Olan Mack is the new director of the Westcott Community Center.
Photo by Neil Benjamin Jr..
continued Mack has ties to Syracuse, as he attended Syracuse University for a period. He has lived in the city for years, making the trek to Ithaca daily. Now his drive shortens down to mere minutes, but that had no factor in his move. He really just wanted to come here and give back to the Syracuse community.
Mack used to own a bar in the city, before he tried his hand in the restaurant industry with House of Soul, an upscale ethnic restaurant. It was focused around traditional African American food, but aimed at serving the entire community.
He has worked with Syracuse Community Health Center as a helper in public relations, where he put many projects together. One that stands out to him has to do with his going out and educating everyone from jail inmates to your neighbor about the risks of HIV and AIDS.
His career steered him to Aids Community Resources in the city, where he continued to educate about the deadly virus.
“The best thing about being in the human services field is that it all comes from a non-judgmental perspective. It doesn’t matter what anyone did; they’re all human,” he said.
He’s also worked at Offender Aid and Restoration, where he would go into prisons and educate inmates on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and how to prevent the spread. He provided the inmates with reading material he thought could help them.
“I wanted the inmates to be doing something that wasn’t nothing,” he said.
He said his time at the Westcott has been wonderful so far.
“Steve and the board have given me a great foundation, and I intend to build upon it,” he said. “I want to solidify funding for programs and expand on those programs.”
Before he can do that, he says he needs to finish some research.
“I need to see what the community’s needs and desires are,” he said. “Then we can work on seeing what else we can offer.”
He called this his “dream job,” but he never envisioned himself as a community center director when he was working his way to the top.
Mack said he wanted to help others and provide services.
“This is the path,” he said.