Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Julie Wake

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Great Cove Community: Affordable Housing

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 @ 07:30 PM

Great Cove Community

The dream of creating affordable housing has become a reality for the Mashpee Housing Authority.  Since October of 2011 when Gov. Patrick announced that HAC would receive the funding needed to build additional units at the Breezy Acres family public housing development, it has been full steam ahead.  “We’re really excited to build this community for Mashpee Housing Authority and the Town of Mashpee.  It has been a wonderful and collaborative effort,” said Adrienne Danner project manager in HAC’s Housing Development Department.

HAC worked with the housing authority to develop ten new townhome rental units consisting of eight 2-bedrooms and two 3-bedrooms.  The townhomes are designed to easily integrate with six existing units, creating a sense of community with communal outdoor spaces.  The environmentally friendly design leaves a large portion of the site undisturbed to provide as much open space as possible.

“We are very pleased to be serving, once again, as the Project Architects for HAC on such an important community-housing development as Great Cove.  With each new project, we look to contribute towards the overall HAC mission of designing and building attractive, energy-efficient, and well-built housing that is truly affordable to local Cape Cod residents,” said Rick Fenuccio, president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects Inc.

All units will be affordable for families earning 50 percent or less of the area median income, and eight project based voucher units will be reserved for extremely low-income households (30 percent of area median income or less). 

Residents are expected to move in the beginning of May.  HAC will conduct a housing lottery for all units.  Visit HAC’s website if you would like to learn more about affordable housing lotteries.

A celebratory ribbon cutting will take place on Thursday, April 17 at 10 a.m. on Breezy Way off Old Barnstable Rd., Mashpee.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects Inc.

Happy Feet

Posted by Julie Wake on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Sol Mate Socks

Sometimes giving comes from unlikely places. This story traces mismatched socks from North Carolina to Vermont to the NOAH Shelter.

The socks, by a company called Sol Mate Socks, are made of multi-colored cotton, and they purposefully don’t match. The company’s motto is “Life’s too short for matching socks.” Housing Assistance Corporation recently received a donation of socks to be given to homeless clients.

It all started with Donna Thomas of Sandwich, who co-owns the gift shop Snow Goose Shops, which is located on the corner of Tupper Road and Route 6A in Sandwich Village. The shop was started by her father, David Hadley, who still co-owns it.

Donna first found out about the work of Housing Assistance Corporation around 2007 through selling special Christmas cards designed by Marieluise Hutchinson for DYECH to benefit HAC’s Project Prevention program.

After learning about HAC, and in particiular, NOAH, Donna organized clothing drives for homeless people who stay there. She sends out an email to friends and customers requesting donations of gently used clothing, socks, blankets and towels. She recalls one time when she was dropping off items at NOAH and some of the homeless clients came out to thank her.  “It’s humbling,” she said.

When asked her reason for donating to NOAH, she said, simply, “There but for the grace of God, I’m not on the streets. So many people are one paycheck away from it.”

One product that Donna sells at her stores are the colorful mismatched socks from Sol Mate Socks, an environmentally-friendly family-owned company with offices in South Stratford, Vermont and Portland, Oregon. Donna said she discovered the socks at a wholesale trade show 10 years ago and has been selling them ever since. “One of the biggest draws for me besides being mismatched and made of cotton is that they are made in the USA,” she said.

Donna found out that the company periodically donates its “seconds” socks to homeless shelters, so she contacted HAC staff and put them in touch with Sol Mate. As a result, Sol Mate generously donated $700 worth of socks to HAC to be given to clients at NOAH, as well as Angel House, Village at Cataumet, and Carriage House.

Randy Wakerlin, co-owner of Sol Mate Socks with his mother, Marianne Wakerlin, said his company likes to donate to charities, in particular homeless shelters and children’s charities.

“We feel like our socks are bright and colorful and they’re a very happy product and we feel we want to share that with folks who might need a little cheer in their lives,” he said.

The socks, made out of recycled cotton, are thick and very durable. “They make a nice year-round sock,” he said.
The company also makes mittens, hats and scarfs, which they also donate when they have overages.

The company has two distribution centers, Portland, Oregon and Stratford,Vermont. All the socks are knitted in North Carolina, and the hats are made in North Carolina and Vermont. The mittens are made in Oregon.

Besides going to people who could use the socks, the donations also help the company maintain its zero waste policy. As much as possible they try to keep any waste out of landfills, Randy said.

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Reflecting

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

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2014 is HAC’s 40th year in business! I have been here the whole time.

The undocumentable number of people we have helped now is 160,000! Even with the undeniable duplication contained in that number we must have helped at least 50,000. That is a lot.

