|WCAI's Sean Corcoran sings "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with several students from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School.
During the first hour of the 11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, State Representative Timothy Madden made his way onto the festively decorated set at the Cape Cod Community Media Center and spoke with hosts Mindy Todd and Sarah Colvin about the homeless situation on Cape Cod.
“This is our community and people have to step up now and contribute,” he said. “We can’t continue to live in a place like Cape Cod and have people who are homeless.”
The sad reality is that there are homeless people on Cape Cod and the telethon raises funds that go directly to HAC’s four shelters which serve that vulnerable population. In December more than $90,000 was raised during the five-hour live event to help support the programs and services at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, Angel House in Hyannis, Carriage House in North Falmouth and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne.
That money ranged from small $10 and $15 donations from individuals to large ones like a $5,000 check from Heroes in Transition that the Mashpee nonprofit’s co-founders, Cynthia and Kenneth Jones, and one of its directors, Roberta Cannon, presented to HAC on air.
Each donation represented one small step towards giving HAC clients a better life through programs intended to not only provide them with the basic essentials – food and housing – but the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient. Paul Melville, a consultant who runs a parenting group for fathers living at The Village at Cataumet, spoke about his experience working with clients and the benefits his program has brought to them. “They talk about parenting tips and their successes and we talk about their hopes and dreams,” Melville said.
And while he has never been homeless, he said, he has lived in subsidized housing, allowing him a chance to relate to what the parents he works with at the shelter are going through. “I remember thinking [when I was in subsidized housing] this isn’t where or how I wanted to raise my children,” Melville said. “I get them to open up and to realize this isn’t long term.”
If anything, the telethon was an indication of the help, and hope, that the community provides to HAC’s clients. This year’s event saw over 75 sponsors, ranging from Comcast to Clancy’s Tavern in Dennis Port to Hyannis Toyota to Cape Associates in Yarmouth Port to Falmouth Lumber, as well as roughly 170 volunteers that called friends and family throughout the evening asking them to donate to the telethon.
|Volunteers from Shepley Wood Products were in the holiday spirit.
A team of phone volunteers from Shepley Wood Products was adorned in Santa hats while a group from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod wore pink construction hats.
Among those providing entertainment during the evening were several HAC staffers, including Alison Reid who sang a live rendition of the Jackson Five’s “Give Love on Christmas Day” as well as Greg and Karin Bar and Derick Bussiere who performed a pre-taped acoustic version of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”
WCAI’s Sean Corcoran, who served as a co-host during the evening, led several children from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in a sing-a-long of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while David Kuehn, executive director of the Cotuit Center for the Arts, was joined by actress Hannah Carrita in performing a Christmas-themed medley.
|State Representative Timothy Madden (right) talks about homelessness on Cape Cod with telethon co-hosts Mindy Todd (left) and Sarah Colvin.
Underlying the performances was the theme of action, one that several speakers touched upon throughout the night. “We’ve got to do better and we will do better,” Madden said.
“Homelessness is a national disgrace,” said David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s executive board. “Everybody needs to solve this problem together.”
It is a problem that not only HAC is working to solve, but those in the community. Dr. Nate Rudman, an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital, noted that he sees homeless men and women spend anywhere from 140 to 170 hours in the ER because they have nowhere else to go.
“There are so many people in need,” Hyannis Fire Chief Harold Brunelle said. “I think so many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless and we already have a big homeless population on the Cape.”
Thank you so much to all our sponsors (click here for the full list) who helped make this telethon our best yet!
Even though the telethon is over, you can still help support HAC's shelter program. Click the button below to do so today!
|Luanne McCollum (left) doing a client's hair at Angel House.
Once a month Luanne McCollum hops in her car and makes the one-hour trek from Provincetown to Hyannis.
It is a trip she has been making for roughly the past five years. She does so not for her own enjoyment, but the joy it gives to those who are struggling to overcome life’s obstacles.
