Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Richard Waystack: Affordable Housing Champion

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 @ 10:33 AM
HWLW-2 ( Richard Waystack).jpgBernadette and Richard Waystack during this summer's 25th Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. While in Harwich, they got some support from their granddaughter Juliet. 

With a 31-year career in the real estate industry on Cape Cod, Harwich’s Richard Waystack understands the vital role a home plays in one’s life. “It is the basis of all we do,” he said.

And so it is through housing that Waystack has not only made a living, but given meaning to his life. It started over three decades ago when he was introduced to the late Bob Murray, a former grant writer for HAC and a passionate advocate for affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Waystack helped Murray with a project undertaken by the Harwich Community Development Corporation which built seven affordable homes on Community Way during the 1980s. “When you drive by those houses they are like any other house in the neighborhood,” Waystack said. “And the people that live there are your neighbors and work here in town.”

Since that time, both Richard and his wife Bernadette, an artist and art teacher at Monomoy Regional High School, have been tireless in their efforts to address the region’s housing needs. Richard was a board member for the Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing (HECH), the former president and director of The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, and has served as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod.

Over the past four years, the couple have walked the length of Cape Cod, from Provincetown to Falmouth, for one week every July as part of the annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. They have done so in memory of Richard’s longtime friend Bob Murray, all while raising funds for HAC’s housing programs and services.

Richard said he and his wife were drawn to the agency after meeting HAC’s Margaret Benaka and Deanna Bussiere who have served as the drivers for those taking part in the annual walk. “Because those ladies were so passionate my wife said we should do more to help because HAC seems to be one of the biggest parts of the solution in battling housing insecurity,” Richard said.

The Waystack’s passion for supporting HAC has only grown because of the need for affordable housing that still exists in the region. “I think there are some great opportunities at HAC with a dynamic group of new leadership,” Richard said. “HAC can be the prime force in creating housing security here on Cape Cod.”

It is a cause that Richard, who was recently recognized with a Good Neighbor Award for his volunteerism from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, will continue to champion. “What people don’t see is the other side of Cape Cod,” Richard said. “There are many people struggling and we’ve got to provide housing for them.”

Why We Give: Homeless Outreach

While Richard Waystack’s passion for addressing the region’s housing issues spans the gamut of services HAC provides, he expressed particular interest in the agency’s homeless outreach program.

Started in June 2016, the program currently consists of three case managers – Derick Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell, and Shannon Tracy – who are connecting the homeless on Cape Cod to the services they need to move into safe, stable housing. That housing can allow them to turn their lives around. From January to the end of September, the trio has worked with 175 clients, placing 26 into permanent housing.

“What that does is give hope to people,” Waystack said of the outreach program. “There are a huge population on the Cape who are not able to afford good, safe, warm housing… With permanent housing people are able to get better jobs and be a part of the economy. And they are able to better their own circumstances in life. Without permanent housing that is difficult for people.”

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing with love walk, Deanna Bussiere, Richard Waystack, Bernadette Waystack, Derick Bussiere, Bob Murray, Margaret Benaka, homeless outreach, Harwich

Realtors Provide HAC Clients with Fresh Start

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 03:56 PM
Welcome Home Edited.jpgHAC's Mary LeClair (from left) and Deanna Bussiere with Sunny Fellman, chair of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors Young Professionals Network which recently organized a drive for the agency's Welcome Home Gift Basket Program. 

The start of the new year always represents a chance at a fresh beginning. And in January, the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors provided HAC clients with just that when they donated six laundry baskets filled with a variety of basic home goods that will go to them when they make the transition from homelessness to permanent housing.

Since 2014, the association’s Young Professionals Network has spearheaded several drives in which they have collected a variety of household goods ranging from bath and kitchen towels to pots and pans to oven mitts to sponges to soap that provide our clients a solid foundation once they move into their new homes. The drives are tied to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket Program.

In January, Sunny Fellman, chair of the Young Professionals Network, and Patricia Pry, sales and marketing director for the realtors association, dropped off the donations to HAC. “This is the right thing to do for our community,” Pry said of her organization’s involvement in these drives. “We want to keep this going, absolutely.”

