Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Finding Hope at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 @ 06:51 AM
Beth Client-1Angel House Facility Director Lin Rohr (left) listens as Beth shares her story of what led her to the shelter and how it has helped her turn her life around. 

Last summer, when Beth had nowhere to turn, she entered HAC’s Angel House shelter. “I was scared,” she said. “I was hopeless. I felt worthless.”

More than a year later, those feelings are gone, replaced with something she has not felt since she was a teenager. “Being at Angel House, I have gotten my hope back,” she said.

Beth shared her story with four family members of the late Barton Tomlinson, a longtime HAC donor who had an affinity for the shelter which supports mothers like Beth, who are battling addiction, and their children.

When she arrived at Angel House last August, the mother of five admitted, “I was completely broken,” attributing that to her struggles with substance abuse.

At Angel House, those struggles have essentially ended as Beth celebrated two milestones this past year - her 40th birthday in May and being sober for one full year as of last month. “It’s the first year I can say I’ve been sober since I was 15,” she said.

Slowly, she has made progress thanks to the supportive, caring environment she has found at Angel House. Here she has been able to put her life back together, becoming the mother she always wanted to be, all while becoming comfortable with who she is.

“The shift came when I decided that my kids deserved a life,” she said. “And when I finally decided I deserved a life.”

As she nears her Angel House graduation, Beth is taking even more steps to rebuilding her life. She has a job. She will be moving to a transitional apartment at Angel House. She has reconnected with family members that she had previously pushed away. And most importantly, “I feel at peace today,” she said. “I don’t think it’s anything I’ve ever felt before in my life.”

None of this would be possible, she said, if it weren’t for those like Barton Tomlinson who understand the importance of supporting the shelter. “Angel House helped save my life,” she said. “And it helped give my children a mother who is there.”

Support Angel House

Tags: Angel House, Barton Tomlinson, Lin Rohr, Family Shelter, homelessness, hope

Donor Spotlight: Barton Tomlinson

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 @ 06:33 PM
Barton Family-2Those attending the Barton Tomlinson Clinical & Group Space dedication included Angel House Facility Director Lin Rohr (from left), HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi, Jim and Betty Ryan, Rob and Kim Nichols, and Cassi Danzl, HAC's Director of Family and Individuals Services. 

Although Barton Tomlinson passed away last November, his legacy will continue to live on at HAC’s Angel House shelter.

There, a small plaque bearing his name proudly hangs on the wall, reading “Barton Tomlinson Clinical & Group Space.” In this room, facility director Lin Rohr said, is where the healing takes place.

That healing is something that was so important to Mr. Tomlinson and his wife Mary, who died in 2008. The couple were longtime donors of HAC, focusing their giving on the Hyannis shelter which serves mothers overcoming addiction and their children.

Barton Plaque

At the end of August on Mary’s birthday, that giving was celebrated during a naming ceremony to celebrate the impact Mr. Tomlinson has had on Angel House. In attendance were Barton’s daughter Betty and her husband Jim Ryan of Osterville, as well as Barton’s cousin Rob and his wife Kim Nichols of Hyannis.

“I was struck by his quiet resolve to always do the right thing,” said HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi of Mr. Tomlinson. He was committed to stabilizing families, she said, “and giving these children here a second chance. It was the next generation that he was really invested in.”

In order for clients at the shelter to overcome the trauma of homelessness and addiction, Rohr said, they need the support of the community. “It is only possible through the generosity of people like Bart,” she said.

“This place meant a lot to him,” Betty said after she took part in the ceremony and a tour of Angel House. “He really felt for the mothers and the children here and wanted them to get on the right path.”

Tags: Angel House, Barton Tomlinson, Family Shelter, Donor Spotlight, HAC donors, Alisa Galazzi, Lin Rohr

Cape Cod 5 Gives Shelter a Makeover

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 02, 2018 @ 10:34 AM
CC5 Cataumet-4Cape Cod Five’s Joe Beasley (from left), HAC’s Maintenance Supervisor Keith Trott, Cape Cod Five’s Elaine Sweeney, and Paula Mallard, the facility director for the Village at Cataumet.

Over the course of one day at the beginning of last month, roughly 40 interns from Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank came together to give HAC’s Village at Cataumet a much needed facelift.

The group painted the exterior of the 18-unit family shelter from white to gray. Combined with new black doors and shutters, installed by HAC’s maintenance department and several contractors, the makeover provided the Bourne shelter with an entirely new appearance.

“This hasn’t been touched in 25 years,” said HAC’s Maintenance Supervisor Keith Trott of the shelter. “This is going to be quite a transformation.”

