Mark Swann '84


Citation for Mark R. Swann, 2001 Common Good Award recipient.

"Mark R. Swann, from your days as a student at Bowdoin, you have embodied the spirit of the Common Good. In Boston and Portland, you have advocated for the services needed by those who have nowhere else to turn. You have nourished those who are hungry and enriched your community in your work with countless non-profit agencies who seek your counsel.

At Bowdoin, you majored in history, played rugby and were a member of Delta Sigma fraternity. A campus friends recalls you as one “who takes on big problems and isn’t afraid to get down to it. [He] takes the bull by the horns and gets done what needs to be done.” Following graduation, you continued to take on difficult assignments, working for the International Institute of Boston coordinating resettlement services for Ethiopian refugees. In 1989, after earning a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, you became the institute’s director of social services, coordinating the myriad needs of refugees, including social services, victim assistance, and a food pantry.

You moved to Portland and continued to change lives, serving as director of a breakfast service for the homeless. Shortly after you arrived, you realized that the many services for the homeless were scattered throughout the city and differed greatly in mission and purpose. In a short period of time, you created a one-stop, barrier-free service center, the Preble Street Resource Center, which serves the needs of Portland’s homeless. Today, and every day, the center’s programs – a health clinic, soup kitchen, food pantry and teen center -- serve nearly 300 homeless and low-income people in Portland. In 1998, seeing a need to provide employment training, you created Stone Soup Foods, which trains Preble Street clients in the culinary arts, selling soups, stocks and sauces to visitors to a restaurant and Portland’s Public Market. Preble Street and Stone Soup now serve as national models of providing homeless services.

Despite your many professional obligations, you have found the time to volunteer, whether assisting Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, as a director of the Maine Coalition for the Homeless of the York-Cumberland Housing Co., or as a youth league basketball coach. While you are self-effacing and devoted to family, others have recognized your good work. Among your many honors, you won the Portland Rotary Club’s first annual Paul Harris Fellow Award for Community Service in 1993 and the U.S. Mayor’s End Hunger Award in 1995. Your friends say you give so much of yourself because of your deep conviction that you can help those in need; this you have done with remarkable dedication and success.

It is with great pride and an even greater sense of admiration for your commitment to the lives of homeless and low-income residents of Maine that we present to you the 2001 Common Good Award."

June 2, 2001