Those interested in learning more about the gift basket program or donating to it, can contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at either volunteer@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 279.

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, Deanna Bussiere, Philanthropy, donations, charitable giving, Mary LeClair, Cape Cod & Islands Associaton of Realtors

Longtime HAC Employee Honored for Her Work

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 10:52 AM
Deanna Bussiere resized 600Terry Duenas (left) with HAC’s Deanna Bussiere and her husband David at Cape Cod Community Media Center’s Annual Meeting.

Inside the relatively dark studio at the Cape Cod Community Media Center, the spotlight shone brightly on HAC’s own Deanna Bussiere at the end of June.

The media center is a familiar place for Bussiere, who helps organize HAC’s shelter telethon which is held there every December. And because of her work on the telethon, the media center honored Bussiere with the Barbara Bird Community Impact Award. The award is named after a longtime producer at the media center whose outside activities included volunteering at HAC’s NOAH Shelter in Hyannis.

“The recipient of this year’s award is a really special person,” Terry Duenas, executive director of the media center, said in recognizing Bussiere’s accomplishments.

While he acknowledged HAC’s team that helps to put on the telethon, Duenas singled out Bussiere at the media center’s annual meeting: “They have one person who is
absolutely a stand out because I think they give her the jobs that no one else will do and she gets them done.”

Duenas went even further in an e-mail to Bussiere, who first started working at HAC in 2001, letting her know she had been chosen for the award. “Your amazing behind the scenes work for years with the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon and many other outreach projects make you a great candidate for this award,” he wrote. “You are a consummate team player who wants no personal credit, but is always a supportive and dedicated member of the Housing Assistance Corporation staff.”

Along with the award, which hangs proudly in Bussiere’s office, she was given a bouquet of flowers from her coworkers. Elias Benaka, whose mother Margaret works in the same department as Bussiere, presented her with the gift.

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Cape Cod Community Media Center, HAC, Deanna Bussiere, Terry Duenas

New HAC Employee has Longtime Affiliation with Agency

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 @ 03:50 PM

Derick Bussiere Photo resized 600

Technically, when Derick Bussiere started working at HAC in April as a housing search specialist he was considered a new employee. But to many he was a familiar face thanks to his longtime involvement in the nonprofit as a volunteer.

The Dennis native is probably best known for his musical contributions to past HAC events. He is currently the drummer for the band Twenty Eight which has performed at the Cape Walk to End Homelessness, the Volunteer Recognition Dinner and on HAC’s 4th of July parade floats.

Along with Twenty Eight, Bussiere has lent his talents to FYI (Free Your Imagination), his father David Bussiere’s band which has also played at several HAC functions.

Derick’s connection to HAC started over 12 years ago when his mother, Deanna Bussiere, the nonprofit’s event and resource development coordinator, was hired. His first days volunteering were spent helping HAC with mailings, including folding this same newsletter he is featured in this month.

His involvement in HAC activities quickly expanded to events ranging from the NOAH Shelter Telethon to the Golf Day to End Homelessness.

His mother recalled that both Derick and her younger son Devin took part in a Fun Day for all the shelters in which children worked on arts and crafts. When the pair came home Derick told his mother that one of the boys he had been working with that day did not have a home to call his own. “I let them both know ‘You should be so grateful for what you have,’” Deanna said.

It is a lesson that Derick, who holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts Boston, has kept with him to this day. His resume includes stints at the Department of Youth Services Metro Pretrial Unit and Massachusetts Mentor, where he worked with children with a host of personal issues.

Those experiences gave him an insight into how adults can find themselves in similar situations. His job at HAC is to provide not only a sense of hope to clients, but a real mechanism by which their lives can change for the better. “My job is to put a roof over somebody’s head,” he said.

He acknowledged that some cases are more difficult than others, but he has been buoyed by the successes he has had so far. That happened with one homeless woman who had been staying at the NOAH Shelter and sleeping on nearby beaches.

“She had been physically and mentally abused and had gotten kicked out of her house,” Derick said. “Just three days after she came in we were able to get her assistance and place her in a home... I gave her a call the other day and she was doing really well and had started a garden at the place. She seems to be getting back on track which is good.”

