Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Basket Party An Annual Tradition To Help Cape Cod Families in Need

Posted by Laura Reckford on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 @ 05:00 AM


At the party Michael Princi throws every year to help homeless families, the host told a favorite story about how a small gesture can help someone in need.

He described a party he gave with his son, Patrick Princi, at HAC's NOAH Shelter one Christmas. They brought a karaoke machine to the shelter and everyone took a turn, including Michael.

With much coaxing, one homeless woman took her turn at the microphone and Michael said the entire group was amazed at her singing prowess. "It was like 'American Idol,'" he said. "She had perfect pitch."

Afterwards, the woman, who had been a foster child with no family of her own, thanked Michael Princi, telling him it was the best Christams she had ever had. Her reaction captures the magic of giving, he said.

Michael Princi has held a special party for 24 years as a way to collect baskets of Christmas presents for families in Housing Assistance Corporation's shelters. He asks friends to contribute and he said one friend thanked him for letting her buy for a family. "That's what it's about," he said. "Anonymous giving. Knowing you are helping other people who wouldn't have a Christmas."

HAC's Project Prevention Director Dolores Barbati-Poore said of the event, "It's wonderful. It's family to family."

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey paid tribute to Dolores, saying "She has done more to help homeless families in her career than anyone else on Cape Cod. She does it year after year. It takes its toll but she keeps on doing it." He added, "Working with people in need is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep doing it and trust that good things will happen."

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless

Telethon Highlights Stories About Homelessness

Posted by Laura Reckford on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 @ 06:30 PM

telethon prep01

Talking about the weeks and months she was homeless was so painful for one former Project Prevention client, she found it difficult to tell the story.

Her story will be just one of many that will be a part of the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon on Wednesday, December 11.

The telethon is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Housing Assistance Corporation. 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.

Besides stories from shelter clients, there will be interviews with shelter staff and music from local school choirs throughout the Cape.

School choirs that have recorded performances for the telethon include Sandwich Soul Show Choir; North Falmouth Elementary School Choir; Cape Cod Academy Lower School Choir in Osterville; St. Pius X Elementary School Choir in South Yarmouth; Nauset Regional High School Honors Chorus; and Nauset Regional High School Treble Chorus.

Other musical groups and singers whose performances will air during the telethon are Falmouth Chorale, Falmouth, Sarah Swain, Katherine King, Molly Parmenter, Heather Cox, Allison Reed, David Kuehn, and Allen McGarry.

A video of Cape Cod Conservatory Ballet Ensemble will be shown.

And Rabbi Elias Lieberman of Falmouth Jewish Congregation will perform live.

The telethon is hosted by Minday Todd of WCAI with co-hosts Rick Presbrey, HAC President/CEO; Paul Pronovost, Cape Cod Times editor-in-chief; Matt Pitta of WXTK; and Sean Corcoran of WCAI.

The show airs live on 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. Tune in and give to help homeless families on Cape Cod get back on their feet.

To donate to the telethon, go to sheltercapecodtelethon.org.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, NOAH Telethon, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House, NOAH

Healing Through Art at HAC's Angel House

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 @ 06:09 PM

angel art02 for hacbeat


To bring a voice to the voiceless. To understand self on a deeper level. These are some of the benefits the art therapy program has brought to mothers recovering from substance abuse at Angel House.

Angel House, which houses women and their children, is one of three family shelters run by Housing Assistance Corporation.

The art therapy program began six years ago because some of the mothers wanted to learn how to knit and sew. They approached Marnie Reiber, director of Angel House, and Penny Devaney, who is a case manager at Angel House.

The two spent time individually with the mothers and eventually it became a group. And soon, it became a very popular group.

"It's really nice to watch them grow. It's a benefit," said Penny, a lifelong Cape Codder who has worked at Angel House for 19 years, turned the xxx

Through art therapy, Penny has been able to reach people who were very hard to reach, according to Angel House case manager Janis Goodnow. “She has helped clients uncover the beautiful side of themselves. She has brought back a true dignity to women who were forgotten or had forgotten themselves.”