The visits to Hyannis allow McCollum, a hairdresser by trade, to ply her talents on clients at the Angel House shelter. She will cut, color and curl their hair, helping boost the self-esteem and confidence of women who cope with the trauma of homelessness and addiction.
The seed for volunteering at Angel House occurred after McCollum read an article about a program, Dress for Success, that provided business attire for disadvantaged women on Cape Cod in order for them to go on job interviews. “At the time I thought I could do their hair,” said McCollum, who owns Waves Salon in Provincetown.
About a year later, she began doing just that after talking to a customer who worked for HAC and who introduced her to Angel House.
Over the years she has volunteered her time at the shelter, she has grown to appreciate what it provides to the women and the children there. “I feel this is an amazing facility and it is very much needed,” she said.
McCollum focuses primarily on the mothers in shelter, though occasionally she has been known to work on some of the staff including Angel House manager Lil Burlingame, assistant teacher Amy Brigham and case manager Paula Farren.
“We love her dearly,” Farren said of McCollum. “She is a sweet woman.”
“She is a sweet woman,” Burlingame agreed. “We are very appreciative for what she does for these women and for us.”
As the pair praised McCollum in their office, about 15 feet away she draped a barbers cape around the neck of Courtney, an Angel House client. On this day in December, she would be getting a blow dry.
“I think it is awesome she comes in here and gives us her time,” Courtney said.
She was the second of five clients that McCollum was scheduled to work on last month. Sometimes she has more appointments, sometimes she has less.
Regardless of whether it is clients or staff, McCollum refuses to take any payments. And in December and May (Mother’s Day), she has a supply of hair products she gives to the clients as a gift.
Burlingame acknowledged that being pampered by McCollum makes the clients feel special which is important for their self-esteem.
That may explain why McCollum continues to venture into Hyannis, month after month, year after year. “It feels good to do this for these young women,” she said. “A lot of them haven’t had the chance to have their hair done professionally in a long time because it is expensive.”
And, perhaps most importantly, she said, “most people feel better after getting their hair done.”
|Glen Baker collected donations at the Stop & Shop in South Yarmouth.
In many ways Glen Baker is your average fifth grader. He plays football and baseball and enjoys hanging out with his friends at the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in South Dennis.
It is there, while attending a school assembly focused on the issue of homelessness in November, Glen was inspired to do something unusual for an 11-year-old. He wanted to make a positive difference in his community.
So in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving, Glen set up a table and some bins inside the Stop & Shop in South Yarmouth, and spent a few hours after school collecting donations – money, food and clothes – for Cape Cod’s homeless men and women.
As he manned the table the first night, Baker said he was taken aback at the assembly when he learned that, “some of my friends were homeless at a point in their lives.”
Feeling sympathy for them was not enough. Baker wanted to help them, and others in similar situations, by organizing a drive with all donations going to the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis.
With his mother, Darlene Baker, and older brother, Drew Cochran, 17, by his side, Glen smiled as one store employee commended him for his efforts. “This is awesome,” she said. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Here’s a few dollars. You might want to stuff it in there,” one customer said, handing Glen a donation to put in a small, clear plastic container.
Another customer, having just won $100 on a scratch ticket, paid it forward by giving some of her winnings to Glen’s drive for the homeless. “This is my lucky day so it’s your lucky day,” she said.
As his donations began to slowly pile up, Drew marveled at the small act of kindness his brother was displaying. “It is pretty neat,” Drew said. “It caught me off guard when he said he was going to help out the homeless. He is only 11 years old. You wouldn’t think an 11-year-old would do this.”
|Glen Baker with Greg Bar of the NOAH Shelter
In total, Glen was able to collect over $1,000 worth of donations that included coats, gloves, toiletries, food and $583 that will go to help those staying at the NOAH Shelter.
A little less than a week after he finished his drive, Glen had a chance to meet those he was helping when he stopped by the shelter to drop off the donations. “This is Glen,” said shelter director Greg Bar as he introduced him to the roughly 20 clients sitting in the NOAH Shelter common room. “This 11-year-old kid had an idea that, ‘Hey, I can do something to help people.’ So he set up a table at Stop & Shop and people dropped off food, coats and gloves for people who are in need. Isn’t that cool?”
|NOAH Shelter Director Greg Bar and Santa Claus on Christmas morning.
