Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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.

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

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: Angel House, Mother's Day, Philanthropy, 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.”

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

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.”

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Tags: Angel House, Ron Winner, HAC Volunteers, Volunteer Cape Cod, 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.

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

Harwich Third Grader Gives Back to Angel House Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 @ 02:15 PM
Michael Webster-1.jpgMichael Webster (left) passes out gifts he purchased for the children at Angel House. 

As a client in HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, Harwich’s Amy Webster understands what it’s like to receive help from others. She has passed on those lessons of compassion to her nine-year-old son, Michael, who was on the giving side of the equation in December, when he opted to pay it forward to children staying in HAC’s Angel House shelter.

It started when the Websters were at Ocean State Job Lot, waiting patiently to check out. The woman in front of them was participating in the store’s program encouraging customers to purchase boots for veterans. In exchange, she received a gift card to Ocean State Job Lot which she gave to Michael “because of how well he was behaving,” Amy said.

Instead of using the card on himself, Michael wanted to find a way to help others. With his mother’s guidance, Michael decided to purchase toys and art supplies for those at Angel House, delivering them just one day shy of his own birthday in the middle of December.

The act of charity was well-received by those at the shelter, Amy said. Even better, her son was able to meet the recipients of his kindness, spending a few hours playing with them.

“I’ve seen, throughout my life, how doing things for others without expecting anything back has made a huge difference,” Amy said of why this was an important exercise for her son. “I want him to learn that other people’s feelings are more important than things, and you’re never too good to help other people.”

Since 2014, she has been working with Jan Nelson, HAC’s FSS coordinator, to attain personal goals, all in an effort to eventually move off state and federal subsidies.

The program provides incentives for clients to do so by establishing an escrow savings account that is available upon completion of FSS. Any increase in rent as a result of an increase in one’s salary is placed into that escrow savings account.

If Amy continues meeting her goals, she will eventually graduate from the program in December 2019. So far, she has already noticed the benefits of FSS. “It encourages people who are motivated to get a job, get off subsidized housing and is a stepping stone to a better life for you and your family,” she said.

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Tags: Angel House, Philanthropy, holiday giving, Family Self Sufficiency, FSS

HCEC Classes a Gift to Angel House Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 11:17 AM
HCEC Angel House Edited-1.jpgHCEC Manager Cheryl Kramer (third from left) with several of the Angel House mothers who have benefitted from her financial literacy classes. 

Over the course of 45 minutes in the middle of November, Cheryl Kramer, HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) manager, walked seven mothers staying at Angel House shelter in Hyannis, through the nuances of one’s credit and how best to rebuild it.

Kramer began with an explanation of credit scores. She then spoke about ways to build credit. And she followed with the importance of paying off debt, budgeting, types of credit cards and how to read a credit report.

She was offering simple, but practical advice for women who have been homeless and have struggled with addiction, and are now taking steps to move forward with their lives.

It was part of an ongoing effort by Kramer to bring three HCEC workshops – Creating a Budget, Rebuilding Your Credit and Be a Successful Tenant – to the shelter. She initially did so last summer and reintroduced the series of three classes to Angel House clients in October, November and December.

“You want to make sure your housing is protected for you and your family,” Kramer told the women during the November session on credit. “So first, pay your rent. Then your utilities. If you’re working, then you have to have transportation, whether you’re using the bus or getting a ride with a friend or you have your own car… If you can’t get to work, then you lose your job and then you lose your housing. It has a trickle-down effect.”

Planning for when the clients leave shelter, Kramer encouraged the women to find ways to reduce their financial burdens by utilizing local food pantries for groceries and agencies like HAC for assistance in purchasing Christmas gifts for their children.

After the November session, several of the mothers talked about how Kramer’s classes have impacted them. “I get worried because my daughter is due in January and where I kind of messed up my credit, I want to be able to financially support her,” Nicole said. “What Cheryl teaches us, it is very helpful and makes you feel hopeful that there is a way out.”

Jocelyn, another client, said the sessions have given her a roadmap to pay off her debt and build up her credit “so that I can eventually buy a house. I have three children so my goal is to eventually buy a house so I don’t have to keep moving around from place to place.”

And for Hayley, the classes are just another example of how Angel House has helped her. “It is teaching me how to be the best mother I can,” she said. “If it wasn’t for this place I wouldn’t have my son. I’m definitely grateful to be here because it gives me time to work on myself.”