There are 13 mothers currently living at Angel House who come to the art therapy group every Thursday. Penny also runs a 12-Step Recovery group, Relapse Prevention and Understanding Domestic Violence groups.

The art therapy group has worked in various media including clay, quilting, mask-making, bead and jewelry, reflection boards on canvas, painting, tie-die shirt-making, painted boxes and spray painting.

In the most recent art therapy group session, the mothers worked on drawings of an outline of the human brain. Each mother had to design their own brain on canvas and express how they believed their brain worked.

According to Janis, art therapy as an aid to healing originated in the 1920s but the term was coined by British artist Adrian Hill in the 1940s when he was recovering from tuberculosis in a sanitorium and suggested artists work to his fellow inpatients. He believed that the value of art therapy lay in completely engrossing the mind (and hands) and releasing creative energy through art.

Through art, the mothers at Angel House are paying attention to themselves and their lives, Janis said. “Art therapy is an evidence-based treatment to promote good health to all who participate.”

She said art therapy is used to increase confidence, uncover defense mechanisms, make it easier to express feelings verbally, to create a sense of safety and peace; to identify feelings; and to help clients face fears and inadequacies.

The art therapy program at Angel House is run on few resources. Donations of art materials like acrylic paints, pens, pencils, brushes, paper or art supply gift cards are appreciated. Donations can be dropped off at HAC, 460 West Main Street, Hyannis.

Tags: Homeless, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Angel House

Trauma Care Proves Successful At HAC's Angel House

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

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Last December the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation awarded Housing Assistance Corporation a $373,000 grant to fund a three-year pilot program called Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC) to train Angel House staff in trauma-informed care, which focuses on children’s resiliency to heal from early trauma. 

While ARC program at Angel House has only been operating for the last eight months, HAC staff can already see results.

Working in the new Therapeutic Playspace, those trained in the ARC methods have seen remarkable improvements in infants and toddlers, according to staff. One example of a toddler thriving in the program is “ Jacob,” (not his real name) who came to Angel House with his 24-year-old mother last October.  Jacob was born addicted to opiates and when he arrived at Angel House he was a child who had trouble connecting to others.

He was not walking or even sitting up and was behind developmentally. “He functioned in his own world,” according to Angel House clinical director Christina Russell.

HAC's Angel House is focusing on trauma-informed care for children.

Both Jacob and his mother blossomed under the ARC program. Jacob began walking and talking. He learned to feed himself and to use a spoon. He learned sign language to help him communicate and became better at making eye contact. “The change in him was pretty significant,” said Amy Brigham, assistant teacher for Playspace at Angel House.

At the same time, Jacob’s mother was learning important parenting skills. “She was learning how to connect to him,” Ms. Russell said.

Another example is one that Ms. Brigham said is probably the program’s biggest success story so far. "Adam," who came to Angel House in January, was struggling with detox issues that led to severe reflux. Because of the reflux, he was unable to participate in “tummy time,” lying on his stomach, which is important for development of head control and shoulder and arm

With the help of the ARC program’s early intervention specialists, a program of exercises was developed for Adam to build his core strength on a daily basis. In just one month, he was sitting up and now, after just four months in the ARC program, he is crawling and is catching up to the normal developmental milestones. “That’s a lot of progress for a little guy in
a short period of time,” Ms. Brigham said.

Another child, "Billy," who is now one year old, was described by staff as “very calm and quiet; his laughter is infectious.” But his mother was having trouble parenting her baby. The two were
at Angel House for just a couple of weeks, but in that time in the ARC program, the mother learned to support her son and the child has thrived.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Angel House

NAACP Honors HAC’s Greg Bar For Commitment ‘Above & Beyond'

Posted by Laura Reckford on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 @ 03:00 PM

HAC's Greg Bar with his award from the NAACP

Each year the NAACP Cape Cod branch gives awards to people who step out beyond their roles, who go “above and beyond” to help people in the community, as NAACP Cape Cod branch vice president John Reed said. At this year’s award ceremony, which took place May 19 at Hyannis Heritage Hotel, HAC’s own Greg Bar was honored.

