Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Shelter Telethon Embodies the Holiday Spirit

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 01:38 PM

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There’s a moment every year when Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Matt Pitta truly gets into the spirit of the holiday season. It always happens at the same event – HAC’s annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon – which Pitta co-hosts with WCAI’s Mindy Todd.

“The vibe and the atmosphere in the studio all night is kind of electrifying,” he said. “That’s when I get into the holiday spirit – when I see people giving back to the community. That is the true spirit of the holidays right there.”

This year’s telethon, now in its 14th year, will take place on Thursday, December 14, from 5-9 pm. The show is broadcast live from Cape Cod Community Media Center and airs on local cable access channels throughout the Cape.

The telethon will feature HAC staff, elected officials, and community leaders working to help those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands, placing a spotlight on the region’s housing and homelessness issues.

Funds raised from the telethon go to support HAC’s programs, including homeless outreach as well as its four family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis, the Village at Cataumet in Bourne, Carriage House in North Falmouth, and Scattered Sites in Hyannis.

“I do think every year that it gives a special meaning to Christmas,” said HAC volunteer Wayne Bergeron of Dennis who assists with the event.

Pitta said the telethon serves as an opportunity for people “to make a difference in the community. And that’s really what the holidays are all about.”

Support the Telethon

Sponsor the Telethon, an event that epitomizes the true meaning of the holiday season! Contact HAC Event Coordinator Deanna Bussiere at dbussiere@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 270.

HAC relies on volunteer phone fundraisers at the Telethon to raise funds to ensure we can continue to support the region’s most vulnerable residents. You can register by clicking this link. If you have questions, please contact HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279 to sign up.

You can also donate to the Telethon by clicking this link

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, NOAH Telethon, Mindy Todd, Fundraising, Matt Pitta, Christmas, Wayne Bergeron, holiday giving

Quahog Challenge Cooks Up Hope for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 @ 10:52 AM
QuahogChallenge17-2.jpgAn attendee samples a stuffed quahog made by Sea Dog Brew Pub in Yarmouth. There were a total of 11 chefs and nine restaurants who competed in this year's Cape Cod Quahog Challenge. 

On a sunny Sunday at the beginning of last month, 11 local chefs and 9 Cape restaurants and their staff chose to donate their time, energy and talents to cooking up some much-needed hope for HAC and the clients they serve.

That hope can in the form of tasty samplers of a regional dish – stuffed quahogs – served up as part of the agency’s 3rd Annual Cape Cod Quahog Challenge at Trader Ed’s in Hyannis. “We all have choices for what we do on a beautiful Sunday on Cape Cod and the fact that you’re all here really means a lot to all of us,” HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi told this year’s competitors.

Together, the 11 participants and the nearly 300 people in attendance helped HAC raise more than $30,000 that will go to support the agency’s housing programs on Cape Cod and the Islands.

In the amateur category, Ron Winner led The Shepley Shuckers to their third straight victory, besting newcomer O’Keegan’s Quahogs cooked up by HAC staffer Jodi Keegan. Keegan and her friend Amanda O’Connell dug up all the quahogs, plus blue crabs, that were used in her recipe.

QuahogChallenge17-1.jpgFor the third straight year, The Shepley Shuckers came out on top in the amateur category. 

It was a similar story in the restaurant category where Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar of Eastham, took home its third title. Coming in second and third, respectively, were newcomers Cape Tip Seafood Market of Truro and Wicked Good Seafood Truck of East Falmouth.

When master of ceremonies Matt Pitta of Cape Cod Broadcasting asked Wicked Good Seafood’s Bill Henrique what the secret ingredient was in their stuffies, he replied, “love” to laughter.

Cape Tip Seafood’s Courtney Roach expanded upon that notion when the market was handed its second place trophy. “If you make it with love, it tastes better,” she said.

“It’s all about the love here today,” Pitta chimed in.

And it’s that special ingredient which will make a major difference in the lives of those looking for safe, secure housing on Cape Cod.

To view more photos from the 3rd Annual Cape Cod Quahog Challenge, visit our Facebook page here

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Cape Cod Broadcasting, Cape Cod Quahog Challenge, Shepley Wood Products, Matt Pitta, Quahog Challenge, Ron Winner, Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar, Jodi Keegan

Shelter Telethon Puts Face to Cape's Housing Issues

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 @ 04:24 PM

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Holding a microphone in her right hand and a handwritten essay on a piece of paper in the other, Autumn Rivieccio’s words came out slowly and softly. “When I slept in my car one night with my mom and dad I really learned what homelessness was,” she started.

Perhaps no moment during last month’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon was more poignant than that one; the moment when a 10-year-old student at the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in South Dennis, spoke about her experience of sleeping in a car and living in motels.

