Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Taking Steps to Prevent Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 05, 2015 @ 02:21 PM

Dining for a Cause (June 2015) resized 600

Homelessness is a serious issue, but finding ways to combat it can be enjoyable.

That’s exactly DYECH’s (Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Homeless) approach to the issue on Cape Cod. Over the next two months, the organization will be holding fundraisers for HAC’s Project Prevention program that keeps people off the streets and in their homes. We are confident you’ll find these events will be pleasing to your stomach and pleasing to your ears while ultimately filling your heart with the satisfaction that you helped your neighbors in need.

It starts on Thursday, June 11, from 11 am to 8 pm, when the 99 Restaurant in West Yarmouth will donate 15 percent of your total bill to DYECH. Simply print out the voucher about and present it your server that night. 

On Tuesday, June 30, the Cape Cod Conservatory Jazz Band will be playing a free concert at the St. Pius X Life Center on Barbara Street in South Yarmouth, at 7:30 pm.  And on Sunday, July 5 at 2:30 pm, you can continue with the holiday spirit by attending a free patriotic concert at the St. Pius X Church.

There will be a free will offering at both concerts to raise funds for HAC’s homelessness prevention programs.  

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation, 99 Restaurant, Cape Cod Conservatory Band

Support HAC Every Time You Shop on AmazonSmile

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, May 08, 2015 @ 12:54 PM

describe the image

With Mother's Day this Sunday and Father's Day (June 21) and high school and college graduations just around the corner, there is a good chance that some of you will be buying gifts for these special occasions on Amazon.com. 

If you do, there is an easy way to turn your Amazon purchase into much-needed funds to support HAC programs through the company's AmazonSmile program. The best part is that it costs you nothing.

All you have to do is use your Amazon or Amazon Prime account and log onto AmazonSmile (click this link) and designate Housing Assistance Corp. as your charity of choice. You can then shop for the same products - books, movies, jewelry, flowers and electronics - as you normally would. 

Each time you make a purchase through AmazonSmile, a small portion (0.5%) of the purchase price is donated to HAC. It may not seem like much, but each donation adds up, allowing HAC to help a mother or father or family on Cape Cod get help when they need it most. 

Tags: Amazon, AmazonSmile, HAC, housing assistance corporation

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Work & Fun

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 @ 01:28 PM

describe the image

My father never thought work should be fun.

Growing up we lived on a three-acre lot in an area that was making the transition from farmland to suburbia. My father loved to landscape and garden. Consequently, every year he would increase the size of the area that had grass, ornamental trees and gardens, both vegetable and flower. Around each tree or shrub was a circular border that was free of grass and weeds and was edged and trimmed.

In the summer, when I was growing up, I was expected to cut the grass and trim these areas on all four sides of the house. I may be exaggerating, but it would take me mornings and afternoons, four days a week to get the job done.

When my father got home from work, I remember him checking out what I had accomplished for the day and always finding fault. I quickly learned to hate cutting the grass, a dislike that has stayed with me until this day. I also began to realize that my father didn’t enjoy his work.

My lesson was cemented: I wouldn’t work at something I didn’t enjoy and if work isn’t fun make it fun, somehow. I think I have at least partly - and hopefully, mostly - achieved that goal at HAC. I know that I love the work I do. There is very little criticism or punishment. I have tried to treat people that way and our board has almost always treated me that way.

People here are given a lot of independence, within sometimes very limiting regulations. The “bosses” understand that we all make mistakes and we usually experience enough regret that further admonishment from a boss is almost always unnecessary. We have had “bad” bosses here and I think in every case they are now gone.

We also try to be understanding and even tolerant of our clients’ struggles. We don’t condone criticism and negativity towards our clients with very few exceptions. We also are nice and not competitive with each other and are willing to take the blame and share the credit. And everyone knows that my very favorite thing is helping each client resolve their crisis. That feeling, and the caring we exhibit, is contagious. Why should someone care about our clients if I don’t?

I am about to go into a meeting about succession planning. Four members of the senior management team are 65 or older. All four intend to retire within the next two years. They have a total combined experience at HAC of well over 100 years!

In some cases, people will move up and into some of those positions and people will join the agency to fill their jobs. In other cases, new people will come in from the outside. So my question is: how do we maintain the culture of fun, non-competitiveness and caring for the clients? It doesn’t happen everywhere.

