When it comes to jobs, Mark Soine is a quick study. To earn a living, he has played keyboards, worked in accounting and counseled clients.
“I’m adaptable,” Mark said.
Mark began his education as a music major at Linfield College in McMinnville. In his sophomore year, Mark hit the road as half of a musical duo that performed up and down the West Coast. For more than two years, the duo played lounges, mostly for the Stuart Anderson Black Angus chain.
“We would play five hours, shut down, and I could have gone on for another two or three hours,” Mark said. “Except by then, my voice was really croaky and I sounded like Neil Diamond on ‘Hot August Night.’”
Along the way, he met a friend who practiced counseling and spirituality. Inspired, Mark returned to Linfield College to study psychology. His senior year, he worked part time at the college controller’s office and filled in at the cashier’s office and accounts receivable.
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he found few to no jobs in counseling. Still determined to be a therapist, he worked full time in the accounting departments of JK Gill and a computer company while earning a master’s degree.
Upon graduating from Lewis and Clark College, Mark achieved his goal of becoming a child and family therapist.
“I loved doing it. I thought it was fun. But I probably couldn’t crawl around the floor with the little kids as much as I used to anymore,” Mark said with a laugh.
Mark counseled individuals and families for 10 years and worked with people with serious mental illnesses at in-patient, locked facilities and out-patient homes for almost 20 years.
He said about his clients: “Yes, people have an illness. That doesn’t define them. It’s a part of what’s going on for them, but it doesn’t define them. And I would like more people at large to get that.
“When I have a job, I’m dedicated to the job. I’m loyal to the people I work for directly and to the people that work for me.”
Six years ago, things started falling apart.
“The light of my life died of cancer,” he said. “When she died, it pretty much knocked the stuffing out of me. I just didn’t want to do anything, and I’m still dealing with that, some.”
In March, Mark lost his apartment. He found a temporary place to stay at City Team Portland, a nondenominational Christian nonprofit that provides meals and shelter to people in need.
In April, Mark began selling Street Roots in front of Goodwill at Northeast 13th Avenue and Broadway Street.
“I used to buy Street Roots once in a while,” Mark said. “But I didn’t know much about it, other than just reading the paper.
“It may sound funny in a kind of way, but selling Street Roots right now is helping me. I get up in the morning and I have something to look forward to. I get to come down here (to the Street Roots office) to have free coffee! That’s a perk I like. But I also like talking with people, getting the papers and heading to my corner.
“Street Roots is helping my attitude to get ready to do something beyond.”
While selling Street Roots, Mark ran into a former co-worker.
“She sees me and asks: ‘What are you doing selling Street Roots? Do you need a place to be?’ I said, ‘I’m at a shelter right now; I’m not on the street.’ She goes, ‘Well I have this little building behind my house. It’s a bed with some shelves – but it’s a room. Do you want it?’”
Mark took a couple of weeks to think about it before calling her.
“That’s where I am now,” he said. “And she has a computer in her living room.”
The computer is where Mark will start looking for a job.
“It’s time,” Mark said.