Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Welcomes Jodi Keegan to the Agency

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 25, 2017 @ 09:19 AM

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In the few weeks that Jodi Keegan has been at HAC, she has quickly discovered that the agency’s work is all about serving the clients. “When I first started here, it was really emotional listening to some of the client experiences,” she said, relaying an instance in which the expense of paying for new brakes on a car nearly led one single mother to homelessness. “HAC was able to step in and help. Hearing that really touches at my heartstrings and that’s just a small part of what we do.”

Since the beginning of April, Keegan has played a role in HAC’s efforts as its new executive coordinator. In that capacity, she is assisting CEO Alisa Galazzi and supporting the senior management team.

A native Cape Codder, Keegan lives in Falmouth with her husband Patrick, a goldsmith at Keegan’s Jewelers. The couple have four children, Joscelyn, Danielle, Garrett and Jaimie.

She comes to HAC from Gosnold, having spent the past nine years as its development coordinator. Prior to that, she enjoyed a 15-year career in the banking industry. These experiences provided Keegan with a knowledge of the best practices in healthcare and customer service that is now influencing her work at HAC.

She expressed excitement for her latest career challenge. “I am filled with pride knowing the number of people that we’ve been able to help,” she said. “I love being here. I love the work that we do. I enjoy interacting with our clients. And I am passionate about Alisa’s vision for HAC’s future and honored to play a part in that vision.”

As a member of the Wampanoag Tribe, HAC’s mission closely aligns with Keegan’s passion for community. “I feel a strong connection to Mother Earth and I find great fulfillment in helping others,” she said.

Tags: Alisa Galazzi, HAC staff, Jodi Keegan

Editorial: Working with our Legislators to Tackle the Cape's Housing Challenges

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Julian-3.jpgState Senator Julian Cyr (second from left) with HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (from left), Director of Leased Housing Cindi Maule, Director of Family and Individual Services Cassi Danzl and Chief Operating Officer Walter Phinney. 

I have been spending my first few months as CEO of HAC getting to know the leaders in our community. It has been particularly gratifying to meet members of our legislative delegation and to learn of their passion to help all the residents of our region.

When State Senator Julian Cyr stopped by HAC’s offices recently, he said housing has been one of the main issues at the forefront of his constituents’ minds.

During his visit, Senator Cyr told us, “Housing and access to housing that is affordable is a top issue for us on Cape Cod, on Martha’s Vineyard and on Nantucket. Our real estate market is so aggressive here that most anyone who is a middle-income wage earner, including working families, is struggling to make it here… We really need to have housing that meets our needs.”

Meeting the needs of those in the region when it comes to affordable housing has always been a major focus for HAC and it will continue to be so in the coming years.

I was pleased to learn that even prior to becoming a State Senator in November, Senator Cyr said, he has long admired HAC’s work on the Cape and Islands. “HAC is just one of those organizations that is a real pillar of the community. HAC has been doing work for generations to make sure our most vulnerable have housing.”

After taking a tour of HAC’s offices and meeting the staff on the front lines of delivering housing services for HAC, the Senator gave his impressions of the meeting. “I was just really impressed with the scale and scope of how HAC helps people realize housing on Cape Cod and the Islands, from the most vulnerable people who are homeless living in the streets to helping people improve the energy efficiency of their homes. I have a renewed appreciation for how much HAC does.”

We’re looking forward to partnering with Senator Cyr and the rest of the Cape and Islands delegation on strategic regional issues, and having our voice and mission loudly and clearly represented at the State House.

It is through these partnerships between HAC, our legislators and other leaders in the community, that we can add more resources for our clients and do more to help them succeed.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, State budget, Alisa Galazzi, Julian Cyr

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

HAC Stresses Need for State Funding of Vital Programs

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 @ 01:26 PM
RHN Edited Photo.jpgHAC's Cassi Danzl (from left), Liz Belcher, CEO Alisa Galazzi and Laura Reckford with State Representative Will Crocker. 