Tags: HAC, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey

Help HAC Get in The Boston Globe

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 @ 02:30 PM

Do you subscribe to The Boston Globe? If so, you can help HAC receive free ad space in one of the region’s top newspapers.

It’s simple: all you have to do is visit www.bostonglobe.com/GRANT and fill out the easy-to-follow form, listing Housing Assistance Corporation as your designated nonprofit of choice. The deadline for submissions is April 30.

This is the second year that the Boston Globe has conducted the GRANT (Globe Readers and Nonprofits Together) program, allowing organizations like HAC to share its message and raise awareness of its programs and services with the newspaper’s sizeable readership.

Last year over 400 New England charities earned free ad space in The Boston Globe with hundreds more receiving a free directory listing on the GRANT website. Help us add HAC to this list!

Tags: HAC, housing assistance corporation, The Boston Globe

Cape Cod's Top Musicians Fight Homelessness at Christmas Cavalcade

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 @ 08:42 AM

 DSC 1801 resized 600

Some people give once a month. Some people give once a quarter. And some like Eastham’s Chandler Travis do so once a year.

Over the past decade the popular musician has done so at a time when giving is en vogue, the holidays, using his connections to bring together the Cape’s most talented artists for one night of seasonal fare. He will do so again this year as part of the 11th Annual Cape Cod Christmas Cavalcade this Sunday, December 14 at 7 PM at the Jailhouse Tavern in Orleans.

There is a suggested donation of $25 to attend and all money raised from the holiday concert will go to benefit the NOAH Shelter which serves Cape Cod’s homeless men and women.

Sponsors include Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, Goff Brothers Construction Company, Cape Air and the Wellfleet Beachcomber.

Among the acts that will be performing at the Cavalcade are The Ticks, Fred Fried, The Rip it Ups, Christine Ernst, Steve Shook & the Elftone All-Girl Ukelele Revue, Polka Dan & the Beetbox Band, Sarah Burrill, Edwige Yingling, Sarah Swain & the Oh Boys, Toast & Jam and Travis’ own band the Chandler Travis Philharmonic.

As to why he organizes the event, Travis said, “it is important to me because I have a very selfish lifestyle and it’s nice to have one day a year when I can do something for somebody else. And it is fun for me because I really like Christmas music. I like a holiday that has its own music and the music is as bipolar as the holiday.”

The Cavalcade is enjoyable for the musicians because it allows them to play songs, “they are not sick to death of already,” Travis laughed.

The allure for fans is that they get to see the Cape’s best musicians come together for one night of holiday-themed music. “It’s always a blast,” Travis promised.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, Chandler Travis, housing assistance corporation, Christmas Cavalcade

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: To Be Useful

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 12:31 PM

describe the image

I am sure all of us have different thought processes. Just the nature of being an introvert or extrovert alone would make each of us think very differently. Confidence is another trait. Of my four kids, one was born with great confidence or so it seems. Confidence sometimes allows you to try new things with less fear of failure. Each of us is different. Some have a powerful drive to achieve. One of my kids has that drive. Some of who we are may relate to our relationship with our mother or father.

My father never thought of me as having accomplished much. But then I never tried hard to please him. I don’t think he ever understood my passion for helping people. Thirty-five years ago I took him to see some houses families had built with their own hands, with HAC supervision, in Marstons Mills. Rather than being impressed with the feat, he pointed out things about the houses he didn’t like. The moment has stayed with me, in part, because I was surprised he didn’t understand that he needed to praise my accomplishment and needed to realize that helping unskilled people learn to build their own homes can make a dramatic improvement in their lives.

As I have aged, my increasing self-awareness and self-understanding have helped me discover things about myself. One of those things, and this is the point of this editorial, is that I don’t believe in punishment, or at least the level of punishment prevalent in our society. I have wanted punishment for people who have wronged me, but I believe that such retribution would serve no useful purpose.

Teaching self-discipline and imposing punishment are not the same thing.

As I look back on our lives, raising my now 20-year-old son, I can’t remember ever punishing him. I do vaguely remember some moments in “time-out,” but I don’t think I ever yelled at him or took something - a privilege or a possession - away from him.

He is home from college for a week now and what a pleasure it is to be with him. 

