Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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

Osterville Men's Club Give Back to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Dec 30, 2017 @ 08:42 PM
Osterville-1.jpgOsterville Men's Club President John Caney (from left) joined fellow members Paul Ruane and his brother Jim Ruane in donating their time to beautify HAC's Angel house shelter at the end of October. 

At the end of October, Tim Moran, Peter Holcombe and Don MacDonald quietly and diligently painted the kitchen inside one of the two houses at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

The trio were among the 14 members of the Osterville Men’s Club who spent a few hours earlier this fall making small improvements to the shelter which serves mothers overcoming addiction, and their children. They painted two kitchens and installed a new fence, representing their latest project to give back to the community as the club celebrates its 60th year.

In the summer, the club had donated several truckloads of basic home goods – cutlery, dishes, pots, pans, towels, and more – to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program. Those donations have gone to the agency’s clients transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing.

Paul Ruane, who has spearheaded many of the club’s 60th anniversary activities, said their latest effort at Angel House was “our day of caring.”

And for the clients at Angel House it had special meaning. “What this does is make the women feel as though they matter,” said Angel House clinical director Martie Woods. 

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, donations, charitable giving, HAC donors, Osterville Men's Club

Donor Gives Message of Hope to Angel House Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 01:39 PM
Matt Sullivan Edited-1.jpg
Matthew Sullivan has connected with the work being done at HAC’s Angel House shelter. In December, he will deliver a holiday meal and gifts to the clients there for the second straight year.  

"I’m living proof someone can change their life with the help of others,” Matthew Sullivan said recently at HAC where he was dropping off donations – a lamp, microwave, dishes, and more - to the agency’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program.

The donations, which will go to HAC clients transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing, was the latest contribution that West Bridgewater’s Sullivan has made to HAC.

On Christmas Eve last December, he delivered a holiday meal and gifts to clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. He plans on doing so again next month. Angel House is a program that supports mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

As someone who was homeless and has been in recovery for over 12 years, Sullivan relates to what clients at Angel House are going through. He was able to turn his life around through a recovery program for men. He said the work being done at Angel House reminds him of the program that had helped him through his struggles.

Today, Sullivan is happily married with three children, and works full-time as a fitness trainer and co-owner of MAD Boot Camps in Marshfield. “I’m trying to give a message of hope,” Sullivan said of his efforts to support HAC’s Angel House shelter and those it serves.

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, Christmas, holiday giving, HAC donors, Matthew Sullivan

Toy Run Brings Joy to Children in Shelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 06, 2017 @ 03:07 PM

HOG Run 16-29.jpg

A procession of nearly 200 motorcycles driving from Buzzards Bay over the Bourne Bridge to HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth is a sight to behold. And on the first Sunday in November, it happens like clockwork every year. Their mission is simple – spread a little holiday joy to children in HAC’s family shelters.

It’s all part of the Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run which has been taking place for the past 29 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of organizer Christina Wetherbee who died of cancer the following spring.

Since that time, her husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife Clarissa have taken over the reins, organizing the toy run with the support of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG) of Pocasset. “The best part of the day is seeing the bikes show up and the people supporting this,” Joe said. “And then, of course, the look on the kids’ faces because we could have 200 to 250 bikes. To see that many bikes is impressive.”

One of the longest-standing toy runs in the state, the event generates interest from motorcyclists throughout Cape Cod and even off-Cape with some coming from as far away as Boston and Rhode Island. Leading the group every year is Joe Wetherbee who will do so once again next month on his Can-Am Spyder.

Last year, participants delivered over $3,000 worth of toys that went to children in all four of HAC’s family shelters – Carriage House, The Village at Cataumet, Angel House, and Scattered Sites – as well as to children of families in need that HAC serves.

Families are given the gifts for the children to open during the holiday season.

Yvonne Rivers, the facility director at Carriage House, said the gifts come at a time of year when families could use it the most. “The holidays can be tough for our clients, especially because they are in a shelter,” she said.

The toy run serves as a meaningful show of support and kindness delivered by complete strangers on motorcycles. “It’s great to see the joy and smiles on children’s faces,” Rivers said. “The kids love it.”

18th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run
When: Sunday, November 5
Where: Eagles Hall at 39 Cohasset Avenue, Buzzards Bay
Registration: 8:30-10:30 AM

The run begins at 11 AM, starting at Eagles Hall and ending at Carriage House. Participants are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy (no stuffed animals or violent toys) or a minimum $10 donation. Those unable to participate in the ride can drop off donations to Cape Cod Harley-Davidson at either 750 MacArthur Boulevard in Pocasset or at 615 Main Street in Hyannis.