I still love coming to work almost every day. When I wake up and don’t feel like getting up and going to work, I feel great once I get here. I’ve thought a lot about why that is true and what is special about HAC.

When I say what I am about to say I am not bragging I am just recognizing the obvious truth: the founder of an organization has a major effect on the culture of that organization and that same is true here. I am pro client and get almost all of my satisfaction from seeing people helped. That does not mean that I am anti-anybody because I like to solve problems faced by landlords, towns, our staff and others as well. It also doesn’t mean that I will never give up on someone. I do and I will when that person won’t follow up on doing what they can for themselves.

We all see things differently. I tend-to a fault-to see the good in people. I like almost everyone. I absolutely love the staff at HAC and I like the people who I talk to in our waiting room. But liking someone and seeking to help them and seeking to achieve fairness and justice for them are not always the same thing.

I want people coming in to our waiting room or calling on the phone to feel welcome and cared about. Why? Because they are good people who are struggling to get their lives in order. Just as you and I are struggling to get ours in order, so are they but their job is almost always more difficult than ours. I have seen so many people get their lives in order in ways that I could never have done. My parents were married 50 years, I have four years of high school, four years of college and a graduate degree and have never been unemployed for even five minutes. I have never lived with an alcoholic or an abuser. How lucky am I? Pretty lucky. People have been nice to me even when I didn’t deserve to be treated well.

I will be leaving HAC within the next few years. What do I want my legacy to be? First, I want the agency to do more and to do it even better after I leave. But I want my legacy to be excellent treatment of our clients and our community. The way I recently started looking at it is that:

Beauty equals justice.

Seeing the beauty and value in everyone is a motivator for all of us to seek fairness and justice for all. 

Donate to help HAC build a community where everyone has a safe, stable and decent place to live.

Tags: housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey, Housing on Cape Cod

HAC’s Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition Award Recipients

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

HAC Staff

This year HAC celebrates a milestone, 40 years of good work.  “The program will be more celebratory this year,” says HAC’s Director of Development and Communications Julie Wake.  “Expect the unexpected for an annual meeting!”  Matt Pitta from WXTK will host the event. 

Among those being honored will be Rev. Larry Brown of Cape Cod Academy, along with his student team from People to People International, who will be given the Presbrey Public Service Award in recognition of their service to those in need on Cape Cod. The Presbrey award is given to people in the community who most exemplify the qualities and values that motivate Rick. Recent recipients include Rabbi Elias Lieberman, Dr. Kathleen Schatzberg and Rev. Dr. John Terry.

This year’s recipient of the Business/Organization Partner Award is the Town of Mashpee, who went beyond the call of duty in pulling off the biggest Big Fix event as well as adding 10 units of affordable rentals with a new development, Great Cove.

Heroes in Transition will receive the Human Services Partner Award in recognition of their support of HAC’s Project Prevention for veterans.  Heroes also played a supporting role in the Big Fix Mashpee helping to improve several veterans’ homes.

The Volunteer of the Year award goes to the Bergeron Family for their years of hard work and dedication on homelessness issues.  Wayne, Janine, their daughter Rebecca and their son Michael have played a major role in HAC’s annual event, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon.

Dinner will be served and a cash bar will be available.  RSVP by March 24 by calling HAC or going online at www.HAConCapeCod.org.

This year’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition is sponsored by Shepley Wood Products, a Hyannis based company that received HAC’s Business Partner Award in 2012.
Tony Shepley
Tony Shepley speaking at last year’s annual meeting.

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, NOAH Shelter, HAC Volunteers, Shepley

Making Connections at NOAH Shelter

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 @ 07:30 PM
“A minimal amount of human contact can change a life,” said Greg Bar, manager of HAC’s NOAH Shelter, about a new volunteer project at NOAH Shelter. 
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One night Bill Dado had a dream he was working with the homeless in Hyannis.  “When I woke up I just had to go to the computer and Google shelters in Hyannis,” said Bill Dado.  Dado moved to the Cape two years ago and is a retired high school guidance counselor from Sturbridge, MA.   “The next thing I knew I was filling out an online application to volunteer for HAC, meeting with the volunteer coordinator and being quickly introduced to Greg Bar.”

Dado’s concept is to create a “pen pal” type relationship with NOAH clients and high school students.  Students would be connected to a client and would initiate a letter exchange as simple as, “I’m thinking of you and I care.”  Clients would receive a letter with just the student’s first name and vice versa. Letters would be managed through the school’s community service person.

In Dado’s previous career as a guidance counselor, he saw major benefits when “at risk” students were connected to a teacher on a one on one basis.  “I thought if we applied this to the homeless, even though the gesture is small, we might really make a personal impact on so many levels,” said Dado.

