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If you met him today, you’d never guess that Nicolas Gagnon spent four years living on the streets of Montreal.

He left home when he was 16, and quickly found himself seeking refuge at shelters. But late last year, things took a turn for the better. A group working with marginalized youth approached Gagnon and convinced him to enroll in the Starbucks Barista work placement program, which helps troubled youth gain meaningful employment.

Today, you can find him smiling behind the counter of a Montreal Starbucks. It may not be the job he really pictured for himself, but Gagnon quickly found that he excelled in the role.

“He’s someone who’s really optimistic, really someone who brings in a new energy, you know like he’s eager to work,” co-worker Kirubel Mehari said.

Needless to say, Gagnon’s thrilled with the opportunity.

“There were times when I lost hope, but there were a lot of good people always trying to help,” Gagnon said. “I’m really happy and proud of myself.”

To see him in action, check out the video above.

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