Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

From Intern to Case Manager

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 10:16 AM


Starting over can be difficult, something HAC’s Julie Munson knows all too well. In recent years, she experienced that when she said farewell to a 25-year career in the military to pursue an entirely new path in social services.

That may be why she is so well suited to her new position as a case manager at The Village at Cataumet which allows her to assist HAC clients in a similar situation. At that HAC shelter, clients are trying to rebuild their lives, starting anew, as they look to find employment, permanent housing and stability. “I help clients get back on their feet,” Munson said. “I teach them how to become independent.”

Sometimes progress is slow which Munson herself dealt with when she first started working at HAC in May 2012, as an intern at The Village at Cataumet at the age of 41.

Prior to that, she had spent her entire adult life serving in the Air Force. She was most recently stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base where she attained the rank of Senior Master Sergeant and was employed as a personnel readiness manager. While in the military, Munson said she enjoyed “helping people. In my last position I did deployments so I briefed family members of people going to Afghanistan and Iran and I prepared them for what might happen.”

It is not unlike her current position in which she is working with shelter clients. “Here, I am doing the same thing: I’m giving people the resources they need to succeed,” she said.

Munson balanced her internship at The Village at Cataumet with courses at Cape Cod Community College where she eventually obtained an associate’s degree in human services.

As an intern, Munson served as the shelter’s activities director, bringing children who live at the shelter to the park, playground, museums, the library and even mini-golfing. At the end of her internship, she was able to continue at HAC, working per diem at not only Cataumet, but Carriage House and NOAH.

Paula Mallard, facility director at Cataumet, said that Munson “has a lot of compassion for the clients,” calling her an asset to the shelter.

In May, Munson’s relationship with HAC grew when she was promoted to case manager, filling the vacancy left when Yvonne Rivers was named the facility director at Carriage House. Just a few days later, Munson was receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work from Bridgewater State College. “It was overwhelming,” she said. “All in one week my life changed and it was all positive.”

Her story serves as an example to shelter clients that progress does not always happen overnight. It takes time and requires hard work and patience, along with the support of staff like Munson whose recent experiences have given her an understanding of how to handle significant transitions in life.

Tags: Family Shelter, homelessness, Village at Cataumet, Julie Munson

A Plea

Posted by Julie Wake on Sat, Feb 15, 2014 @ 09:00 AM
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A typical family shelter stay lasts nine months, roughly the length of a school year. Wouldn’t it be a huge benefit to have a statewide standardized educational curriculum for those staying at shelters?  Nine months is a long time to waste.

I am particularly worried about the children in shelters.

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless has determined
that the average age of a homeless person in Massachusetts is eight years old.

I am concerned that these kids are growing up without adequate parenting.

Not too long ago a woman came into our office who was very pregnant. With more than a touch of mental illness, she resisted letting us do anything for her for several hours, while various concerned staff members tried to offer their skills in resolving the situation. Early in her visit, the woman went outside on a very cold day insisting that her unborn baby liked the cold—as people stood next to her trying to talk her into coming inside. Finally she was convinced to allow us to take her to a motel for a few days. Ten hours later the baby was born.

Another child, Joshua (not his real name) is now seven. He lives with his mom in a cramped apartment in a small town on the Cape. They are living on money from strapped family members who have given them just enough to keep their car going and to pay the relatively modest rent. The mom has little or no other income and keeps promising to find a job but hasn’t yet. The boy goes to school most of the time and comes home to clutter and confusion.  
Both moms have mental health problems and backgrounds of abuse and/or addiction. 

There are many such situations on Cape Cod right now: Moms who have no money, no job, no secure housing, with abuse, addiction and perhaps mental illness in their lives.

What future do their kids have? Many of these women are in shelters which, in some ways, is a good thing. Shelters at least provide a calming environment, socialization, and people to lean on for advice.

But shelters are not a permanent home and they are not funded to do the job they need to do.

Most of us have gotten to where we are in life with few of the handicaps listed above and many years of mostly full time parenting and schooling. How can we expect people to be healthy, competent parents and be financially self-sufficient without those? How can we expect shelters to make a difference without adequate funding to provide a comprehensive life skills education program? Here at HAC, we used to do such a program, but funding cuts over the years have reduced what we can accomplish. Some shelter clients are given activities and chores but these are not enough.

And, what about the kids and their futures?