Sturgis West and Cape Cod Academy have signed on to be pilots for the program. 

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, HACbeat, volunteers, Volunteer Cape Cod, Volunteer coffee hour, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH, volunteering

A Plea

Posted by Julie Wake on Sat, Feb 15, 2014 @ 09:00 AM
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A typical family shelter stay lasts nine months, roughly the length of a school year. Wouldn’t it be a huge benefit to have a statewide standardized educational curriculum for those staying at shelters?  Nine months is a long time to waste.

I am particularly worried about the children in shelters.

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless has determined
that the average age of a homeless person in Massachusetts is eight years old.

I am concerned that these kids are growing up without adequate parenting.

Not too long ago a woman came into our office who was very pregnant. With more than a touch of mental illness, she resisted letting us do anything for her for several hours, while various concerned staff members tried to offer their skills in resolving the situation. Early in her visit, the woman went outside on a very cold day insisting that her unborn baby liked the cold—as people stood next to her trying to talk her into coming inside. Finally she was convinced to allow us to take her to a motel for a few days. Ten hours later the baby was born.

Another child, Joshua (not his real name) is now seven. He lives with his mom in a cramped apartment in a small town on the Cape. They are living on money from strapped family members who have given them just enough to keep their car going and to pay the relatively modest rent. The mom has little or no other income and keeps promising to find a job but hasn’t yet. The boy goes to school most of the time and comes home to clutter and confusion.  
Both moms have mental health problems and backgrounds of abuse and/or addiction. 

There are many such situations on Cape Cod right now: Moms who have no money, no job, no secure housing, with abuse, addiction and perhaps mental illness in their lives.

What future do their kids have? Many of these women are in shelters which, in some ways, is a good thing. Shelters at least provide a calming environment, socialization, and people to lean on for advice.

But shelters are not a permanent home and they are not funded to do the job they need to do.

Most of us have gotten to where we are in life with few of the handicaps listed above and many years of mostly full time parenting and schooling. How can we expect people to be healthy, competent parents and be financially self-sufficient without those? How can we expect shelters to make a difference without adequate funding to provide a comprehensive life skills education program? Here at HAC, we used to do such a program, but funding cuts over the years have reduced what we can accomplish. Some shelter clients are given activities and chores but these are not enough.

And, what about the kids and their futures?

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, HACbeat, Family Shelter, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey

A New Playspace for Cataumet, Thanks to Horizons

Posted by Julie Wake on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 @ 10:38 AM
Every four years, Horizons for Homeless Children “reinstalls” one of the children’s playspaces in the family shelters at Housing Assistance Corporation. So, this fall, Horizons staffers worked on the playspace at the Village at Cataumet, the family shelter in Cataumet.
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The Horizons for Homeless Children playspace program was begun in 1990 and is based on the belief that play is essential for child development. The program ensures that each child living in a homeless shelter in Massachusetts has the opportunity for developmentally appropriate play.

The new play area was dedicated to the donors who made the reinstall possible. The plaque acknowledged donors Fotene and Tom Cote and their friend Suzy. All three donors, who are from the Boston area, attended the event at the Village of Cataumet.

As children ran into the play area to check out all the new toys and games, parents watched and smiled. Krista and Michael watched their son Matthew, 4, play while they held their son Noah, 1. Krista said Matthew particularly loves finger-painting.

Sandy Burke of Gray Gables in Bourne, a volunteer Playspace Activity Leader (PAL) , said, “I like seeing how the kids improve by getting some individual attention and some socialization skills.”  

Tags: HACbeat, housing assistance corporation, Village at Cataumet, Horizons for Homeless Children

Seven-Year Old Truro Boy Gives Birthday Presents to Homeless Children

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 @ 01:00 PM
Ryder Mamo, 7, of Truro stopped by the offices of Housing Assistance Corporation on West Main Street in Hyannis the other day accompanied by his mother and a bag full of toys.

They were toys Ryder received on his birthday that he decided to donate to homeless children.

truro001 for hacbeat resized 600Ryder, who is in second grade at Truro Central School, got the idea from the movie, “The Red Wagon,” which he watched with his family two days before his birthday. The movie is about a young boy who starts a nonprofit to help needy children after a storm leaves local families homeless. After seeing the movie, Ryder decided to include on his birthday party invitations that presents would be donated to homeless children so people should bring unwrapped presents for boys and girls.

Ryder’s mother, Amy Kandall, said she had asked her son what he wanted for his birthday and he said, “I don’t need anything” and he suggested, “Why not give the gifts to someone else less fortunate?”

