Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC's Scattered Sites Help Region's Homeless

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 @ 12:03 PM
Katie Geissler Photo-1.jpgKatie Geissler has been at HAC for nearly 10 years. Earlier this year she was named director of the agency's Scattered Site program which are used to house homeless families on Cape Cod. 

When it comes to HAC’s homeless programs, the agency’s shelters – Angel House, Carriage House and The Village at Cataumet – tend to receive the most publicity. For that reason, many may not know that HAC also runs a scattered site program that essentially operates the same as its shelters. The primary difference is instead of a congregate setting, homeless families are placed in individual units in Barnstable and Yarmouth that HAC rents with funding provided by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

In recent years, HAC has placed an emphasis on this program that started with an expansion from 10 to 17 units, following a request from the state. This spring, HAC continued that growth, tapping longtime staffer Katie Geissler to serve as the director of HAC’s scattered sites. Geissler had previously served at HAC’s Carriage House shelter for five years, the last two as its director.

In her new role, Geissler oversees two case managers, Antoinette Bills and Geoffrey Gagnon, who are also recent additions to the program. “With the case managers, their ultimate goal is housing,” Geissler said. “They work with families to help them become self-sufficient and look for housing to get them out of shelter.”

The state refers families into the units at which point Geissler and her staff will begin to work with them, providing each with the services they need to eventually transition into permanent housing. Cindi Maule, HAC’s director of leased housing and family services, said the average stay for clients in scattered sites is typically between six and eight months.

Maule said that part of Geissler’s responsibilities are to provide more structure to this program. It’s a challenge that Geissler is relishing as she helps those most in need. “I believe there is hope in everybody,” she said, noting that those in HAC’s scattered sites have gone “through trauma and I’m a big believer you can overcome those things. You’ve got to believe in yourself and have the power to do it.”

Geissler and her staff are assisting in that effort as they ensure each client in the program has access to the services they need to eventually move out of shelter. Many attend workshops which focus on basic life skills, budgeting, stabilization, parenting and nutrition. They also are provided counseling and medical care, all as they are connected to employment and housing opportunities.

“I hope I can instill and empower them to believe in themselves that they can have a better life for them and their children,” Geissler said, of her program’s ultimate goal.

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Tags: homelessness, Katie Geissler, homeless shelters, Scattered Sites, Cindi Maule

Homemade Blankets a Gift of Love for Shelter Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Dec 09, 2014 @ 01:31 PM
DSC 5994 resized 600Members of the knitting group include Rose McGillycuddy (from left), Betty Dewar, crochet instructor Wanda Blair of Michael’s, Bridget Fallon, Darlene Simmons, the operations manager at Michael’s, Eileen McDonald, a case manager from Carriage House, Susan Cunningham and Paulette Loomis.

At what point in life do you stop helping others?

If you ask a group of women at the Cape Cod Senior Residences in Bourne their answers will all be the same – you don’t.

Take 88-year-old Paulette Loomis. She is legally blind. “I only have a little vision in my right eye,” she said.

Still that has not stopped Loomis from participating in an activity that has provided complete strangers with a little warmth. She is one of roughly a half dozen women living at the Bourne senior facility who have devoted their time turning strings of yarn into colorful blankets for women and their children staying at the Carriage House Shelter.

“It feels like I’m doing something to ease their pain,” Loomis said. “You feel like you’re doing something for somebody in a small way.”

Individually, the women knit or crochet seven-by-nine-inch squares in their apartments and come together once a month at Michael’s in Falmouth, where they take those squares and turn them into blankets under the guidance of instructor Wanda Blair.

Blair oversees the store’s annual Warm Up America! event in which volunteers throughout the country make hand-knit blankets for those in need.

Darlene Simmons, the operations manager at the Michael’s branch in Falmouth occasionally knits with the group. Last year, she said, they made their first blanket donation to Carriage House. They enjoyed that experience so much they continued to meet monthly to knit and crochet together.

Their joy was derived from the actual knitting, the socialization and the knowledge that someone would benefit from their work. “They feel like they are helping people,” Simmons said. “They feel fortunate and are reaching out to people who are not as fortunate.”

DSC 6001 resized 600Despite being legally blind, Paulette Loomis (right) still finds time to knit blankets for Carriage House clients.

As she knit inside Michael’s in October, Rose McGillycuddy, one month shy of 95, spoke about what the hobby has meant to her. “I’ve been knitting since I was 16,” she said. “It is restful. I like it when I can make something for people who really appreciate it. I think that is very rewarding.”

That same day Rose, Paulette, Betty Dewar, Bridget Fallon and Susan Cunningham, all from the Cape Cod Senior Residences, presented Carriage House case manager Eileen McDonald with two large blankets and seven lap robes. That is on top of two large blankets and four lap robes they donated to Carriage House about two months earlier.

“These blankets are more than just for warmth,” Carriage House facility director Katie Geissler said when asked what they mean to the shelter’s clients. “When wrapped around they are a hug given by someone who wants to show they care. It is important that our women know that they are supported because love and compassion are two ingredients needed for healing.”

 

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Tags: Katie Geissler, Cape Cod Senior Residences, Carriage House, Michael's