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, HACbeat, Family Shelter, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey

Mark Your Calendar: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon on December 11

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 @ 06:17 PM

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The biggest fundraiser of the year for Housing Assistance Corporation is the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon. This year, the telethon is benefiting all four of HAC’s shelters: NOAH Shelter, Angel House in Hyannis, Carriage House in North Falmouth, and the Village at
Cataumet in Bourne.

The show airs live on Wednesday, December 11 from 4 to 9 p.m. on the Cape’s local cable access channels and is also streamed live on the web at www.capemedia.org.

Once again, the master of ceremonies this year will be Mindy Todd, the host of The Point on WCAI. On air guests will include Paul Pronovost, editor of the Cape Cod Times, Matt Pitta, news director at WXTK and Sean Corcoran of WCAI. There will be videos of a variety of local musical entertainers, from Cape singer/songwriter Sarah Swain to the children’s choir at St. Pius X School in South Yarmouth.

There is still a need for people who want to be “fundraisers” on the air, manning the phone bank of 16 red phones. Join local politicians, celebrities and neighbors to sit on the phone bank and telephone friends and family to ask them to donate for this important cause. To volunteer at the telethon, which takes place at Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennisport,
contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400 ext. 279.

To donate to the telethon, visit sheltercapecod.org.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Family Shelter, HAC, NOAH Telethon, NOAH Shelter, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House

HAC Bids Farewell to Allison Alewine

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sun, Oct 20, 2013 @ 09:47 PM

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A festive retirement party was held in September for Allison Alewine, who worked at Housing Assistance Corporation for more than 25 years, most recently as vice president of operations in the Family Housing Services Department.

Allison was hired at HAC on October 5, 1987 to work in the family services department. Allison says her passion is Project Prevention, and so she will continue to work to spread the word about this important program that helps people experiencing a temporary difficulty in paying their rent or mortgage payment.

Among those attending the party at the Lighthouse Inn in Dennis were old friends and new, including people Allison worked with over the years and people she helped along the way.

The message on her cake said it all, “Congratulations Allison, Forever on the Team.”

Tags: Project Prevention, Family Shelter, Prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation

Cindi Maule Honored

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sat, Oct 19, 2013 @ 10:26 PM

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Housing Assistance Corporation’s Cindi Maule was selected in Cape & Plymouth Business’s 40 Under 40 award program for business people under the age of 40 have made a mark in our region.

Cindi, who has been at HAC since 2008, manages a staff of 10 and an $8 million program that administers six federal and state rental subsidy contracts comprising over 900 vouchers.

She has recently been promoted to director of Leased Housing and Family.Services at HAC. The 40 Under 40 awards were given out June 19 at the CapeCodder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Tags: Family Shelter, HAC, MA Rental Voucher Program

Shelter Cape Cod Telethon : New Name, New Guests, New Energy

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 @ 10:00 PM

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Housing Assistance Corporation’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon with special musical guests and local celebrities is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11 from 4 to 9 p.m.

HAC’s annual telethon is the agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year and perhaps the most fun as well.

For the past nine years, the event has been called the NOAH Telethon with all the funds raised going to the NOAH Shelter, which serves homeless individuals in Hyannis.

But HAC also has three family shelters, Angel House in Hyannis, Carriage House in North Falmouth and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne. This year, the telethon is being renamed the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon and the funds will go to all four of HAC’s shelters.

Watch the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon live on the Cape’s local cable access channels and streamed live on the web at www.CapeMedia.org, and donate by calling in to the toll-free number during the telethon to give your support to the men, women and children in our community who have fallen on hard times.

To volunteer at the telethon, which takes place at Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennisport, contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or
508-771-5400 ext. 279.

Tags: Family Shelter, HAC, NOAH Telethon, housing assistance corporation

Family shelter kids preparing to go back to school

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Sep 06, 2012 @ 12:27 PM

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Back to school is an exciting and anxious time for kids and parents. A common anxiety for many of us is seeing a child take the bus for the first time. But if you are a family in shelter with school-age kids, your anxiety runs deeper. Shelter parents and staff worry if school applications will be accepted, or if they will be able to secure a bus pass or lunch voucher. This is compounded by the lack of permanent housing.DSC 0259 resized 600

Yet school-age shelter kids still find excitement at the prospect of a new adventure and their parents can find unexpected reassurance from a shelter support system, such as those at Angel House, Carriage House and The Village at Cataumet. All three shelters work diligently with parents to ensure every kid is registered for school and prepared for the first day. This is where these kids become part of the wonderful Cape community, our community.

