Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

DYECH Celebrates Fundraising Milestone

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 07, 2017 @ 11:26 AM
DYECH Edited.jpgAt its meeting last month, DYECH presented HAC's Cassi Danzl with an $8,000 check which pushed its fundraising total to $1.5 million since the group's inception. The money has been used to prevent families on Cape Cod from becoming homeless.

In the grand scheme of things, $8,000 may seem like a relatively small amount of money, but in the beginning of March, it represented a major milestone for a group of residents committed to helping their neighbors in need.

When that donation was given to Cassi Danzl, HAC’s director of Family and Individual Services, it pushed the group, better known as the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH), over $1.5 million raised since it was formed in 1993.

HAC founder Rick Presbrey said the genesis of DYECH was “to prevent people from entering shelters and motels and keep them in housing,” an effort spearheaded by the late Bob Murray in conjunction with parishioners and staff at Christian churches in Dennis and Yarmouth that had reached out to HAC asking how they could support the agency.

And so DYECH was born. Golf tournaments, ham and bean dinners, chicken pot pie suppers and community concerts are just a few of the ways they have raised money to prevent homelessness on Cape Cod and the Islands over the past 24 years.

DYECH has also been able to raise funds from the bulk purchase of gift certificates to participating stores such as Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and CVS. It then sells those gift certificates at face value to those in the community. For every dollar spent, DYECH receives five percent that goes directly to HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families.

Debbie McDevitt-Hayes of Yarmouth, who has been involved with DYECH since the beginning, recalled that the late Art Kimber, a member of the clergy at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, and Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, were instrumental in the launch of DYECH and bringing neighboring churches into the fold.

DYECH’s Early Days
“Those early days were exciting days for sure,” she said, noting that it was less about the money raised and more about the number of families they were able to help. “HAC was good at keeping us posted as to putting a personal face on what was happening. Sometimes you’d meet some of the clients that you helped which was really exciting.”

As to DYECH reaching this fundraising milestone last month, she said, “I’m sure if we put the faces on that $1.5 million it would have a huge impact.”

Akin said the reason for the continued dedication to DYECH is simple: there are people in need. “They say that for 60 or more percent of Cape Codders, if one or two paychecks don’t come, the party is over,” he said. “There is a real hand-to-mouth economy for the have nots.”

“I think we all have to help each other,” said Yarmouthport’s Barbara Lussier, who manages the gift certificate program for DYECH. “Some of us are more fortunate than others, but I think it’s important for us to give back.”

While all agreed there is still more to do, current DYECH President Steve Sozanski was proud of all the group has accomplished. “It’s mind-boggling to think we’ve raised that much money organizing meals and concerts three or four times a year and buying and selling gift cards in bulk,” he said.

Presbrey agreed, calling DYECH’s work “amazing, actually. For them to do it all these years is impressive and also the energy with which they do it. They’ve kept up the program and prevented people from being homeless and keeping them in their current housing. It’s been a huge thing, really.”

To learn more about ways you can help prevent homelessness simply by purchasing a gift card to a local supermarket, store or restaurant, click this link.

You can also purchase gift cards at HAC's office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. Contact Margaret Benaka at 508-771-5400, ext. 272, or at mbenaka@haconcapecod.org for more information. 

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, Steve Sozanski, homeless prevention, Rick Presbrey, Gift Cards for prevention, David Akin, St. Pius X School, Cassi Danzl, Barbara Lussier, Debbie McDevitt-Hayes

Cassi Danzl Leads Family and Individual Services

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 @ 11:25 AM
Cassi Edited-1.jpgCassi Danzl joined HAC in January. She oversees the agency's Family and Individual Services Department which includes housing search, homelessness prevention, HAC's financial literacy workshops and homeless outreach efforts throughout Cape Cod. 

One of the first things visitors to Cassi Danzl’s office at HAC will notice are the framed pictures that decorate the walls. There are photos of Greece, Scotland and even some of Cape Cod, all taken by Danzl.

