Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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

Activities Director Hired for NOAH Shelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Sep 01, 2015 @ 05:04 PM

Lonnie Daniels Photo resized 600

When HAC first opened the Day Center at NOAH last May, it looked to Lonnie Daniels to assist the nonprofit as it began this new endeavor.

At the time, Daniels was hired as a part-time consultant to the day center, juggling the role with his post at Father Bill’s in Quincy, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations at that homeless shelter.

This past March, Daniels’ responsibilities shifted as HAC named him the first-ever activities director for the day center. In this part-time role, consisting of roughly 20 hours a week, Daniels oversees programs for day center clients.

Though still new to the position, Daniels has invited representatives from both the Department of Transitional Assistance in Hyannis, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to NOAH where they have worked with those at the shelter.

Daniels views his primary role as bringing vital services to the homeless at a time when they need it most. “What this role does is provides services for them so they’re not just sitting around,” he said. “And it keeps them engaged.” 

Tags: Homeless, homelessness, HAC, Lonnie Daniels, NOAH Shelter

Lonnie Daniels Lends Expertise to the Day Center at NOAH

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 11:54 AM

DSC 6079 resized 600

A career in the social services can be difficult, particularly when helping those who are most vulnerable in society.

Lonnie Daniels knows this all too well. For roughly two decades he has worked with HIV patients, abused children and homeless adults. This is just a short list of people the 40-year-old has encountered in his profession.

The Brooklyn-born Daniels has held stints at the Germaine Lawrence Campus in Arlington; McLean Hospital in Brighton; Boston Living Center; and the Andrus Children’s Center in Yonkers, all nonprofits that provide treatment and care for children and adults with a host of complex needs.

Now Daniels is bringing his experience to HAC as a consultant for the Day Center at NOAH which opened in May as a way to give Cape Cod’s homeless population a safe place to stay during the day.

Daniels, who oversees the day-to-day operations for Father Bill’s homeless shelter in Quincy, was introduced to NOAH while conducting training for shelter staff earlier this year.

Shortly thereafter, Daniels was hired to serve as a consultant, providing guidance as HAC goes through the growing pains of running a day shelter. Though he lives in Roxbury, Daniels makes the commute to Hyannis two to three times a week.

He works closely with NOAH Shelter director Greg Bar, observing the day center operations and finding ways it can run more efficiently. “I’m doing observations of the staff, the clients, the building and the flow of traffic and I’m assessing what resources are here and what I see is needed,” Daniels said in explaining his role.

That role is focused on the current parameters HAC is working with and not dealing with what-ifs like wanting a new building for the NOAH Shelter. “We should work with the building we have first,” he stressed.

Bar had high praise for Daniels, calling him “very personable… He knows how to work with all kinds of people.” Beyond that, Bar said, that Daniels has been tremendously helpful in formulating a vision for NOAH that aligns with what community leaders want from the day center.

Prior to working with NOAH, Daniels admitted that he had a similar perception about the homeless on Cape Cod as many tourists do – there are none. “For me, it’s opened my eyes to the homeless population that is here,” he said, noting that they are not unlike the people he crosses paths with at Father Bill’s.

Regardless of where they are from, Daniels relishes the opportunity to help the homeless take the steps necessary to improve their lives. “It is possible,” he said. “Homelessness is a temporary state.”

Daniels, who is currently studying to obtain his master’s in divinity from Gordon College, hopes to one day start a ministry that incorporates the homeless issue as its primary mission. This line of work, he acknowledged, is not easy, but the reward is in knowing that he has made a positive difference in someone’s life. “I’ve worked with folks with serious issues in a variety of different capacities. It’s a challenge,” he said. “But if, at the end of the day, I can get the man or woman sitting across from me to smile and take their mind off of their problems for even a half a second it’s worth it. It [success] is measured in small little increments.”

Tags: homelessness, HAC, Lonnie Daniels, NOAH Shelter, Greg Bar, Day Center at NOAH