As we celebrate these first few days of school, we’d like to ask for your financial support to help our shelter staff and families be better prepared for the months ahead. For the past 38 years HAC’s mission has been providing safe, decent and stable housing for all but we can’t do it alone.  Click here to donate to our family shelter programs.

Best wishes for a wonderful school year and we hope to hear from you. 

Your friends at Housing Assistance Corporation

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, Family Shelter, housing assistance corporation

Town Grant Keeps Clients Housed

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 @ 10:26 AM

A Community Development Block Grant from the Town of Barnstable helped 10 families and 10 individuals from falling into homelessness.

The town awarded HAC the $30,000 grant in April. HAC prevention specialist Peggy Konner and housing search specialist Greg Bar helped eligible clients complete their applications.

The average amount per client was $1,500, but one single mother of three needed just $600 to help stabilize her family’s housing.

In the proposal, HAC said that “CDBG funding will be used to help clients Housing Assistance Corporation would otherwise not have the funds to help. All of the CDBG funds will be used for direct assistance (overhead already is covered through other sources) to Barnstable residents (individuals and families) earning 80 percent or less of the area median income. The very poor households earning below 50 percent or 30 percent of AMI will be given first priority.”

Here are some comments from a few of the clients helped by this grant:
Laurie: “It helped us with security and first month’s rent. We’re both working. It really helped us a lot.”, Chad: “We would have been homeless without this help.” Rosalyn (who has a 3-year-old daughter): “I hope this gives me the start I need to support myself.”

If you are interested in learning more about how prevention works, please visit www.HAConCapeCod.org or contact us at 508-771-5400.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Family Shelter, Prevention, housing assistance corporation

Cataumet Shelter Given Gift of Playspace

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Jun 07, 2012 @ 02:18 PM

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The little girl looked around the room filled with new games, books, puzzles and blocks. “Will this be here tomorrow?” she asked.

“Yes, this is all staying here for you to play with for a long time,” answered Meghan Schafer, Playspace programs southeast region director for Horizons for Homeless Children.

On May 17, Horizons for Homeless Children (HHC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of homeless children in Massachusetts, installed a Playspace (educational and recreational space) for children living at the Village at Cataumet, a family shelter in Bourne operated by Housing Assistance Corporation. The Playspace provides children at the shelter with a fun, safe and stimulating environment in which to learn, grow and play, and comes equipped with books, play equipment and art supplies.

“It’s so moving to see the kids enjoy it,” said Kaja Masdalen, a staff member at the Village at Cataumet. “The mix of toys gets their imagination going.”

“I love it. It’s wonderful,” said Latoyia, one of the mothers staying at the Village at Cataumet. “It’s a nice variety of toys for children of all ages. The children play well together and learn about sharing.”

With over 100,000 Massachusetts children experiencing homelessness, half under the age of six, family shelters are always filled with children. Just like young children living in homes, young homeless children need access to educational and recreational opportunities that allow them to develop their physical, social, emotional, and pre-academic skills.
HHC has previously installed Playspaces at two other HAC family shelters, Carriage House in Falmouth and Angel House in Hyannis. The new playspace is the second one at the Village at Cataumet. The first one was designed for children of school and preschool ages; the new one has toys and games for infants and toddlers.

The new Playspace is adjacent to the shared kitchen and dining room at the Village at Catuamet. “To have a place where the children can play while the parents are cooking is cozy and safe and good for everyone,” said Sarah Fujiwara, chief Playspace program officer for HHC.

HHC also recruits, trains, and places volunteers in the shelter Playspaces to supervise and engage the children in fun, educational play so that they can grow and develop, as all children should. More than 1,400 trained volunteers known as Playspace Activity Leaders (PALs) participate in educational play activities with children each week in approximately 140 family shelters in Massachusetts. This gives the parents a chance to take classes or take time for other personal needs.

Horizons for Homeless Children is touching the lives of more than 2,200 children each week in Massachusetts through the Playspace Programs. At HAC’s recent annual meeting, HHC was given the Human Services Partner Award.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Family Shelter, Horizons for Homless Children