EUGENE, Ore. - For more than a year, Breaunna Powell of Eugene was one of the estimated 3,000 youth who wind up homeless and on the streets of Lane County.
"It was hard," she said. "It's cold outside a lot, and it's not fun."
But thanks to the Looking Glass/New Roads program and the new Hosea Youth Services thrift store, things are looking up.
"I've lived at New Roads since August," Powell said at work at the thrift store Wednesday, "and I've been working here since, like the end of December."
She earns rent vouchers at the store so she can live in her apartment.
At the same time, Powell is learning basic retail store skills.
"You go through all this stuff and fold it," Powell said as she sorted through a big bag of donated clothing, separating the good from the not-so-good.
"With the job market as it is, an entry level opportunity for vocational training or life skills and work experience is real valuable," said Ken Harvey, Hosea Executive Director.
Harvey said the Whiteaker neighborhood has embraced the store. It's doing so well, they recently bumped up to 7 days a week.
"We're thankful for being part of a community where people work together to sort of look out for their neighbor," Harvey said.
The hours for the thrift store are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The new Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m.
The agency also has plans to turn office space above the retail store into a work exchange program for more jobs and a new sewing center.
Along with her four days a week at the store, Powell is reaching another milestone soon: her GED high school diploma.
It has been a long road for this young woman.
"But I'm coming to the end of it," she said.