Travel has been a huge part of Danzl’s life ever since she was a child. “I’m originally from Chicago,” she said. “My dad worked for a railroad so we moved from Chicago to Minnesota. Then we returned to Chicago, then Pennsylvania and then back to Chicago, where I graduated high school.”

The common thread from her globetrotting adventures has been volunteerism. “I volunteered a lot as a kid,” she said. “We grew up doing work trips to different parts of the United States in Alabama, Kentucky, on a Native American reservation in South Dakota. We were always active in terms of helping.”

So it should come as no surprise that Danzl, HAC’s new director of Family and Individual Services, chose a career in the social services. Following her high school graduation, she received a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Indianapolis in 2007 before earning her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Assumption College in Worcester in 2010.

While at Assumption, Danzl started working as a case manager at a residential facility for intellectually disabled adults for Arbour Counseling Services in Worcester. Over the next four years, she remained in Central Massachusetts, becoming a mental health clinician – she is a certified mental health counselor – and then a senior site coordinator, overseeing a community-based program that provided intensive therapy for families with children under the age of 21 who had significant emotional and mental health issues.

Moves to the Cape

Roughly three years ago, Danzl moved to Cape Cod to become the center director for Arbour Community Services’ outpatient mental health clinic in West Yarmouth.

She arrived at HAC in January and currently oversees a staff of 11 employees. She manages HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) which includes intake counselor Liz Belcher, who is typically the first point of contact for clients who walk through HAC’s doors seeking assistance with their housing issues. The programs in Danzl’s department include housing search; homelessness prevention; permanent supportive housing; outreach to the homeless living in the streets and woods of Cape Cod; financial literacy workshops; and the agency’s housing counseling efforts on Martha’s Vineyard.

Under her purview, HAC serves a range of clients, from those most in need to people looking to purchase their first home. “I think it’s easy to see how impactful we can be, from prevention where $200 can change someone’s housing situation to our first-time homebuyer’s classes,” she said. “We’re dealing with both ends of the spectrum. It is pretty broad.”

One of the lessons Danzl said she has learned from all her travels is that different parts of the world struggle with different issues. “Here on the Cape, the housing stock and affordable housing is obviously an issue,” she said.

She is excited to help HAC play a role in solving those issues, tying into her goals as a child when she knew she wanted to pursue a career that allowed her to help others. “Existentially, my goal is that when I leave or die, that I’ve left something different than what it was when I started, hopefully, in a positive way,” she said. “I don’t want to just be a visitor while I’m here. I want to be invested in making a difference.”

Tags: HCEC, homelessness, homeless prevention, housing consumer education, financial literacy, Family and Individual Services Department, homeless outreach, Cassi Danzl

Editorial: Optimism for our Future

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Mar 09, 2017 @ 04:05 PM

Galazzi Photo-2.jpg

It has been a whirlwind—in the best way. I have spent the past two months getting to know the staff and dozens of programs at HAC. Each day, I have been amazed at the range of services that this agency accomplishes, the programs that lift people up and build community here on Cape Cod.

Rick Presbrey has built HAC into one of the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit social service agencies on Cape Cod. I am honored to have been chosen to take the reins of the agency and continue the good works that HAC is known for throughout the region.

HAC not only runs four family shelter programs—housing 174 families last year alone—but also runs the largest rental assistance program in the region, with over 1,100 households. Our homeless prevention program ensured 198 families did not become homeless last year. Our Energy and Repair department continues to help families save money by making homes more energy efficient. Our Housing Consumer Education classes and counseling supported everyone from seniors whose homes were at risk of foreclosure to young couples looking to purchase their first home.

I am looking forward to getting to know you, HAC’s supporters. Your support makes these programs possible and your input is important. As we assess HAC’s programs and their impact, I’d like to hear what you think.

There is a lot of work to be done and it is a challenge I welcome. Working with the HAC staff and with others throughout our community, I know we can make strides, together.

