Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Donor Gives Message of Hope to Angel House Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 01:39 PM
Matt Sullivan Edited-1.jpg
Matthew Sullivan has connected with the work being done at HAC’s Angel House shelter. In December, he will deliver a holiday meal and gifts to the clients there for the second straight year.  

"I’m living proof someone can change their life with the help of others,” Matthew Sullivan said recently at HAC where he was dropping off donations – a lamp, microwave, dishes, and more - to the agency’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program.

The donations, which will go to HAC clients transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing, was the latest contribution that West Bridgewater’s Sullivan has made to HAC.

On Christmas Eve last December, he delivered a holiday meal and gifts to clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. He plans on doing so again next month. Angel House is a program that supports mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

As someone who was homeless and has been in recovery for over 12 years, Sullivan relates to what clients at Angel House are going through. He was able to turn his life around through a recovery program for men. He said the work being done at Angel House reminds him of the program that had helped him through his struggles.

Today, Sullivan is happily married with three children, and works full-time as a fitness trainer and co-owner of MAD Boot Camps in Marshfield. “I’m trying to give a message of hope,” Sullivan said of his efforts to support HAC’s Angel House shelter and those it serves.

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, Christmas, holiday giving, HAC donors, Matthew Sullivan

Angel House Clients Build Life Skill Competencies

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 @ 10:52 AM
Angel House-17.jpgHAC HCEC Manager Cheryl Kramer (fourth from left) with several of the Angel House clients who took her most recent financial literacy classes. 

Last fall, a client at Angel House took a series of financial literacy classes taught by HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) Manager Cheryl Kramer. 

When Kramer brought that series – Creating a Budget, Rebuilding Your Credit, and Be a Successful Tenant – back to the shelter in June, that same client opted to take them again. Kramer said the client told her, “I’m so glad you’re back… Last fall I was focused on having my baby and not really focused on what you were teaching. I’m coming to the end of my time at Angel House and I really need to hear what you have to say.” 

It is one example of why these classes are so important, especially for the mothers at Angel House, who are dealing with the trauma of homelessness, overcoming addiction, and learning how to be a proper parent to their child. “Having the class available more than once, they’re able to build on what they learned the first time,” Kramer said. 

On average, 10 clients took part in each of the classes Kramer offered this summer. In August, she awarded 19 certificates of completion to the clients; some received multiple certificates because they took more than one of the classes. 

“One of the greatest values is that this is a concrete way for them to build their life skill competencies,” shelter director Lin Rohr said. “We do a lot of stuff on healing, recovery and parenting. This teaches them how to do a budget. If you spend everything you make in your first week, how are you going to eat?” 

Amanda, a 23-year-old client at Angel House, said the classes provided her with basic skills that she had overlooked or had no knowledge about. “I never knew anything about my credit,” she said. “And it made me open up my eyes about a lot of things like the money I spend on Dunkin’ Donuts alone.” 

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Rohr said. “If you spend $5 a day for coffee, that’s $35 a week.” 

Another client, Cassandra, admitted she has poor credit and was considering filing for bankruptcy. Kramer “showed me that is not my only option,” Cassandra said. “Now I’m almost amped up about it. I can fix it. It’s not too late.”

Cassandra is one of nine Angel House clients who plan on meeting with Kramer one-on-one to focus on their individual financial needs. “That is a huge thing she is offering,” Rohr said. “If they had to pay for that kind of outside support that is not doable for a lot of them. It’s a wonderful gift she [Kramer] is giving them.” 

In October, Kramer will return to Angel House to offer the classes to clients again. “It is part of the [Angel House] program now,” Kramer said. “When they come to that class, they are awake, they are vested and come with good questions… They are not just there because they have to be which makes it more fun to teach. And I make sure I’m giving them the info they want to hear and need to hear.”

HAC Receives CCYP Grant

For the second straight year, HAC has been the recipient of a grant from the CCYP's Giving Circle Fund of the Cape Cod Foundation. This grant will allow HAC to provide the following classes for free, for a limited time, on a first-come, first-served basis: 

Tags: HCEC, Family Shelter, Angel House, Cheryl Kramer, Lin Rohr, housing consumer education, financial literacy

Local Teens Connect with Children at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 @ 04:33 PM
Angel House Playgroup-1.jpgVolunteer Molly Rudman (left) plays with one of the children at HAC's Angel House shelter. 