As they have in recent years, Seafood Sam’s in Falmouth and Sandwich will provide chili, clam chowder, and hot dogs for participants.


Tags: Family Shelter, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, Christmas, charitable giving, holiday giving, Clarissa Wetherbee, Joe Wetherbee, Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG)

Angel House Clients Build Life Skill Competencies

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 @ 10:52 AM
Angel House-17.jpgHAC HCEC Manager Cheryl Kramer (fourth from left) with several of the Angel House clients who took her most recent financial literacy classes. 

Last fall, a client at Angel House took a series of financial literacy classes taught by HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) Manager Cheryl Kramer. 

When Kramer brought that series – Creating a Budget, Rebuilding Your Credit, and Be a Successful Tenant – back to the shelter in June, that same client opted to take them again. Kramer said the client told her, “I’m so glad you’re back… Last fall I was focused on having my baby and not really focused on what you were teaching. I’m coming to the end of my time at Angel House and I really need to hear what you have to say.” 

It is one example of why these classes are so important, especially for the mothers at Angel House, who are dealing with the trauma of homelessness, overcoming addiction, and learning how to be a proper parent to their child. “Having the class available more than once, they’re able to build on what they learned the first time,” Kramer said. 

On average, 10 clients took part in each of the classes Kramer offered this summer. In August, she awarded 19 certificates of completion to the clients; some received multiple certificates because they took more than one of the classes. 

“One of the greatest values is that this is a concrete way for them to build their life skill competencies,” shelter director Lin Rohr said. “We do a lot of stuff on healing, recovery and parenting. This teaches them how to do a budget. If you spend everything you make in your first week, how are you going to eat?” 

Amanda, a 23-year-old client at Angel House, said the classes provided her with basic skills that she had overlooked or had no knowledge about. “I never knew anything about my credit,” she said. “And it made me open up my eyes about a lot of things like the money I spend on Dunkin’ Donuts alone.” 

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Rohr said. “If you spend $5 a day for coffee, that’s $35 a week.” 

Another client, Cassandra, admitted she has poor credit and was considering filing for bankruptcy. Kramer “showed me that is not my only option,” Cassandra said. “Now I’m almost amped up about it. I can fix it. It’s not too late.”

Cassandra is one of nine Angel House clients who plan on meeting with Kramer one-on-one to focus on their individual financial needs. “That is a huge thing she is offering,” Rohr said. “If they had to pay for that kind of outside support that is not doable for a lot of them. It’s a wonderful gift she [Kramer] is giving them.” 

In October, Kramer will return to Angel House to offer the classes to clients again. “It is part of the [Angel House] program now,” Kramer said. “When they come to that class, they are awake, they are vested and come with good questions… They are not just there because they have to be which makes it more fun to teach. And I make sure I’m giving them the info they want to hear and need to hear.”

HAC Receives CCYP Grant

For the second straight year, HAC has been the recipient of a grant from the CCYP's Giving Circle Fund of the Cape Cod Foundation. This grant will allow HAC to provide the following classes for free, for a limited time, on a first-come, first-served basis: 

Tags: HCEC, Family Shelter, Angel House, Cheryl Kramer, Lin Rohr, housing consumer education, financial literacy

Nutrition Workshop Brought to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 03:45 PM
Cataumet Nutrition Photo-1.jpgCooking Matters' Catherine Cleary (middle) with Margaret Peters (left), administrative support at The Village at Cataumet, and facility director Paula Mallard. 

At HAC’s family shelters, the goal is to not only house clients, but to give them the tools to care for themselves and their children. Nutrition is a key part of this equation and recently HAC welcomed Catherine Cleary, program manager for Cooking Matters, to The Village at Cataumet to provide a handful of parents with the skills necessary to ensure their children are fed healthy meals at home.

“It’s not about teaching people,” Cleary said about the aim of the initiative, which she has brought to food pantries, public libraries, Head Start programs, and family shelters throughout Massachusetts. “It’s about building confidence in caregivers of young children.”

For a little more than an hour, Cleary engaged mothers in a conversation about everything from shopping for nutritious foods to cooking those foods for their families, all while on a budget. She stressed that parents are the best judge of what choices to make. “You all know what is best for you and your family,” she said.

She began with simple advice – always make a list, for example - that can help clients with budgeting and keeping them better organized while shopping.

During her visit, Cleary touched upon several key areas that included how to choose produce, how to choose whole grain foods and why it matters, how to read the nutrition labels on the food packages, and why the unit price on food is important.

