Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Annual Meeting Celebrates Those Making a Difference

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, May 16, 2016 @ 12:47 PM
Annual_Meeting_16-Web6.jpg2016 Volunteer of the Year Ron Winner (second from left) with Tony (from left) and Lorraine Shepley and Ron's wife Wendy Winner.

Nearly five years ago Diane Barry came to Cape Cod at one of the lowest points in her life. She was homeless and struggling with substance abuse.

Her destination was HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. “I was looking for a new start,” Barry told nearly 300 attendees at HAC’s 42nd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition last month. “At Angel House I got the support that I needed and I was loved when I couldn’t love myself.”

Today, Barry is happily married, with three children, including a daughter she was able to reconnect with thanks to the support of Angel House. She will be five years sober in November. And she lives in a HAC-owned apartment in Hyannis, calling herself “blessed to be able to stay here on Cape Cod.”

Last year, HAC helped hundreds of people not unlike Barry, making a difference in their lives when they needed it most. At its Annual Meeting, HAC took time to honor those assisting the agency in that effort.

“We help everybody,” CEO Rick Presbrey said in speaking about the importance of HAC’s work. “We spend time with them. We care about them. We try to show them they are important to us and they are important to themselves and they have lots of potential and there are solutions to their problems.”

To that end, 784 volunteers donated 17,835 hours assisting staff in showing clients that they matter. One of those volunteers, Ron Winner, has done so by preparing meals at HAC’s NOAH Shelter and for mothers and their children at Angel House.

HAC recognized Winner with the Volunteer of the Year Award. “Ron shows other people he cares and that gives them hope,” HAC’s Deanna Bussiere said in presenting the award. “Sometimes hope is just what people need to try to change their lives.”

A Challenge to Others

This year’s Business Partner Award was given to Bill and Linda Zammer, owners of Cape Cod Restaurants, who have been longtime supporters of HAC. Mr. Zammer challenged other businesses to step up and help those in need. “That is what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s about us doing it.”

In presenting John and Kathy Ohman, co-founders of FORWARD (Friends Or Relatives With Autism And Related Disabilities) with the 2016 Human Services Partner Award, HAC’s Housing Development Project Manager Kate Ferreira said, “What I admire most about Kathy and John, among other things, is their commitment to their community and their perseverance in seeing things through.” HAC is working with FORWARD to build housing for adults with autism or related disabilities in Dennis. Two of the Ohmans three children are on the autism spectrum.

Annual_Meeting_16-Web11.jpgJohn  (left) and Kathy Ohman (second from right) with HAC CEO Rick Presbrey and HAC Housing Development Project Manager Kate Ferreira. The Ohmans were the recipients of the 2016 Human Services Award.

The Transitional Living Center Committee was the recipient of the Make a Difference Award. The committee is working to find a new site for the living center that will eventually replace HAC’s NOAH Shelter. Its members include Chair Elizabeth Wurfbain, executive director of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID); Deborah Krau, vice president of the Greater Hyannis Civic Association; Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald; Heidi Nelson, CEO of Duffy Health Center; Paula Schnepp, the regional network coordinator for the Cape & Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness; Abbott “Sid” Davidson of the Lyndon Paul Lorusso Charitable Foundation; and HAC’s Rick Presbrey.

“We all wanted to recognize this group for the work they’ve done so far and say, you know, let’s keep this going,” Presbrey said. “Let’s keep plowing along and get it done and let’s get something we’re all happy with.”

The meeting ended with HAC paying tribute to former employee and volunteer Mitzi Holmes who passed away at the end of last year. Mitzi’s sister-in-law Margaret and sister Johanna were in attendance with the latter proudly saying, “my sister talked nonstop about HAC and her passion for your work.”

Click this link to see more photos of this year's Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Annual Meeting, NOAH Shelter, Housing on Cape Cod, The Transitional Living Center, Transitional Living Center of Cape Cod Committee

HAC Annual Meeting Recognizes Community Leaders

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 @ 01:12 PM
Bill_and_Linda_Zammer_small.jpgWilliam and Linda Zammer will be recognized with HAC's 2016 Business Partner Award. 