Slippers, soap, flashlights, toothbrushes and water bottles are not at the top of most people’s Christmas lists.
But on Christmas morning, these basic gifts were handed out to homeless men and women who had spent the previous night at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis. They were small in worth, but the items were invaluable to the recipients.
“Kindness,” was the answer one client offered when asked what the gifts meant to him.
“This is great for those who don’t have family or anywhere to go for Christmas,” said another client in his mid-20’s who has been homeless for nearly nine months.
The experience of being on the streets, he said, “is pretty miserable” and celebrating the holidays in shelter was difficult because he would not be with his son on Christmas.
But thanks to the charitableness of complete strangers – people like Michael and Area Princi of Marstons Mills, Lisa Balegno of Marstons Mills and her daughters Rachel and Ashley, Jerry and Susan Friedman of Cotuit, and Jason and Melissa Rossi of Marstons Mills – the clients at the NOAH Shelter had something to celebrate. The group arrived at the shelter at 5:30 on Christmas morning, adorned in Santa hats and armed with eggs, sausage, potatoes and bread.
Together, they made breakfast to order – omelettes, scrambled eggs and French toast, helping to ensure the holiday started off on the right foot for NOAH clients. It is a tradition the Princi’s have done for the last, “five or six years… It is really one of the most rewarding Christmas mornings you can have because we get more heartfelt ‘thank you’s’ from everybody that comes out,” Michael said. “It is not normal for the homeless and people at the shelter to be waited on and be given a nice, hot breakfast.”
Since 1990, the Princi’s have also organized a holiday gift basket drive for families in shelter and those making the transition out of it. Michael talked about the lessons the drive has taught his children and grandchildren. “One of the things it did for them is that it gave them a tremendous appreciation for everything we have and how important it is to remember and act to help those who don’t have as much,” he said.
Cape Cod's Secret Santa
HAC has witnessed similar charity in one anonymous donor - a true Secret Santa - who donated $50 each to clients at the NOAH Shelter this past December, just as he has in recent years.
That spirit continued through Christmas morning at NOAH, where following breakfast, shelter director Greg Bar was joined by Santa Claus in singing a medley of Christmas songs that included “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as clients joined in.
Scott and Jackie Dutra of Centerville, and their two daughters Gabriella, 16, and Miranda, 15, then handed out gifts to the clients.
“I need these so bad,” one homeless woman said as she was given slippers.
The festivities ended with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung by Mary Stacey-Smith, who works at both the NOAH Shelter and Angel House. “This is great,” she said afterwards. “Hopefully, this lifted people’s spirits and gave them something to celebrate on Christmas. This was a way to make their morning bright and start the day off right.”
Inside the shelter’s kitchen, Bar proudly reflected on the Christmas celebration with Santa by his side. “At least we gave them something to remember,” Bar said.
For Santa, the morning epitomized what the holiday is all about. “All the love in this shelter for the homeless is inspiring. It really is,” he said.
Two weeks ago, New Year’s week, I took off. My son is home from college and my daughter, her husband and their three kids were here from North Carolina for the week. My son started his car restoration project, which I am a part of, planning to work on it most of the month of January until he goes back to school. I also watched lots of football and started watching last year’s episodes of “Fargo” with Melanie.
Being away from work for 12 days in all, Christmas included, without taking a trip gave me a real escape from thinking about work 24/7. Today is my first day back at work and it is hard to get back into the swing of things. There is a lot to do, but the day-to-day continuum has been broken and I have to reorganize.
Instead of reorganizing first, I just jumped into getting a couple of things done, including writing this, and I have an uncomfortable feeling that I am forgetting a lot of things.
What was going on that needed attention way back in the week before Christmas?