He made the statement on the morning the interns were about to begin their work. Before they did, he thanked them for their contributions to HAC. “This is probably a $40,000 paint job we’re going to try to knock out with all your help,” he said. “It goes a long way and lets us have funds to do other things with.”

CC5 Cataumet-3Approximately 40 Cape Cod Five interns spent a day painting the Village at Cataumet family shelter in Bourne.

Intern Alyssa Birchfield, a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “it’s nice to be doing something for the community.”

Former intern Joe Beasley, who now works at the bank as a talent management administrative coordinator, said these types of community service projects are a key component of his company’s culture. “Cape Cod 5 really prides itself on giving back to the community and helping out those in need,” he said.

Tags: Village at Cataumet, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Cape Cod 5, Philanthropy, Community Service, giving back, Keith Trott, Family Shelter

HAC Intern Has Passion for Helping Others

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Aug 30, 2018 @ 04:50 PM
Ashley Intern PhotoAshley McCloud (second from left) with HAC’s Margaret Benaka (from left), Ruth Bechtold, Suzanne Smith, Jo Ann Cournoyer and Mary Everett-Patriquin on the final day of her internship.

When she graduates from Wheaton College next May, Ashley McCloud plans to get her master’s degree in business administration and then “be able to create my own company where I can be able to help reduce poverty.” 

Though she has long had a desire to help others, Ashley witnessed how HAC is working to disrupt poverty on the Cape and Islands as part of a summer internship which ended last month. 

“What I love about HAC is that each department here has a role and is contributing to people that need help,” she said. 

Over the course of two months, Ashley assisted several HAC departments, including HAC Energy, its Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC), and Family and Individuals Services. 

She helped Cassi Danzl, director of family and individuals services, on a safety policy and procedure for three of the agency’s family shelters – Scattered Sites, Carriage House and the Village at Cataumet. 

Ashley worked closely with Ruth Bechtold, manager of HAC Energy, in creating a standard operating procedure for invoicing. “She is very smart and also has a good sense of humor. She fit really well into our group,” Bechtold said of McCloud. “She is going to go places.” 

For Ashley, who grew up on Nantucket and lives in Hyannis, her career goals are rooted in her background. Her parents were born in Jamaica and during several trips there, Ashley has seen how insufficient housing, education, and healthcare have negatively impacted those on the Caribbean island. 

“I have a passion for helping people,” she said. “If you help someone, that person can then help the next person. It is about sending positive energy into the world.”

Tags: Interns, Wheaton College, Ashley McCloud, HCEC, housing consumer education, HAC Energy, Ruth Bechtold, Cassi Danzl, Family Shelter

Donor Spotlight: Meg Chaffee

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Aug 01, 2018 @ 11:58 AM

 

Meg Chaffee Photo

She has worked at HAC for more than 17 years, but Meg Chaffee’s connection to the agency goes back even further when she was once a client.

“I left a domestic violence situation and was allowed to go into one of HAC’s shelters,” she said. At the time, it was only her and her son, Justus, whose name is a combination of two words – “just” and “us” – that defined all the two had when they sought help from HAC.

In HAC, Meg and her son found the necessary support and resources to make their way through that difficult period in their lives. “There’s a lot HAC has helped me with,” she said, which included providing her with two cars from the agency’s now-defunct Wheels to Work Program. “I used to take the B-Bus with my son in Hyannis. Sometimes it would take an hour and a half to get to work when I worked at Toys R Us. When I got the car, it was nice because I could go to the grocery store and laundromat on my own.”

When Chaffee left the shelter, she received a Section 8 voucher that has provided her with financial assistance in paying her rent on Cape Cod.

In 2001, HAC had an opening for a Section 8 program representative which she applied to because she wanted to find a way to give back to those in need. “I wanted to help other people,” she explained.

A Commitment to HAC

While she has done that in her role, helping to administer HAC’s Section 8 vouchers, she has taken her commitment a step further – as a HAC donor.

In May, she was one of several longtime donors to be recognized at HAC’s Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition as part of the agency’s Loyalty Circle. She has donated annually to HAC for over 10 years in a row.

At $10 a month, it is admittedly not a lot, but she knows that she is doing her part so the agency can help others in need. She has her monthly donation taken directly out of her biweekly paycheck.

She hopes her giving will inspire her fellow HAC employees – the agency has a total of 111 full- and part-time staff – to do the same. “I’d like to challenge all of our employees, if they’re not already donating, to make that donation,” she said.

That challenge is coming during a significant milestone in her life. Last month, she gave up her housing voucher and is now able to pay her full rent. Chaffee is just one example that the agency’s programs provide tangible results.

