Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Finding Hope at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 @ 06:51 AM
Beth Client-1Angel House Facility Director Lin Rohr (left) listens as Beth shares her story of what led her to the shelter and how it has helped her turn her life around. 

Last summer, when Beth had nowhere to turn, she entered HAC’s Angel House shelter. “I was scared,” she said. “I was hopeless. I felt worthless.”

More than a year later, those feelings are gone, replaced with something she has not felt since she was a teenager. “Being at Angel House, I have gotten my hope back,” she said.

Beth shared her story with four family members of the late Barton Tomlinson, a longtime HAC donor who had an affinity for the shelter which supports mothers like Beth, who are battling addiction, and their children.

When she arrived at Angel House last August, the mother of five admitted, “I was completely broken,” attributing that to her struggles with substance abuse.

At Angel House, those struggles have essentially ended as Beth celebrated two milestones this past year - her 40th birthday in May and being sober for one full year as of last month. “It’s the first year I can say I’ve been sober since I was 15,” she said.

Slowly, she has made progress thanks to the supportive, caring environment she has found at Angel House. Here she has been able to put her life back together, becoming the mother she always wanted to be, all while becoming comfortable with who she is.

“The shift came when I decided that my kids deserved a life,” she said. “And when I finally decided I deserved a life.”

As she nears her Angel House graduation, Beth is taking even more steps to rebuilding her life. She has a job. She will be moving to a transitional apartment at Angel House. She has reconnected with family members that she had previously pushed away. And most importantly, “I feel at peace today,” she said. “I don’t think it’s anything I’ve ever felt before in my life.”

None of this would be possible, she said, if it weren’t for those like Barton Tomlinson who understand the importance of supporting the shelter. “Angel House helped save my life,” she said. “And it helped give my children a mother who is there.”

Support Angel House

Tags: Angel House, Barton Tomlinson, Lin Rohr, Family Shelter, homelessness, hope

From Homelessness to Hope to Housing

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 @ 09:45 AM
Moriya SmithMoriya Smith with Labouré College President Maureen Smith at her graduation last May. Moriya is now studying for her bachelor's degree. 

Almost 20 years ago, when Moriya Smith was only a teenager, she became homeless, fending not only for herself, but her firstborn son Reggie. “I had to go into a shelter,” she said. “I didn’t have a place to stay. It was horrible, probably the worst experience of my life.”

Today, the pain of that experience has been washed away by the success she has achieved as a single mother – she has two other children Marissa and Maranda – who works full-time as a registered nurse. She is currently studying to earn her bachelor’s degree, and is saving money through HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program to one day become a homeowner on Cape Cod.

Originally from Boston, Smith moved to Brewster nearly two years ago, initially working with HAC to secure a rental. “You helped me with my first and last month’s rent which was a big burden lifted from me,” Smith said. “And then my oldest daughter needed a bed so [HAC] gave me a mattress and box spring… They [HAC] were like my little angels. They really helped me. I was still in school and had not yet finished so I wasn’t working and money was tight, very tight.”

As Smith describes it, money was so tight that while she was working towards her associate’s degree and commuting to Labouré College from Cape Cod to Milton, she sometimes didn’t know if she could pay for the gas to make the trip.

Despite these obstacles, Smith has been able to flourish thanks to those around her who have offered their support.

One of those is HAC’s FSS Coordinator Jan Nelson, who has worked with Smith since she entered the program in September 2016. “I have never met anyone like her who is not only supportive, but caring and who I feel is 100 percent in my corner for everything,” Smith said.

Nelson has provided that support and care through FSS which provides incentives for Section 8 voucher holders to increase their earnings. As one’s income increases, their rent increases, and the difference between the original rent and the increased rent is placed into an escrow account which FSS clients can access once they graduate.

Before Smith graduated from Labouré last May, Nelson recommended her for the One Family Scholarship, given to low-income single parents to further their education. Smith was selected for the scholarship which she is using as she pursues her bachelor’s from Labouré in the hopes of becoming a family nurse practitioner.

In the fall, Smith landed a job as a nurse in a long-term care facility on the Cape, a position that has added financial stability to her life.

When she eventually graduates from FSS, Smith plans on using the money to become a homeowner, something she never could have envisioned two decades ago when she was homeless. “I feel like those things, those unfortunate events in my life have made me strong and made me who I am today,” she said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Family Self Sufficiency, FSS, Jan Nelson, Section 8, Moriya Smith, Brewster, homelessness, hope, affordable housing, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, One Family Scholarship

Painting a Picture of Hope for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 03:50 PM

Dolores Edited-1-1.jpg
In her spare time, Dolores Barbati-Poore likes to paint. She has over a dozen original paintings in her Bourne home, the result of the popular paint nights that allow friends to socialize, all while nurturing their creativity.

If Dolores were to create a painting that epitomized her nearly 28 years at HAC, it would most likely represent a picture of hope. “Dolores brought compassion, empathy and she never really gave up on people, some of whom were our toughest clients,” HAC’s AnnMarie Torrey said in describing her coworker. “She took a person at face value. There was never any judgment. She was always trying to save people, trying to help people.”

On the Friday before Thanksgiving, Dolores said farewell to a career spent helping people get the housing services they needed to move forward with their lives. Her time now will be spent with her husband, Edward, a retired glass artist, and her family. She has two children, John and Kara, who live in Bourne, and he has two children, James and Mary Ann.

Dolores first started with HAC in February 1989, processing Chapter 707 certificates with Michael Sweeney, before becoming an assistant to Allison Alewine. Her role at HAC quickly expanded; over the years, she was the family shelter director, helping the agency start the Village at Cataumet in Bourne. She retired as director of the agency’s Project Prevention program which provides emergency funding for those at risk of homelessness due to illness, loss of job or family crisis.

“If the agency was an arrow, she would represent the very tip of it,” said HAC CEO Rick Presbrey. “She is the one that penetrated the target and was able to provide counsel and assistance to even the most difficult clients to get them into housing.”

Having a job where she could affect real change was the most rewarding aspect of her time at HAC. “I’ve been so lucky to have a job where I can help people and get paid for doing it because I like helping people progress in life,” Dolores said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: HAC, Dolores Barbati-Poore, Project Prevention, homelessness, hope, Michael Sweeney, Rick Presbrey

HACbeat Editorial: Hope is the thing with Feathers

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, May 16, 2015 @ 08:40 AM
DSC 7325 resized 600The Cornell students with children from The Village at Cataumet at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center.

By CORNELL STUDENTS

Hope is found in many different forms at HAC. It can be seen in a little boy who keeps trying to skate after falling more than 20 times. It can be found in a home reunited after overcoming mental illness or a lack of housing stability. It can be seen in the loving looks between a couple trying to make their lives better for their first child they are expecting in July. Hope can even be seen in a clean room to sleep in for a night at the NOAH shelter. 

Hope, and often a second chance, is what HAC provides for the individuals it serves on a daily basis.

Being in the office for a week, our team was able to interview many staff and clients. The staff welcomed us with open arms and told stories of challenging themselves to be more successful in leading their clients towards stability. While all acknowledged that the work they do can be tiring at times, the way their faces lit up as they told stories of success and happiness showed where their motivation came from.

We came to HAC hoping to help the agency, but instead found ourselves reaping the benefits of working with such courageous staff and client population. The positivity and stories of conquering adversity, showed us that no matter where one ends up in life, there is always someone who will have their back. And that is something that should give us all hope.

Tags: Cornell, HACbeat, Cornell University, HAC, NOAH Shelter, hope