One thing was working on nominees for the Annual Meeting this spring. Another was our strategic planning work to plan for the agency’s future and the retirement of several senior employees, including me. We are also planning the full development of the Day Center at the NOAH Shelter and we have a new facility director starting at Angel House today.
Plus, we will have a new governor soon take office and a new director of the state housing agency, DHCD. And I have to get back to fundraising which involves meeting with lots of people to talk about ways they can support our efforts. And last, on this list anyway, is looking to see how we did financially during the first six months of our fiscal year.
Having now, with your help, thought through this I’d better start planning my work for this year. And today is the day to do it, the first work day for me in January 2015.
Next month, I will let you know what the highlights of this year are going to be.
Saying farewell is always bittersweet. And so it is with 2014, an exciting year in which HAC celebrated its 40th anniversary, opened a day center for the homeless in Hyannis and began work on the first phase of a much-needed project that will bring 40 affordable homes to Nantucket.
As we embark on what we hope will be a fruitful 2015, we talked to a few ardent HACbeat readers to take a look back at 2014 and find out what their favorite stories were from last year.
Opening of the Day Center at NOAH (Michael Sweeney, VP of administration and finance)
A 33-year veteran of HAC, Sweeney has a soft spot for stories that detail new initiatives at the agency.
And that is why his top pick from last year falls into that exact category. “In many ways, the day program is really the culmination of the community, Housing Assistance, Duffy Health Center, Vinfen, the police, all these groups coming together and saying, ‘Hey, we really need to do something here,’” Sweeney said. “To take a group like that, representing all different agencies, and having a united front and asking the state for additional funding for this program is really remarkable.”
Rick Presbrey’s Columns & A Home for the Hesse Family (Matt Pitta, WXTK radio host and MC of HAC’s annual meeting)
When Pitta receives his monthly newsletter, his first stop is always page 3 to read CEO Rick Presbrey’s editorial. “I like to see what Rick is thinking and he always has interesting ideas about what is going on in the housing community,” Pitta said. “And sometimes what he writes has nothing to do with housing, but he finds a way to relate it back to that.”
Pitta said one story published last summer about the Hesse family, living in his hometown of Harwich, was of particular interest to him. “It was a typical situation of the struggle so many families are facing on Cape Cod,” Pitta said. “There was a mom, a dad and their two kids. The father was working two jobs and they were finding it impossible to buy their rental home that was being sold. Then HAC got involved and they were able to purchase it.”
It was indicative of the type of stories he enjoys. “You wonder who is really being helped and is there a face,” he said.
“Those first-person stories of people and families being helped gives you a good understanding of that.”
HAC Client Realizes Dream of Homeownership (Jan Nelson, FSS Coordinator)
As HAC’s coordinator for the Family-Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, Jan Nelson has seen many clients graduate from the program, but few take the next step towards homeownership.
But Adrienne Gonsalves was different. Last year, she did both. And today she could not be happier.
“She absolutely loves her house,” Nelson said, explaining why this feel-good HACbeat story topped her list for 2014.
Your Favorite Articles
Now that we've shared some of our readers' favorite stories, here are the ones YOU enjoyed most. The following are the top five most read online stories from 2014:
- HAC Celebrates Completion of Great Cove Community
- Dream of Owning a Home is Realized
- Finding a Home on Cape Cod Thanks to NOAH Shelter
- Cape Cod Restaurateur Lends Expertise to NOAH Shelter
- Great Cove Community: Affordable Housing
The calendar said November 2, but the light snow falling on the ground and cold winter breeze made it seem more like December 25.
But it was not solely the weather that added to the festivity of the day. It was the spirit of giving, encompassed by more than 100 motorcyclists who showed up to the Carriage House Shelter in North Falmouth, to show their support of those who are less fortunate.
That charitableness was tied to the 15th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, an event in which bikers from on Cape and off gather at the Buzzards Bay Eagles Hall and make the trek to Falmouth to deliver toys to children staying at HAC’s three family shelters - Carriage House, The Village at Cataumet in Bourne, and Angel House in Hyannis.