These type of stories are heartwarming to his mother who praised Derick for the compassion and empathy he has shown for HAC clients. “I’ve listened to other colleagues telling me, ‘My goodness your son is such a great addition to HAC,’” she said. “I’m so proud of his accomplishments and the man he has become today.”

Tags: HAC, Deanna Bussiere, Derick Bussiere

HAC's Workout Group More Than Just Physical Exercise

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 11:36 AM
HAC Workout resized 600 HAC's Deanna Bussiere walks the balance beam during a circuit training session with personal trainer Julie Johnson (second from right).

“You didn’t touch it,” Ruth Bechtold of HAC’s Energy Department teased her fellow coworker, Joan Maney, as they ran power drills along a row of orange cones situated in front of the Hyannis West Elementary School. “You have to go back.”

“I came close,” Maney shot back, in reference to the mandatory requirement of touching each cone as she ran past.

Welcome to the afternoon HAC workout group – it is part comedy, part social and all fun, with a good dose of physical exercise thrown in. “You could make a YouTube video of us and it’d get a million hits,” said Gael Kelleher, HAC’s director of real estate. “We would go viral.”

The sessions take place twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays and first started in October 2012 as a HAC health and wellness initiative. Under the tutelage of personal trainer Julie Johnson, participants go through an array of activities that test one’s endurance, strength and physical prowess.

On this day a total of four HAC employees – event and resource coordinator Deanna Bussiere was the other participant – took part in the voluntary activity that comes with a minimal cost, a portion of which the company covers.

Exercises ranged from walking across a series of balance beams, planking on a swing and traversing a jungle gym which allowed Bechtold and Bussiere to recapture a part of their childhood by testing out the kids slides.

The best part of the workout may be the bonds formed among those active in the group where teasing, laughter and jokes are rampant, underscored by a genuine affinity they have towards one another.

HAC Workout 2 resized 600Joan Maney (left) and Ruth Bechtold (right) of HAC tone their arms as trainer Julie Johnson looks on.

“I had my hip replaced,” Kelleher says at one point, prompting Bechtold to ask, “What did I have replaced?”

“You’re just old,” Kelleher joked.

And as they did push-ups on wooden tables Joan marveled at the wildlife around her. “Oh, I got an inch worm,” she said. “Two inch worms!”

“There are ten of them over here,” Kelleher said.

Of all the participants Kelleher may get the most out of the group, especially after having hip replacement surgery in December 2013. “I couldn’t even walk or go grocery shopping afterwards,” Kelleher admits. “It is so much better now. I never want to come, ever, but I feel so much better when it is over. I’m so glad that I do it.”

Compared to the rest of the group Kelleher said she is “usually a few steps behind,” though she does not let that stop her.

And Johnson is flexible, modifying her workouts to accommodate any pain or discomfort that those like Kelleher may be feeling.

What makes the sessions unique, said Margaret Benaka, HAC’s resource development coordinator, is that Johnson tailors the workouts to each individual. “You don’t have to be in the best shape,” she said. “It is for everybody.”

Benaka, who writes a newsletter about the exercise group, has been one of the few to participate since its inception. “I have seen a big difference even when I do yard work,” she said. “I don’t hurt anymore whereas when I used to rake the yard or put down mulch I’d feel like I was in traction. You can actually feel your body getting used to working out.”

Bussiere said the activity also serves to exercise other body parts, including the brain. “There’s been ideas that have come out of these workouts,” she said. “You get your hormones pumping and ideas start to pop into your head.”

HAC is the first company where Johnson has been able to apply her expertise to weekly workout sessions, calling this contingent “a fun group… I think there is a real camaraderie to this. They cheer each other on and support each other,” she said. “It has been cool to watch them get stronger and help each other and get healthier. And as we know the healthier your employees are the better work you get from them, right?”

HAC Workout 3 resized 600Though there are plenty of laughs, the workout group also gets a healthy dose of physical exercise that helps to improve their strength and conditioning.

Tags: HAC Workout Group, Exercise, HAC, Deanna Bussiere, Gael Kelleher, Physical Fitness, Julie Johnson, Margaret Benaka