Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

New Role a Perfect Fit for Carriage House Director

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 @ 10:29 AM

Yvonne Rivers-1.jpg

Yvonne Rivers likes helping others.

That may explain why she is more than suited to her newest position at HAC as the facility director of Carriage House in North Falmouth. “I’ve always been a caretaker, even with my mom, she was young when she passed away at 49,” Rivers said. “I have taken care of people my whole life and I like taking care of people.”

At Carriage House, a homeless shelter for women and their children, Rivers is doing just that. The shelter, which primarily caters to first-time mothers, has the capacity to house 10 women at any given time.

A mother of three – Shiniqua, 33; Robin, 28; and April, 21 – Rivers understands what many of those at Carriage House are going through. Though she was never homeless, Rivers did rely on government assistance as she raised her first daughter. “I was a young mom, about 19 when I had my first,” Rivers said. “I know the struggle of being a young mother and juggling multiple jobs… I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to give back and to give something to these young girls and say, ‘You can do it. Don’t think you can’t.’”

It is that attitude that Rivers brought to HAC when she was initially hired by the agency roughly eight years ago. At the time, Rivers had spent over 11 years as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Royal Megansett Nursing Home in North Falmouth. “I was looking to go in a new direction,” she said.

So she began volunteering at HAC’s NOAH Shelter, where her father Joseph N’kunta had worked since 2001. There she heard of an opening at The Village at Cataumet where she first worked as substitute staff, then the overnight shift and, finally, as a case manager prior to her new position at Carriage House, which she started last May.

As the director, she is not only connecting mothers to housing services, but employment opportunities, financial literacy workshops, counseling and parenting classes so they can become self-sufficient when they eventually leave shelter. Rivers knows that achieving that goal is possible, something she learned as a young parent more than three decades ago. “I do feel like I have a lot to offer these young ladies,” she said. “I feel like I can give them some hope.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Family Shelter, homelessness, Carriage House, Joseph N'kunta, Yvonne Rivers

NOAH Shelter Says Farewell to Joseph N'kunta

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 @ 12:11 PM
Joseph_Nkunta_Photo_1.jpgJoseph N’kunta (front right) with fellow NOAH staff members Jan Rogers (from rear left), Greg Bar, Steve Crossen and Lonnie Daniels. Joseph’s wife, Lillian (front left), joined him at the lunch.

For a large part of the past 15 years, Mashpee’s Joseph N’kunta has been the face of the NOAH Shelter where he could often be seen greeting guests at the entrance of the facility. But that changed in May when the 75-year-old stepped down from his post as direct care staff.

Though he is no longer there, his presence remains. “I think 10 years from now people will still ask, ‘Is Joe still here?’” Jan Rogers, direct care staff at the shelter, said during a retirement party held at Golden Fountain in Hyannis last month. “You’ve left an impression on the clients, the community, the volunteers who’ve come in to help and the staff.”

Over the course of an hour, Joseph listened to his colleagues praise him for the work he did at NOAH and the way he treated clients with care and compassion. He said he did so because he understood that NOAH staff are there for one purpose – to serve the shelter guests as they take the necessary steps towards self-sufficiency. “Our intentions as a staff were for the people who walked through those doors,” he said. “Once the door opens, it is important that we keep it open even though we will move on.”

A Message of Hope
His message to those at the NOAH Shelter was always positive. “It was the hope of good things to come,” he said. “And to never lose your faith that things will get better.”

Shelter director Greg Bar called Joseph, “a stabilizing, kind of immovable force.”

“You know, it was amazing how you were able to not just connect with the clients, but you were able to connect with the staff in a way that they had nothing but high respect for you. They still do,” said NOAH Day Center Director Lonnie Daniels.

Though direct care staffer Steve Crossen had only worked with Joseph for six months, he still managed to make an impression on him. “You taught me a tremendous amount of things about the homeless population and about compassion,” Crossen said. “And compassion is what I want to be about.”

Joseph’s wife, Lillian, told his coworkers that her husband’s compassion for others was genuine. “It’s not a front. It’s real,” she said. “He’s got a good heart, always. I just love him to pieces and I’m proud to be his wife. I appreciate him as an overall person: the way he treats the clients, the way he treats individuals. It shows he’s got a good heart.”

Tags: homelessness, Lonnie Daniels, NOAH Shelter, Greg Bar, Joseph N'kunta