Posted May 07, 2009
Developing the original Preble Street in the early 1990s was a great community organizing experience for Mark Swann. Working with social activists, business leaders, public officials, politicians, the faith community, and the organization's consumers, Mark led a collaborative effort to build a comprehensive center for people experiencing homelessness. That early learning experience was instrumental to Mark's leadership in the significant and innovative growth of Preble Street's services over the past fifteen years. What started out as one small shelter now includes not only extensive food and lodging support with connected medical and social services for homeless citizens of Portland, but also a Teen Center for homeless youth, several permanent housing communities, and the restaurant and cooking school "Stone Soup" which provides vocational training and an income for Preble Street's consumers.
In addition to providing services to empower people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty, Preble Street also works to find solutions to these problems through advocacy. For example, most recently Preble Street has been at the forefront in the state Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to be adopted in the next session of the Maine Legislature.
“It's hard for me to understand how a person would not get involved in their community, how a person would not be concerned about social justice, how a person would not want to work to solve problems and make the world a better place.”