For the past 25 years the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG) have been collecting toys and monetary donations every fall to go to the region’s homeless children during the holidays. In 1999, the run was named in honor of Christina Wetherbee, a longtime participant in the annual event.
Though Christina died of cancer in April 2000, her husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife Clarissa, continue to organize the event in her memory. In addition to the dozens of toys collected, participants raised $1,513, funds that will be distributed to HAC’s shelter programs as well as families in need during the holiday season, including previous clients.
The giving did not end there as Joe commemorated the occasion by donating a handmade wooden rocking horse to Carriage House that he modeled after a motorcycle with a license plate reading, “Mass 15 Toy Run” on the back.
|Toy run organizer Joe Wetherbee address the crowd.
“It’s really because of the children. That is why we are here," Joe Wetherbee said. “We try to give them a Christmas.”
Because of the harsh weather the toy run was missing one aspect – the roar of 200 motorcycles driving down Cape roads – that makes the event so impressive. Still HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said it did not diminish from this year’s run. “I thought it was great that so many people were there on such a horrible day,” he said.
East Falmouth’s Steve Webster was the only participant to brave the inclement weather and ride his motorcycle to Carriage House as others wisely chose to drive their cars and trucks. “I’ve been doing this for about 10 years,” Webster said, acknowledging that he does it, like others do, “for the kids. It is a great cause.”
Inside the shelter he was able to warm up with chili, clam chowder, hot dogs, warm apple cider and coffee, provided by Seafood Sam’s of Sandwich and Falmouth as well as Starbucks of Hyannis. Brothers Jeff and Michael Lewis, who own the respective Seafood Sam’s eateries, were joined by Bob Courtemanche of Mashpee, and Chris Lerch of Sysco Boston, in preparing the food.
As they worked in the kitchen, several clients sat in the Carriage House living room, playing with their children as they waited for participants to arrive. “I think it is awesome,” said Stephanie Anagnos, who is seven months pregnant and was joined by her 20-month old daughter Althea. “I think it is really cool that so many people care about the situation we are in. I appreciate it a lot.”
It was a sentiment her counterparts shared including Brianna Sheinis. This Christmas, she said, her two-year-old daughter Taryn hopes to get more Barbie dolls.
As for what she wants, it is something not found in a store. “I want a safe home,” Brianna said, her voice lingering for a second. “A safe, stable home. Definitely. It would mean the world to me and it would allow my daughter to thrive and mean that I would be safe and comfortable. It is tough having to bounce around, especially with a child. It is very tough.”
Some people give once a month. Some people give once a quarter. And some like Eastham’s Chandler Travis do so once a year.
Over the past decade the popular musician has done so at a time when giving is en vogue, the holidays, using his connections to bring together the Cape’s most talented artists for one night of seasonal fare. He will do so again this year as part of the 11th Annual Cape Cod Christmas Cavalcade this Sunday, December 14 at 7 PM at the Jailhouse Tavern in Orleans.
There is a suggested donation of $25 to attend and all money raised from the holiday concert will go to benefit the NOAH Shelter which serves Cape Cod’s homeless men and women.
Sponsors include Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, Goff Brothers Construction Company, Cape Air and the Wellfleet Beachcomber.
Among the acts that will be performing at the Cavalcade are The Ticks, Fred Fried, The Rip it Ups, Christine Ernst, Steve Shook & the Elftone All-Girl Ukelele Revue, Polka Dan & the Beetbox Band, Sarah Burrill, Edwige Yingling, Sarah Swain & the Oh Boys, Toast & Jam and Travis’ own band the Chandler Travis Philharmonic.
As to why he organizes the event, Travis said, “it is important to me because I have a very selfish lifestyle and it’s nice to have one day a year when I can do something for somebody else. And it is fun for me because I really like Christmas music. I like a holiday that has its own music and the music is as bipolar as the holiday.”
The Cavalcade is enjoyable for the musicians because it allows them to play songs, “they are not sick to death of already,” Travis laughed.
