Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Richard Waystack: Affordable Housing Champion

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 @ 10:33 AM
HWLW-2 ( Richard Waystack).jpgBernadette and Richard Waystack during this summer's 25th Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. While in Harwich, they got some support from their granddaughter Juliet. 

With a 31-year career in the real estate industry on Cape Cod, Harwich’s Richard Waystack understands the vital role a home plays in one’s life. “It is the basis of all we do,” he said.

And so it is through housing that Waystack has not only made a living, but given meaning to his life. It started over three decades ago when he was introduced to the late Bob Murray, a former grant writer for HAC and a passionate advocate for affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Waystack helped Murray with a project undertaken by the Harwich Community Development Corporation which built seven affordable homes on Community Way during the 1980s. “When you drive by those houses they are like any other house in the neighborhood,” Waystack said. “And the people that live there are your neighbors and work here in town.”

Since that time, both Richard and his wife Bernadette, an artist and art teacher at Monomoy Regional High School, have been tireless in their efforts to address the region’s housing needs. Richard was a board member for the Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing (HECH), the former president and director of The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, and has served as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod.

Over the past four years, the couple have walked the length of Cape Cod, from Provincetown to Falmouth, for one week every July as part of the annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. They have done so in memory of Richard’s longtime friend Bob Murray, all while raising funds for HAC’s housing programs and services.

Richard said he and his wife were drawn to the agency after meeting HAC’s Margaret Benaka and Deanna Bussiere who have served as the drivers for those taking part in the annual walk. “Because those ladies were so passionate my wife said we should do more to help because HAC seems to be one of the biggest parts of the solution in battling housing insecurity,” Richard said.

The Waystack’s passion for supporting HAC has only grown because of the need for affordable housing that still exists in the region. “I think there are some great opportunities at HAC with a dynamic group of new leadership,” Richard said. “HAC can be the prime force in creating housing security here on Cape Cod.”

It is a cause that Richard, who was recently recognized with a Good Neighbor Award for his volunteerism from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, will continue to champion. “What people don’t see is the other side of Cape Cod,” Richard said. “There are many people struggling and we’ve got to provide housing for them.”

Why We Give: Homeless Outreach

While Richard Waystack’s passion for addressing the region’s housing issues spans the gamut of services HAC provides, he expressed particular interest in the agency’s homeless outreach program.

Started in June 2016, the program currently consists of three case managers – Derick Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell, and Shannon Tracy – who are connecting the homeless on Cape Cod to the services they need to move into safe, stable housing. That housing can allow them to turn their lives around. From January to the end of September, the trio has worked with 175 clients, placing 26 into permanent housing.

“What that does is give hope to people,” Waystack said of the outreach program. “There are a huge population on the Cape who are not able to afford good, safe, warm housing… With permanent housing people are able to get better jobs and be a part of the economy. And they are able to better their own circumstances in life. Without permanent housing that is difficult for people.”

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing with love walk, Deanna Bussiere, Richard Waystack, Bernadette Waystack, Derick Bussiere, Bob Murray, Margaret Benaka, homeless outreach, Harwich

Tax Credits Ideal for Year-End Giving

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 04:01 PM

tax credits homepage.jpg

As you prepare your year-end-giving, HAC has a tax credit program that can help you stretch your donation further.

The program is open to new donors and those who double their donation from the previous year. Only donations over the $1,000 threshold are eligible for the tax credits.

In return for your donation, you will receive half of it back in the form of a tax credit. This is on top of the federal tax deduction you are allowed to deduct from your taxes. So for a $1,000 donation, you will receive $500 back in tax credits. For a $5,000 donation, you will receive $2,500 back in tax credits. And for a $10,000 donation, you will receive $5,000 back in tax credits.

Those with little to no tax liability could even receive the balance of their credit back in the form of a check from the state.

Since 2014, HAC has been involved in the tax credit program which encourages charitable giving to organizations that are making a significant and positive impact in their communities.

