Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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

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

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

Annual Meeting Celebrates Rick Presbrey's Legacy

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 04:15 PM
2017 Annual Meeting-44-1.jpgHAC founder Rick Presbrey with new HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi. During her speech at HAC's Annual Meeting, Galazzi acknowledged Presbrey's efforts, saying, "None of us would be here if it weren't for you." 

Housing is the foundation upon which all of our endeavors stem from. “Home is where we make our dreams come true,” new HAC Board Chair Mark Forest said. “Home is where we launch our lives. And it is the mission of HAC.”

That mission and the man behind it – HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who retired at the end of January – were celebrated at the agency’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition held last month at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Forest, who succeeds outgoing Chair David Augustinho, was one of several to recognize Presbrey’s contributions at HAC’s Annual Meeting. He relayed one story from the early 1980s when a group of people approached Presbrey wanting to create a nonprofit that eventually became the Community Development Partnership in Eastham.

“Rick’s response was, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’” Forest said. “If you went to Rick over the years that is what he would say, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’ For every one of his [accomplishments] we touch or reflect on tonight, there are dozens of others that people don’t even know about.”

New HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about the importance of her predecessor’s work as it relates to the agency’s services. “We all know that housing is where everything starts,” she said. “Nothing can be accomplished without having a safe, affordable house.”

Presbrey, who started HAC in 1974, said his was a career that was focused on helping people. “We never said no to a need ever,” he said. “We helped as many people as we could. The number now is over 160,000 people. Every one of those that we helped is incredibly important.”

Annual Meeting-10.jpgIn his speech, HAC founder Rick Presbrey (center) acknowledged longtime HAC staffers Michael Sweeney and Nancy Davison who both retired in the past year. 

That work continues under Galazzi’s leadership and guidance. During the night, she called on the community’s support, stressing that “it is going to take all of us” to address Cape Cod’s housing issues.

Among those heeding that call are businesses and organizations like the Cape and Islands United Way, Emerald Physicians and Cape Save which were all honored at HAC’s Annual Meeting.

“The incredible amount of work that goes on through the employees of HAC and its programs is an essential prescription for the health of our community,” said Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, who accepted this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Emerald Physicians.

Barbara Milligan, president of the United Way which was the recipient of the Human Services Partner Award, eagerly accepted Galazzi’s challenge. “Let’s get this problem solved,” she said. “Let’s work on it together.”

HAC also honored Michael Princi, who has served as the agency’s lawyer for 40 years and organized a holiday gift basket party for children in shelter for the past 25 years, as well as longtime board member Edgar Mangiafico, who was the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award.

Annual Meeting-15.jpg

Cape Save was the recipient of the Business Partner of the Year Award. The Yarmouth-based company insulates low-income homes for HAC's Energy and Repair Department. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, HAC Energy, Michael Princi, Rick Presbrey, HAC Volunteers, Alisa Galazzi, Ed Mangiafico, Cape and Islands United Way, Cape Save, Emerald Physicians

Angel House Clients Treated to Valentine's Day Meal

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 @ 11:47 AM
Angel House Valentines-3.jpgA few of the Angel House mothers with the Valentine's Day carnations that were given to them by four dedicated HAC volunteers. 

Love can be exhibited in a number of ways. On Valentine’s Day, four dedicated HAC volunteers did so by giving each mother at Angel House a vase filled with carnations and delivering them and their children a meal that included buffalo chicken pot pies, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and cookies.

The dinner was the work of Wendy and Ron Winner of Centerville, Peter Brooks of Osterville and former HAC board member Jack Delaney. The group even took time to decorate the shelter for the occasion. Over the past three years, the four have organized similar meals to show their support for those at Angel House. The shelter serves mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

“I’ve been here for 10 months and every time they do this is overwhelming,” said Jocelyn.

Jackie, another mother staying at the shelter, expressed similar gratitude for the generosity of the HAC volunteers. “It is amazing,” she said. “They made us feel appreciated and it encourages us to do better.”