Greg Bar’s title at HAC is Housing Search Specialist in the Individuals Services Department. He has a desk at NOAH and an office in HAC’s West Main Street headquarters.

His job puts him on the front lines of the Cape’s often hidden world of homeless men and women who bed down for the night in wooded areas or in shelters.

“He is the unsung hero,” Mr. Reed  said.

Mr. Reed said the key to Greg’s success is that the people he serves trust him. “He’s a person they can go to for help,” he said.

Greg's wife Karin Bar, also a HAC employee, kept the NAACP honor a surprise, so he did not know he would receive the award until a few minutes before the ceremony when the pair drove up to the hotel.

“I was stunned and honored,” Greg said. The award acknowledged Greg’s work at HAC with the NOAH shelter and also at New Road, the church he founded in 2005. The church is on Route 28 (Falmouth Road) at Phinney’s Lane in Hyannis. Greg said some call the non-denominational church, the “un-church,” because of its outward focus on service to the community.

Greg said the timing of the award had significance for him. The previous Monday before the award ceremony, he had been a little bit dejected—“I felt a little ‘dip,’” is how he put it. The award got rid of the “dip.”

“I don’t do what I do to get any kind of anything, but to be recognized for this, it reaffirmed we’re spot-on with what we’re doing as a church,” he said.

 “The honor went pretty deep in my heart,” he said.

Greg has been a pastor since 1983. He started at a church in Greenwich, Connecticut and later ran a church on Martha’s Vineyard, the Vineyard Assembly of God.

He has worked at HAC since 2006, starting out as a volunteer at the NOAH shelter. He works both in the HAC headquarters at West Main Street and at the NOAH shelter on Winter Street.

Through his job at HAC, Greg helps people navigate through rough times, connecting them with other services. He counsels them, “gives them hope and makes them feel cared for.”

He said he tells them, “I will stick with you until this gets solved. I’m not going to give up on you.” It is that caring attitude that the NAACP chose to honor.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, HAC, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH

Golf Day To End Homelessness A Success At Bass River

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Ken and Janice Lyman of Yarmouthport have long been supporters of Housing Assistance Corporation’s Project Prevention through their church, St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, but the couple decided they could do more.

Mr. Lyman suggested this spring that his club, the Retired Men’s Club of Cape Cod, raise money for the cause through one of their golf tournaments. The club schedules about five tournaments every spring and fall to raise money for various charities.

The “Golf Day To End Homelessness—Closest-to-the-Pin Contest” was held Monday, May 20 at Bass River Golf Course. About 80 people attended, Mr. Lyman said.

The event raised $700 for Project Prevention.

Also involved in helping with the tournament, including the critical role of working at the tee and measuring the distance to the “pin,” were David Puchalsky of South Yarmouth and Paul and Marcia Karhu of Dennis, who are members of the Congregational Church of South Dennis, which, like St. Pius X is among the 13 churches that are part of Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH).

Paul Karhu had been involved for the past two years in running a similar golf tournament at Dennis Highlands. Success of the tournament was limited so he was interested in switching the fundraiser to Bass River Golf Course. Mr. Karhu has also participated over the years in HAC’s Walk to End Homelessness. He did his first walk in 1999.

Tags: housing, Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, DYECH, Project Prevention, Prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod

HAC's Carriage House Opens New Play Space

Posted by Laura Reckford on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Children at Carriage House enjoy the new place space.

Staff from the agency Horizons for the Homeless Children refurbished the play space at
Carriage House in June and a ribbon-cutting at the space on June 13 served as
an opportunity for the children and adults to get a first look at the new

Carriage House Facility Director Anne Holmes saidof Horizons, “You guys are absolutely
amazing. The things you do. . . and you ask for nothing in return. You just
bless the kids.”