To secure your tax credits before the end of the year, contact HAC’s Margaret Benaka at either mbenaka@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 272 by noon on Friday, December 30.

Tags: Philanthropy, Margaret Benaka, Tax Credits, donations, Community Investment Tax Credit Program, charitable giving

HAC's Workout Group More Than Just Physical Exercise

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 11:36 AM
HAC Workout resized 600 HAC's Deanna Bussiere walks the balance beam during a circuit training session with personal trainer Julie Johnson (second from right).

“You didn’t touch it,” Ruth Bechtold of HAC’s Energy Department teased her fellow coworker, Joan Maney, as they ran power drills along a row of orange cones situated in front of the Hyannis West Elementary School. “You have to go back.”

“I came close,” Maney shot back, in reference to the mandatory requirement of touching each cone as she ran past.

Welcome to the afternoon HAC workout group – it is part comedy, part social and all fun, with a good dose of physical exercise thrown in. “You could make a YouTube video of us and it’d get a million hits,” said Gael Kelleher, HAC’s director of real estate. “We would go viral.”

The sessions take place twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays and first started in October 2012 as a HAC health and wellness initiative. Under the tutelage of personal trainer Julie Johnson, participants go through an array of activities that test one’s endurance, strength and physical prowess.

On this day a total of four HAC employees – event and resource coordinator Deanna Bussiere was the other participant – took part in the voluntary activity that comes with a minimal cost, a portion of which the company covers.

Exercises ranged from walking across a series of balance beams, planking on a swing and traversing a jungle gym which allowed Bechtold and Bussiere to recapture a part of their childhood by testing out the kids slides.

The best part of the workout may be the bonds formed among those active in the group where teasing, laughter and jokes are rampant, underscored by a genuine affinity they have towards one another.

HAC Workout 2 resized 600Joan Maney (left) and Ruth Bechtold (right) of HAC tone their arms as trainer Julie Johnson looks on.

“I had my hip replaced,” Kelleher says at one point, prompting Bechtold to ask, “What did I have replaced?”

“You’re just old,” Kelleher joked.

And as they did push-ups on wooden tables Joan marveled at the wildlife around her. “Oh, I got an inch worm,” she said. “Two inch worms!”

“There are ten of them over here,” Kelleher said.

Of all the participants Kelleher may get the most out of the group, especially after having hip replacement surgery in December 2013. “I couldn’t even walk or go grocery shopping afterwards,” Kelleher admits. “It is so much better now. I never want to come, ever, but I feel so much better when it is over. I’m so glad that I do it.”

Compared to the rest of the group Kelleher said she is “usually a few steps behind,” though she does not let that stop her.

And Johnson is flexible, modifying her workouts to accommodate any pain or discomfort that those like Kelleher may be feeling.

What makes the sessions unique, said Margaret Benaka, HAC’s resource development coordinator, is that Johnson tailors the workouts to each individual. “You don’t have to be in the best shape,” she said. “It is for everybody.”

Benaka, who writes a newsletter about the exercise group, has been one of the few to participate since its inception. “I have seen a big difference even when I do yard work,” she said. “I don’t hurt anymore whereas when I used to rake the yard or put down mulch I’d feel like I was in traction. You can actually feel your body getting used to working out.”

Bussiere said the activity also serves to exercise other body parts, including the brain. “There’s been ideas that have come out of these workouts,” she said. “You get your hormones pumping and ideas start to pop into your head.”

HAC is the first company where Johnson has been able to apply her expertise to weekly workout sessions, calling this contingent “a fun group… I think there is a real camaraderie to this. They cheer each other on and support each other,” she said. “It has been cool to watch them get stronger and help each other and get healthier. And as we know the healthier your employees are the better work you get from them, right?”

HAC Workout 3 resized 600Though there are plenty of laughs, the workout group also gets a healthy dose of physical exercise that helps to improve their strength and conditioning.

Tags: HAC Workout Group, Exercise, HAC, Deanna Bussiere, Gael Kelleher, Physical Fitness, Julie Johnson, Margaret Benaka