When asked what HAC does best, she laughingly asked, “one thing?” before answering in this way: “It makes a better community.”

Why I Give

Along with her monthly donation to HAC, Meg Chaffee participates in the agency’s Cape Cod Caring Cards program, regularly purchasing Shaw’s gift certificates which result in donations that help keep individuals in their homes and off the streets.

Organized through the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC), the program allows the public to purchase gift cards at face value to participating stores and restaurants, including Lambert’s; Shaw’s/Star Market; Stop & Shop; Ring Brothers; Peterson’s Market & Fancy’s in Osterville; Roche Brothers; Country Garden; Cape Cod Natural Foods; Whole Foods; CVS; 99 Restaurant & Pub; and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Because the stores sell the gift certificates to BIC in bulk, they are discounted, which allows five percent of every purchase to go towards HAC’s Project Prevention for individuals, a program to prevent homelessness.

While it does not cost her anything extra, Chaffee said, purchasing the gift cards gives her the satisfaction of knowing that she may be helping an individual who may need emergency financial assistance to either stay in their home or to find a new, more stable place to live.

Gift certificates for BIC can be purchased at HAC’s office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. Click here for more info on the Cape Cod Caring Cards program. 

Tags: Meg Chaffee, HAC staff, Family Shelter, Donor Spotlight, HAC donors, Barnstable Interfaith Council, BIC, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, homeless prevention

Editorial: Making an Impact Through Giving

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 05:14 PM
Girl Scouts-2Troop leaders Dawn Dinnan (left) and Jen Tolley (right) were joined by scouts Phoebe Pressman (from left), Madison Westover, Maddie Vlacich, Bari-Lynn Santos, Carly Dinnan and Cassandra Wells in delivering cookies.

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we see generosity from people of all ages throughout the Cape. The following act of kindness by a local Girl Scout troop for clients at our Angel House shelter is just one example of neighbors helping neighbors.

No matter what you give, every time you give, it makes an impact on our clients, and that is important.

Girl Scouts Deliver Cookies to Angel House

A plastic bin full of Girl Scout cookies sat a few feet away from Jamillah, a mother who has been at Angel House since November.

“It gives me sense of hope that there’s still good people out there, people who recognize that we matter,” Jamillah said of the cookies which were donated to Angel House clients at the end of last month by Junior Girl Scout Troop 68033 of Dennis and Yarmouth. “By acknowledging us, it gives us a sense of belonging.”

From January through May of this year, the troop offered the public an opportunity to purchase cookies, not only for themselves, but for clients at Angel House, a Hyannis shelter which serves mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

Girl Scouts-1

Troop leader Jen Tolley said these types of community service projects are a vital part of the group’s activities. “I think it’s important just so they know they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves,” she said. “And this helps them recognize that kindness is something that goes two ways.”

During their visit to Angel House, the scouts had an opportunity to learn about the shelter, asking questions to Support Staff Sarah Caldwell, and also interacting with clients who are benefitting from the program.

Shauni, who has been at the shelter for four months, said Angel House has “stabilized my life, helped me stay clean and helped me reunite with my son.”

She reflected on the generosity of the scouts, echoing the sentiments of the other mothers staying there: “It is nice to have people outside of here think of us.”

Donate to HAC Today

Tags: Angel House, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, Girl Scouts, giving, Family Shelter

Southport Supports Carriage House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 @ 02:52 PM

 

Southport-1Carriage House's Laurie Ronayne (middle) with Southport's Laurel Samuels (from left), Judy Phillips, Nancy DiFinizio and Cheryl Piesco. 

In May, roughly 20 Southport residents took to the runway, modeling spring and summer fashion as part of an event that raised funds for HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth.

“A lot of us here are moms and have children and now grandchildren and had wonderful support systems in our homes,” said Laura Samuels, a resident of the 55 and over community in Mashpee. “To know someone is alone in this world and doesn’t have that kind of support network is unthinkable. These young girls who are raising babies in the shelter can use a helping hand at this point in their life.”

The fashion show raised more than $2,300 for Carriage House which serves young mothers and their children. Clothing for the models was provided by L.L. Bean in Mashpee and Cape Chic in Falmouth.

Among those taking part in the event was Laurie Ronayne, the house manager at the shelter, who has been at HAC for 25 years because “I want to make a difference and pay it forward.”

At the fashion show, she shared her story of not only working at the shelter, but “growing up really poor,” she said. “At one point I was couch surfing and I had been that route. With the girls at the shelter, I tell them, ‘You can do anything if you want to. We have all the tools to help you move forward.’”