Tags: Family Shelter, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, HAC, homeless prevention, Alisa Galazzi

Prevent Homelessness on Cape Cod While Doing Your Holiday Shopping

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 06:30 AM

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The Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH), which supports HAC’s Project Prevention, has gift cards available for purchase to over 100 stores, restaurants and movie theaters (from Amazon to Zappos). When you purchase gift cards through this program, merchants give a percentage of the sale to homelessness prevention. For example, if you buy a $25 gift card for the Gap, your gift card is worth the full $25, but the Gap donates 14 percent ($3.50) to Project Prevention.

All of the money raised through this program is given directly to families in need, providing them with emergency funds so they can remain in their homes and off the streets. To purchase gift cards, go to www.shopwithscrip.com. The enrollment code to help DYECH and HAC is 561B698219989.

Cards can be picked up at Yarmouth Appliance Clinic at 61 White’s Path in Yarmouth one week after you place your order. Don’t forget to place your order early!

If you have questions about the program please email DYECH at dyech@comcast.net

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homeless prevention, Gift Cards for prevention, holiday shopping

Jazz Ensemble to Perform for DYECH Fundraiser

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

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For more than 15 years, the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) has organized a free concert twice a year, all in an effort to support those in need. 

DYECH will do so once again tomorrow (Tuesday, June 28) at 7:30 pm when the Cape Cod Conservatory Jazz Ensemble performs at the St. Pius X Life Center in South Yarmouth. It's an event that demonstrates the power of music in opening up people's hearts, helping to raise funds for HAC's Project Prevention program which ensures residents struggling with their bills are able to remain in their homes and off the streets. 

"We usually raise about $1,000 a concert," said DYECH's Steve Sozanski. That money is raised through a free-will offering. 

Sozanski said the concert is always well-attended, giving residents and tourists alike the opportunity to listen to "music you won't hear on the radio. It is the old classic music that makes you tap your toes like Benny Goodman and Count Basie. It is really good and the people who attend it really love it. Sometimes people will even break out into dancing on the floor." 

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homeless prevention, Cape Cod Conservatory Band

Walking Towards a Better Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 08:45 AM
Bernadette and Richard Waystack resized 600The Waystacks brave heavy rains during last year’s Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk.

Last summer, Bernadette and Richard Waystack walked one end of the Cape to the other, over the course of seven days, enduring everything from blisters, sore muscles and even stress fractures, all to raise awareness about the housing issues facing the region.

So when asked to participate in the Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk again, the Waystacks didn’t hesitate, emphatically saying yes. Why? “Homelessness has not gone away,” Bernadette said. “My husband, who was the past president of The Family Pantry of Cape Cod in Harwich, once coined the phrase that, ‘Hunger doesn’t take a vacation on Cape Cod.’ Guess what? Homelessness doesn’t either.”

This July, the Harwich couple will be walking in the annual event on behalf of HAC, raising funds for the nonprofit’s services which includes its four homeless shelters, homelessness prevention programs, affordable housing development and housing education workshops.

The pair’s motivation goes beyond simple charitableness. They have a personal connection to the type of work HAC is doing because they have witnessed the impacts homelessness has had on a family member. That is why, when Richard ended up with stress fractures during last year’s walk, he refused to give up.

“You know it’s uncomfortable and hard, but you’re only doing it for one day and every night you get to go home to a nice, safe and secure home,” said Bernadette, who is an art teacher at Monomoy Regional High School. “I thought about the people in my hometown and across the Cape where that isn’t the case. Some of them aren’t going home to a house. Some are out in the streets or in the woods. Some have a home, but it’s not stable and they’re not sure how long they’ll have it.”

So next month the Waystacks will lace up their sneakers, taking small steps to help make Cape Cod a better place for all to live. They realize they will not solve the problem on their own. Instead their ultimate goal is progress.

“I think it’s a greater sense of wanting to make a difference,” Bernadette said. “You can’t fix it all, but if everyone does a little something, we’re going to make a change.”

HAC'S 2015 Celebrity Walkers

Bernadette and Richard Waystack

Reverend John Rice

Reverend Dr. John Terry

The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

To support HAC's Celebrity Walkers or donate to the walk, click this link. To learn more about the Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk, click here

Tags: Housing with love walk, homelessness, HAC, Richard Waystack, Bernadette Waystack, homeless prevention, Bob Murray