Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

A Barn Raising at Community Green with Cornell Students

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 05, 2016 @ 12:04 PM
Cornell_Day_4-7.jpgCornell University students were joined by guests at the NOAH Shelter and HAC staff in building a barn at the agency's Community Green property. 

A little more than a week before five Cornell students visited Cape Cod at the end of March, a small patch of land in Sandwich where a miniature donkey named Cooper, some goats and chickens roamed lay vacant.

With the guidance of HAC’s maintenance supervisor Keith Trott, those students helped transform that vacant land into a barn on the agency’s Community Green property where the goal is to one day build 60 affordable apartments.

The project was tackled as part of Cornell University’s alternative spring break, giving college students an opportunity to give back and learn about the impact social service agencies make in the lives of others. Over the past 12 years Cornell has sent a contingent to Cape Cod where they have assisted HAC in its mission to ensure all have access to safe, stable, decent housing.

“I guess I wanted to spend my time and energy away from school doing something valuable,” said Cornell freshman Evelyn Shan as to why she signed up for the trip. It was a similar response for those who joined Shan, including seniors Kentaro Asai of Yokohama, Japan, and Ben Kennet of Silver Spring, Maryland; junior Stacey Kim of Anaheim, California; and freshman Kyle (Eliot) Huang of Salta Lake City, Utah.

Over the course of four days, the Cornell students focused on building the barn while also taking time to visit the NOAH Shelter, to bowl at Ryan Family Amusements in Hyannis with children staying at The Village at Cataumet and to speak with staff about the work they do at HAC.

NOAH Guests Assist With Project

At Community Green, the group was joined by four guests staying at the NOAH Shelter – George, Gayla, Mike and George, all of whom lent their talents to the barn project. Shelter director Greg Bar expressed his appreciation for HAC giving the four the opportunity to help. “I’m just so proud of you guys,” Bar said to the NOAH guests at a farewell dinner for the Cornell students held at Shepley Showcase. “I saw the results after the first day. You just looked brighter.”

Kim, who served as the trip leader, spoke to the passion that staff like Bar have for the work they do and the people they serve. “I guess the really impressive thing about HAC are the people who are invested in housing and homelessness,” she said. “There is a lot of heart that goes into what you do. It is so moving and it really touched me.”

Cornell_Day_4-9.jpgTrip leader Stacey Kim (left) and Evelyn Shan show off some of the tools used in building the Community Green barn. 

HAC’s volunteers bring a similar sense of energy to supporting the agency, something that Kennet spoke to as he mentioned the more than 44,000 meals they serve on an annual basis to those at the NOAH Shelter. “I think it is good to know that volunteers are valued and their work means something and it is important,” he said.

The goal at HAC, CEO Rick Presbrey told the students, is to create a welcoming culture, particularly for “the people we serve because they often aren’t welcomed where they go.” That extended to the group from Cornell who he praised for their efforts as he urged them to continue to be charitable, leaving them with this piece of advice: “something magical happens when one person helps another.”

 

Tags: alternative spring break, Cornell University, Community Green, Community Service, volunteerism

A Family Bond Inspires a Connecticut Teen to Give Back

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

Thomas_Rosiello_Photo-1

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