Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Volunteers Bring Holiday Cheer to Angel House Clients

Posted by HAC Staff on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 @ 11:56 AM

angelhouse_xmas08.jpg

This past December, clients at Angel House enjoyed a holiday day meal with all the fixings and a visit from St. Nick thanks to the generosity of Ron Winner from Shepley Wood Products, John and Kathy Weisblatt of Harwich, Jack Delaney of West Barnstable, Marianne Sullivan from Sullivan & Sullivan Auctioneers and Ms. Sullivan’s father, Fred Sullivan. Deanna Bussiere from HAC also helped to prepare the meal for the families.

Tags: Angel House

HAC Says Farewell to Longtime Angel House Staffer

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 @ 04:58 PM
DSC_1094.jpgLil Burlingame (right) with her daughter Melissa at her farewell party at Kelly's on Main Street in Hyannis. 

If you were to throw a dart on a map, chances are you couldn’t get much further from Cape Cod than Guam.

That is where Lil Burlingame, a self-described gypsy who dedicated 22 years of her life to HAC’s Angel House shelter, is currently enjoying the temperate climate on the U.S. island located in the western Pacific.

She moved there for family; her daughter Melissa lives in Guam with her husband Harry and their three children Walker, 5, Ryder, 3 and Evan, 1.

“I’m happy,” said Melissa during a farewell party for Lil at Kelly’s on Main in Hyannis at the beginning of the summer. “She deserves to spend some time on a tropical beach and to relax.”

Melissa, whose husband is employed as a lawyer for the U.S. Navy, admitted it has been difficult living overseas – prior to Guam she lived in Japan – and not being able to see her mother. “Thank you for always taking care of my mother,” she told Lil’s coworkers in June.

Lil, who grew up in Long Island, arrived at HAC in 1993. By then she had lived in Florida, New York and California, eventually settling on Cape Cod, where her grandmother owned cottages, after giving birth to Melissa.

“I moved here permanently, year-round, in 1980 when I had my daughter. Then I couldn’t be a gypsy anymore,” she laughed. “I’ve said the gypsy in my blood has been put on hold for 35 years.”

lil01.jpgLil with her fellow HAC and Angel House colleagues.

After working as a substitute for a few months, Lil was hired full-time as the childcare coordinator in August 1993. For nearly the past eight years, Lil had served as the shelter’s house manager, respon-sible for purchasing everything from food to office supplies to planning menus and meals with clients.

Her favorite moments were the holidays, particularly Christmas, because they were so rewarding. “With the generosity of the community, we would make sure they had a Christmas like they had never had before,” Lil said.

Former shelter director Marnie Rieber recalled Lil’s dedication to the clients. “There are so many mothers and children that cried and you soothed on your shoulder,” she said. “The hours you put in to make sure every family experienced Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, the months of work you put into organizing Christmases so that these mothers and their children had the best Christmas they ever had. You are the most loyal, hardest working person I know.”

Lil was proud to play a role in impacting the lives of mothers at Angel House, stressing the importance of the shelter to those it serves. “Sometimes it is the first time they truly feel people out there care about them and they do matter,” Lil said. “Angel House teaches them they are valuable and how they can be good parents and enjoy a good life in sobriety.”

On her second-to-last day at HAC, she reflected on her time at the agency. “I have no regrets working here for all these years. We’ve done a lot of good,” she said. “It helped me become the person I am today. I was raised a Christian and believe you have to give back in this world and I definitely found that here at HAC.”

Tags: Angel House

Artwork Inspires Confidence

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 @ 10:57 AM

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Art is one of the purest forms of expression and it is where Victoria Chase will sometimes go, putting pen to paper, when she wants to escape the difficulties of life.

“It’s relaxing,” she said of her interest in drawing during an interview at the Angel House shelter where she has been living since the beginning of July. “It’s definitely relaxing.”

Until recently, Chase kept her talents to herself, admitting that “I don’t like to put my capabilities out there.”

But then Margaret Benaka in HAC’s development department reached out to the agency’s shelter directors, letting them know she was looking for artwork from a client that could be used on the nonprofit’s holiday card that is being sent to donors and supporters this month.

So Chase went to her relaxing place and began to sketch, eventually coming up with a holiday scene complete with a reindeer and a bag of wrapped gifts against the backdrop of some evergreens. It was done all in black pen before she added some color to a Santa hat on the reindeer, a few gifts and the berries on two holly leaves.

