Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Preventing Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 @ 03:15 PM

dsc_8630-resized-600

When it comes to money, $500 may not seem like much. But at HAC, it often is the difference between keeping a client in their home and them becoming homeless.

Over the past 25 years, HAC’s Project Prevention has worked to prevent homelessness through one-time emergency funds that go to pay utility bills, rent or mortgage arrears for individuals and families on Cape Cod and the Islands.

“A relatively small amount of money can resolve a really big problem,” said HAC’s Information and Client Services Manager Liz Belcher who assists individuals at risk of becoming homeless. Monica Mitchell, HAC’s family services supervisor, assists families at risk of becoming homeless.

Among Belcher’s recent clients is a woman in her 30s who holds a Section 8 voucher and was unable to work due to an injury. While she filed for unemployment and an adjustment on her rent, Belcher said, “both of those take time” so HAC used $439 from Project Prevention funds to cover her rent.

A frequent request, Belcher said, is individuals seeking money to prevent their utilities from being shut off. “Usually anywhere between $150 and $450 we give as a down payment on someone’s utility arrearage,” said Belcher. “And then we get them on a payment plan. It is really a leg up.”

homeless-prevention

On average, Belcher said, she sees at least 15 clients a week who need funds to keep them in their homes or apartments.

That funding comes from two sources – the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC).

DYECH’s funding supports HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families while BIC’s funding goes towards individuals in danger of becoming homeless. Both raise funds for HAC through the sale of gift certificates to local supermarkets and restaurants that are sold at face value to the public. Because the faith-based groups purchase those certificates in bulk, they receive a discount, allowing five percent of each purchase to go towards HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts.

Since it was formed in 1993, DYECH has raised over $1.5 million to help keep local families in their homes and apartments and off the streets. BIC has raised nearly $400,000 for individuals.

For roughly 20 years, Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, has been involved in DYECH’s efforts to support HAC’s Project Prevention. “It is good for the soul,” he said of his involvement. “You’re doing something good for another human being or family.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Cash for Causes-1

If you shop for food at a supermarket, then you can help prevent homelessness on Cape Cod. It’s that simple.

HAC sells gift certificates at face value to the following stores: Lambert’s; Shaw’s/Star Market; Stop & Shop; Ring Brothers; Peterson’s Market & Fancy’s in Osterville; Roche Brothers; Cape Cod Natural Foods; and Whole Foods as well as Country Garden; CVS; 99 Restaurant & Pub; and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Because the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC) purchase those certificates in bulk, they receive a 5 percent discount on them. For each certificate sold, that 5 percent goes to HAC to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.

Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth said, “it should be a no-brainer” for people to participate in the program. “We are supposed to support our neighbors.”

Those interested in purchasing gift certificates to support HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts can do so at our office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis.

Along with selling gift certificates, DYECH organizes free concerts twice a year where they collect donations on behalf of Project Prevention. It also works with local restaurants who donate a portion of their patrons’ checks to Project Prevention several times a year. Visit www.dyech.org for details on upcoming fundraisers.

 

Tags: homeless prevention, homelessness prevention, grocery cards for prevention, Gift Cards for prevention, Project Prevention, homelessness, DYECH, Liz Belcher, BIC, Barnstable Interfaith Council, David Akin

DYECH Celebrates Fundraising Milestone

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 07, 2017 @ 11:26 AM
DYECH Edited.jpgAt its meeting last month, DYECH presented HAC's Cassi Danzl with an $8,000 check which pushed its fundraising total to $1.5 million since the group's inception. The money has been used to prevent families on Cape Cod from becoming homeless.

In the grand scheme of things, $8,000 may seem like a relatively small amount of money, but in the beginning of March, it represented a major milestone for a group of residents committed to helping their neighbors in need.

When that donation was given to Cassi Danzl, HAC’s director of Family and Individual Services, it pushed the group, better known as the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH), over $1.5 million raised since it was formed in 1993.

HAC founder Rick Presbrey said the genesis of DYECH was “to prevent people from entering shelters and motels and keep them in housing,” an effort spearheaded by the late Bob Murray in conjunction with parishioners and staff at Christian churches in Dennis and Yarmouth that had reached out to HAC asking how they could support the agency.

And so DYECH was born. Golf tournaments, ham and bean dinners, chicken pot pie suppers and community concerts are just a few of the ways they have raised money to prevent homelessness on Cape Cod and the Islands over the past 24 years.

DYECH has also been able to raise funds from the bulk purchase of gift certificates to participating stores such as Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and CVS. It then sells those gift certificates at face value to those in the community. For every dollar spent, DYECH receives five percent that goes directly to HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families.

Debbie McDevitt-Hayes of Yarmouth, who has been involved with DYECH since the beginning, recalled that the late Art Kimber, a member of the clergy at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, and Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, were instrumental in the launch of DYECH and bringing neighboring churches into the fold.

