A renowned sommelier who served as an elite in Silicon Valley for years now lives on the street in Oakland after succumbing to drug addiction.
Mark-Steven Holys, 61, shared his story with New York Times This week offers a unique insight into the growing homeless crisis in Northern California.
Speaking from his tent in a homeless homeless camp in Oakland, Holys recalled the days when he was looking for the perfect bottle of wine in combination with sumptuous dishes ordered by Apple founder Steve Jobs, champion quarterback Joe Montana and former secretary from state George Shultz.
Holys worked for decades in the sommelier scene and rose through the ranks of the wine world in the 80s and 90s.
His life started to unravel when he became addicted to cocaine. He financed the habit of stealing and spent eight years behind bars.
& # 39; I was the type of man who would break into your car and steal the change in your ashtray, & # 39; he said to the times.
A few years after his most recent release from prison in 2010, Holys fell back. In the absence of the support from the community he needed to rebuild himself, he ended up on the street five years ago.
Mark-Steven Holys, 61, renowned sommelier who served wine to the Silicon Valley elite for years, lived on the street in Oakland after succumbing to drug addiction
California is the richest and most densely populated state in the country, but it also has the most homeless people, largely due to towering property values.
The number of people living on the streets of the Bay Area has risen by nearly 50 percent in the last two years to more than 4,000.
Holys described the camps where he lived and said: & You are going to find the criminals, prostitutes and the culprits. But you will also find people who save money wherever they can and who try to leave the homeless quicksand.
& # 39; I met a stockbroker and former athletes on the street. Once you've been deeply tattooed by this thing, it's very hard to get the ink out of your life. & # 39;
Speaking from his tent in a homeless homeless camp in Oakland, Holys recalled the days when he was looking for the perfect bottle of wine in combination with sumptuous dishes ordered by Apple founder Steve Jobs, champion quarterback Joe Montana and former secretary from state George Shultz
Holys described the camps where he lived, including the Oakland pictured above, and said: & You are going to find the criminals, prostitutes, and the culprits. But you will also find people who save money wherever they can and who try to get out of the homeless quicksand & # 39;
Holy & # 39; s former employee at Maddalena & # 39; s in Palo Alto (above) remembered his work ethic and passion for wine
Holys said that one of the most difficult aspects of his current situation is nobody knows who can talk about wine as much as he does.
The Times spoke with some of his former colleagues & customers, who remembered him with much love & despite what they described as his unpredictability, his absence, his demons & # 39 ;.
Vince Maddalena, who worked with Holys at the Maddalena restaurant in Palo Alto, said about the former sommelier: & # 39; While he was going, he was great. & # 39;
& # 39; He was such a good waiter and he knew a lot about wine. We then sold all the great wines. & # 39;
Tony Procaccini, an advertising man who met Holys at a party he helped take care of, wrote the sommelier & # 39; firing (his) passion for wine & # 39; to.
"He was one of the best in customer service", said Procaccini. & # 39; He is super passionate and wants to please. & # 39;
Today, Holys tries to make ends meet by collecting bottles and cans to raise money at recycling centers and by helping a friend install hardwood floors.
He also collects federal invalidity and social security benefits of a total of approximately $ 960 a month.
The Times reported that a week before the Holys publication, a social worker found temporary accommodation in a shared room for $ 300 a month.
Holys plans to accept that offer while looking for a more permanent solution.
One of his daughters, Julia Morrison, told The Times: & # 39; My father fell very hard and often. But if you can cope with your struggles and overcome them, there is great clarity and strength. & # 39;
As soon as he secures permanent housing, Holys plans to buy a bottle of Royal Tokaji, a Hungarian dessert wine, and toast it to leave his problems behind.
& # 39; My life has been such a wild ride, & # 39; he said. & # 39; This will be a bottle of gratitude. & # 39;
Once he secures permanent housing, Holys plans to purchase a bottle of Royal Tokaji, a Hungarian dessert wine, and toast to leave his problems behind
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