Support HAC's Angel House Shelter

Tags: Volunteer Cape Cod, Angel House, HAC Volunteers, Ron Winner, charitable giving, Valentine's Day

Annual Meeting Recognizes Those Making an Impact on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 12:07 PM
Rick Retirement-3.jpgThis year's Annual Meeting will be a celebration of Outgoing CEO Rick Presbrey's legacy. Presbrey, who founded the agency in 1974, is retiring this year. Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi, who started in January, is replacing him. 

HAC’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition in March will be a seminal one, representing a changing of the guard as we celebrate Outgoing CEO Rick Presbrey and welcome Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi. Presbrey is retiring after 43 years with the agency; in 1974 he founded HAC to oversee the state’s rental voucher program on Cape Cod.

The meeting, which will be held on Thursday, March 23, from 5 to 7:30 pm at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa, will also recognize individuals and organizations that are working to make a positive impact in the community.

The event is also a way to thank the more than 750 volunteers who support HAC in its mission of ensuring all on Cape Cod have access to safe, secure housing. One of those volunteer groups, Emerald Physicians, will be the recipient of HAC’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

The medical group has served as phone fundraisers, filling more than a dozen seats for a half hour at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon for the past eight years. “They have been so extraordinary every year,” said HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin, who noted that Emerald Physicians and HAC often serve the same clientele. “I feel so blessed we work together in helping those in need on Cape Cod.”

The Cape and Islands United Way has been chosen for HAC’s Human Services Partner Award. Since 2005, the nonprofit has provided HAC with more than $243,000 in funding that has gone to support the Angel House shelter in Hyannis, homelessness prevention for families and individuals and homeless efforts on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. “Providing housing stability and affordable housing for our residents is a priority for our organization,” said Barbara Milligan, the CEO of the Cape and Islands United Way. “We’re honored to have been able to partner with and support the outstanding work that HAC has done for many years.”

The Business Partner Award is going to Cape Save of South Yarmouth, which has been insulating low-income single-family and multi-family homes for HAC’s Energy and Repair Department for more than a decade. “They definitely deserve it,” said Al DiMuzio, interim director of the energy department. “They have a mindset much like HAC.”

Ed Mangiafico Photo.jpg
The final honoree is longtime HAC board member and former board chair Edgar Mangiafico (pictured above) of Chatham, who is the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award. 

HAC’s Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition
March 23 ~ 5 to 7:30 PM

Cape Codder Resort & Spa,
1225 Rte. 132 Hyannis

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Rick Presbrey, HAC Volunteers, Alisa Galazzi, Ed Mangiafico, Cape and Islands United Way, Cape Save, Emerald Physicians

HAC Welcomes Wolf and Wallace to Board

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 12:14 PM

Dan_Wolf_Photo.jpg

Two familiar faces – State Senator Dan Wolf and Tara Wallace - have made a return to HAC’s board of directors. The pair was appointed at HAC’s board meeting last month with Wolf filling a vacancy on the executive board and Wallace filling a seat on the constituency committee.

Wolf said he was eager to return to the board, especially because “the biggest economic issue we face on the Cape is the housing issue. HAC is probably the most important player in the quasi-private sector on the issue so I think we have the best opportunity to look at ways to address this issue regionally that allows people to have a lifestyle on the Cape we can be proud of.”

His appointment comes as he concludes his third and final term as a State Senator for the Cape and islands. The founder and CEO of Cape Air said he truly enjoyed his time in office which will officially end on January 4. “I love that government can really be a collaborative partner on addressing the issues,” he said.

With his role as a HAC board member, he will continue to work towards solving the issue of housing. “HAC has been committed to really addressing housing and home issues for over 40 years,” he said. It’s really an amazing organization and I look forward to being part of the team.”