Living in a shelter can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially trying for older children, in part, because they don’t have the luxury of inviting friends over to hang out after school.

But a group of local students, led by Francesca Galazzi, 16, changed that the second half of this past school year. Joined by her sister Michela, 14, and their friends Molly, 16, and Halle Rudman, 15, and Joy McCarthy, 14, the group would spend an hour nearly every Saturday, from March to June, playing with children at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

They planned activities in advance, running them by facility director Lin Rohr. On Mother’s Day weekend, they made cupcakes. On other days, the activity was a little less structured with the group playing on the shelter’s swing set and running around outside.

“I’d be upstairs in my office and I’d hear laughing, giggling, the kids yelling, ‘I’m going to get you,’” Rohr said. “It was a positive experience, not only for the kids who live here, but for all the volunteers.”

Beyond that, Rohr said, it served as an opportunity for children outside of a homeless shelter to connect with those living in one. “For the teenaged volunteers, it breaks down any stereotypes they had about what homelessness looks like,” Rohr said.

One of the teenagers living at Angel House said the Saturday play groups were important to him because it allowed him to socialize with his peers. “Instead of having older volunteers, these ones are our age and we can play with them,” he said. For him that meant games of chess, playing cards and showing them his magic tricks.

“Everyone has different paths, but you can all help each other and have fun,” Francesca said of what she has learned from the experience. And despite being from disparate backgrounds, she said, “we always have fun together. They are really cool kids.”

While Francesca, Michela, Molly, Halle and Joy all took the summer off, they plan on renewing their Saturday play dates at Angel House once school begins in September.

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, HAC Volunteers, Lin Rohr

CCYP Mentee Gives Back to HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jul 06, 2017 @ 05:21 PM
Lauren Rodriguez CCYP-Edited.jpgCCYP mentee Lauren Rodriguez helped raise funds for HAC's Angel House shelter as part of her mentorship program. 

One of the cornerstones of the CCYP’s Mentor Exchange program is that it gives participants an opportunity to hone their professional skills with the guidance and support of a mentor.

The program does so while stressing the importance of giving back to one’s community, allowing each mentee to choose a cause important to them. For Lauren Rodriguez, there was little question of what charity she would choose – HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

“Angel House pulled on my heartstrings,” she said at the end of April when she dropped off a $300 donation along with some diapers to the shelter. In January, when she started the Mentor Exchange program, Rodriguez had read a story HAC’s Laura Reckford had written for the online magazine Cape Cod Wave about the positive impact the shelter had on her friend’s fiancé Darby Lyons when he was a teenager. “I wanted to do something that could help.”

HAC has not only helped Lyons, it helped Rodriguez, who recently took the agency’s First-Time Homebuyer Workshop. “I just bought a house,” she said, crediting HAC for preparing her for becoming a homeowner on Cape Cod. And so she thanked the agency the best way she knew how – dedicating her time and energy to raising funds to support HAC’s work.

Tags: Fundraising, Angel House, CCYP, First-Time Homebuyer workshop, Cape Cod Wave

Sandwich Church Holds Donation Drive for Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jul 05, 2017 @ 02:55 PM
First Church-Edited.jpgMarilyn Dexter (left) and Judy Coppola with a few of the donations that First Church in Sandwich donated to HAC's Angel House shelter. 

Giving comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. This past spring, it arrived at HAC in several bags full of diapers, baby wipes, pillows and blankets.

These gifts, all courtesy of First Church in Sandwich, were collected and donated to Angel House and the mothers and their children the HAC shelter serves. Each year, the church’s outreach committee selects a handful of local causes it wants to support; this year, they chose Angel House.

“It’s so important to give back to the community you live in,” said Marilyn Dexter, chair of the committee, who was joined by Judy Coppola in delivering the donations.

“Everything that you give, you get back,” Coppola added.

The church wants to continue supporting Angel House and has plans to plant a small garden there this summer.

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Philanthropy, Fundraising, Angel House, First Church Sandwich

Celebrating Mother's Day at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 05:30 PM
Angel House Mothers Day-2 Edited.jpgA few of the mothers at Angel House with their Mother's Day gifts

There are 13 mothers currently at HAC’s Angel House shelter, all of whom are taking steps to improve their lives, not only for themselves, but for their children.