Make A Donation 

Tags: Carriage House, Family Shelter, Mashpee, Southport, Laurie Ronayne, charitable giving, giving

Blanketing HAC Clients with Love

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 02:03 PM

Knitathon-3

A Great Yarn owner Mary Weishaar (from left) with three of the participants in this year's Knit-A-Thon, Jean Williams, Judy Maynard, and Susan Bartels. 

A hand-knit blanket represents warmth, comfort, and love, something hundreds of HAC clients have received since 2016 thanks to the generosity of Ron and Mary Weishaar and their customers.

That was the first year that the couple, who own A Great Yarn in Chatham, and the store’s customers came together to knit 29 blankets for those in HAC’s shelters. In addition to the blankets, $1,500 was raised to support the agency’s housing programs.

Last year, those numbers jumped to 155 hand-made blankets and $6,000 in donations. This year, 192 blankets were made and nearly $5,000 was raised as part of what has become an annual tradition that takes place every February, March, and April.

The knit-a-thon concluded last month with a “yarn bomb” in which all interior and exterior surfaces of A Great Yarn were covered in the finished blankets before being delivered to HAC to go to clients in the agency’s family shelters.

Interest in the annual drive has grown to the point that nearly 300 people representing seven states throughout the country now participate in it. “We probably have 50 to 60 new people who this is their first year involved in it,” Ron said.

Each person knits individual panels – essentially the size of a long scarf – that volunteers sew together to make blankets for HAC clients who need them the most.

“We have a number of people who come in and tell us how much this has meant to them,” Ron said. “It is just remarkable… They feel, ‘I’ve got this talent and here’s a way of, instead of making another sweater for my granddaughter, I can help somebody who doesn’t have a home.’”

Tags: A Great Yarn, Chatham, knitting, knit-a-thon, Ron Weishaar, Mary Weishaar, homeless shelters, Family Shelter, blankets, charitable giving, homelessness

Barnstable Teen Has Passion for Helping Others

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 02:22 PM

Allison Carter Headshot

Perhaps it’s in her nature or perhaps it’s been ingrained in her by her mother Kathy Carter, a family advocate at Cape Cod Child Development, but either way Barnstable High School senior Allison Carter has long had a propensity to give back to this place she calls home.

“I just see the need,” she said. “We all need to do more and so many of us are capable of it.”

For Allison these aren’t hollow words; she backs them up with action. Over the past two holiday seasons, the star lacrosse player has worked with her fellow athletes at Barnstable High School, organizing drives to collect socks, diapers and canned goods for clients in HAC’s shelters.

As a student ambassador to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Association (MIAA), Allison has served as a leader at her school for initiatives such as this. She has helped collect food donations during the holidays for families being served by her mother’s nonprofit.

This past fall, she was successful in getting her school to purchase a stainless steel composter, paid for by the Cape Cod Challenger Club, that turns food waste into compost. As part of the purchase, Allison helped design a program that involved special needs students working alongside their peers at the high school in collecting, running and maintaining the machine.

Allison’s altruism doesn’t end there. A shift leader at Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop in Hyannis, Allison started delivering iced coffee to HAC’s Angel House shelter as well as its Scattered Site shelter in Hyannis last fall. It was a way to both reduce waste while supporting those most in need in the community.

This spring, Allison is organizing one last drive for HAC’s shelter clients prior to graduation.

While Allison, who wants to either major in speech pathology or environmental science in college – Tufts University is at the top of her list – is proud of the work she has done, she acknowledged “it feels like I still should be doing more… There’s so much need in the community. I see it at my job working on Main Street. I’m just glad I can help out because it is easy to do it.”

Support HAC's Family Shelters

Tags: Barnstable High School, Allison Carter, Angel House, Scattered Sites, Family Shelter, charitable giving, giving

Monthly Angel House Dinners

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Mar 31, 2018 @ 05:00 AM
IMG_1279Ron Winner (middle) and his wife Wendy (right) have helped organize monthly dinners at Angel House with the help of their friends.  

It started with a taco dinner in January and continued with a turkey dinner, with all the fixings, in February. Once a month, HAC volunteers Ron and Wendy Winner of Centerville have committed to cooking a meal for clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter.

Angel House is a family shelter for women recovering from substance abuse and their children 

It’s the latest attempt by the Winners to show those at the Hyannis shelter just how much they care. Over the years, the pair have organized outdoor barbecues, Christmas dinners, and Valentine’s Day meals at Angel House, throwing in a variety of gifts, from chocolates to gift certificates, all to bring some much-needed joy into our clients’ lives.

Read more about Ron Winner's contributions to HAC by clicking this link

Tags: Ron Winner, Angel House, charitable giving, Family Shelter, HAC Volunteers, volunteers