Tara Wallace Photo.jpgTara Wallace of HAC's Constituency Committee

As a former client, Wallace knows just how the agency can help those in need. The agency had a role in getting Wallace her first apartment thanks to a Section 8 voucher and taught her crucial life skills through its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. “I wouldn’t be where I am without HAC,” she said. “They not only helped me with housing and a car, but they helped me be able to sustain myself and eventually become independent.”

Today, Wallace is working for the Department of Transitional Assistance in Hyannis, where she is a benefit, eligibility and case social worker. A former member of the constituency committee, she expressed similar excitement to serve once again. “I feel like it is a very important role,” she said of the committee. “It is a good tool for HAC to be able to understand where their clients are coming from and how certain rules or programs affect clients.”

Tags: HAC Executive Board, volunteerism, HAC Volunteers, affordable housing, Constituency Committee

Volunteers Needed for HAC's Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 10:39 AM
BF_-1_DSC_1058_Medium-1.jpgHAC's Big Fix is a great opportunity to donate your time to help those in need. This year the Big Fix is coming to Brewster. 

What do you get when you bring together over 200 volunteers who donate a few hours of their time to help their neighbors in need? HAC’s Big Fix.

This year, the day of service is coming to Brewster on Saturday, September 17. HAC is currently looking for volunteers who are willing to make small home improvements – yard work, painting, light carpentry, trash removal – for seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in that Cape community.

This is now the seventh year HAC has organized the Big Fix, first bringing it to Barnstable in 2010. Since then, it has been to Sandwich, Dennis, Mashpee, Yarmouth and, last year, Bourne.

“Brewster is very excited to host and be the recipient of the Big Fix,” said its assistant town administrator Jillian Douglass, noting that “it’s an opportunity for homeowners to have repairs made to their home they otherwise could not accomplish.”

HAC volunteer coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin said the Big Fix would not be possible without a group of volunteers committed to donating their time and energy to tackling those home repairs. “Our seniors, veterans and homeowners with disabilities can be absolutely overwhelmed by deferred maintenance,” she said. “Shrubs grow over their first-floor windows. Mountains of items to go to recycling clog the basement or garage. When you turn 10 or 20 volunteers loose on those projects for a few hours, it’s like a miracle.”

Those wanting to volunteer for this year’s Big Fix can fill out an application by clicking this link. If you have any questions please contact HAC's volunteer coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279. The deadline to submit a volunteer application is Thursday, September 1.

Tags: volunteerism, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, Brewster Big Fix

Cotuit Church Gives Back to the NOAH SHelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 10:21 AM
Frank_Hallice_Bill_Johnson.jpgFrank Hallice (left) and Bill Johnson spent a few hours hanging new blinds at the NOAH Shelter in January. The blinds were paid for by the Cotuit Federated Church. 

Sometimes the smallest acts of charity can have the largest impact.

And so it is with the Cotuit Federated Church which has made minor upgrades to the NOAH Shelter in recent months that have helped improve the comfort of those staying there.

It started in November, when Bill Johnson of Mashpee was joined by several other church parishioners in putting up 60 coat hooks over all the beds at the shelter.

Johnson returned to the shelter in January when he was accompanied by Frank Hallice, also of Mashpee, as they installed 20 new blinds over the windows.

Greg Bar, NOAH director, expressed gratitude for the church’s willingness to assist the shelter and its guests in such a way. “It seems like this is a small kind of thing, but having blinds on the windows is a privacy issue and helps create a feeling of safety,” Bar said. “I think so highly of them for doing this.”

Both Johnson and Hallice deflected such praise, saying it was their way of giving back.

“I do it because I want to,” Hallice explained. “I don’t expect anything back. I guess it’s in my nature to help… Does it make you feel good? Yes. You’d be inhuman if you said it didn’t. It’s like shoveling an old lady’s walkway. You do it because you should.”

Donate to the NOAH Shelter

Tags: homelessness, NOAH Shelter, volunteering, HAC Volunteers