Discipline Through Positive Reinforcement

I believe that encouraging positive activities is the best way to “discipline” a child. Developing healthy ideas and activities through positive reinforcement is a great teaching tool to help kids develop self-management skills.

At HAC, I manage the staff, myself and to some extent, my boss. I am by far the hardest one to manage. I am hard on myself, sometimes to no avail. In managing staff, it is not about the mistakes they might make, it is about the successes they have and the good work they do. Our staff, who I consider my friends, are very motivated and skilled. I am grateful for them. I hope they feel the same way about me.

Several years ago I visited South Africa with my wife who had work there. We visited a memorial for Amy Biehl who had been murdered in the early ‘90’s by four black youths protesting white rule. Amy was a Rhodes Scholar who attended Stanford University and had gone to South Africa to work on developing voter registration for the first election where all races were allowed to vote. Amy’s parents, with donations and government help, set up a foundation in her honor to continue Amy’s work.

After four years in prison two of the murderers applied for pardons. Amy’s parents testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asking for mercy and the two were released. The two were then hired by the Foundation where they were working as recently as 2008, according to my research.

Testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on July 8, 1997, Amy’s father read a passage from a book by biologist and humanist Lewis Thomas that Amy had herself used in her high school valedictorian speech:

“The drive to be useful is encoded in our genes. But when we gather in very large numbers, as in the modern nation-state, we seem capable of levels of folly and self-destruction to be found nowhere else in all of nature.”

If the drive to be useful is what motivates us all, then it is up to us to create a path for that drive to flourish. I hope we do that at HAC and for our children and the families we serve.

Tags: HAC, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey

Shop on AmazonSmile and Support HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Dec 05, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

amazon logo resized 600

Do you plan on purchasing holiday gifts for family or friends on Amazon this year?

If the answer to this question is yes then you can help support HAC from the comfort of your home. It’s easy and there is no cost to you.

Simply use your Amazon or Amazon Prime account and log onto AmazonSmile and designate Housing Assistance Corp. as your charity of choice. To donate to HAC directly through AmazonSmile click this link

You can then shop for the same products, at the same prices, as you normally would on Amazon.com, only this time you will be making a difference to your neighbors in need.

When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates a small portion (0.5%) of your purchase price to HAC. So not only are you buying one gift, you’re giving another to someone who may be struggling to survive on Cape Cod. And that is something to smile about.

Tags: Amazon, AmazonSmile, HAC, housing assistance corporation

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Flummoxed

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 @ 02:22 PM

describe the image

Why is it that some people are completely disinterested in elections and others are fascinated with them? How many times have we all heard people say, “I will be glad when the elections are over.” From some I have heard that no matter who is elected it will make no difference.

The obvious question in response is, “What would you like to be different?” If you would like things to change why would you not try to do something to make change happen?

I believe that most people would like lower taxes. I would like that too, but what public services would I like to be reduced or eliminated? The military? Road maintenance? Foreign aid? Public safety? Fewer teachers? Fewer regulations with a corresponding reduction in staff within regulatory agencies? How about fewer health inspections at restaurants? What about reducing environmental protection?

Maybe we could cut Congress. Polls show that almost all of us dislike Congress. Let’s cut the size of the house in half and have only one senator per state. That would save money. Let’s cut out federal funding for research (cancer for example) and the study of climate change. Let’s eliminate the CIA. Let’s get rid of the tax on gasoline. Let’s get rid of sales tax. Who knows what they pay for anyway.

The choices are difficult.

So let’s just agree on cutting waste, fraud and abuse, balance the budget, and reducing the size of government, all popular ideas. Government is so big there must be lots of things that can be cut or eliminated. The people we elect know this stuff so let them make the cuts, but just don’t cut _____________ (fill in the blank).

Remember in the last presidential campaign the Governor of Texas wanted to eliminate three federal departments but couldn’t remember the third? It was a mind slip that made sense. He hardly knew more than any of us what all the federal departments do, but his list didn’t make any more sense to him than it did to us. He might as well have said, “I will eliminate three federal departments,” and not told us which ones.

