Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Blanketing HAC Clients with Love

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 02:03 PM


A Great Yarn owner Mary Weishaar (from left) with three of the participants in this year's Knit-A-Thon, Jean Williams, Judy Maynard, and Susan Bartels. 

A hand-knit blanket represents warmth, comfort, and love, something hundreds of HAC clients have received since 2016 thanks to the generosity of Ron and Mary Weishaar and their customers.

That was the first year that the couple, who own A Great Yarn in Chatham, and the store’s customers came together to knit 29 blankets for those in HAC’s shelters. In addition to the blankets, $1,500 was raised to support the agency’s housing programs.

Last year, those numbers jumped to 155 hand-made blankets and $6,000 in donations. This year, 192 blankets were made and nearly $5,000 was raised as part of what has become an annual tradition that takes place every February, March, and April.

The knit-a-thon concluded last month with a “yarn bomb” in which all interior and exterior surfaces of A Great Yarn were covered in the finished blankets before being delivered to HAC to go to clients in the agency’s family shelters.

Interest in the annual drive has grown to the point that nearly 300 people representing seven states throughout the country now participate in it. “We probably have 50 to 60 new people who this is their first year involved in it,” Ron said.

Each person knits individual panels – essentially the size of a long scarf – that volunteers sew together to make blankets for HAC clients who need them the most.

“We have a number of people who come in and tell us how much this has meant to them,” Ron said. “It is just remarkable… They feel, ‘I’ve got this talent and here’s a way of, instead of making another sweater for my granddaughter, I can help somebody who doesn’t have a home.’”

Tags: Family Shelter, homelessness, homeless shelters, A Great Yarn, charitable giving, knit-a-thon, Mary Weishaar, Ron Weishaar, Chatham, blankets, knitting

Chatham Store Knits Blankets for HAC's Shelter Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
Great Yarn-2.jpgA Great Yarn owner Mary Weishaar (from left), store employee Antonia DaSilva, knitter Jean Williams, WCVB cameraman Isaiah Bradwell, WCVB reporter Erika Tarantal, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi, and knitter Barbara Gibson at last month's WCVB taping in Chatham. 

A handmade blanket symbolizes warmth, care and compassion. And this month, A Great Yarn delivered more than 150 such blankets to HAC that will provide just that to our families in shelter.

The donations were tied to a community knit-a-thon organized by the Chatham yarn shop and bookstore and its owners Ron and Mary Weishaar. This is now the second year the Weishaars have mobilized their customers who have knit individual panels that have been turned into blankets for those most in need in the community. Last year, the grassroots effort resulted in 29 blankets and $1,500 donated to HAC.

This year, the store far exceeded those numbers, partially the result of the story being publicized in the Cape Cod Times and the Cape Cod Chronicle. Last month, it found its way onto WCVB Channel 5’s “Five For Good” segment which highlighted what the project meant to the knitters. “It’s just a gift from the community to folks that need help,” Mary told WCVB reporter Erika Tarantal.

“I think this speaks to the good of human beings,” HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi said, during the taping in Chatham. “To think that the people were at home, by themselves, knitting and thinking of our clients is so heartwarming and impressive.”

This year’s effort began in February with roughly 400 knitters – some were experts, others were novices – participating. “I just love doing it because it’s for such a good cause, and it’s relaxing and fun,” said knitter Barbara Gibson of Chatham.

With Cape Cod experiencing the “perfect storm of high real estate prices and low wages,” Galazzi said, this type of gesture – putting one’s talents into making a necessary household item like a blanket – can have great meaning to the recipients who are struggling to move forward with their lives.

“We have people who come to us with nothing. They walk in with literally the clothes they are wearing. And then we have people, their car is full, and they’re homeless and living out of their car,” Galazzi said. “To have a special handmade blanket for these people, whether they have some stuff or have nothing, it’s just the idea of the community coming together, supporting them and helping them.” 

Tags: Family Shelter, donations, A Great Yarn, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, WCVB, knit-a-thon, Mary Weishaar, Ron Weishaar

Donation Provides Warmth for Cape's Homeless

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Sep 07, 2016 @ 01:31 PM
Yarn_Photo_Edited.jpgMary (left) and Ron Weishaar of A Great Yarn hold up one the donated blankets with HAC’s Deanna Bussiere. 

A spool of yarn doesn’t become a blanket, scarf or hat without a little time, care and devotion. Earlier this year, nearly 100 Lower Cape residents provided just that as part of a project aimed at supporting the region’s homeless population.

“A lot of love and a lot of creativity went into these,” said Ron Weishaar in May, when he and his wife Mary, dropped off 29 homemade blankets as well as several hats and scarves that went to those in HAC’s homeless shelters.

The Weishaars, owners of A Great Yarn in Chatham, allowed their customers to use their store space and unused yarn at the beginning of the year, to create the crafts as part of a community-wide knit-a-thon. In addition, they helped collect $1,500 that went to assist HAC in helping those most in need.

Support for the project came from those near and far, including second homeowners in California and Florida, who shipped panels, or individuals sections of the blankets, via mail. “This is one of the panels from California,” Mary said, holding up a finished blanket. “The reason I know that is this was a very dreary day when I opened this up and it just spoke sunshine.”

The Chatham store’s customers were more than eager to add a little brightness to the lives of Cape Cod’s homeless men and women. “They knew these people needed help,” said Mary. “And they were glad it was going to people on the Cape.”

The Weishaars said their only goal was to “whip up a lot of enthusiasm” and it was their customers who did the rest of the work in creating the pieces.

“You definitely succeeded,” HAC’s event and resource development coordinator Deanna Bussiere told the Weishaars. “This is amazing.”

After dropping off the donations, the Weishaars had a chance to visit the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, to see who some of their gifts would benefit. “I know our clients will definitely appreciate this,” Bussiere assured them.

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Tags: homelessness, Philanthropy, donations, A Great Yarn