As they work towards this goal, one anonymous donor showed her support for them by giving each client a Mother’s Day gift bag filled with chocolates and a note of encouragement, as well as two sets of flowers for the shelter.

Two days before they received those gifts, one of the Angel House clients spoke about what being a parent means to her. “I love kids, number one,” she said. “And I have always wanted to be a mom.”

With three children of her own, she has fulfilled that dream, understanding that her role “is just giving more love to this next generation.”

Having spent eight months at Angel House, she is looking forward to doing that in a home of her own once she leaves shelter. She wants “housing, but most of all, a safe place for my kids to grow up and be with their mom,” she said.

Support HAC's Angel House Shelter

Tags: Angel House, donations, charitable giving, Mother's Day

Mother's Day Photo Sessions to Benefit Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 @ 12:24 PM

Mother's Day Portrait Event.jpg

At the end of this month, two Harwich photographers will celebrate Mother’s Day a few weeks early, all in support of clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

The pair – Jen Clark, owner of PhotoJenic Studio, and Rebecca Sher, owner of Rebecca Sher Photography – are offering $100 mini-sessions for mothers and their children on April 30, from 10 am to 2 pm, at Local Color Art Gallery in Chatham. All proceeds from the event, titled “You Are My Sunshine,” will be donated to Angel House, which serves mothers in recovery and their children.

“I thought of Angel House as a beneficiary because I know how difficult it is to be a young mother under ordinary circumstances,” Sher said. “I understand that the mothers in need of support from HAC are facing extraordinary hurdles and circumstances.”

Sher is joining Clark, who has organized similar fundraisers in recent years for local nonprofits, including the Boys & Girls Club of Cape Cod. “It’s a lot of fun,” Clark said of the sessions that allow her to give back to the community through the use of her talents.

As to why she typically does these fundraisers in advance of Mother’s Day, Clark said, “Portraits are very important for our family history. A lot of times moms don’t exist in many pictures because they are the ones taking them. I’m really pushing this for Mother’s Day so moms can be in the photos in a totally stress free environment.”

Because space is limited to only 12 sessions, appointments must be booked ahead of time. You can do so by calling Jen Clark at 508-432-5083 or Rebecca Sher at 617-721-1202.

Tags: Philanthropy, Angel House, Mother's Day, Rebecca Sher, Jen Clark

Former Shelter Client Serves as Example to Others

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 @ 12:01 PM
Victoria-1.jpgVictoria Chase (right) with her advisor at Cape Cod Community College, Dr. Colleen Coughlin. Dr. Coughlin said that Chase has served as an inspiration to her. 

If you had visited Cape Cod Community College on the second Wednesday of last month, there would have been nothing discernible about Victoria Chase. She was not unlike any of her fellow students on campus, preparing for midterm exams in the two classes she is taking this semester, 3D Mechanical Design and Human Communications. Perhaps the only difference between Chase and her classmates was the smile that graced her face as she walked from her design class to her advisor Dr. Colleen Coughlin’s office.

There is a reason for that smile. A little over two years ago, Chase never could have imagined she would be where she is today, a proud mother of two children, balancing two part-time jobs as she works towards a degree in civil engineering. Somehow she also manages to lead two recovery groups on Cape Cod for those who are going through similar struggles that she did prior to arriving at Angel House in the summer of 2015.

“At my lowest, I was sleeping in my car with my kids,” Chase said, the result of an addiction to drugs.

By the time she entered Angel House, she had spent nine months without her children who were living with her mother and grandmother. Four days later, she was reconnected with them. “It was a tough transition for me,” Chase recalled. “I think I cried every day for a month and a half.”

Slowly, the pain subsided and Chase began the path towards healing. Over the course of the next 12 months, she was able to maintain her sobriety with the support of Angel House staff and the stability that the shelter provided her.

A New Direction for Chase
In April 2016, she landed a job at Home Depot in Hyannis, where she currently works as the lead cashier. Three months later, she graduated from Angel House, but remained on-site, living in one of two transitional apartments with her children. She is now living in an apartment in Hyannis, utilizing an MRVP housing voucher to pay a portion of her rent.

Having housing, Chase said, “is huge. It means I have a place to call home. It means stability… The number one thing you need to move forward is a roof over your head.”

