Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Julie Wake

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Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Work Happy

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 @ 04:00 PM
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With my son Paul preparing to begin college in August, there has been much discussion with him and with his friends’ parents about majors in college and careers following. The advice most parents give is that whatever our kids do, they should do something that they enjoy. One of the parents is a retired police officer. She said that she loved her job and would have continued doing it until she was 80 if she had been allowed to. My father gave me the same advice and I have always been under the impression that he never liked what he did.

That advice is akin to no advice, in part. If he had said that he wanted me to take over his business, that would have been easier to understand. If I had been expected to be a teacher or a lawyer or a doctor, as many kids are, that would have been clear too. But do what you like? I think at that age I mostly liked girls and cars. If the high school student interviews in the Cape Cod Times are any indication, many kids want to be professional athletes. Good luck to them.

I chose my major in college, journalism, because it was something I had been told I was good at, not because I wanted to make it a career. I had no idea about what I wanted to do because I had no clear idea about who I was. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school working on getting my MBA that I realized that I didn’t want to spend my life doing what most of the other students intended to do: make lots of money working for a large company with no particular concern for what the company did. That was the turning point for me where I started heading in the direction of doing what I loved, which is what I am doing here at HAC.

I think people who work here and know me well would say that I am a good manager in some ways and a bad one in others, but that I am very mission-driven and care 100% of the time about our clients. I too would like to work until I am 80, but I won’t. The thrill for me is helping individual people, starting new projects and dealing with people I love here at HAC.  I have a couple of significant new projects I am working on right now and a couple of individuals I am spending time trying to help.

I hope my son is as happy working as I am.  

Tags: Rick Presbrey

Foreclosure-Prevention Client Thanks HAC

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

A fire in Boston almost caused Scott Fitzmaurice to lose his home on Cape Cod, but with help from HAC, Scott’s housing is secure.
Scott bought his home, a waterfront property in the woods, in Pocasset in 2005. “I was able to bring in roommates and offer them a reasonable rent and create a true sense of community,” he said.

But the next year, a fire damaged an investment property he owned in Boston. “The actuaries didn’t provide proper compensation, and it devastated me financially.”

For several years Scott struggled, eventually repairing and selling the Boston home, but he fell way behind with other bills.

“I was doing everything I could to get by,” he said. “I applied for mortgage modifications and was turned down, even though I was eligible.”

Scott called the office of U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, and a staff member urged him to contact HAC. Scott met with Joan Maney, one of HAC’s foreclosure-prevention counselors.

“What was extraordinary was how simply she was able to explain things,” Scott said. “Her language was very specific and careful. Within three months, I was approved for a modification and I have been on time with my payments ever since.

“The process of being at risk of foreclosure is exhausting. People might feel discouraged, but the HAC staff can help you save your house. HAC can make it happen.”

In 2008, HAC started a Foreclosure Education and Prevention Center, where our experienced staff members respond to the need for counseling services that can help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. HAC has helped over 3,000 households with foreclosure counseling.

HAC is the only HUD-approved housing counseling agency serving Cape Cod and the Islands. This is a free service through HAC. To set up an appointment with a counselor, contact Brenda Rocklage at 508-771-5400, ext. 285, or brocklage@HAConCapeCod.org.


HAC Upcoming Events

Posted by Julie Wake on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
MAY 1: Volunteer Coffee Hour
10 a.m. in Falmouth (please call or check website for location).  This monthly event is a brief overview of what HAC does, who we serve and what volunteer opportunities are available. Feel free to show up or RSVP with Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@HAConCapeCod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279 or online at www.HAConCapeCod.org

JULY 15-21: 21st Annual Housing With Love Walk
HAC and other Cape housing agencies join for a walk from Provincetown to Falmouth. For info, email Deanna Bussiere (dbussiere@HAConCapeCod.org) or Margaret Benaka (mbenaka@HAConCapeCod.org).

SEPT. 28: Mashpee Big Fix

Volunteers will perform small home repairs, cleaning and landscaping work at the homes of seniors, veterans and the disabled. Visit the “News & Events” section of HAC’s web site to sign up as a volunteer, or contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at
508-771-5400, ext. 279, or volunteer@HAConCapeCod.org.

DEC. 11: 10th annual NOAH Telethon
4-9 p.m. on cable-access channels 13 and 99 from Bourne to Provincetown. For more information, contact Sarah Tribuzio at 508-771-5400, ext. 271, or

Tags: Housing with love walk, NOAH Telethon, HAC Volunteer Coffee Hour, HAC Events, Big Fix

Student Was Shaped By Family’s Hardships

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

Cornell student Steven Bramwell understands the challenges faced by the homeless clients HAC serves. Steven, who spent a week at HAC as part of the Alternative Spring Break team, and his family were homeless while he was in high school.
“My father has a chronic illness, and eventually we lost our home in Ohio,” Steven said. After a series of foreclosure notices and extensions, one day there was an eviction notice. With the help of some church members, Steven’s family put their possessions into storage and moved into temporary housing, including hotels.