The 29-year-old Chase said she has always loved to draw, at one time keeping a journal where she sketched animals and inanimate objects. “I draw with pen and not with pencil because I would probably erase it a thousand times,” she said.

She once worked at a convenience store in New Hampshire, where she was paid by the manager to paint holiday scenes for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day in the storefront windows.

“She has many talents,” said Angel House’s family clinician Martie Woods of Chase.

As to what the mother of two wants to do, she said civil engineering, something that combines her passion for drawing with her interest in math and science.

But first, she is concentrating on herself, her sobriety and her children with the help and support of staff at Angel House. “It has meant a lot to me,” she said of the program. “It has given me the self-esteem to know I can be a good mother to my kids.”

And the holiday card project has given her a newfound confidence in her abilities. Prior to sketching the scene, Chase had not drawn anything for roughly a year. There is a possibility that HAC or Angel House will solicit Chase’s talents again to create artwork for thank you cards. “It is exciting because I don’t always feel good about myself,” she said.

But with one drawing, Chase has changed that. She is both eager and nervous to continue showcasing her abilities. “I do want to be pushed because I can do more than what I do sometimes,” she said. “I am working towards my full potential.”

 

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Tags: Angel House

A Family Bond Inspires a Connecticut Teen to Give Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 02, 2015 @ 02:01 PM

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There is a power to music that is difficult to measure. It not only serves as a form of creative expression, but it moves people to do extraordinary things.

And in May, it did just that inside a home in Weston, Connecticut. There, far removed from Cape Cod, music inspired 45 people to donate $11,286 to HAC’s Angel House shelter.

The connection between Angel House and Weston, starts in Osterville, where longtime HAC supporter Margaret Mullin lives. Every summer Mullin’s 23 grandchildren visit, including her youngest, 17-year-old Thomas Rosiello.

For roughly three weeks during the past four summers, Thomas has become a familiar face at Angel House where he volunteers at the shelter’s play space, helping play and care for its children. “I function as an extra person, doing whatever is needed: playing with kids, cleaning up after snacks, anything that I can help with,” he said. “The best part for me is playing with the kids. It’s not only fun for them, but fun for me.”

He credited his grandmother, who he calls Greta, for motivating him to donate his time to HAC while on summer vacation. “I saw clearly that she was a large supporter of Angel House and it meant something to her,” he said. “With her being one of my heroes, I saw it as a great chance to do some good and support something which she clearly thought was special.”

When not visiting Cape Cod, Thomas spends his time in Weston, where he lives with his parents Barbara and Robert Rosiello. It is there that Thomas came up with an idea to extend his support of Angel House even further. He decided to organize a concert, performing with The Hopkins Harmonaires, an all-male acapela group at Hopkins School where he is currently a senior.

Thomas_Rosiello_Photo_2The Hopkins Harmonaires at this spring's Angel House fundraiser in Connecticut.

So this spring, Thomas invited friends and family over for an evening of music that included everything from classics to more modern selections like “Wagon Wheel” by Mumford & Sons and “Here We Go” by Dispatch.

Aside from his parents and grandmother, the nearly 75 people in attendance were unfamiliar with Angel House, a Hyannis shelter focused on providing treatment and support for mothers – all are homeless and overcoming some form of addiction – and their children. So Thomas gave a short speech, explaining the work being done there and his ties to the shelter and the people it serves.

And that is when people gave.

Encouraging such philanthropy is something that was instilled in Thomas at a young age. “It has always been a large focus,” Thomas said.

His experience at Angel House has only cemented those early childhood lessons and the importance of being civic-minded. “They sort of help you be happy,” he said of his motivation for this fundraiser: the children in the shelter. “Particularly at Angel House, with them being in such tough circumstances, when I show up, everyone puts a smile on my face.” 

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Tags: homelessness, Thomas Rosiello, Philanthropy, Community Service, Fundraising, Angel House

HAC Welcomes New Leadership at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jun 08, 2015 @ 02:09 PM

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In life’s journey, each person tackles obstacles in their own, individualized way. “Some will walk at a different pace. Some may skip for a while. Some may run. And some may walk backwards,” Lin Rohr said, inside HAC’s Hyannis offices on 460 West Main Street.