DYECH’s Early Days
“Those early days were exciting days for sure,” she said, noting that it was less about the money raised and more about the number of families they were able to help. “HAC was good at keeping us posted as to putting a personal face on what was happening. Sometimes you’d meet some of the clients that you helped which was really exciting.”

As to DYECH reaching this fundraising milestone last month, she said, “I’m sure if we put the faces on that $1.5 million it would have a huge impact.”

Akin said the reason for the continued dedication to DYECH is simple: there are people in need. “They say that for 60 or more percent of Cape Codders, if one or two paychecks don’t come, the party is over,” he said. “There is a real hand-to-mouth economy for the have nots.”

“I think we all have to help each other,” said Yarmouthport’s Barbara Lussier, who manages the gift certificate program for DYECH. “Some of us are more fortunate than others, but I think it’s important for us to give back.”

While all agreed there is still more to do, current DYECH President Steve Sozanski was proud of all the group has accomplished. “It’s mind-boggling to think we’ve raised that much money organizing meals and concerts three or four times a year and buying and selling gift cards in bulk,” he said.

Presbrey agreed, calling DYECH’s work “amazing, actually. For them to do it all these years is impressive and also the energy with which they do it. They’ve kept up the program and prevented people from being homeless and keeping them in their current housing. It’s been a huge thing, really.”

To learn more about ways you can help prevent homelessness simply by purchasing a gift card to a local supermarket, store or restaurant, click this link.

You can also purchase gift cards at HAC's office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. Contact Margaret Benaka at 508-771-5400, ext. 272, or at mbenaka@haconcapecod.org for more information. 

Tags: DYECH, homeless prevention, Cassi Danzl, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, Gift Cards for prevention, Steve Sozanski, Rick Presbrey, David Akin, Barbara Lussier, Debbie McDevitt-Hayes, St. Pius X School

Boston Marathon Takes on Special Meaning for Cape Resident

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 @ 02:39 PM

 describe the image

Since 1999 Gerald “Curly” Carey has run 27 marathons, but there was only one he did not finish – last year’s Boston Marathon.

The marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt for the suspects were well documented in the news, capturing the nation’s attention in the days and weeks that followed. And for many runners, like South Dennis’ Carey, it represented a difficult time. “I would say the first week afterward was very emotional watching TV and knowing that five years prior I would have been coming in at the time the bombs went off,” he said. “It was very emotional and it still is.”

He anticipated this year’s Boston Marathon – his 14th time running it – will carry similar weight. “It will be an emotional race for me, especially the last mile and a half because I didn’t get to finish last year,” he said.

Instead, like the thousands of other race participants who had not yet crossed the finish line, Carey found himself searching for loved ones – his wife Kelly was planning on watching him finish – as helicopters flew overhead and the sounds of fire and police sirens could be heard racing towards the crime scene.

He estimates he has helped raise close to $50,000 for the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council’s (DYECH) Project Prevention since 2001 when he was inspired to somehow give back in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A conversation with David Akin, a deacon at St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth and a member of DYECH, convinced him to focus his efforts locally. “He told me we have a big problem on Cape Cod,” he said, in reference to the region’s homeless population.

Though he has run dozens of other races, Carey holds a special place in his heart for the Boston event, listing a litany of reasons from its history to its stature as a worldwide event to the difficulty of the course itself. The race also serves as a fundraiser to a cause important to Carey: fighting homelessness on Cape Cod.

Carey’s money has gone towards Project Prevention which HAC oversees and which ensures Cape Codders struggling with their bills will never find themselves on the street. “Last year I was able to raise $2,044 and through that effort at least three families were able to stay in their homes and avoid being homeless,” Carey wrote in his fundraising letter for this year’s marathon.

He expressed pleasure in being in a position to help those who are less fortunate. “When I find out where the money is going and that it keeps people in their homes it makes me proud,” he said.

Along with running marathons, Carey serves monthly meals to the homeless as a member of the Yarmouth Rotary, an experience he has found rewarding. “I have a beautiful house in South Dennis. I have a good life,” he said. “One of the things my parents taught me is you have to give back. That is what keeps me going.”

It was his mother Mary, who passed away in 1997, who he dedicated his first Boston Marathon to in 1999. To this day the 57-year-old Carey honors her spirit every time he runs the historic race which will take on special meaning this month because of the lives that were lost and those that were injured last year. “If I had to run it on crutches I would do it,” he said. “It really means a lot to me.”

Help Curly reach his goal! Send a tax-deductible donation to "Run to Prevent Homelessness," c/o Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council, P.O. BOX 507, Yarmouthport, MA 02675

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Athletics, Curly Carey, Boston Marathon, David Akin