The new space is divided into five development areas: arts and crafts; a dramatic play area with puppets and a dollhouse for fine motor skills; an area with activities for gross motor skills; a gated infant area; and a literacy area. Six of the children staying at Carriage House attended the ribbon cutting and tried out the new play equipment and toys.

Horizons Playspace Programs Director Meghan Schafer  and Playspace Programs Manager Jessica Dalzell were both on hand for the ribbon-cutting.

Horizons is a private non-profit that was founded in 1988 and operates statewide with a main office in Roxbury. The mission of the agency is to improve the lives of young homeless children in Massachusetts and support early childhood education.

Ms. Schafer said, “Jess and I love what we do. The kids are our passion in life.” She added, “We love our volunteers.”

The playspace at Carriage House was a reinstall, because the group had worked on the same space in 2005. She said the re-install at Carriage House cost about $3,000 to $3,500, paid for through donations and from the agency’s budget.

About 65% of Horizons funding comes from donations and the rest through state and federal grants. The group has about 50 volunteers on the Cape who give about two hours per week for six month periods helping at shelters like Carriage House by playing with the children. There are trainings for volunteers twice a year, in April and October.

 On hand at the ribbon cutting are HAC Family Housing Services Compliance Manager Pat Caron.

On hand at the Carriage House ribbon-cutting are HAC Family Housing Services Compliance Manager Pat Caron and her son, Matt Caron, 13, HAC Project Prevention Director Delores
Barbati-Poore, Carriage House Facility Director Anne Holmes, Meghan Schafer and
Jessica Dalzell of Horrizons for Homeless Children and Carriage House Case
Manager Katie Geissler.


Tags: housing, Homeless, volunteers, Horizons for Homless Children, housing assistance corporation, Carriage House, Horizons for Homeless Children

HAC Client Speaks Out At State House

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Jun 03, 2013 @ 03:14 PM

RHN HCEC March 11 2013 Mariehweb resized 600



On Monday, March 11, 2013, Marieh Azari along with housing counselors from Housing Assistance Corporation and South Shore Housing headed to Boston for the annual Regional Housing Network Legislative Meeting.

This meeting provides an opportunity for the nine member agencies of Regional Housing Network to meet with individual legislators and aides. The goal of this meeting is to promote the programs and services offered through the various agencies assisting residents to find and stabilize their housing situation throughout the state of Massachusetts, and to secure the continued voting support of our legislators.

In 2002, after escaping from domestic abuse with her then two-year-old son, Benjamin, Marieh found herself homeless in the city of Boston.

“The HCEC person, Kathy Facchini, worked quickly to get me and my son into transitional housing at New Hope Shelter for Women in Attleboro,” Marieh said, explaining how she eventually used the resources around her to get the help she needed.

While in shelter Marieh attended Blaine School for Hair and became a hairdresser by day. By night she was filling out housing applications, “at least 10-20 every single day.” South Shore Housing’s Consumer Education staff walked her through the daunting process.

By 2004, thanks to South Shore Housing, Marieh and her son received a housing unit subsidy in Bourne. “We were literally dropped off on the front steps of a condo with all that we owned, which filled two small suitcases. We both cried out of relief as well as fear. South Shore had connected me to Referral to Resources for clothing, child care and food,” Marieh said.

Marieh and her son lived in this Bourne condo for about 8 years. During this time she was able to go back to school and she became a nurse. She continued to maintain a very close relationship with her South Shore HCEC “family.” “Those eight years took a real toll on my Benjamin. The trauma of what we both had been through with his dad, living in shelter and then living in what most people would call the ‘projects’ of Bourne had stolen his childhood. His self-esteem was low, his grades were horrible and he was physically not growing,” Marieh explains.

By 2011 Marieh graduated from the nursing program and had dreams of owning her own home. South Shore referred her to Housing Assistance Corporation’s HCEC contact, which led her to the First Time Homebuyers Program.

