By Frank Santangelo
Meet this week’s “Special Person of the Week:Mark Alston Folansbee Director of Somerville Homeless Coalition
Mark started talking to homeless people when he moved to this area in 1985 and something about them felt familiar to him.
He got upset when he learned that many of them were veterans, mostly from Vietnam.
Mark had left college early in 1966 and immediately got drafted. He knew that the only reason that he wasn’t on the street too was because of the support he had from family and friends when he came back from Vietnam in 1968, even if he did lose many years of his life from the trauma that he had experienced.
When Mark first started working with homeless people, he was convinced that we could solve this problem. Thirty years later, the problem is worse — but he’s still convinced that we can solve this.
In an interview Mark stated that “Homelessness and hunger are a national disgrace but there are reasons why we are in this crisis today. For the past 45 years the federal government has been gutting programs, mostly from HUD, that support housing for poor people.”
Mark also stated that “I feel very fortunate to work in Somerville at the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Somerville really does care and I know that by working together we can address these problems in our community.”
Our hats are off to his true Somerville spirit!
We here at the Somerville News Weekly salute you for everything that you do to make Somerville a better place.