Rohr found herself here in the middle of March, a few days shy of spring, as she reflected upon her short time as the new director of Angel House. The goal at the Hyannis shelter is to support mothers as they take the necessary steps toward overcoming the difficulties placed in their path.

She arrived at Angel House in January, roughly a month after she moved to Cape Cod from Madison, Wisconsin, where she had been living with her husband Scott Ritchie. The pair relocated from the Midwest after Ritchie, a clinical psychologist, landed a job with Allied Health Providers in West Barnstable.

A native of Los Angeles, Rohr received her bachelor of arts in religion in 1982 from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Five years later she added a masters of divinity from Princeton University, to her name. That is when she embarked on a 25-year career as a minister for the Presbyterian Church (USA) before spending five years as a spiritual counselor and professional life coach.

While her position at Angel House represents a career change, Rohr’s work experiences have given her a familiarity with the types of people found at Angel House – those who are homeless and overcoming addiction – making her transition to HAC relatively seamless.

Treating Clients with Dignity and Respect

“I’ve worked with the homeless and those in recovery through my parish work and pastoral counseling,” she said, noting that her previous roles have taught her to “approach them with dignity and respect.” She has brought that same approach to those she interacts with on a daily basis at the shelter.

Through trauma-informed care, Rohr explained that the ultimate goal at Angel House is to ensure that both mothers and their children have the treatment and support they need as part of their recovery. “What we seek to do is walk with them and hold up for them their own goals: to live clean and sober,” Rohr said.

Rohr understands that the housing Angel House provides is integral to client success. “If people don’t have housing and they’re in recovery, then the challenges are twice as much,” she said.

And she realizes that staff also plays a vital role in the equation. That is why she takes it upon herself to visit the shelter’s play space at least three times a week. There she plays, swaddles and cuddles with children, some of whom were born addicted to drugs. “In my own way, I say a prayer or wish for the child that their mom will continue on their courageous walk,” she said. “What the moms are doing will impact the little ones’ lives in so many ways… It will end the cycle of homelessness and addiction and all the associated traumas. These women are being so courageous to say, ‘I want that cycle to stop.’ Many of them had it with their own parents and now they are saying they want it to be different for me and my children.”

Rohr, who has two children of her own – Stephanie, 24, and Josh, 26, as well as a stepson Tyler, 27 – knows firsthand the importance of a parent. So she delights when she sees clients take that extra step, like going to college, because it ultimately benefits the next generation. “It really touches me because it might make a difference and their child won’t struggle in the same way,” she said.

It is all part of the difficult journey that Rohr and her Angel House colleagues are helping clients make, each at their own pace.

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Tags: homelessness, HAC, Angel House, Lin Rohr

The Power of Photos

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Feb 14, 2015 @ 08:28 AM
baby photos resized 600 A sampling of the family portraits that Sandwich’s Beth Muhlebach shot and eventually gave to HAC’s shelter clients in December.

It is safe to say that for most clients, their time living in shelter is one they would like to forget. For it is here that they are at their lowest, looking for a way to rebuild their lives, move on and find a place to call their own.

But for one day in November, Sandwich’s Beth Muhlebach gave 14 families – five at Carriage House in North Falmouth and nine at The Village at Cataumet – a lasting keepsake to remember their time in shelter.

Muhlebach, who makes her living as a clinical research consultant, spends her spare time practicing photography. “I like capturing the interaction between people most,” she said. “And I like capturing the emotional moments in those interactions.”

Often those interactions involve her husband Stephan and their children Ella, 6, and Henry, 5.

Muhlebach expanded her list of subjects to include HAC clients after being introduced to the nonprofit through her friendship with Julie Wake, director of communications and development.

Last fall while the two were at Taste and See at Oyster Harbors Club, an event that raises money for HAC’s homeless programs, Muhlebach began thinking of a way to use her talents to give shelter clients a meaningful gift for the holidays. “I thought for a long time that people who are homeless, especially those with children, are not thinking about capturing this part of their lives,” she said. “They don’t want pictures to remember this time, but for these kids this is their childhood and it is as special as any others.”

So a month later, Muhlebach found herself spending nearly five hours capturing posed and more candid moments of families living in HAC’s shelters.

She arrived at The Village at Cataumet first where mothers were busy doing their hair, preparing for the shoot. “It was really neat to see that what they thought I was doing was as special as I thought it was,” she said. “They were appreciative and excited to have pictures taken of their kids and with them.”

