A room where people who are homeless can listen to music, learn instruments and practice and play together was dedicated July 16 by House of Hope Community Development Corporation in memory of a Rhode Island man who died last year while he was homeless in San Francisco.
Mark Goldstein was 28 when he died of the physical effects of alcoholism. But his parents, Donna and Richard Goldstein, proposed creation of the music room to honor the aspects of his life that brought him and others joy.
“Today is a day of celebration,” said Donna Goldstein who taught for many years at the Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, during the half-hour-long ceremony. “Today is a day to celebrate the important and deserving people who will play and enjoy music here and reconnect with their community.”
Her husband, Dr. Richard Goldstein, a retired a mathematics professor at Providence College, said that he hoped that those who come to the music room will “experience the happiness that Mark felt when he played music.”
Named the “ReMARKable Music Room and Resource Center,” the room is located at House of Hope’s headquarters complex at 3190 Post Rd., Warwick, in a storefront that formerly was the site of the Boutique store, which sold goods made by House of Hope’s clients and closed earlier this year.
The event was attended by about 50 people, many of them the relatives and friends of Mark Goldstein and who were among 69 donors who contributed nearly $9,000 through an Internet fundraising site to establish the room and support House of Hope’s goal of ending chronic homelessness in Rhode Island.
Among the speakers was Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, who apologized for showing up in blue jeans and a golf shirt, explaining that his next stop was a beach cleanup. Avedisian noted the bittersweet nature of the event and praised the Goldsteins for their efforts to aid the homeless on behalf of their late son. He said the city and House of Hope have worked to find solutions to homelessness since the agency was established more than a quarter century ago
Ron Tibbetts, a friend of Mark Goldstein, who had played in a band with him, performed several songs, accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar while seated atop of a large sound system speaker. A member of the band, “Along Came the Flood,” Tibbetts at times had the audience singing and clapping along with him, and at others, causing them to weep. Afterwards, Tibbetts said he could feel Mark’s spirit in the same way he did when they performed together.
Mark Goldstein, born in Providence on July 2, 1986, grew up in East Greenwich and attended the Rhode Island School of Design and the Community College of Rhode. He long contended with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, even as his parents sought to provide him with psychiatric and rehabilitative services.
The Goldsteins stayed in close touch with their son after he moved to the West Coast, living variously in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, and they said even when he became homeless, he continued to play music, and was generous to friends, sharing food and clothing with them.
Richard Goldstein said that his son, while in Rhode Island, had lived for a time in an apartment in the Apponaug section of Warwick, where the Music Room is located. During the dedication, Dr. Goldstein evoked Mark’s image.
“If you look closely, you can see him, slightly hunched over an acoustic guitar, playing intently. Or, if you look through the windows, you can see him having a laugh and a smoke with his buddies – Marlboro Reds – he is smoking half and handing the rest to a friend.”
The audience included Mark Goldstein’s brother, Robert Goldstein of Warwick; his sister, Michele Meek, of Providence; and grandparents Jerry and Rose Broman of Pembroke Pines, Florida. Donna and Richard Goldstein also traveled from Florida, where they now live in Bonita Springs.
The “ReMARKable Music Room” is decorated with a large photo-on-canvas reproduction of a black-and-white sketch Mark Goldstein drew when he was 15, entitled “Guitar Man.” The room will be shared with other House of Hope programs.
The dedication ceremony featured remarks by Laura Jaworski, interim executive director of House of Hope, and by Stephen Miller, the president of the board of directors, who also served as master of ceremonies.
Miller ended the event by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence in “the spirit of the remarkable Mark Goldstein,” declaring afterwards: “In this space, music will be created.”