Others say we should cut the federal government by giving back to the states lots of powers like the responsibility for public education and health care. The states know best what they need. People would then travel from state to state to get what they need just like they go south in the winter for warmth. So some states would have some services and others would have different ones. We could eliminate the federal highway system and one state might have no bridge maintenance while another might have automatic highways for driverless cars. It might be a little tricky driving from state to state. But we would have lower federal taxes and dramatically different taxes from state to state. You could choose to live in the state with the lowest taxes or the state with the most services. Why not? America is the land of choice and freedom, isn’t it?

My guess is that Massachusetts would continue to have more than the average amount of services and lots of people would come here to take advantage of them. Then it might cost even more to live here. We might even have to build a fourth bridge to the Cape.

Maybe we could pass federal regulations that mandate the minimal services that each state must provide to take the pressure off the service-rich states. No, wait a minute. We don’t want any more regulations do we? More regulations will just lead to more taxes.

This is so confusing. I give up.

Why vote?

Tags: HAC, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey

Walking for a Higher Purpose

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 03:53 PM

John Rice Edited resized 600

Blisters, sore legs and aching muscles are all part of the bumps and bruises that come with the Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. But that is nothing compared to what the Reverend John Rice of South Yarmouth, a retired Episcopalian priest, is undergoing through as he walks portions of each section of the seven-day event.

The 73-year-old Rice has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and recently underwent his final radiation treatment. That has not stopped him from walking a short distance each day on behalf of HAC.

This marks his 10th year participating in the walk which was created 22 years ago by Bob Murray as a way to bring awareness to Cape Cod’s housing issues. Of the walks he has participated in Rice has completed the entire course, from Provincetown to Falmouth, six times.

Despite his medical issues, he said, he felt a need to walk this year both as a way to honor Bob Murray, who passed away in September, and because of what the event means. “Shelter is the very basic need of human beings everywhere,” he said, noting that it also has a personal relevance to him because his mother was the recipient of federal funding to ensure she had a roof over her head during the last years of her life in Tennessee. 

 

Donate to the Walk

Tags: Housing with love walk, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Bob Murray

Meet HAC's Celebrity Walkers

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 02:42 PM

Mason Small, Lynn resized 600Lynn Mason-Small

True celebrities exude a certain swagger. That is certainly the case with Lynn Mason-Small and Rana Murphy who both shrugged off any notion of nervousness when asked about their upcoming participation as HAC’s celebrity walkers for the 22nd Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk.

“I’m not sure I need to train,” laughed a confident Mason-Small, the senior vice president of Rogers & Gray Insurance in Dennis.

It was a similar response from Murphy, the senior vice president of Eastern Bank, who termed herself an “exercise fiend,” with a marathon and several half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks under her belt.

Though the pair have never participated in the annual walk before, they were excited to do so on behalf of those who are unable to this year. People can support Mason-Small, who will walk on Wednesday afternoon, and Murphy, who will do so on Thursday morning, by making a donation to HAC via this link in their name.

Mason-Small noted that despite her being a novice to the walk, Rogers & Gray has long been a supporter of not only the event, but HAC as well. “Our CEO Chuck Robinson does a lot of volunteer work with HAC and we feel the need to support this because we firmly believe in it,” she said. “And certainly with Bob Murray’s passing this is the least we can do to support his housing efforts on Cape Cod.”

Rana Murphy Head shot resized 600Rana Murphy

“What a great way to give back to the community and keep Bob Murray’s contributions to housing on Cape Cod alive,” Murphy added. “The walk not only gives back to HAC, but to all the housing agencies across the Cape.”

As for her status as a “celebrity walker” Murphy downplayed such talk and stressed she is not letting the fame go to her head. “I don’t consider myself a celebrity in any sense,” she said. “I’ve lived in this community for 25 years and as someone who has sat on a lot of boards I feel like you can not live in a community and not give back to it. I think that is how we make our community better and stronger every day. It is all of our responsibilities to give back and give back in the way you want.”

Mason-Small shared those sentiments and was humble enough to not consider herself a celebrity either. “That might be a little bit of an overstatement,” she said, though she did say for those interested she would be willing to take photos with them – perhaps even a selfie - while she walks. “I don’t know about autographs though,” she laughed. “Actually, I’m just excited to do my part.”

Donate to the Walk

Tags: Housing with love walk, Lynn Mason Small, housing assistance corporation, Rana Murphy, Bob Murray