|Volunteer Ron Winner (left) hands HAC's Mary LeClair some freshly cooked cheeseburgers at the Angel House picnic.|
During the last week of August, the mothers and children staying at Angel House were treated to an end-of-the-summer barbecue complete with hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, beans and watermelon.
The food, and donations of lunchboxes and gift certificates to Beyond Beauty in Hyannis, served as a capstone to the positive steps that three Angel House mothers were taking towards attaining self-sufficiency. Two had just been offered jobs and another was preparing to make the leap from shelter to a home of her own on Cape Cod.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Jennifer Plasse, who arrived at Angel House in January on the same day as director Lin Rohr and was set to move into an affordable apartment in Falmouth at the beginning of September. “I’m anxious. I’m nervous. I’m happy. I’ve been here eight months so it is time.”
Her story is not unlike the others at the shelter which provides housing and treatment for mothers battling substance abuse and overcoming homelessness. For her it meant hitting rock bottom before Angel House was there to lift her up.
“I gave up my career. I gave up my car, my home, my family and my friends,” she said. She attributed that to her drug use which included marijuana, cocaine and heroin. What forced her to seek help was the birth of her son, Joseph, who turned one in September.
Looking back, Plasse said she never thought redemption would be possible. “I didn’t know if I had what it takes to do this,” she said. “But everyone here has been amazing, even on our bad days.”
This was admittedly a good day, organized by volunteer Ron Winner who was assisted by HAC staffers Margaret Benaka, Deanna Bussiere and Mary LeClair along with HAC board member Jack Delaney and volunteer Marianne Sullivan of Sullivan & Sullivan Auctioneers in Sandwich. It was the second straight year that Winner has put together a cookout for Angel House clients.
“I just want to say how proud I am of what you all are doing,” Winner told the mothers. “I know how hard you are working and where you have been. My own brother was where you were 13 years ago.”
This type of support from the community, Rohr said, shows the mothers at Angel House that people do care. “I think this generosity of spirit from the community is humbling,” she said. “This really empowers them.”
|A sampling of the lunchboxes that Marianne Sullivan donated to children staying at HAC's Angel House shelter.|
Sullivan, who donated an assortment of Star Wars, Sesame Street and princess-themed lunchboxes for the children, was more than happy to do her part, expressing pride in the achievements being made by those Angel House serves. “It is so rewarding for people to take these steps,” she said.
Often those steps are the most difficult that Angel House clients have ever had to take in their lives. “I was ashamed of myself that I had let it get that far,” one mother said of her addiction. “It took over my life. It was all I cared about.”
After being at the shelter for nine months she has experienced a profound change. “This has given me the confidence to be a part of the community,” she said.