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Local Yuma resident receives Beating the Odds Award for turning trouble into triumph

Wildfire, the State Community Action Association rewards people from the community that has overcome significant obstacles in their life - 13 On Your Side's Vanessa Gongora reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - After hitting rock bottom, Carlos Flores, a Yuma local changed his life around and received the 2022 "Beating the Odds Award" from Wildfire - The State Community Action Association.

This is a special recognition to someone who has had significant barriers and obstacles in life but whom through guidance, determination and hard work have been able to overcome life's circumstances and become successful members of society.

From a drug addict to Treatment Services Coordinator, Flores who was once using the Transitional Living Center Recovery (TLCR) as a resource, is now working there assisting others in a familiar situation.

"I was able to come out of the streets because I was on the streets. I never owned a home. I was never able to maintain a job, so I was in drugs and all that since I was 16 years old to 37," explains Flores.

Flores had a wake up call one day while in prison and realized he needed to make some changes for a better life.

After getting involved with many resources, he reached out to the Western Arizona Council of Governments (WACOG) to join their case management program that helps assist the homeless.

Julia De Los Reyes, WACOG's Case Manager says their program is to help families and individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness.

"We house them as soon as possible. We cover the initial deposit and we also do the three months," says De Los Reyes.

It is a short-term period of assistance, so they must be working when joining the program because after three months, they will be required to pay everything on their own.

"We encourage them to dream and to really find out where do you see yourself in five years because we believe that they're people who deserve a chance and they're capable of coming out of the streets and they're capable of making their dreams come true," De Los Reyes continues.

Flores says thanks to De Los Reyes for keeping him on track and after putting in the work since 2017, he's now five years sober and was able to meet his goals.

"I was able to see that change was possible, that I was able to get my own things," says Flores. "That I was able to get my apartment, my car and my next goal was a house. So yeah, and I was able to successfully buy a home."

He adds, receiving the Beating the Odds Award was another thing he didn't believe was possible.

"So it's just more motivation for me to continue to do what I do, continue to grow and see what my next step is at," describes Flores.

Flores has a message for those who are struggling.

"My advice to others is to reach out. Reach out," says Flores. "There is different agencies out there. You know there's a lot of help out there. Reach out. They can call me if they want. I'm at TLCR. I can direct them wherever they want to go. I'm going to let them know what their options are and there's a lot of options right here in Yuma."

De Los Reyes nominated him for the award and it was presented to Flores in October.

"So here we are five years later and he has demonstrated that it is possible to change," De Los Reyes.

Flores says he now gets to work with De Los Reyes which has come full circle and would also like to thank his boss, Rick Ploski, the owner of Transitional Living Center Recovery for his guidance and support.

If you need housing assistance, you can reach out to WACOG and for assistance with sobriety and mental health, you can visit TLCR.

Article Topic Follows: Yuma County

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Vanessa Gongora

Vanessa Gongora joined the KYMA team in 2022 and is the anchor/producer for CBS at 4 p.m.

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