As the holiday season approaches, there is a simple way you can support HAC’s housing programs by shopping online at AmazonSmile. The website (www.smile.amazon.com) operates the same as its parent company, Amazon, does while allowing you to give back to HAC.
Amazon will donate .5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to HAC. All you have to do is log in to AmazonSmile using your Amazon or Amazon Prime account and then designate Housing Assistance Corp. as your charity of choice.
Then comes the fun part: shopping for gifts. By doing so, you will epitomize the spirit of the season – helping those most in need on Cape Cod at a time when they could use it the most.
Housing Assistance Corporation Blog
A procession of nearly 200 motorcycles driving from Buzzards Bay over the Bourne Bridge to HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth is a sight to behold. And on the first Sunday in November, it happens like clockwork every year. Their mission is simple – spread a little holiday joy to children in HAC’s family shelters.
It’s all part of the Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run which has been taking place for the past 29 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of organizer Christina Wetherbee who died of cancer the following spring.
Since that time, her husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife Clarissa have taken over the reins, organizing the toy run with the support of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG) of Pocasset. “The best part of the day is seeing the bikes show up and the people supporting this,” Joe said. “And then, of course, the look on the kids’ faces because we could have 200 to 250 bikes. To see that many bikes is impressive.”
One of the longest-standing toy runs in the state, the event generates interest from motorcyclists throughout Cape Cod and even off-Cape with some coming from as far away as Boston and Rhode Island. Leading the group every year is Joe Wetherbee who will do so once again next month on his Can-Am Spyder.
Last year, participants delivered over $3,000 worth of toys that went to children in all four of HAC’s family shelters – Carriage House, The Village at Cataumet, Angel House, and Scattered Sites – as well as to children of families in need that HAC serves.
Families are given the gifts for the children to open during the holiday season.
Yvonne Rivers, the facility director at Carriage House, said the gifts come at a time of year when families could use it the most. “The holidays can be tough for our clients, especially because they are in a shelter,” she said.
The toy run serves as a meaningful show of support and kindness delivered by complete strangers on motorcycles. “It’s great to see the joy and smiles on children’s faces,” Rivers said. “The kids love it.”
|18th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run
When: Sunday, November 5
Where: Eagles Hall at 39 Cohasset Avenue, Buzzards Bay
Registration: 8:30-10:30 AM
The run begins at 11 AM, starting at Eagles Hall and ending at Carriage House. Participants are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy (no stuffed animals or violent toys) or a minimum $10 donation. Those unable to participate in the ride can drop off donations to Cape Cod Harley-Davidson at either 750 MacArthur Boulevard in Pocasset or at 615 Main Street in Hyannis.
As they have in recent years, Seafood Sam’s in Falmouth and Sandwich will provide chili, clam chowder, and hot dogs for participants.
|Barnstable Sunrise Rotary Club members Norman Wilson (from left), Wylton Hampton and Randy Gold dropped off 10 backpacks filled with basic school supplies for HAC clients.|
Backpacks and back-to-school supplies are a necessity for every student. But for some HAC clients struggling just to get by, they are a luxury they can’t afford.
Thankfully, HAC has generous donors like the Barnstable Sunrise Rotary Club which fill that need. At the end of August, three of its members – Randy Gold, Wylton Hampton and Norman Wilson – dropped off 10 backpacks filled with basic school supplies that will go to children in HAC shelters and those just out of shelter.
The club, which has 10 members, meets every Monday morning for breakfast. In the middle of last month, HAC’s Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford met with the group, giving info on the agency’s shelters, including Angel House which serves mothers overcoming addiction and their children.
After that meeting, the group elected to do something to give back to children in shelter. “We are hands-on. When we see a need, we fill it,” Gold said. “We do small projects like this and we like to help where we can.”
|Westwood Girl Scouts Tessa Scolaro (from left), Maggie Fahey, Jade Landolphi, and Laurel Barnett with HAC’s Paula Mallard.|
Bicycling is one of the simplest and most effective modes of transportation and thanks to the generosity of Girl Scout Troop 75006 of Westwood, clients at The Village at Cataumet now have the ability to use them both for fun and for more practical means.
The scouts – Laurel Barnett, 13, Maggie Fahey, 14, Jade Landolphi, 14, and Tessa Scolaro, 13 - donated a total of 14 bicycles, nine helmets and two bike pumps to the shelter in May. The donations were a mix of children’s and adult bikes; all but one was used and had been checked over by staff at Landry’s Bikes in Norwood or Common Wheels in Allston.
As part of the donation, Arthur Diangelis of Art’s Bike Shop in North Falmouth, has agreed to provide any reasonable repairs over the next two years. And the troop will pay for any smaller replacement parts, including tire tubes or brake pads, that may be needed for those repairs.