The day was particularly significant for one of the mothers as it was the first time she had ever had a photo taken with her son. “It was sort of amazing to think there were no other pictures of them together,” Muhlebach said.

Over the course of the next three weeks, Muhlebach became even more familiar with the families as she pored through the photos she took, selecting her favorites and then going through the process of editing them.

In the second week of December, Muhlebach returned to Carriage House and The Village of Cataumet, giving each client a framed 8x10 photo, a framed 5x7 photo, several 4x6 prints as well as wallet-sized ones they could give to family members.

“The pictures came out beautiful,” said Marilia Freire, who had her photos taken with her one-year-old son Adrian at The Village at Cataumet. “I was so happy she did this because I wanted to do a Christmas picture with him. I really appreciate it.”

For Muhlebach, the reactions from clients were particularly rewarding. “A lot of them cried when they saw pictures of themselves with their children,” she said.

The best part was the bonds she witnessed - and captured on camera - between parents and their children in shelter. “When I told people I was going to the shelters, they said, ‘Oh that is going to be so sad,’” Muhlebach said. “It wasn’t sad at all. It was exactly the opposite of that. Because of HAC and these shelters, the kids have a place where they can live and be comfortable. It seems like a good environment for them to be in. They smile and are as happy as any other kids. You can see they are truly happy, genuinely sweet little kids and their parents love them and care for them a lot.”

 MG 5590 resized 600Beth Muhlebach with her children Ella and Henry.

Tags: beth muhlebach, Carriage House, Angel House, photos

11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon a Success

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 03:07 PM
DSC 1196 resized 600WCAI's Sean Corcoran sings "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with several students from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School.

During the first hour of the 11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, State Representative Timothy Madden made his way onto the festively decorated set at the Cape Cod Community Media Center and spoke with hosts Mindy Todd and Sarah Colvin about the homeless situation on Cape Cod.

“This is our community and people have to step up now and contribute,” he said. “We can’t continue to live in a place like Cape Cod and have people who are homeless.”

The sad reality is that there are homeless people on Cape Cod and the telethon raises funds that go directly to HAC’s four shelters which serve that vulnerable population. In December more than $90,000 was raised during the five-hour live event to help support the programs and services at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, Angel House in Hyannis, Carriage House in North Falmouth and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne.

That money ranged from small $10 and $15 donations from individuals to large ones like a $5,000 check from Heroes in Transition that the Mashpee nonprofit’s co-founders, Cynthia and Kenneth Jones, and one of its directors, Roberta Cannon, presented to HAC on air.

Each donation represented one small step towards giving HAC clients a better life through programs intended to not only provide them with the basic essentials – food and housing – but the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient. Paul Melville, a consultant who runs a parenting group for fathers living at The Village at Cataumet, spoke about his experience working with clients and the benefits his program has brought to them. “They talk about parenting tips and their successes and we talk about their hopes and dreams,” Melville said.

And while he has never been homeless, he said, he has lived in subsidized housing, allowing him a chance to relate to what the parents he works with at the shelter are going through. “I remember thinking [when I was in subsidized housing] this isn’t where or how I wanted to raise my children,” Melville said. “I get them to open up and to realize this isn’t long term.”

If anything, the telethon was an indication of the help, and hope, that the community provides to HAC’s clients. This year’s event saw over 75 sponsors, ranging from Comcast to Clancy’s Tavern in Dennis Port to Hyannis Toyota to Cape Associates in Yarmouth Port to Falmouth Lumber, as well as roughly 170 volunteers that called friends and family throughout the evening asking them to donate to the telethon.

DSC 0920 resized 600Volunteers from Shepley Wood Products were in the holiday spirit.

A team of phone volunteers from Shepley Wood Products was adorned in Santa hats while a group from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod wore pink construction hats.

Among those providing entertainment during the evening were several HAC staffers, including Alison Reid who sang a live rendition of the Jackson Five’s “Give Love on Christmas Day” as well as Greg and Karin Bar and Derick Bussiere who performed a pre-taped acoustic version of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”

WCAI’s Sean Corcoran, who served as a co-host during the evening, led several children from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in a sing-a-long of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while David Kuehn, executive director of the Cotuit Center for the Arts, was joined by actress Hannah Carrita in performing a Christmas-themed medley.

