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It Happens Here: South End Bookstore Provides Jobs & Life Skills For Vulnerable Youth

BOSTON (CBS) - It Happens Here in Boston's South End, originally the Boston Neck, a thin piece of land connecting Boston and Roxbury. In 1884 the lavishly designed Joshua Bates School was built and named for a founding private benefactor of the Boston Public Library.

About a half mile away, in an old warehouse building, is a unique bookstore called More Than Words. It's a non-profit providing a steady job and support to some of the area's most vulnerable youth. Today, young adults are running a multi-million dollar business, moving four million books a year.

Used book donations come in by the truckloads. Team members sort through them and then send them off for resale in their store front or online.

"I was dealing with a lot of mental health issues, on the brink of being homeless, court-involved," explains Q, a team member who joined the program about seven months ago. "A lot of people feel like once they're stuck in a hole, they can't climb back out, but that's totally wrong."

The young people working at More Than Words earn business skills and a steady paycheck, but a major part of the program is called the "You Job." MTW provides intensive case management, and helps the youth with things like opening a bank account, finding housing, and eventually moving on into the workforce.

"There's people actually getting jobs and keeping jobs and people are finishing high school," explained Curtis, who came up through the program before graduating on to another job.

More Than Words
Curtis was trained at More Than Words. Now he's back as a manager. (WBZ-TV)

After seven years away from the program, Curtis was hired back to More Than Words as a manager. Having experienced the positive changes brought by MTW, he is now look to inspire other young people.

"People like me and Q, we don't really get the opportunities, so once we get here it's like a great experience. People change their lives coming through these doors."

On December 7 and 8, More Than Words is hosting their 50%-off store-wide sale. It is a huge weekend for revenue and they invite anyone looking to start their holiday shopping to come in and browse the 40,000+ books, furniture and crafts on display.

More than Words has locations at 242 E. Berkeley Street in Boston and 56 Felton Street in Waltham. For more information on how you can support more than words or make a book donations, visit their website.

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