Next month, HAC’s 42nd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition will usher in an entirely new award that recognizes those making a positive impact on Cape Cod.

The Transitional Living Center of Cape Cod Committee will be the first recipient of this honor which has been named the Make a Difference Award. The committee consists of local leaders working to find a location and model for a new homeless shelter outside of downtown Hyannis.

The committee is an offshoot of one created a few years ago that helped launch the Day Center at NOAH, a program that started in May 2014 as a way to provide shelter and services to the region’s homeless during the day. Members of The Transitional Living Center of Cape Cod Committee include Elizabeth Wurfbain, executive director of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID); Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald; Heidi Nelson, CEO of Duffy Health Center; Paula Schnepp, the regional network coordinator for the Cape & Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness; Abbott “Sid” Davidson of Centerville; Deborah Krau, vice president of the Greater Hyannis Civic Association; and HAC CEO Rick Presbrey.

The 2016 Business Partner Award will go to longtime HAC supporters William and Linda Zammer, owner of Cape Cod Restaurants, Inc. which includes the Coonamessett Inn and The Flying Bridge Restaurants in Falmouth, as well as Tugboats Restaurant in Hyannis and Clancy’s in Dennis Port. The couple funded the establishment of the Institute for Hospitality and Culinary Studies, named in their honor, at Cape Cod Community College. Over the years, homeless and formerly homeless individuals have received free culinary arts training at the institute.

ohmans01.jpg winner01.jpg

Kathy and John Ohman (photo above, left), co-founders of Friends or Relatives With Autism or Related Disabilities (FORWARD) are the recipients of this year’s Human Services Partner Award. The Dennis couple have three sons, two of whom are on the autism spectrum.

HAC is currently partnering with FORWARD to build housing for autistic adults on 4.9 acres of land on Hokum Rock Road in Dennis. The current proposal calls for eight units of housing. “We’re grateful to HAC and the Town of Dennis for recognizing the need for housing for developmentally disabled adults,” said Kathy, president of FORWARD. “We would not be able to do this without the support and generosity of HAC and the town.”

The final honoree at this year’s Annual Meeting is Ron Winner (photo above, right) who is being recognized as HAC’s Volunteer of the Year. Winner, who works at Shepley Wood Products, is a familiar face at both the NOAH Shelter and Angel House, where he regularly serves meals to clients.

Over the past two years, he has organized a cookout at the end of summer for women and their children staying at Angel House. He also has put together a holiday meal at the shelter, showing his compassion for those HAC serves.

Winner’s cooking skills were on full display to the public when he took part in HAC’s inaugural Quahog Challenge last summer, bringing home first place in the amateur category with Shepley colleague Kenny Mansbach.

HAC's 42nd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition

When: Thursday, April 7, 5-7:30 pm

Where: Cape Codder Resort & Spa at 1225 Iyannough Road, Hyannis

Networking begins at 5 pm with the program starting at 5:30 pm. To register for the event, click this link.  

Tags: Annual Meeting, Ron Winner, The Transitional Living Center, FORWARD at the Rock

HAC's 41st Annual Meeting Honors Housing Efforts on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 10:16 AM
DSC 7765 resized 600HAC Volunteer of the Year Maura Dankert (far right) with her family, staff from The Village at Cataumet and HAC volunteer Cynthia Goldberg.

A few years ago on a cold winter day, Karen Graveline, Maureen Carser and Dan McCullough found themselves outside battling frigid temperatures, horizontal sleet and freezing rain to check on two homeless women living in a tent not far from Hyannis Harbor.

As they trudged through the brush, and ice began to form on McCullough’s beard and in his colleagues’ hair, they called out, asking the pair, “Can we come in?”

The women, recognizing the voices, zipped open their tent where McCullough, Carser and Graveline, saw them as comfortable as could be, enjoying some food and drink while listening to the radio. “They looked up at us standing out there… And one of them said to us, ‘What are you people doing out there in this weather? Are you crazy?’” McCullough said, relaying the story to those in attendance at HAC’s 41st Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition last month at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

As the laughter in the audience died down, McCullough acknowledged that perhaps he was not alone. “I guess if we’re doing this kind of work and we’re defining success in such unusual terms, maybe we are crazy,” he said. “But if we are then you know what, there are a lot of you in this room who are crazy too because you’re doing the same thing: HAC’s middle name.”