DSC 0770 resized 600State Representative Timothy Madden (right) talks about homelessness on Cape Cod with telethon co-hosts Mindy Todd (left) and Sarah Colvin.

Underlying the performances was the theme of action, one that several speakers touched upon throughout the night. “We’ve got to do better and we will do better,” Madden said. 

“Homelessness is a national disgrace,” said David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s executive board. “Everybody needs to solve this problem together.”

It is a problem that not only HAC is working to solve, but those in the community. Dr. Nate Rudman, an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital, noted that he sees homeless men and women spend anywhere from 140 to 170 hours in the ER because they have nowhere else to go.

“There are so many people in need,” Hyannis Fire Chief Harold Brunelle said. “I think so many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless and we already have a big homeless population on the Cape.”

Thank you so much to all our sponsors (click here for the full list) who helped make this telethon our best yet!

Even though the telethon is over, you can still help support HAC's shelter program. Click the button below to do so today!

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

Tags: Homeless, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Cape Cod, NOAH Shelter, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House, shelter

Cape Cod Hairdresser Boosts Angel House Clients' Self-Esteem

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 10:44 AM
DSC 0673 resized 600Luanne McCollum (left) doing a client's hair at Angel House.

Once a month Luanne McCollum hops in her car and makes the one-hour trek from Provincetown to Hyannis.

It is a trip she has been making for roughly the past five years. She does so not for her own enjoyment, but the joy it gives to those who are struggling to overcome life’s obstacles.

The visits to Hyannis allow McCollum, a hairdresser by trade, to ply her talents on clients at the Angel House shelter. She will cut, color and curl their hair, helping boost the self-esteem and confidence of women who cope with the trauma of homelessness and addiction.

The seed for volunteering at Angel House occurred after McCollum read an article about a program, Dress for Success, that provided business attire for disadvantaged women on Cape Cod in order for them to go on job interviews. “At the time I thought I could do their hair,” said McCollum, who owns Waves Salon in Provincetown.

About a year later, she began doing just that after talking to a customer who worked for HAC and who introduced her to Angel House.

Over the years she has volunteered her time at the shelter, she has grown to appreciate what it provides to the women and the children there. “I feel this is an amazing facility and it is very much needed,” she said.

McCollum focuses primarily on the mothers in shelter, though occasionally she has been known to work on some of the staff including Angel House manager Lil Burlingame, assistant teacher Amy Brigham and case manager Paula Farren.

“We love her dearly,” Farren said of McCollum. “She is a sweet woman.”

“She is a sweet woman,” Burlingame agreed. “We are very appreciative for what she does for these women and for us.”

As the pair praised McCollum in their office, about 15 feet away she draped a barbers cape around the neck of Courtney, an Angel House client. On this day in December, she would be getting a blow dry.

“I think it is awesome she comes in here and gives us her time,” Courtney said.

She was the second of five clients that McCollum was scheduled to work on last month. Sometimes she has more appointments, sometimes she has less.

Regardless of whether it is clients or staff, McCollum refuses to take any payments. And in December and May (Mother’s Day), she has a supply of hair products she gives to the clients as a gift.

Burlingame acknowledged that being pampered by McCollum makes the clients feel special which is important for their self-esteem.

That may explain why McCollum continues to venture into Hyannis, month after month, year after year. “It feels good to do this for these young women,” she said. “A lot of them haven’t had the chance to have their hair done professionally in a long time because it is expensive.”

And, perhaps most importantly, she said, “most people feel better after getting their hair done.”

Tags: volunteers, Luanne McCollum, HAC, Paula Farren, Angel House, Amy Brigham, Lil Burlingame

Yoga Helps Angel House Clients Regulate Emotions

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 10:35 AM
DSC 0500 resized 600Virginia Hoeck of Yoga Neighborhood leads the yoga class at Angel House

“Take a deep breath in,” Virginia Hoeck says, pausing briefly before continuing. “And take a deep breath out.”

Ten other women, mostly Angel House clients, but some staff, follow Hoeck’s lead, seated cross-legged on yoga mats inside the shelter’s family room. Joining the mothers on this September day are their children, ranging in age from a few months old to over one year old.

“Now raise your arms out wide,” Hoeck says, before instructing them to bring their arms back in “and give your babies a hug.”

Since June, Hoeck, owner of the nonprofit Yoga Neighborhood, and her fellow instructors have been bringing yoga to Angel House roughly once a week, using it to help clients find peace internally and with the world around them.