HAC’s leadership visited the State House last month, pushing for funding of programs that help those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The HAC contingent was there as part of the annual Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts’ legislative briefing, a day that gives member agencies of the housing network an opportunity to meet with their legislative delegation to discuss the needs and priorities of those they serve.

HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi was joined by her colleagues Cassi Danzl, Liz Belcher, Laura Reckford and Noah Hoffenberg, in driving up to Boston, where they were able to meet with State Representatives Will Crocker (R-Centerville) and Dylan Fernandes (D-Woods Hole) as well as State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) in offering their insights into the housing needs of those on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The group urged continued support of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and HomeBASE programs, which provide assistance to those experiencing a housing crisis. Last year, HAC was able to serve 279 families and 134 individuals who were in crisis and in danger of becoming homeless.

HAC staffers also placed an emphasis on funding Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC). HAC is one of nine HCECs throughout Massachusetts that conducts intake, housing search, foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling, and financial literacy workshops for low- and middle-income residents in the region. In 2016, HAC’s HCEC served more than 3,700 people.

Last month’s meetings took place as the state House and Senate begin deliberations over Governor Charles D. Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Tags: HCEC, HomeBASE, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, housing consumer education, Alisa Galazzi, RAFT, Residential Assistance For Families in Transition

Annual Meeting Celebrates Rick Presbrey's Legacy

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 04:15 PM
2017 Annual Meeting-44-1.jpgHAC founder Rick Presbrey with new HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi. During her speech at HAC's Annual Meeting, Galazzi acknowledged Presbrey's efforts, saying, "None of us would be here if it weren't for you." 

Housing is the foundation upon which all of our endeavors stem from. “Home is where we make our dreams come true,” new HAC Board Chair Mark Forest said. “Home is where we launch our lives. And it is the mission of HAC.”

That mission and the man behind it – HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who retired at the end of January – were celebrated at the agency’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition held last month at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Forest, who succeeds outgoing Chair David Augustinho, was one of several to recognize Presbrey’s contributions at HAC’s Annual Meeting. He relayed one story from the early 1980s when a group of people approached Presbrey wanting to create a nonprofit that eventually became the Community Development Partnership in Eastham.

“Rick’s response was, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’” Forest said. “If you went to Rick over the years that is what he would say, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’ For every one of his [accomplishments] we touch or reflect on tonight, there are dozens of others that people don’t even know about.”

New HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about the importance of her predecessor’s work as it relates to the agency’s services. “We all know that housing is where everything starts,” she said. “Nothing can be accomplished without having a safe, affordable house.”

Presbrey, who started HAC in 1974, said his was a career that was focused on helping people. “We never said no to a need ever,” he said. “We helped as many people as we could. The number now is over 160,000 people. Every one of those that we helped is incredibly important.”

Annual Meeting-10.jpgIn his speech, HAC founder Rick Presbrey (center) acknowledged longtime HAC staffers Michael Sweeney and Nancy Davison who both retired in the past year. 

That work continues under Galazzi’s leadership and guidance. During the night, she called on the community’s support, stressing that “it is going to take all of us” to address Cape Cod’s housing issues.

Among those heeding that call are businesses and organizations like the Cape and Islands United Way, Emerald Physicians and Cape Save which were all honored at HAC’s Annual Meeting.

“The incredible amount of work that goes on through the employees of HAC and its programs is an essential prescription for the health of our community,” said Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, who accepted this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Emerald Physicians.

Barbara Milligan, president of the United Way which was the recipient of the Human Services Partner Award, eagerly accepted Galazzi’s challenge. “Let’s get this problem solved,” she said. “Let’s work on it together.”

HAC also honored Michael Princi, who has served as the agency’s lawyer for 40 years and organized a holiday gift basket party for children in shelter for the past 25 years, as well as longtime board member Edgar Mangiafico, who was the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award.