The allure for fans is that they get to see the Cape’s best musicians come together for one night of holiday-themed music. “It’s always a blast,” Travis promised.
|Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick with HAC's Kate Ferreira at a press conference in June announcing funding for several affordable housing projects including Sachem's Path on Nantucket.
During Massachusetts’ 2nd Annual Housing Week in June, HAC’s housing development project manager Kate Ferreira drove up to Dorchester to attend a press conference where Governor Deval L. Patrick announced state funding towards the initial phase of a project that will bring 40 affordable homes to Nantucket.
That was the first of several milestones that have been reached in recent months that has made the Sachem’s Path project a reality.
Along with the state commitment of $1.485 million towards Sachem’s Path, the town of Nantucket transferred the 10 acres of land, where the 40 units will be built, to HAC in August. A few days later HAC staff, along with many of the key players in the project - Nantucket Housing Authority, Housing Nantucket, Habitat for Humanity Nantucket, the Nantucket Community Preservation Committee, Horsley Witten Group and Oxbow Partners – gathered at the Dreamland Theater on Nantucket to celebrate how far Sachem’s Path has come and how close it is to fruition.
To learn more about Sachem’s Path and to keep up to date with the progress of the project visit www.sachemspath.org and LIKE the Sachem’s Path Facebook page.
A career in the social services can be difficult, particularly when helping those who are most vulnerable in society.
Lonnie Daniels knows this all too well. For roughly two decades he has worked with HIV patients, abused children and homeless adults. This is just a short list of people the 40-year-old has encountered in his profession.
The Brooklyn-born Daniels has held stints at the Germaine Lawrence Campus in Arlington; McLean Hospital in Brighton; Boston Living Center; and the Andrus Children’s Center in Yonkers, all nonprofits that provide treatment and care for children and adults with a host of complex needs.
Now Daniels is bringing his experience to HAC as a consultant for the Day Center at NOAH which opened in May as a way to give Cape Cod’s homeless population a safe place to stay during the day.
Daniels, who oversees the day-to-day operations for Father Bill’s homeless shelter in Quincy, was introduced to NOAH while conducting training for shelter staff earlier this year.
Shortly thereafter, Daniels was hired to serve as a consultant, providing guidance as HAC goes through the growing pains of running a day shelter. Though he lives in Roxbury, Daniels makes the commute to Hyannis two to three times a week.
He works closely with NOAH Shelter director Greg Bar, observing the day center operations and finding ways it can run more efficiently. “I’m doing observations of the staff, the clients, the building and the flow of traffic and I’m assessing what resources are here and what I see is needed,” Daniels said in explaining his role.
That role is focused on the current parameters HAC is working with and not dealing with what-ifs like wanting a new building for the NOAH Shelter. “We should work with the building we have first,” he stressed.
Bar had high praise for Daniels, calling him “very personable… He knows how to work with all kinds of people.” Beyond that, Bar said, that Daniels has been tremendously helpful in formulating a vision for NOAH that aligns with what community leaders want from the day center.
Prior to working with NOAH, Daniels admitted that he had a similar perception about the homeless on Cape Cod as many tourists do – there are none. “For me, it’s opened my eyes to the homeless population that is here,” he said, noting that they are not unlike the people he crosses paths with at Father Bill’s.
Regardless of where they are from, Daniels relishes the opportunity to help the homeless take the steps necessary to improve their lives. “It is possible,” he said. “Homelessness is a temporary state.”
Daniels, who is currently studying to obtain his master’s in divinity from Gordon College, hopes to one day start a ministry that incorporates the homeless issue as its primary mission. This line of work, he acknowledged, is not easy, but the reward is in knowing that he has made a positive difference in someone’s life. “I’ve worked with folks with serious issues in a variety of different capacities. It’s a challenge,” he said. “But if, at the end of the day, I can get the man or woman sitting across from me to smile and take their mind off of their problems for even a half a second it’s worth it. It [success] is measured in small little increments.”