In December, Cheryl Kramer attended the Citizens’ Housing And Planning Association (CHAPA) Homeownership Collaborative meeting in Boston, where she was presented a certificate recognizing HAC’s dedication and commitment to continually providing homebuyer education services to low- and moderate-income households since the Collaborative’s inception in 1996. To learn more about HAC's Housing Consumer Education Center offerings or to sign up for a class, click here

Tags: Angel House, HCEC, Cheryl Kramer, housing consumer education, financial literacy

4-H Club Brings Holiday Cheer to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 05:14 PM
group fixed DSC_0604.jpgA sampling of some of the creative cook designs made during last month's holiday party organized by the Harwich 4-H Club. 

Candy canes covered in red and green stripes, a gingerbread man adorned with a smiley face and green sweater, and snowmen with top hats.

These were just a few of the decorative cookie creations that six members of Harwich’s 4-H Club made alongside mothers and children staying at HAC’s Angel House shelter. They did so together, sitting quietly at the dining room tables inside two of the houses on the Angel House property where frosting and sprinkles were applied carefully to sugar and gingerbread cookies.

This festive scene took place just four days before Christmas, part of an annual holiday tradition started by the club three years ago. Each year they do something different; last year was a potluck dinner followed by games and the year before they helped the families decorate the Christmas trees at Angel House.

“This is fun,” said Jaylene, one of the mothers at Angel House, as she decorated cookies next to her daughter. “It’s nice of them to donate their time.”

She has been at the shelter for nearly four months. “It has given me a sense of security,” she said. “I feel safe here.”

Once she leaves shelter, she hopes to go back to school and become a drug counselor. “I want to give back in some way and help people,” she said.

Tags: Angel House, volunteerism, holiday giving, Christmas

St. Francis Xavier Students Give Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 04:47 PM
St Francis-1.jpgAva Ferreira (from left), Aubrey Homa, Juliana Maurice, Kailey Gorsuch and Emily August of St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School hold up a few of the gifts and blankets that they and their classmates donated to children at Angel House. 

No other time of the year encourages giving more than the holidays. That is why over 50 seventh and eighth graders from St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School in Hyannis, purchased toys and designed baby blankets, which their parents and grandparents knit, that were given to children at HAC’s Angel House shelter last month.

Eighth grader Aubrey Homa explained their act of generosity in a simple way: “Christmas is the time for giving.”

“We want to help other people so they have a happy Christmas,” added her classmate Juliana Maurice.

“If we were in their situation, I know they’d want to help us too,” said eighth grader Ava Ferreira about the recipients of their goodwill.

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Tags: Angel House, holiday giving, Christmas, St. Francis Xavier

Basket Party Celebrates 25 Years of Anonymous Giving

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 10:15 AM
Princi Party Edited.jpgMichael Princi speaking at the gift party he helped organize last month. Princi and his family have organized the party for more than 25 years, encouraging their friends and family to purchase gifts for HAC clients in need. 

There may be no act of charity more powerful than anonymous giving. And over the past 25 years, Michael and Area Princi of Marstons Mills, their family and friends have done just that, giving thousands of children in HAC shelters a little joy during the holiday season.

They have done so by purchasing toys anonymously and bringing them to the Princi’s Christmas Basket Party held every December. This year, nearly 200 people participated in the annual event so that over 120 children in need would have gifts to open on Christmas morning.

“There are people who have absolutely nothing who we give to and we make their Christmas,” Michael told roughly 50 people in attendance at last month’s party held at the Cummaquid Golf Course. “So thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every year, everybody comes through and I really appreciate it. You don’t know how gratifying it is.”

Among those who are recipients of this kindness are children staying at Angel House in Hyannis. Lin Rohr, the facility director at the HAC shelter, expressed appreciation for those who participated in this year’s party, explaining what it can mean to those the agency serves.

She mentioned one child “who had given up hope” and initially said he did not want anything for Christmas. When pressed, the boy asked for a mini keyboard so he could practice the piano. The donor who picked the child’s name, Rohr said, has a passion for music and ended up purchasing a full keyboard for him.

“For this boy who is in junior high, it will give him his hope back,” Rohr said. “I know it will.”

It is just one example, she said, of “the connection between the generosity of the giver and the hopes of a child in need… I happen to be the bridge between both sides and it is phenomenal.”

Tags: Michael Princi, Christmas, Christmas Basket Party, Angel House, Philanthropy, charitable giving