“I love it,” said 24-year-old Alicia Morgan, who explained that yoga has helped her “be more aware of my emotions. I feel really relaxed and it has helped me with my anger management.”

Yoga, which is deeply rooted in meditation, has allowed Angel House’s Ashley Cabral to better “regulate my emotions and feelings.”

Ashley, who graduated from Angel House a little over a month ago, planned on continuing it once out of shelter. “I will do it just to meditate and stay grounded,” she said, relying on yoga as she takes the next steps towards independence which will include holding her first job in years. “I’m very excited, very nervous and scared. At the same time it is a healthy scared.”

Angel House clinical director Christina Russell said that yoga has been “tremendously helpful” to clients who use it as a part of the shelter’s holistic approach to recovery – each mother at the shelter has battled substance abuse issues in their lives.

And it has allowed Angel House clients the opportunity to participate in an activity together, something that is difficult given the facility’s relatively small space. In nicer weather classes have been held outside while the Cape and Islands chapter of the American Red Cross has offered up its space for indoor sessions.

The sessions are catered to the types of clients Angel House treats. “We’ve developed a trauma-sensitive curriculum based on the training we’ve had,” Hoeck said. “So we’re creating a safe and empowering environment no matter what one’s experience in life has been.”

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Hoeck, who worked at HAC for nearly seven years, used her time here as inspiration for forming Yoga Neighborhood in order to benefit those who need it the most. “Seeing people cross that threshold at HAC, certainly with housing issues and hearing about their physical and mental health issues and seeing the stress they were under, it was clear yoga could be a wonderful tool to help reduce that stress and improve the quality of their lives,” she said.

Since 2010 when she left HAC, Hoeck has been using Yoga Neighborhood as a mechanism for introducing the discipline to people who otherwise would not be exposed to it.

Her experience has shown it to be an effective means to improve one’s life in small and large ways. And that has been the case at Angel House, where one client has expressed interest in becoming a yoga instructor.

“I taught the very first class and since then I’ve seen an incredible difference in the women, particularly in their interest in yoga,” Hoeck said. “They tell me it is helping them relax. Particularly at night when they are trying to wind down they go back to some of the yoga – breathing exercises, in particular, we teach in those classes and they are using that for self-regulation and self-calming.”

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Tags: Yoga, Yoga Neighborhood, Virginia Hoeck, Angel House, Christina Russell

Internship Experience at HAC Reinforces Career Aspirations

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

DSC 5638 resized 600

Though Rebecca Brigham is only in her junior year at the University of Massachusetts, she already knows she wants to work with children once she graduates.

“That is where I am aiming,” Brigham said while inside the play space at Angel House at the end of August, two days before she returned to college.

Brigham’s first real practical experience working with children occurred in this same spot at the Hyannis shelter where she was an intern this summer. There she was supervised by her aunt, Amy Brigham, the assistant teacher at Angel House.

“I wanted to see the clinical side of this,” Rebecca said. “And I love kids too so that helped.”

So once a week starting in June, Rebecca would visit the play space, holding, feeding and caring for children as young as a few weeks old, some of whom were born addicted to drugs.

Rebecca has witnessed firsthand, and played a significant role, in the development of these children in their formative years. “It has been an amazing program, just the way every kid is given their own personal regiment,” Rebecca said. “They kind of cater this to each kid and their specific needs.”

While she has enjoyed working with each child, Rebecca admitted she grew attached to one who, not unlike other children at Angel House, initially, “couldn’t hold her head up, couldn’t crawl, was very quiet and kept to herself. Now she is crawling, developing and has this great personality which is an amazing thing to see.”

Interns like Rebecca are not unusual at HAC. In fact one of Rebecca’s childhood friends she grew up with in Barnstable, Allison Rolfe, also spent the summer as an intern at Angel House.

Beyond simply assisting staff in their duties, Amy said that interns are a valuable component at Angel House, allowing children who have suffered early trauma to be exposed to new caregivers. “Having new people come in here helps them to understand what life is all about,” Amy said. “Yes, there is a routine, but it’s not static and things do change.”

The internship program, Amy said, also allows Angel House staff to improve upon their own skills as they teach what they have learned to students who may one day find themselves in a similar work environment after college.

Tags: Interns, Angel House, Rebecca Brigham, Amy Brigham