On February 24, Nelson Roman, Holyoke city councilor joined Amherst Community Connections and members of the community to discuss his story and how he became a self-starter.
Nelson Roman grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut in what is known as the Brooklyn section of the city. He came out as gay at the age of 18, and was not accepted for who he was, so he moved out. He became a retail manager and quickly moved up the ladder to becoming a district manager. He was quite successful, making six figures and renting a large house. Then, the housing crash took that all away. Roman lost his job and decided to move to Springfield with his then partner. Unfortunately, his partner cheated on him, gave him HIV, and left him for nothing. He never saw his life turning out like this but before he knew it he was living in a tent on the side of the road. He began to get back on his feet when he got a job in retail once again. He was making enough money to afford an apartment, but sadly was robbed twice. Through all these setbacks Roman never gave up. He later became a homeless stabilization manager at Valley Opportunity and stayed there for a few years. Incredulously, in a position he took on at HAP he had a case load of 253 families!
Throughout everything he endured, Roman noticed that there was no one there to advocate for more funding to help those who are homeless or need other forms of assistance. Roman stated, “Show me the money! That’s what it boils down to.” Politicians are only there for the votes, they rarely actually get and keep the funding they say they will during their campaigns. He wanted to be someone that others could count on, someone who would stick to his word. As someone who knows the struggle, he offered to work with ACC to host a breakfast event to have landlords meet with ACC case workers and the participants who face multiple housing obstacles.
Lillian Coleman, a staff member at ACC also discussed her story with us about how she is a self-starter. She told us how one day while watching tv she happened upon a commercial about making greeting cards. Later, while she was at the store, she picked up some paints and the lord indicated that those paints would be for her greeting card business. Lillian's friend came up with the brand name, Cards By Coleman, and the rest is history. Lillian makes cards for all occasions and they are all beautifully handmade.
By: Lauren White