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Cape Save was the recipient of the Business Partner of the Year Award. The Yarmouth-based company insulates low-income homes for HAC's Energy and Repair Department. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, HAC Energy, Michael Princi, Rick Presbrey, HAC Volunteers, Alisa Galazzi, Ed Mangiafico, Cape and Islands United Way, Cape Save, Emerald Physicians

Editorial: Optimism for our Future

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Mar 09, 2017 @ 04:05 PM

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It has been a whirlwind—in the best way. I have spent the past two months getting to know the staff and dozens of programs at HAC. Each day, I have been amazed at the range of services that this agency accomplishes, the programs that lift people up and build community here on Cape Cod.

Rick Presbrey has built HAC into one of the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit social service agencies on Cape Cod. I am honored to have been chosen to take the reins of the agency and continue the good works that HAC is known for throughout the region.

HAC not only runs four family shelter programs—housing 174 families last year alone—but also runs the largest rental assistance program in the region, with over 1,100 households. Our homeless prevention program ensured 198 families did not become homeless last year. Our Energy and Repair department continues to help families save money by making homes more energy efficient. Our Housing Consumer Education classes and counseling supported everyone from seniors whose homes were at risk of foreclosure to young couples looking to purchase their first home.

I am looking forward to getting to know you, HAC’s supporters. Your support makes these programs possible and your input is important. As we assess HAC’s programs and their impact, I’d like to hear what you think.

There is a lot of work to be done and it is a challenge I welcome. Working with the HAC staff and with others throughout our community, I know we can make strides, together.

Tags: Family Shelter, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, HAC, homeless prevention, Alisa Galazzi

Annual Meeting Recognizes Those Making an Impact on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 12:07 PM
Rick Retirement-3.jpgThis year's Annual Meeting will be a celebration of Outgoing CEO Rick Presbrey's legacy. Presbrey, who founded the agency in 1974, is retiring this year. Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi, who started in January, is replacing him. 

HAC’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition in March will be a seminal one, representing a changing of the guard as we celebrate Outgoing CEO Rick Presbrey and welcome Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi. Presbrey is retiring after 43 years with the agency; in 1974 he founded HAC to oversee the state’s rental voucher program on Cape Cod.

The meeting, which will be held on Thursday, March 23, from 5 to 7:30 pm at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa, will also recognize individuals and organizations that are working to make a positive impact in the community.

The event is also a way to thank the more than 750 volunteers who support HAC in its mission of ensuring all on Cape Cod have access to safe, secure housing. One of those volunteer groups, Emerald Physicians, will be the recipient of HAC’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

The medical group has served as phone fundraisers, filling more than a dozen seats for a half hour at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon for the past eight years. “They have been so extraordinary every year,” said HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin, who noted that Emerald Physicians and HAC often serve the same clientele. “I feel so blessed we work together in helping those in need on Cape Cod.”

The Cape and Islands United Way has been chosen for HAC’s Human Services Partner Award. Since 2005, the nonprofit has provided HAC with more than $243,000 in funding that has gone to support the Angel House shelter in Hyannis, homelessness prevention for families and individuals and homeless efforts on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. “Providing housing stability and affordable housing for our residents is a priority for our organization,” said Barbara Milligan, the CEO of the Cape and Islands United Way. “We’re honored to have been able to partner with and support the outstanding work that HAC has done for many years.”

The Business Partner Award is going to Cape Save of South Yarmouth, which has been insulating low-income single-family and multi-family homes for HAC’s Energy and Repair Department for more than a decade. “They definitely deserve it,” said Al DiMuzio, interim director of the energy department. “They have a mindset much like HAC.”

Ed Mangiafico Photo.jpg
The final honoree is longtime HAC board member and former board chair Edgar Mangiafico (pictured above) of Chatham, who is the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award. 