Shelter clients were interested in strategies for getting children to eat healthier. Cleary suggested cooking two types of vegetables, such as peas and carrots, and having the children decide what they want to eat.

In her house, Cleary said she will always have low-salt peanut butter, jelly, and whole wheat bread to make sandwiches for her children. “At least you have a couple of food sources there,” she said, which can then be combined with fruits and vegetables. “That’s more balanced than oodles of noodles.”

These were just a few of the tips Cleary had for clients to empower them to make healthier decisions when cooking affordable meals for their children. The session represented a first for the shelter and was something that its facility director, Paula Mallard, said provided practical skills to clients which they can begin applying immediately and continue to use once they transition into permanent housing.

Tags: Family Shelter, Paula Mallard, Village at Cataumet, education, Cooking Matters, Margaret Peters, nutrition

Westwood Troop Donates Bikes to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 04:20 PM
Cataumet Bicycles-1.jpgWestwood Girl Scouts Tessa Scolaro (from left), Maggie Fahey, Jade Landolphi, and Laurel Barnett with HAC’s Paula Mallard. 

Bicycling is one of the simplest and most effective modes of transportation and thanks to the generosity of Girl Scout Troop 75006 of Westwood, clients at The Village at Cataumet now have the ability to use them both for fun and for more practical means.

The scouts – Laurel Barnett, 13, Maggie Fahey, 14, Jade Landolphi, 14, and Tessa Scolaro, 13 - donated a total of 14 bicycles, nine helmets and two bike pumps to the shelter in May. The donations were a mix of children’s and adult bikes; all but one was used and had been checked over by staff at Landry’s Bikes in Norwood or Common Wheels in Allston.

As part of the donation, Arthur Diangelis of Art’s Bike Shop in North Falmouth, has agreed to provide any reasonable repairs over the next two years. And the troop will pay for any smaller replacement parts, including tire tubes or brake pads, that may be needed for those repairs.

As to why the group chose The Village at Cataumet, Troop Leader Amy Barnett said, that they either vacation in this part of Cape Cod or have homes here.

Her daughter said they decided the shelter would be a good fit because the clients lack the means to get to places. “We felt it was important to have bikes for transportation for adults,” Laurel said.

Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet, said as part of the project the children had an opportunity to learn about the shelter and the people it serves. During those discussions, Mallard told them that many clients have no real way to get around which led to the bike donation. Any client can use the bicycles which will remain the property of the shelter.

Amy Barnett said the project was a rewarding one for the scouts. “I hope they learned that even though they are young, if you have a good idea, you have the ability to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Tags: Family Shelter, Paula Mallard, Village at Cataumet, donations, charitable giving

Local Teens Connect with Children at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 @ 04:33 PM
Angel House Playgroup-1.jpgVolunteer Molly Rudman (left) plays with one of the children at HAC's Angel House shelter. 

Living in a shelter can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially trying for older children, in part, because they don’t have the luxury of inviting friends over to hang out after school.

But a group of local students, led by Francesca Galazzi, 16, changed that the second half of this past school year. Joined by her sister Michela, 14, and their friends Molly, 16, and Halle Rudman, 15, and Joy McCarthy, 14, the group would spend an hour nearly every Saturday, from March to June, playing with children at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

They planned activities in advance, running them by facility director Lin Rohr. On Mother’s Day weekend, they made cupcakes. On other days, the activity was a little less structured with the group playing on the shelter’s swing set and running around outside.

“I’d be upstairs in my office and I’d hear laughing, giggling, the kids yelling, ‘I’m going to get you,’” Rohr said. “It was a positive experience, not only for the kids who live here, but for all the volunteers.”

Beyond that, Rohr said, it served as an opportunity for children outside of a homeless shelter to connect with those living in one. “For the teenaged volunteers, it breaks down any stereotypes they had about what homelessness looks like,” Rohr said.

One of the teenagers living at Angel House said the Saturday play groups were important to him because it allowed him to socialize with his peers. “Instead of having older volunteers, these ones are our age and we can play with them,” he said. For him that meant games of chess, playing cards and showing them his magic tricks.

“Everyone has different paths, but you can all help each other and have fun,” Francesca said of what she has learned from the experience. And despite being from disparate backgrounds, she said, “we always have fun together. They are really cool kids.”

While Francesca, Michela, Molly, Halle and Joy all took the summer off, they plan on renewing their Saturday play dates at Angel House once school begins in September.

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, HAC Volunteers, Lin Rohr