Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: A Responsibility to One Another

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 12:05 PM
DSC_3522.jpgAmong the volunteers at this year's Big Fix were a number of high school students on Cape Cod. 

Every Sunday, as a child, I would go to my grandparent’s house for dinner. During those meals, they would give me a list of small chores to accomplish while I was there. 

Embedded in these chores were life lessons; it was a way of showing my love for my grandparents. Doing these tasks was also a reminder of our connection to one another and that, in large ways and small, we all have a responsibility to each other.

As my grandparents got older, their needs grew to the point where they relied on more than just small chores. When I went away to college, my cousins stepped up, making sure my grandparents were not only loved, but received the care and comfort they needed to survive.

Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury in today’s society. Families are often scattered throughout the country and picking up the phone to have a sister, brother, son or daughter quickly help is not so simple.

Once a year at HAC, we fill this void through our Big Fix. It’s an inspiring event, one that saw 340 volunteers help 18 complete strangers last month as part of our 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth.

The volunteers did relatively small tasks – clearing brush, installing new kitchen tile, painting a deck – in a few hours. The work may seem minor in nature, but the homeowners we spoke to admitted there was no way they could have done this on their own.

These people included a 91-year-old World War II veteran, a disabled woman who lost her husband a few years ago, and a legally blind couple in their 80s who have been married for over 50 years. For each, it was not easy asking for help. But when they did, there was no shortage of people who eagerly volunteered their time, talents, energy and enthusiasm to provide a little care and a lot of comfort to our neighbors in Falmouth.

It was a wonderful display of kindness that exemplified the best of Cape Cod. And it was an important reminder of the connection and responsibility we have to one another.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Big Fix, Falmouth, Alisa Galazzi, Falmouth Big Fix, home repair

Falmouth Big Fix a Display of Community

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 11:51 AM
Big Fix-17-5.jpgClifford Long repairs a front step during the Big Fix in Falmouth last month. 

With one knee on the ground, Falmouth’s Clifford Long hammered a nail into a piece of wood, repairing the front steps leading into John Martin’s North Falmouth home.

“I think this is something we should do more of,” said Long, taking a short break as dozens of other volunteers around him removed brush from Mr. Martin’s yard. In the back a crew from Home Depot was staining Mr. Martin’s deck. “So many people, we could make their homes affordable if we all put a little love and attention into them.”

About 20 feet away, Mr. Martin sat in a wheelchair inside his home. An Army veteran who served two years in Korea, Mr. Martin marveled at the kindness of complete strangers like Clifford Long. “You know what this is like? You hear people talking about neighborhoods. If this isn’t a sign of a neighborhood, I don’t know what is.”

What Mr. Martin calls a neighborhood, others call community, and in the middle of last month, there was plenty of that on display during HAC’s 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth. A total of 340 volunteers – a record for the Big Fix – showed up to make small improvements to 18 homes owned by veterans, seniors and disabled residents in the Upper Cape community.

If that wasn’t enough, one small group dedicated their time to beautifying the Falmouth Senior Center.

Big Fix-17-6.jpgBig Fix recipient Tina Barr (left) with Rev. John Terry of the First Congregational Church in Sandwich and HAC's Meg Chaffee. Rev. Terry, an advocate for affordable housing, organized a group of volunteers, the "First Fixers", from the church. 

“This is really the meaning of community service and it’s what makes the Cape and Islands so special,” said Falmouth Selectman Megan English Braga during the kick-off to the Big Fix at the Lawrence School.

At the kick-off, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi took a moment to praise the work the volunteers were doing. “It really means a lot to be able to have this community support and to come out and help these [people],” she said. “This helps them stay in place.”

These were people like 91-year-old Jim Crossen who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. At his home, a small crew of volunteers repaired his garage door while his daughter Jamie spoke about what the Big Fix meant to her. “What I think is really great is that knowing my dad, he has given so much to the community and volunteering his time, and now it’s nice it comes full circle and people are doing the same for him,” she said.

“I never could do this myself,” West Falmouth’s Valerie Tillman said outside her home where volunteers were clearing brush, removing weeds, and mulching her flower beds.

It was a similar scene at Dorothy Sgarzi’s home in East Falmouth, where volunteer Dana Robert remarked, “It is amazing how much work you can do with so many hands” after crews had finished beautifying her yard.

While the calendar may have read September 16, Christine (Tina) Barr of East Falmouth said the Big Fix actually felt like a holiday. “It was like Christmas morning,” she said. “This was much more than I could have ever imagined.”

Donate to the Falmouth Big Fix 

 

Tags: Philanthropy, volunteerism, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, Falmouth, Falmouth Big Fix, veterans

HAC Seeks Volunteers for Falmouth Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Aug 08, 2017 @ 03:23 PM
Big_Fix_Brewster_-_1.jpgHAC is seeking volunteers for its 8th Annual Big Fix which is coming to Falmouth on Saturday, September 16. 

If there was ever a question as to the need for the Big Fix, it was erased when HAC received a record 65 applications from Falmouth homeowners.