HAC’s Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition
March 23 ~ 5 to 7:30 PM

Cape Codder Resort & Spa,
1225 Rte. 132 Hyannis

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Rick Presbrey, HAC Volunteers, Alisa Galazzi, Ed Mangiafico, Cape and Islands United Way, Cape Save, Emerald Physicians

Editorial: Many Ideas, Many Opportunities

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 @ 09:36 AM

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With the New Year comes a fresh start for HAC. Our Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi has begun work, starting a period of orientation before officially becoming the CEO.

With her arrival here in the office, there is lots of talk and laughter as she meets office staff. She will be on the road visiting our four family shelters and meeting staff and clients there, as well as meeting our many partners within the community through the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and even up in Boston.

It is an exciting time for the agency but, I have to admit, it is anxiety-producing for me. I have always loved what I do, but my time for exiting has come.

At HAC, our focus is helping people. That means that we work with others to get the job done, whether it is counseling a family to prevent foreclosure, bringing a homeless individual in for services, repairing a heating system in the home of a senior citizen, or sheltering a homeless family.

When someone approaches us asking for help, we try to always, say “Yes, we can help.” I know that this is not the way most of the world works, but for me, that’s how I like it. I know that the agency will be able to do even more good in the next 40 years and that it will remain a culture of sensitivity to the needs of others and our community.

I have found solace in the quote, “Decisions of the heart are always right.” I’m not sure who said it, but I have heard that it was Gandhi. Others try to make decisions through their intellect. I suspect the truth is that neither way is always the right way, but the decisions you make based on heart or intellect may be very different.

I will miss HAC. I will miss the new projects in the works and I will miss the wonderful staff. But be assured, I will keep busy. It has been so long since I started anything new that I had forgotten that starting new things is part of my DNA. There are many ideas and many opportunities in store, both for me and for HAC. And I know that helping people will remain the focus for both.

Tags: housing, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, HAC, Rick Presbrey, Alisa Galazzi, retirement

HAC Names Alisa Galazzi as New CEO

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

galazzi family.jpgAlisa Galazzi with her husband, Chris, and their three children, Francesca, Michela and Eliana. Alisa will start her now role at HAC on January 3. 

Over 3,000 miles and three time zones separate Los Angeles from Cape Cod, but that West Coast city is where Alisa Galazzi was first exposed to nonprofit work and issues related to housing during the mid-90s. “I started volunteering at an organization, Inner-City Arts, in downtown skid row and they provided free art programming for children there who were homeless,” she said. “Watching the transformation that happened in the lives of those kids and the families was very moving and powerful and intoxicating.”

That was enough to prompt a career shift for Galazzi, who had previously worked in the field of television. Following 9/11, Galazzi and her husband Chris, the current executive director for the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis, moved to Cape Cod to be closer to family.

Over the past 15 years, Galazzi has honed her skills and talents as an executive in the nonprofit world – she is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Gosnold on Cape Cod and previously served as the Executive Director for Alzheimer’s Services of Cape Cod & the Islands, all experiences she will draw upon in her newest role: CEO of HAC.

Last month, HAC’s Board of Directors announced the hiring of Galazzi, who lives in Orleans with her husband and their three children Francesca, 15, Michela, 14, and Eliana, 12. “Alisa has the perfect blend of leadership experience, proven skills, and personal passion to build on the great foundation of HAC’s services,” said David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s board of directors.

Galazzi will replace HAC’s current CEO and President Rick Presbrey, who founded the agency in 1974. Presbrey expressed confidence in Galazzi’s ability to lead the agency. “It is probably more important to me than anyone that HAC gets left in good hands,” he said. “Alisa is a very intelligent, well-organized, very talented and committed person.”

Galazzi is looking forward to helping address the region’s affordable housing issues. “Personally, I have seen firsthand how having stable, secure housing in a loved one’s life is literally a game changer,” she said. “This is an expensive place to live where wages are low. We have to think about the Cape from a broader perspective and the needs of our region and our workforce and trying to tie it all together. It is more than housing. It is economic development and it is self-sustainability.”

Tags: HAC, Rick Presbrey, Alisa Galazzi