As to why the group chose The Village at Cataumet, Troop Leader Amy Barnett said, that they either vacation in this part of Cape Cod or have homes here.
Her daughter said they decided the shelter would be a good fit because the clients lack the means to get to places. “We felt it was important to have bikes for transportation for adults,” Laurel said.
Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet, said as part of the project the children had an opportunity to learn about the shelter and the people it serves. During those discussions, Mallard told them that many clients have no real way to get around which led to the bike donation. Any client can use the bicycles which will remain the property of the shelter.
Amy Barnett said the project was a rewarding one for the scouts. “I hope they learned that even though they are young, if you have a good idea, you have the ability to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
|Mike Ingham (from left), Paul Ruane and Jim Ruane of the Osterville Men’s Club helped deliver donations for HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program.|
The Osterville Men’s Club is using its 60th anniversary this year not only as a reason to celebrate, but as cause to give back to the community.
“Sixty is a time in your life when you reflect back and it’s also a time to give back,” said club member Paul Ruane. He was one of four club members who collected a variety of new and used household goods, ranging from lamps to kitchen appliances to towels to bedsheets, which were donated to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program.
Ruane spearheaded the effort, filling up several truckloads of donations and delivering them to HAC with fellow club members Jim Ruane, Mike Ingham and Jack Mechem. The donations will go to HAC clients who are making the transition from shelter to permanent housing.
This spring, Paul Ruane said, the club also took time to support Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands Meals on Wheels program. And in October, they plan on volunteering a day to make small home improvements to a handful of homes for those in need in the community.
This September, they have invited HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi to speak to the club about the work the agency does.
|Click here to learn more about HAC's Welcome Home Gift Basket program and how you or your business can help support our clients in shelter as they transition into permanent housing.|
|Jane Goodman (from left), Rev. John Rice, DJ Sullivan, and Richard and Bernadette Waystack during the 2016 Housing With Love Walk.|
Several familiar faces will walk one end of the Cape to the other next week, all to raise awareness to the housing challenges facing the region. A small contingent of those walkers will do so to support HAC’s housing programs on Cape Cod and the Islands as part of the 25th Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk.
HAC is one of nine housing nonprofits that will participate in the annual event. This year’s walk will begin next Monday, July 10 in Provincetown, with participants walking more than 100 miles and through each town on Cape Cod. It concludes on Sunday, July 16 in Falmouth.
Those walking on behalf of HAC next week include Richard and Bernadette Waystack of Harwich, Rev. John Rice of South Yarmouth, and Nekea Frisbee of Falmouth. While this will be Frisbee’s first year participating in the walk for HAC, both the Waystacks and Rev. Rice have done so in recent years.
On the final day of the event, HAC supporters are invited to meet at the Falmouth Village Green at 11 am and walk the last 3.5 miles to the Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole.
To learn more about the walk, click here. To donate to the walk, click here.
|Dawn Rosell with her son Jacob, who collected several boxes full of toys, books and stuffed animals for children in HAC's shelters.|
Inside Dawn Rosell’s car was a trunk full of Dr. Seuss books, puzzles, board games and stuffed animals. It was every child’s dream though her own son, Jacob, decided he would rather give them to someone in need rather than keep them for himself.
“I like helping other people,” was his explanation when he dropped off those donations to HAC in the middle of last month. Over the course of two weeks, the West Villages Elementary School second grader collected more than six boxes of books and toys and two bags of stuffed animals that will be given to children in HAC’s family shelters.
His mother said Jacob was motivated to organize the drive following a Fun Run at his school to raise funds for playground equipment. “He decided he wanted to do something here in our community,” she said. “It was very inspiring to me. It makes me feel so proud that he wanted to do something to help other kids and people in need.”
|A 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.
|Barnstable High School grad Lauren Hansen (middle) with HAC's Lynne Perry (left) and Jodi Keegan with a few of the books she collected and donated to children in HAC's family shelters.|
When it comes to the country’s civil rights movement, Ruby Bridges was a seminal figure in advancing equal opportunities for African-Americans, becoming the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South in the fall of 1960.
In doing so, Bridges helped open doors to educational and literacy programs not previously offered to minorities.
In their final months as students at Barnstable High School, seniors Lauren Hansen and Rachel Madore learned about Bridges’ contributions to society in their Understanding Diversity class taught by Michele Netto. The pair then turned the lessons of Bridges’ life story into action, collecting used children’s books that were donated to HAC in the middle of last month.
The books will be given to children in HAC’s shelters. Hansen said she and Madore wanted to utilize books as a way to empower HAC’s clients and enrich their lives.
|A 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.”