Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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

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

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.”

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

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.’”

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

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

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

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

New Director Brings Expertise and Passion to Carriage House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 @ 05:40 PM
Mindy Caron-1.jpgMindy Caron in front of HAC's Carriage House family shelter in North Falmouth. 

I love the opportunity to help as many people as possible turn their lives around,” Mindy Caron said last month at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth. Caron is helping HAC’s clients do exactly that as Carriage House’s new facility director.

Caron, who was hired at HAC two years ago, initially served as the family therapist at Angel House in Hyannis, which supports mothers overcoming addiction and their children. Last fall, she transferred to HAC’s main office where she assisted the agency in redesigning its intake and referral process.

At the end of January, she was promoted to her current position at Carriage House, which assists mothers and their children. The shelter, which typically caters to younger, first-time mothers, has the capacity to house 10 families at any one time.

While the primary goal at Carriage House is to provide housing to keep families safe, Caron said, the shelter supports each mother by giving them the tools, resources and support so they will hopefully never have to return to shelter again.

Her aim with each client is to get them to establish a goal and have them take steps to achieve it. “People who come here have come out of such a crisis that they have often never stopped to question, ‘What do I really want? Where do I want to be in this world?’” Caron said. “We begin asking these questions so these women have a dream because that is the most motivating thing they can have.”

Carriage House offers a number of services that allow clients to work towards such goals. It starts with hands-on case management, Caron said, but also includes assisting with resume writing and accessing jobs; improving their parenting skills; budgeting; and finding housing.

Through its Playspace Program, Horizons for Homeless Children offers playtime opportunities for the younger ones at Carriage House.

Caron, who moved to Cape Cod from Indiana three years ago to be closer to family, was pleased to have found an agency like HAC where she can use her previous social service expertise as a counselor, executive director, and chief operations officer, to benefit our clients. “I love it here, I really do,” she said. “I consider HAC to be a fine organization with stellar goals which are really, really needed on the Cape.”

Support HAC's Family Shelters

Tags: Family Shelter, Carriage House, Angel House, shelter, Horizons for Homeless Children, Falmouth, Mindy Caron

Osterville Church Gives Back to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Mar 08, 2018 @ 05:25 PM
DSC_9655-1.jpgMary Beebe (from left), Anne Minor and Robert Bartholomay recently helped paint one of the rooms at Angel House as a way to give back to our clients. 

On the last Thursday in January, staff at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis held a graduation ceremony for 30-year-old Samantha, who had been at the shelter with her six-month-old son for a year, recovering from the dual traumas of homelessness and addiction. 


By the next day, Samantha had moved out of the shelter and four volunteers from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Osterville – Mary and Will Beebe, Robert Bartholomay and Anne Minor – were busy giving her former room a much-needed facelift before the next client arrived on Monday.

Over the course of two days the group painted the room as a way to give back to those in need. While the church’s members donate food to HAC’s Scattered Sites shelter on a monthly basis, this was their first time at Angel House.

In between paint strokes, the group spoke about the importance of this type of work. “It makes you feel good when you help somebody,” Robert said.

“Any time you do something good, it matters,” Mary added.

Tags: Family Shelter, Community Service, Angel House, charitable giving, St. Peter's Episcopal Church

St. Pius Students Knit Blankets for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Feb 21, 2018 @ 02:23 PM
St. Pius Martin Family.jpgHAC's Mary LeClair (from left) with Maeve, Effie and Beatrice Martin. Maeve and her fellow St. Pius X classmates knit over 60 blankets for our clients in need. 

Every November, middle school students at St. Pius X School in Yarmouth try to better understand the plight of the homeless by spending a portion of one evening inside cardboard boxes set up in the gym.

This year, roughly 40 students turned that understanding into action by also knitting over 60 homemade blankets that will be given to HAC clients in shelter. Last month, St. Pius X eighth grader Maeve Martin, 13, dropped off those blankets with her mother, Katie Martin, and her two sisters Effie, 11, and Beatrice, 5.

“I like that we were able to do something nice for others,” Maeve said.

Her mother said the school project was rewarding because it taught children the importance of helping others. “It’s amazing how happy the kids felt helping someone else and stepping outside of themselves,” she said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Family Shelter, homelessness, shelter, St. Pius X School, Mary LeClair, blankets