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Homeless man celebrates new job and new life

September 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Labor Day is a day off for many, but 45-year-old Lonell Avery is not worried about working this holiday.That's because this is Avery's first permanent employment in decades.

Avery was homeless for nearly 20 years and Monday was his first day on the job bagging groceries at the Pavilions supermarket in Beverly Hills

"The Lonell that I was before wasn't the real Lonell. He was lost, broken and needed help," said Avery, reflecting on his past.

After his adoptive mother died he turned to drugs and alcohol and ended up homeless on Skid Row until he reached a turning point.

"In 2008 I was on the street and I was drinking and I was blacking out," said Avery.

He found a second chance in the Los Angeles Mission. But like many things in his life, getting clean wasn't easy.

Avery spent two years at the mission getting job training and changing his attitude.

"He has a great attitude," said Yosef Alemayehu, Avery's manager at Pavilions. "He wants to help, he want s to make a difference." Avery's future now looks bright, with a job as a bagger and a mentor to support him.

"It just goes to show you can always get a second chance and you can always have something to look forward to," said Alemayehu.

Avery still lives at the Los Angeles Mission and is working on getting his GED.


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