McCullough and Carser, members of the nonprofit TEAM M25, were celebrated for their “craziness” – others may call it a passion for helping those most vulnerable – at HAC’s annual meeting with the 2014 Human Services Partner Award.

DSC 7455 resized 600Dan McCullough (right) of TEAM M25 with NOAH Shelter Director Greg Bar at HAC's Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition. 

In accepting the award, McCullough stressed that TEAM M25’s work – the organization cares for Cape Cod’s homeless that live outdoors – is driven not by success as defined by today’s society. Instead, he aligned success with another word tied to HAC’s work: assistance.

“Working with our people is not like building a boat in your backyard… where neighbors will come in and say, ‘Gee, you’ve been building that boat for 11 years. Is anything going to happen?’” he said. “It’s not that kind of thing. We’re dealing with human beings and we come from a place where we need to define our success in other ways.”

If success is indeed tied to assisting those in need, then it was visible in the award recipients at this year’s annual meeting, including those like the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID) which was chosen as HAC’s Business/Organization Partner of the year.

The BID was instrumental in helping HAC launch the Day Center at NOAH last May as part of a community effort that included the Duffy Health Center, the Hyannis Civic Association, the Town of Barnstable and the Barnstable Police Department. “We think of Hyannis as a downtown with a heart and we want to come together and help people be happier and have a better quality of life,” said Elizabeth Wurfbain, the executive director of BID, explaining why it was so important for the community to provide the region’s homeless with a safe place to go during the day.

This year’s Volunteers of the Year recipients – mortgage loan officer Darin Weeks of Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank and Maura Dankert of Birthday Wishes – are also shining examples of McCullough’s definition of success.

Weeks has been teaching at HAC’s first-time homebuyer class for the past decade, helping “hundreds of families navigate the complex home buying process in purchasing homes here on the Cape,” Cheryl Kramer, manager of HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center, said.

And once a month over the past six years, Bourne’s Dankert has been providing a little joy to children at The Village at Cataumet by throwing them birthday parties, complete with cake, ice cream, gifts and games. She has extended her monthly volunteerism to include driving families at the shelter to the local food pantry.

Dankert said her reward has been seeing the smiles of parents and their children as they have a few moments of normalcy amid the chaos of living in a homeless shelter. “To give them about an hour and a half of just fun time as they check their stressors at the door is just wonderful,” she said.

Having compassion for clients is something HAC CEO Rick Presbrey highlighted when recognizing employees at the agency – Michael Sweeney, Nancy Davison, Anne Williams, Dolores Barbati-Poore, Marthel Wass, Marie Johnson, Judy Van Buskirk, Lynne Perry, Alison Reid, AnnMarie Torrey, Lil Burlingame, Margaret Benaka and Ann Rebello - who have 20 or more years of service.

David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s executive board, expanded upon this sentiment in his remarks, commending staff for “their depth of knowledge and the empathy for the population they deal with.”

DSC 7755 resized 600HAC's Presbrey Public Service Award winner Paul Ruchinskas with his wife Loretta. 

This year’s recipient of the Presbrey Public Service Award, Paul Ruchinskas of Brewster, also had kind words for the work of HAC as he has had a close relationship with the agency over the past 13 years. During that time, Ruchinskas has served as the affordable housing specialist at the Cape Cod Commission, helping it allocate federal and state funds to support affordable development in the region through the county’s HOME Program.

“Paul Ruchinskas has spent his professional life changing other people’s lives, thousands of families lives he changed for the better in the most fundamental way,” said last year’s Presbrey award winner Larry Brown as he introduced Ruchinskas. “Ask anyone who is homeless. Ask anyone who spent Christmas with their kids in a motel room. I can’t think of a more complex field having to learn and then having to learn the stuff of it and having to learn the way of it, and then to do so much good (as he has).”

Tags: Annual Meeting, HAC, TEAM M25, Maura Dankert, Rick Presbrey, Birthday Wishes, Dan McCullough, Paul Ruchinskas, Hyannis BID