The toughest part was “the constant stress of not knowing where we’d be the next month,” Steven said. “That was buffered because of my faith.”

Steven, who hopes to one day earn a Ph.D. in English, said, “It shapes my life to know that I have overcome this. I see the bright side of life so well.”

About HAC's Foreclosure Prevention:

In 2008, HAC started a Foreclosure Education and Prevention Center, where our experienced staff members respond to the increased need for counseling services that can help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. As of today, HAC has helped over 3,000 households with foreclosure counseling.

HAC is the only HUD-approved housing counseling agency serving Cape Cod and the Islands. This is a free service through HAC. Beware of foreclosure rescue offers that charge you money! You qualify if your primary residence is on Cape Cod or the Islands. There are no income or mortgage limits.

Read more: http://www.haconcapecod.org/programs-and-services/foreclosure-prevention/

Tags: Cornell, Project Prevention, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, Foreclosure, Cape Cod Caring Cards

Don’t Miss the Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
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There’s still time to register for Housing Assistance Corporation’s 38th annual meeting and volunteer recognition dinner, to be held 5-7 p.m. April 25 at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, 1225 Route 132, Hyannis.

The Rev. John Terry of the Federated Church of Hyannis will be presented with the Presbrey Public Service Award in recognition of his service to those in need on Cape Cod.

Other honorees include the Cape Cod Community Media Center (the Business Partner Award) and the Barnstable Police Department (the Human Services Partner Award). Scott Barron and Bob Zibbell, longtime drivers at the Village at Cataumet, are this year’s Volunteers of the Year.

This year’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition is sponsored by Shepley Wood Products (shepleywood.com), a Hyannis-based company that received HAC’s Business Partner Award in 2012.

Dinner will be served and a cash bar will be available. RSVP by April 22 by visiting www.HAConCapeCod.org.

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, Volunteer Cape Cod, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, HAC Volunteers, Shepley

Cornell Students Give Project Prevention a Boost

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

Six students from Cornell spent their spring break with HAC. By the end of the week, they’d helped save someone from homelessness.
Cape Associates
After getting an introduction to HAC, the students learned about Project Prevention, a program that provides temporary financial assistance to families and individuals at risk of homelessness. The program is largely funded by the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council to Prevent Homelessness and the Barnstable Interfaith Council. DYECH and BIC raise money by buying grocery gift certificates, getting a 5 percent discount, and selling them at face value. The “profit” is then donated to Project Prevention.

The students’ goal for the week was to develop a presentation that will improve outreach efforts to sell the grocery gift cards. After meeting representatives from DYECH and BIC, and hearing from several clients, the students started by creating a survey. They were seeking to find out how much staff members at HAC, Emerald Physicians and Cape Associates know about the gift card program and what barriers might prevent them from participating in it.

The students came up with the name Cape Cod Caring Cards and a tagline: “Help your neighbors keep their homes, every time you shop.” They created a spoken presentation with visuals, including a logo.

After getting feedback from a test run with HAC staffers, the students delivered the presentation to members of the Emerald Physicians management team. At the end of the presentation, Dr. Cormac Coyle, Emerald’s medical director, said, “We’re in the prevention business, too. Without housing and health, you’re not in good shape.”

Dr. Coyle agreed to buy $10,000 worth of Cape Cod Caring Cards, for re-sale to his staff members. That will result in $500 raised for Project Prevention, which is enough to save someone from homelessness.

On the way back from a presentation at Cape Associates in Eastham, HAC CEO Rick Presbrey took the students to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and showed them several of HAC’s affordable housing developments. The students also prepared dinner for and spent an evening with children and mothers staying at Carriage House, one of HAC’s family shelters.

This is the 9th year a team has come from the school as part of the Cornell Public Service Center’s Alternative Break Program.

“I wanted to do something more worthwhile than just sitting at home over spring break,” one student wrote in an evaluation form. “Although the overall process may have been tiring, the end product was really exciting,” wrote another.

This year’s group was team leader Abigail Bell (who is majoring in natural resources) of Nyack, N.Y.; Steven Bramwell (English) of Cleveland; Christine Chow (biological sciences) of San Jose, Calif.; Sagar Galani (hotel administration) of Mumbai, India; Huidong He (economics and math) of Beijing, China; and Derrick Yee (computer science) of Cupertino, Calif. The students were joined by driver Dino Tsipouroglou of Ithaca, N.Y., who hopes to replicate the Caring Cards program in Ithaca to help people at risk of homelessness in that city.

The Cornell students and the HAC staff would like to thank Steve Sozanski of DYECH and Kathy Sandell of BIC for their help with the project.  We’d also like to thank Emerald Physicians and Cape Associates for being part of our first phase of focus groups. 