“We both realized it would be really good to do some community service,” Amy said.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, housing assistance corporation

Starting Young With Literacy

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 @ 10:21 AM

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Jodi, 30, is a reader. She is also a homeless single mother. So when the Cotuit Library recently invited Jodi and other homeless mothers to a special family literacy program, she decided to take full advantage of it. “I think it is amazing,” Jodi said.
Jodi’s son, Max, who is almost nine months old, sported a wide smile during the sing-a-longs and paid close attention during a recent reading session at the library.
Jodi and Max live at Angel House, a homeless shelter located in a former apartment complex in Hyannis.
Angel House, one of four shelters operated by Housing Assistance Corporation of Hyannis, is for families in which the parent is recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.
The “Increasing Digital and Family Literacy” program for the families living at Angel House began at Cotuit Library this fall and includes songs and stories for the children plus information for the mothers about the importance of reading to children. The library pairs the family literacy program with a digital literacy program for the mothers about online etiquette and safety.
But it was the family literacy program that was on full display recently at the library as the mothers and their young children sang songs, danced and then settled down to read books together.

Since starting the program, Jodi said she has incorporated reading to Max’s bedtime routine. “Bath, book, breast-feed and bed,” Jodi said. “The four b’s.”
During a recent session, she took out four books for Max. The library allows the mothers from Angel House to take out as many books as they want for the standard two week periods.
On a recent weekday morning, Jodi and six other mothers who from Angel House were participating in the reading program led by Cotuit Library Youth Services Director Lenora Levine.
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Levine, who has been at the Cotuit Library for just two years but has worked in libraries for 30 years, said the business of libraries is changing.

“It’s not just a building. We’re a service,” she said. Modern libraries are looking for ways to reach out to the community. Besides the program with the Angel House mothers, the library also has outreach programs at a local preschool and is considering starting a program at the hospital.
“It’s getting to kids when they are little. Starting them off on the right foot,” Levine said about encouraging the Angel House mothers to read to their children. “I think we’re reaching an audience that might not make use of the library.”
Cotuit Library Director Jenny Wiley said she got the idea of approaching Angel House from her wife, who is coordinator of the human services program at Cape Cod Community College. “I was looking for a way for us to do outreach in the community. This is probably the easiest collaboration I’ve ever had,” Wiley said,
When Wiley called Angel House to propose the program to staff there, the response was an immediate and enthusiastic “yes.”
In addition to the program on book literacy, the program with Angel House includes classes on digital literacy.
Wiley said teaching digital literacy has become a common role for modern libraries. In fact, she said when she was going through her master’s degree program in library sciences, about 60 percent of the program focused on digital information.

For the Angel House clients, the program focuses on online etiquette, privacy and safety, including how to find accurate information online. “In the last few years, it has become increasingly important,” Wiley said.
In the first class on online literacy for the Angel House clients, Wiley taught them how to change their privacy settings on Facebook. “They didn’t know about it,” she said. There was also discussion about what information they should and should not post on Facebook.
Between the program on family literacy and the classes on digital literacy, Angel House staff said the Cotuit Library partnership has benefited their clients. “It’s been wonderful,” Angel House Family Therapist Marty Woods said.

This article and these photos are reprinted by permission from Cape Cod Wave (www.capecodwave.com).

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Angel House, Cotuit Library

HAC Employee Runs Falmouth Road Race for NOAH Shelter

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:46 AM

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When I started working at Housing Assistance Corporation and the NOAH Shelter in 2011, I had no idea how many lives I would see changed for the better because of the work of the NOAH Shelter and the team of dedicated folks who work here.

Every single day, 365 days a year, NOAH makes a difference in at least one person's  life­ whether it means providing someone  with a meal that they have gone without for many days; giving someone a warm, dry place to sleep; helping  with health care needs; working with someone to secure a job; or helping someone find a place to live- NOAH changes lives.

That is why my run in this year's Falmouth Road Race on August 11 will be dedicated to the NOAH Shelter.  Proceeds from my run will help support not only the food and materials needed to provide for homeless folks in crisis, but will also help us continue to operate some of our most critical programs- work search and housing assistance.   All of the people who use the NOAH Shelter are encouraged to use our employment search and housing search programs. Last year we helped 68 people find jobs and 167 people move out of the shelter and into housing!

I hope that you will choose to sponsor me either by sending a check made payable to the NOAH Shelter or donate on-line.  All donations are tax deductible, and your generosity will play a role in NOAH's efforts to combat homelessness in our community.

Thank you so much for your support and I will think of you proudly as I pound the pavement!

connie signature

Tags: housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH, Falmouth Road Race