Life deals Luke a cool hand

A lot can change in a year: Luke has gone from being homeless to having a steady job, a family and a place to live. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au   d423833
A lot can change in a year: Luke has gone from being homeless to having a steady job, a family and a place to live. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d423833

Before he met the Wembley cake shop owner eight months ago, Luke (whose surname has been withheld) held a cardboard sign: �Homeless, hungry, looking for work� outside Leederville IGA.

Today, the 20-year-old is almost unrecognisable from his past life.

From sleeping rough every night and selling The Big Issue to eat, Luke has now moved into his own unit, qualified as a barista, earned his L-plates and enrolled to finish high school at Tuart College.

�I�m most proud that Flavia and I are still a team,� he said.

�I call her my �mum� now, which is funny because she�s too young to be my mum, but she is the most stable person who has ever come into my life.

�Flavia tells me to try small goals so we take one day at a time rather than trying to think years in the future. I always want to make sure I have a roof over my head.�

Sugarplum Sweets baker Mrs Harris said the past eight months had been filled with highs and lows.

�I truly had no idea what I was getting myself in to,� she said.

�All I knew was I couldn�t leave Luke on the streets, but I didn�t think beyond that.

�To all of a sudden being responsible for a teenage life can be quite overwhelming. Combined with opening my first shop, well, let�s just call it the craziest thing I have ever done.�

Mrs Harris said she could not wait for the world to make more sense to Luke once he completed his high school education.

�The kid is a sponge, so I think he will be far more confident and it will make him absolutely unstoppable,� she said.

�Since meeting Luke I have a new family member.

�Even though he has his own place, friends and job now, he is still my responsibility. He trusts me with his future and his life. It is quite amazing.�

Luke said his birthday in January could not have been more different from last year, which had been the �saddest day� of his life.

�I didn�t have anyone say �happy birthday� to me, so I really wondered if anyone would actually care if I wasn�t around,� he said.

�This year Flavia and her husband took me out for dinner the night before, and then she made my favourite salted caramel mud cake in the shape of a pot of spaghetti bolognaise.

�Customers wished me �happy birthday� all day and even gave me presents. �It was so cool.