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Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Cornell, Food Certs, Cape Cod Caring Cards

Birthday Wishes Come True for Shelter Children

Posted by Julie Wake on Sat, Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:06 PM

Doesn’t every child deserve to be celebrated on their birthday?
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That’s the question on the front of the brochure for Birthday Wishes, a Newton Centre-based group that provides birthday parties for homeless children in six states. Volunteers bring birthday joy to children in 175 shelters, including HAC’s three family shelters. The children play games and do crafts projects (making paper hula skirts, building teddy bears from a kit, decorating Christmas cookies). The birthday child opens gifts donated by the group.

Birthday Wishes volunteers have been organizing parties at HAC shelters for about five years. The parties help bring normalcy and hope to the shelters. Last month Dawn Boulay, the Birthday Wishes volunteer coordinator for Angel House, and volunteer Nicole Myberg coordinated a party for Serenity, who was turning 1.

“She was very excited when everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday,’” said Shana, Serenity’s mom. “She liked all the attention.”

Myberg, who learned about Birthday Wishes through an article in Boston Parenting magazine, said, “It’s fun interacting with the kids. It’s nice to be able to help out.”

Maura Dankert of Bourne is the Birthday Wishes party coordinator at the Village at Cataumet, a HAC shelter for families. She recently organized an Easter egg hunt for a dozen children there.

A mother of four, Dankert got involved with Birthday Wishes through a friend who is the party coordinator at a shelter in Kingston. “I brought my daughter to help at one of their events and I was hooked,” she said. “I grew to love the families, so it’s bittersweet when they leave the shelter. I’m happy for them, but I miss them.”

Laura Kiernan, a case manager at Cataumet, said, “The children get excited when they know the Birthday Wishes volunteers are coming. All day they’re asking, ‘When does it start?’ It makes a big difference in their lives.”

Rob is a Cataumet client who was at the Easter party with his sons, one 3 years old and the other 5 months old. “I think it’s a great thing that they do this for the kids. With the situation everyone’s in, it makes us feel normal.”

To learn more about Birthday Wishes, visit www.birthdaywishes.org.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, housing assistance corporation, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House, Birthday Wishes

Energy Staff, Contractors Sharpen Their Skills

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Jim Peck of HAC’s Energy and Home Repairs Department and Kevin Shea of Emerson-Swan (a company that makes heating and HVAC equipment) led a training session for HAC energy staffers and contractors last month. About 30 people attended the session, which included basic training on heat-load calculation and a demonstration of hand-held combustion analyzers.
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HAC’s state-certified auditors conduct free energy assessments that help people understand and reduce their energy use. HAC conducts the energy assessments for low-income homeowners and tenants and serves as a Home Performance Contractor to oversee assessments for other homeowners.

HAC performs the assessments and offers incentives on behalf of Cape Light Compact. To sign up, visit HAC’s web site or call Cape Light Compact at 1-800-797-6699.
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In a recent year, HAC’s energy team:
•conducted energy audits on 357 homes to reduce electrical use,
•installed money and energy saving weatherization measures in nearly 325 single family homes,
•weatherized 75 rental units,
•repaired or replaced 649 heating systems, and
•replaced 187 wasteful old refrigerators with Energy Star models

To learn more about HAC’s Energy and Home Repairs Program, call 508-771-5400, ext. 123.

Tags: Energy Assessments, housing assistance corporation, saving energy, Energy Audit

Upcoming HAC Workshops

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

All classes are held in Conference Room A at Housing Assistance Corporation, 460 West Main St., Hyannis.

Rebuilding Your Credit – $17, includes tri-merged credit report. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 1.

Creating a Budget – Free. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 8.
Community Resources – Learn how to live more economically. Free. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 22.

Homebuyer Education – For first-time homebuyers. $75. Four sessions, meets 6-9 p.m. May 7, 14, 21 and 28.

Home Forever – Money-saving advice for homeowners. $25. Three sessions, meets 6-9 p.m. June 11, 13 and 18.

For information on all courses, contact Cheryl Kramer at 508-771-5400, ext. 287, or ckramer@HAConCapeCod.org. For a schedule of 2013 courses and links to workshop applications, visit www.HAConCapeCod.org/workshops.htm.

Tags: HCEC, Homebuyer Education, Creating a budget, Rebuilding your credit

Building Connections With the College

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 @ 09:00 AM
From the Family Self-Sufficiency Program to a culinary arts-training program for NOAH clients, HAC has a long history of working with Cape Cod Community College. Until her retirement last year, Dr. Kathleen Schatzberg took time away from her duties as college president to make phone calls during the NOAH Telethon.
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Dr. John Cox, the new president of Cape Cod Community College, visited HAC’s main office in February to meet with HAC CEO Rick Presbrey and several other HAC management team members. Cox (at right, in photo) was enthusiastic about continuing the partnership and finding new ways for the college to help HAC clients build their employment skills.

Tags: Family Self Sufficientcy, Dr. John Cox, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey