Tuesday, June 21, 2022
When Alan Mack was 22, he was shot in the back in an unprovoked attack and partially paralyzed. While driving in the Boston neighborhood he had known his whole life, he briefly stopped the car and a hail of bullets, meant for someone else, struck him instead. The third of 14 bullets fired lodged itself in Alan’s spinal cord, and he could no longer feel his legs.
Shortly after his traumatic incident, Alan lost his housing. He was forced to put his budding music production and design business on pause, while he navigated from couch to couch and in and out of shelters. It was too dangerous to stay in his neighborhood, and his family wasn’t able to support him. Thankfully, he landed on The Home’s doorstep.
SHELTER FROM THE STORM
Through The City of Boston’s Youth Homelessness Diversion Program (YHDP), The Home was able to acquire an ADA-equipped apartment for Alan in a secure building outside the city and away from the violence. He now has a safe place to live where he can again focus on his passion for making music. The Home helped enroll Alan in free, college-level classes exploring audio production through the YOU Boston program, and he excelled. He completed a well-reviewed podcast, released a single and, with the encouragement of the program, applied to Berklee College of Music. Alan was accepted on a full scholarship, and he’s studying for his BA in music production. He also has his own record label, Six17 Records, LLC, and his own studio and publishing company, all of which he runs from home, and he will soon release his debut album, “Raised in Poverty.”
A NEW PATH FROM PAIN
Alan believes he was given an obstacle that has given him insight and changed the course of his life; he calls his experience a blessing. “I’m struggling, yes, to get my legs back, but I think that it has been better for me,” he reveals. “People are put on the earth for a reason. Their struggles, their turmoil, is all here for them to dig into and understand they have a purpose, or they let go.”
Alan has chosen to dig in. There have been days he is angry that he isn’t walking, but he has learned to channel frustration into positivity. “If I’m angry one day, I make a song or a beat, or I work out. I do something constructive.”
These days, Alan doesn’t need much help from The Home. “Alan is incredibly self-motivated,” says Joshua Grant, Senior Director of The Home’s Transitional Age Youth Programs. “But the fact that he has that place, and nobody’s going to yank it out from under his feet, has changed everything. If this program didn’t exist, where would he be?”
The Home only has a small number of young people in the YHDP program, but, as Alan’s journey illustrates, its impact is great. Alan would like to see it implemented across the state and the nation, so that others who have endured trauma know there are options that offer help and hope. “This isn’t just about me,” says Alan. “If this can happen for others, that’s all I want. I want other people to know you can do these types of things. I’m in a wheelchair, but nothing stops me.”