Friends of the Poor Gives Francis Medals to Founding Board Members

HNP Communications Around the Province

NEW YORK – St. Francis Friends of the Poor honored two long-time board members and pioneers of the supportive housing movement at the organization’s Christmas dinner last month at a Manhattan restaurant. 

John Felice, OFM, Thomas Walters, OFM, and John McVean, OFM, who oversee Friends of the Poor and its three supportive housing residences for the homeless, awarded the Francis Medal to Dr. Carl Cohan, a psychiatrist, and Martha Tucker, a certified social worker, on Dec. 7. 

Both recipients are founding board members of the organization, and have served in some way since the 1970s, according to John Felice.

Dr. Cohan, a gerontologist from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn,  began working with Friends of the Poor in the 1970s as a third-year resident at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. 

“He is a 25-year board member who taught us a lot about mental health,” said John.

Tucker, who used to work with Hudson Guild, a social services counseling agency on the Westside of Manhattan, began with the Friends even before the residences were developed, serving as its first case manager, according to John. A board member since 1980, she currently works at the Rockland State Psychiatric Hospital in Rockland County, N.Y.

“Both Carl and Martha helped us to develop what is now called supportive housing, which is considered nationally as the normative model for homeless men and women with long histories of chronic mental illness,” said John.