“I then worked with HAC’s real estate office, Cape Community Real Estate, and in 2012, purchased a beautiful new home in Sandwich. I’m now an official Cape Codder. My Benjamin has come out of his darkness and sorrow. He’s gone from a D student to an A student. He’s physically growing. I see the changes every day since the first day of homeownership,” describes Marieh.

Marieh also describes, “I would not have been able to get out of a bad cycle without the constant connection to both HCEC teams. Not only did they keep me moving through a horrible situation, but they motivated me to move up and out.”

To learn about HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center, please visit us online at www.HAConCapeCod.org or call 508-771-5400.

Tags: Homeless, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod

Editorial: A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 07:50 AM
describe the imageAs the CEO of an organization that manages a variety of different programs, all of which help people in need of a decent home, I am always looking for ways to be more effective. Often I, we, have a pretty good idea of how to improve what we do, but more often than not it takes money. So, we raise money the best we can.

Two areas where we would like to improve what we do are sheltering families and sheltering individuals. We do the sheltering part pretty well. All of our shelters are carefully managed to create as safe and healthy an environment as possible. We have a pretty good track record in that respect.

We also have a very good record of getting people into housing. Of course, the more resources we have the more people get placed. At times in the past we have had almost adequate money to house a large proportion of families in need, but we have never had much to house homeless individuals. These days we have less money to house either population, families or individuals.

Besides more money for housing, which we are working on, we’d like to be able to find funds to create and manage programmatic activities that make stays in shelter more valuable for both populations. Individuals often need detox, health services and mental health services. Families frequently need the same. What both populations need is pre-employment training. In today’s world, unless you have a serious and verifiable disability, you need to work to support yourself. Most of the people we serve are not personally equipped to obtain and maintain a job that pays that much. A well-organized curriculum of personal self-management and pre-employment training, as well as some funding and staffing to supervise internships, might well make the difference many need.

People, in my experience, want to work, to support themselves and have productive lives. Circumstances have been cruel and unforgiving to them, and they need kindness, patience and a hand up.

We are determined to develop and implement such a plan.

Tags: Homeless, HACbeat, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Prevention, Rick Presbrey

Phone Volunteers Needed for NOAH Telethon

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

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As the cold weather arrives, it is a reminder that the 9th Annual NOAH Telethon is right around the corner! We hope you’ll join us to volunteer on Wednesday, December 12.
As a PAL (phone attendant liason) in the Telethon’s on-air phone bank, you can share in a wonderful holiday tradition while you help others move “From Homelessness to Hope to Housing.” It’s easy!

1. Let your friends and neighbors know why you think it’s important to support NOAH.
2. Ask them to tune in to local cable channels 13 and 99 for this festive evening!
3. On Telethon night, bring along a list of these people to call for a donation.

Together, we can make 12-12-12 a night to remember! Help make the season brighter for those in need in our community. If you have questions or need more information, contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@HAConCapeCod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279.

Mindy Todd of NPR station WCAI will return as the telethon host. Joining her as guest hosts will be HAC CEO Rick Presbrey, Philip Mangano (former head of the U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless), Matt Pitta of WXTK, Paul Pronovost of the Cape Cod Times and HAC’s director of resource development Lisa Guyon. DJ Suzanne Tonaire of WGTX is lining up local musicians to provide entertainment during the telethon.

NOAH serves over 450 homeless men and women, through the winter and all year long, right here on Cape Cod. $45 provides one day of client services, including access to housing and employment services, two meals, a bed, showers, emergency clothing and special referrals. $540 provides a day of client services, once a month for a year.

The Telethon will take place at Cape Cod Community Media Center, 17 Shad Hole Road, Dennisport and will be shown live 4-9 p.m. on cable access channels 13 and 99 from Bourne to Provincetown.

Volunteer for the NOAH Telethon!

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, volunteers, NOAH Telethon, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, volunteering