the fact that he does not have access to a car to practice his driving and he is currently saving to take a driver’s education course.

Lonnie is enrolled in Rethinking Careers Training and is eager to start an internship to gain more skills and work experience. Lonnie Thomas II is intelligent and naturally gifted. He states, “I don’t want to study abroad, but I would like to go live abroad and see the world.” He is inquisitive and seeks knowledge and loves to learn. Whatever life throws at him, he stays positive and determined. With every step that he takes, Lonnie keeps moving on up. He exemplifies how with encouragement, mentoring and financial assistance, an opportunity youth can quickly begin to achieve his goals.

Lonnie Thomas II is eager to get a full-time job, possibly go on to college and get his own place. He knows that more education or training is vital to self-sufficiency. He will continue to knock on doors, and look for work and use the resources and opportunities available to help him along his journey.

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