“There was a huge response,” said HAC’s Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford. “Now we need volunteers so that we can help as many applicants as possible.”

Now in its eighth year, the Big Fix relies on volunteers to make small home repairs for income-eligible veterans, seniors and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod. It started in Barnstable in 2010 and has since been to Sandwich, Dennis, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Bourne, and, last year, Brewster. This year’s Big Fix is scheduled for Saturday, September 16.

“The Big Fix is volunteer-powered,” said HAC’s Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin. “There would be no Big Fix without the volunteers.”

HAC is seeking both skilled and unskilled volunteers who will tackle such projects as landscaping; trash removal; repairing stairs, fences, decks, and outdoor walkways; interior and exterior painting; roofing; light carpentry; and basic plumbing and electrical work.

Volunteer for the Falmouth Big Fix

  • You can sign up as a Volunteer or,
  • Sign up as a Fundraising Volunteer (either as a team or individually) or,
  • Do both!

The deadline to register is Friday, September 1. Click the green button below to get started!

Register To Volunteer

The Big Fix will kick off with registration at 8 am at the Lawrence School on Lakeview Avenue in Falmouth. A light breakfast will be provided by Whole Foods Market in Hyannis and Beanstock Coffee in Wellfleet. Following a short ceremony, volunteers will depart to their assigned homes by 9 am. The majority of the work will be completed by noon at which time all volunteers are invited back to the Lawrence School for a lunch provided by 99 Restaurants in Falmouth.

Satisfaction from Helping Others

Everett-Patriquin said one of the most rewarding aspects of the Big Fix is that volunteers get to see the fruits of their labor almost immediately. “I think people get a deep sense of satisfaction from the knowledge that they’ve helped someone in need,” she said. “And I think another part of it is that people get a lot of satisfaction out of the teamwork aspect of it. Sometimes people are serving with a group and it’s a real bonding experience for them.”

This year, HAC has added an opportunity for volunteers to enhance their impact even further by signing up as fundraisers as part of the first-ever Fix-a-Thon.
Funds raised will not only help to offset the nearly $50,000 it costs to organize the Big Fix, but to help address the need witnessed by the large number of recipient applications HAC received.

The Fix-a-Thon will support HAC’s efforts to keep residents in their homes through the agency’s homelessness prevention program, and bolster its foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling as well as its weatherization program for low-income households. It will also allow HAC to expand its home repair program which would enable the agency to cast a wider net in helping the types of people the Big Fix serves on a year-round basis.

Volunteers who raise $250 or more will receive a special prize and be recognized at the Big Fix kickoff on September 16.

Tags: Mary Everett Patriquin, Fundraising, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, 99 Restaurant, Falmouth, Laura Reckford, Falmouth Big Fix, Whole Foods, Fix-A-Thon

HAC Seeks Recipients for Falmouth Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 @ 10:58 AM
Brewster_Big_Fix-18.jpgAmong the groups that regularly participate in the Big Fix is AmeriCorps Cape Cod. The organization helped HAC create the Big Fix in 2010 when it was held in Barnstable. Now in its eighth year, the day of service will be going to every town on Cape Cod. 

Last fall, 278 people volunteered their time to participate in HAC’s Big Fix in Brewster. It was a record turnout for the annual event in which volunteers spend a few hours making small home improvements for veterans, seniors and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod.

On Saturday, September 16, the Big Fix will be coming to Falmouth. What can we expect this year? More of the same, according to HAC’s Director of Community Relations and Fundraising Laura Reckford. “We’re hoping for more in Falmouth,” she said. “As a Falmouth resident myself, I am really excited that for the eighth year of the Big Fix, it is in Falmouth. The town, through the Board of Selectmen, has already been very supportive and we have already had a number of people reach out to us to be volunteers.”

HAC is currently seeking Falmouth residents who are interested in becoming recipients of this year’s Big Fix. Applications can be found online at www.haconcapecod.org or at Falmouth Town Hall, the Falmouth Senior Center, and any of the public libraries in Falmouth. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 14.

Applicants must either be an income-eligible veteran, senior or disabled homeowner in Falmouth. HAC anticipates selecting anywhere from 12 to 15 homes for this year’s Big Fix.

The Big Fix began in 2010 in Barnstable. It has since been to Sandwich, Dennis, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Bourne, and Brewster.

Over the course of a few hours, volunteers help make small home improvements that can make a big difference in the lives of recipients. Projects typically include yard work, trash removal, repairing of fences and walkways, interior and exterior painting, and light carpentry and electrical work. Those interested in volunteering can sign up on HAC’s website at www.haconcapecod.org.

This year’s Big Fix will kick off at the Lawrence School in Falmouth with a light breakfast provided by Whole Foods Market and Beanstock Coffee before volunteers head to their assigned homes. Once all work is completed, volunteers will return to the Lawrence School for a free lunch provided by the 99 Restaurant.

If you are interested in becoming a recipient of this year's Big Fix in Falmouth, click the green button below. 

Big Fix Bourne Recipient Application

Tags: volunteering, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, Falmouth, Falmouth Big Fix, home repair