Mark Previe takes the bus and makes a difference
Mark Previe greets Loriane Cote of Manchester as she boards the Shopper Shuttle on Friday. Previe has been volunteering on MTA buses for 18 years. (David Lane/Union Leader)
F or more than 18 years, Mark Previe has hopped on a city bus three days a week, helping seniors on and off the buses and carrying shopping bags when needed.
Acting on a volunteer basis, at his own expense, his efforts to help seniors navigate the vehicle stairwells, and new drivers navigate the city streets, have gone largely unnoticed, except by the hundreds of residents he has assisted over the years.
“I just like helping people,” said Previe. “It's a good feeling. They always say thank you. I like helping anyone I can, whatever it is. That's why I do it.”
After watching him help others on and off Manchester Transit Authority buses for years, Sandra Roy of Manchester decided it was time Previe received something more than a thank you for his efforts. Roy — whose father, former Manchester Alderman John Francis Wilcox, served the residents of Ward 9 for more than 16 years — knows the importance of thanking volunteers like Previe for the time they give the citizens of the Queen City.
“He helps people on and off. He carries their bags. If there's a driver who doesn't know the route, he shows them,” said Roy. “He's done this for over 18 years — 18 years! He is a valuable person. When he's not there, people on the bus wonder where he is. Why shouldn't he be recognized?”
Two special visitors greeted Previe yesterday before he boarded the Shoppers Shuttle on Massabesic Street — Mayor Ted Gatsas and MTA Executive Director Mike Whitten. Gatsas presented Previe with a special resolution thanking him for his more than 18 years of volunteering to help residents safely navigate the city's bus system.
“It's a wonderful thing, because volunteerism is a lost art,” said Gatsas. “For people to be out there, volunteering in the community, for this long, is a wonderful thing. It doesn't happen often.”
Whitten said Previe will be presented with an MTA Golden Pass for his efforts.
“That's good for free rides on the MTA for the rest of his life,” said Whitten. “This is to thank him for everything he's done for the seniors, and for our drivers. He's been a phenomenal help for over 18 years, and he'll never have to pay another bus fare in his life.”
Whitten said the pass is not engraved yet, but he expects it to be ready to be presented to Previe at the MTA Board's meeting in late September.
Previe said it has always been in his nature to help others, whether family, friend of stranger.
“When I rode the bus before, a long time ago when I was young, I saw a lot of seniors having a hard time,” said Previe, 47. “I helped a guy out, and he seemed to appreciate it. After awhile I started doing it every day. I love doing it. They appreciate it. I started helping out my grandmother, but she passed away last September 19. Now I help my mother, Janet Previe, out.”
Previe is quick to help out any new drivers, as well as riders.
“I was on the bus this summer, and a lady was about to make a left turn,” said Previe. “I told her she should be making a right turn here. She said the route given her had showed she should be making a left turn, but I said, 'Look at that sign. It says one-way. If you go left, you will get in trouble.' She thanked me later.”
He also keeps a checklist showing how many passengers are riding the bus, and how many exit the bus to shop at the local stores, helping drivers ensure that all riders get back on the bus for their return trip.
“He's very, very helpful,” said MTA Shopper Shuttle driver Edid Karic. “He is helpful to the drivers. Everyone loves him, what he does.”
After boarding the Shoppers Shuttle bus Friday morning, Previe proudly showed off his resolution from the mayor to seniors as they boarded, bound for Hannaford supermarket in the East Side Plaza. The bus quickly filled with loud cheers from passengers glad to see Previe recognized for his efforts.
“You deserve it Mark,” said Ron Garon of Manchester. “I take this bus three times a week, I rarely miss it. Mark is always there. In winter, bundled up, summer, fall ... he's always there and very reliable. Always in a good mood. If everyone in town would assume their duties the way he assumes his, we'd have a great city.”
“I think he's very nice. When he's not here, no one helps us. You notice it,” said Pauline St. Gelais, of Manchester.
“If it wasn't for Mark helping the drivers, I'm pretty sure there are days we would end up in China,” said Ann Estee of Manchester. “He really knows the routes, and helps out anyone who needs it. It's nice to have someone along who does what he does.”
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