Last fall, she enrolled at Cape Cod Community College, earning a 4.0 in her first semester. Her goal is to one day engineer and design buildings that fit within the landscape of cities and towns. Her story “is amazing,” said Dr. Coughlin. “It is so impressive to me the adversity she has been through and what she has overcome.”

Angel House shelter director Lin Rohr agreed. “The transformation from when she came to now, you wouldn’t recognize her,” Rohr said. “She has just taken off and blossomed in an incredible way. It gives them [current clients] a living example of hope. It’s like, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’”

It’s something Chase is immensely proud of and it’s why if you see her on campus at Cape Cod Community College, she’ll most likely have a smile on her face. “I always knew I was meant for something better. I never felt like my life should be spent living in a car,” she said. “Now I have an opportunity to do what I want to do… And I get to give my kids the life they deserve which is pretty awesome.”

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, homelessness, Angel House, homeless shelters, Victoria Chase

Angel House Clients Treated to Valentine's Day Meal

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 @ 11:47 AM
Angel House Valentines-3.jpgA few of the Angel House mothers with the Valentine's Day carnations that were given to them by four dedicated HAC volunteers. 

Love can be exhibited in a number of ways. On Valentine’s Day, four dedicated HAC volunteers did so by giving each mother at Angel House a vase filled with carnations and delivering them and their children a meal that included buffalo chicken pot pies, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and cookies.

The dinner was the work of Wendy and Ron Winner of Centerville, Peter Brooks of Osterville and former HAC board member Jack Delaney. The group even took time to decorate the shelter for the occasion. Over the past three years, the four have organized similar meals to show their support for those at Angel House. The shelter serves mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

“I’ve been here for 10 months and every time they do this is overwhelming,” said Jocelyn.

Jackie, another mother staying at the shelter, expressed similar gratitude for the generosity of the HAC volunteers. “It is amazing,” she said. “They made us feel appreciated and it encourages us to do better.”

Support HAC's Angel House Shelter

Tags: Volunteer Cape Cod, Angel House, HAC Volunteers, Ron Winner, charitable giving, Valentine's Day

Sandwich Women's Club Donates Beds to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Mar 01, 2017 @ 01:36 PM
Angel House Beds-1-1.jpgAngel House Director Lin Rohr with Lily and Danielle Moore, president of the Sandwich Women's Club. 

On an overcast Friday in the middle of January, stacks of brand new twin mattresses sat outside, next to a Budget rental truck parked on the grounds of HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. The 12 new mattresses and 10 box springs were replacing ones that were roughly 10 years old and had far outlived their useful life.

As Guillermo Jimenez and Brady Perez of Mattress Firm in Hyannis, carried the old ones out and the new ones into the shelter, Angel House facility director Lin Rohr spoke with Sandwich’s Danielle Moore, president of the Sandwich Women’s Club, and her daughter Lilly, 12.

“This is a compassionate way to extend tangible care to our clients,” Rohr told Moore, who organized the donation on behalf of the women’s club.

Last year, Moore had seen Rohr speak about Angel House, which serves homeless mothers struggling with addiction and their children, at a meeting of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. That talk was enough to convince Moore to find a way for her club to support the shelter and those it serves.

They were able to do so on January 20, when the new twin mattresses, which had long been on the shelter’s wish list, arrived at Angel House.

Mattress Firm offered the mattresses and box springs at a discount, adding another layer to the charitable gesture. “We have a very proud philosophy of working with a lot of nonprofit organizations in the local area,” Chelsey Tahan, the assistant manager for Mattress Firm said. “One of the things we like to do is have an impact at the local level.”

For Moore, there is a personal affinity to Angel House; during her visit to the shelter she tearfully confided in Rohr, telling her that another daughter had lost a best friend to addiction last year.

Rohr expressed her gratitude to Moore and the Sandwich Women’s Club for their generosity. “Many of these women are going from sleeping on cardboard and newspaper to a bed,” she said. “This is probably the first brand new bed some of them have ever slept on.”

That means a lot, Rohr said, to the clients in shelter. “When you’re in a safe, secure, supportive place, you begin to heal,” she said.

Support HAC's Angel House Shelter

Tags: Philanthropy, Angel House, Lin Rohr, donations, charitable giving, Sandwich Women's Club, Mattress Firm