Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Donor Spotlight: Carolyn Crowell 

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 02:41 PM
Carolyn Crowell-1.jpgCarolyn Crowell knitting at her home in Sandwich. Over the years, her handmade mittens have made their way onto the hands of clients in our family shelters. 

This past October, Carolyn Crowell celebrated her 91st birthday. When asked what the secret is to a long, healthy, happy life, she said, “keep active for as long as you can.”

Despite the aches and pains that come with old age, Crowell has been able to do exactly that. She is a voracious reader. She is on the Board of Directors for Camp Farley; sits on the Sandwich Historical Commission; and clips news articles for the Town of Sandwich archives.

This January, Crowell stepped down as a volunteer at Plimouth Plantation where she initially portrayed the role of Elizabeth Warren, a Pilgrim from the 1600s, before taking a behind-the-scenes role, knitting costumes and other garments in the wardrobe department.

Crowell still continues to knit, primarily mittens which she regularly makes for the Unitarian Church of Barnstable’s annual craft fair. She has donated some of her mittens to HAC where they have made their way onto the hands of clients at Angel House in Hyannis and Carriage House in North Falmouth.

The two shelters both serve mothers and their children; Angel House’s adult clients are all overcoming addiction.

Crowell was proud of the fact that her handmade creations have been able to provide some much-needed warmth to HAC clients that are most in need. And she had high praise for HAC staff who work with this population who have all been homeless. “You’ve got to have a special skill to work with those people to convince them there is a chance things will get better,” she said.

Crowell, who has witnessed HAC grow in size, scope and stature over the three decades she has supported the agency, was impressed with the agency’s development over the years. “What struck me is the diversity of housing-related activities and the staff members who were acquainted with and can help everyone from the homeless to low-income residents to people trying to buy a home,” she said. “I’m sure when [HAC founder] Rick [Presbrey] started this, he never dreamed it would ever get to be this big, but it kept going and going.”

That growth may be the result of the need that exists here on the Cape. “The cost of housing on the Cape is quite expensive, especially where so much of our economy is based on tourism and so much of our service-related jobs don’t pay that well,” she said. “Therefore, we have many people who haven’t had the money or the good job to afford to buy a house. So they have to make do with substandard housing.”

Because of the difficulties facing many Cape Codders, Crowell understands supporting an agency like HAC is crucial to addressing the region’s housing issues.

Why I Give: Carolyn Crowell 

In 1923, newlyweds David and Dorothy Crowell celebrated their marriage by purchasing Crow Farm in Sandwich, building a home on the 45-acre property where they raised their three children, Howard, Carolyn and Eleanor.

That home still stands today and is owned by the Crowell’s middle child, Carolyn, who was born three years after it was built. At 91, she has lived the majority of her life there, first as a child and then when she returned home in 1978 after stints off-Cape in New Hampshire, Michigan, and New Jersey where she worked primarily as a 4-H county extension agent.

Her home – its longevity and the stability it has provided in her life – may be one reason why Crowell has been such a longtime, passionate supporter of HAC. Over the past three decades, she has been an annual donor to HAC and served as a volunteer, helping with everything from mailings to serving on an advisory committee for one of HAC’s properties.

She explained her commitment to HAC in this way: “Organizations like HAC can do things I can’t do that need to be done. I can help other people who have the expertise and inspiration to carry on.”

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Tags: Philanthropy, Carriage House, Angel House, charitable giving, HAC donors, Donor Spotlight, Carolyn Crowell, knitting, Sandwich