There were “six or seven motels” to be exact. Perhaps the worst part, Autumn said, is that “we couldn’t have friends over.”

In September, that changed when Autumn and her parents moved into a home in West Yarmouth. “I feel like an actual family because friends and family can come over,” she said, adding that, “my favorite thing is my own room that I can decorate.” Her favorite decoration is a poster with a white kitten holding onto a rope; on it are three simple words: “Hang in There.”

Now in its 13th year, the telethon not only raised awareness to the region’s housing issues, it helped put a face to those impacted by them. People like Autumn Rivieccio and Cathy Gibson, the chair of HAC’s Constituency Committee.

Gibson, a former client, praised HAC for assisting her, first through its voucher program and then its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. “The programs run by housing assistance really need to be exactly what they are intended to be: a leg up to be able to set yourself on a path that leads towards self-sufficiency,” she told co-host Matt Pitta of Cape Cod Broadcasting.

Throughout the night, both Pitta and co-host Mindy Todd of WCAI, spoke to those within the agency as well as those outside HAC about ways they are working to address the Cape’s housing issues.

The event also served as a way forward, raising nearly $80,000 for HAC in support of its mission to ensure that all on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have access to safe, secure housing.

Since 1974, when CEO Rick Presbrey founded the agency, it has been committed to that work. At the end of the night, Pitta took a moment to ask Presbrey about his legacy as he will be retiring in March. “The organization is going to continue. It’s helped 160,000 people and that’s going to continue,” Presbrey said. “I have tried to establish very positive values in how to treat people, how to be honest, and essentially to always be respectful to others, and I think that will stay and I feel good about that.”

Support HAC's Housing Programs

 

Tags: housing, Homeless on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Mindy Todd, Fundraising, Rick Presbrey, Matt Pitta

Shelter Telethon Addresses Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 @ 10:00 AM
Matt Pitta and Lin Rohr-1.jpgTelethon host Matt Pitta from Cape Cod Broadcasting Media interviews Lin Rohr, the director of HAC's Angel House shelter. Pitta will be returning, along with WCAI's Mindy Todd, to serve as hosts of this year's telethon. 

For the 13th straight year, HAC will be holding its Shelter Cape Cod Telethon during the season of giving. The telethon, which takes place on Thursday, December 8, from 5 to 9 pm, at the Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennis Port, helps place a spotlight on the region’s housing and homelessness issues. It also raises funds to support HAC’s homelessness programs which include its three family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis; Carriage House in North Falmouth; and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne – as well as its scattered site units, homelessness prevention for individuals and families and its outreach services for the homeless living in the streets and woods of Cape Cod.

Laura Reckford, HAC’s director of community relations and fundraising, said the lineup will be similar to last year’s, featuring HAC staff, board members and volunteers as well as public officials and representatives from a variety of businesses and organizations that are working to address homelessness and improve housing on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Those interested in sponsoring the telethon should contact Deanna Bussiere, HAC’s event and resource development coordinator, at dbussiere@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 270.

HAC also relies on volunteers to serve as phone fundraisers to ensure the agency can continue to address the region’s homeless issues. The event is ideal for businesses or groups, serving as a way for them to give back to the community in a meaningful way during the holiday season. To sign up, click the Santa icon below. 

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Tags: homelessness, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Fundraising, Matt Pitta, volunteerism, Laura Reckford

Looking Back at 2014: HAC's Top Stories

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 11:51 AM

 

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Saying farewell is always bittersweet. And so it is with 2014, an exciting year in which HAC celebrated its 40th anniversary, opened a day center for the homeless in Hyannis and began work on the first phase of a much-needed project that will bring 40 affordable homes to Nantucket.

As we embark on what we hope will be a fruitful 2015, we talked to a few ardent HACbeat readers to take a look back at 2014 and find out what their favorite stories were from last year.

Opening of the Day Center at NOAH (Michael Sweeney, VP of administration and finance)

A 33-year veteran of HAC, Sweeney has a soft spot for stories that detail new initiatives at the agency.

And that is why his top pick from last year falls into that exact category. “In many ways, the day program is really the culmination of the community, Housing Assistance, Duffy Health Center, Vinfen, the police, all these groups coming together and saying, ‘Hey, we really need to do something here,’” Sweeney said. “To take a group like that, representing all different agencies, and having a united front and asking the state for additional funding for this program is really remarkable.”

Rick Presbrey’s Columns & A Home for the Hesse Family (Matt Pitta, WXTK radio host and MC of HAC’s annual meeting)

When Pitta receives his monthly newsletter, his first stop is always page 3 to read CEO Rick Presbrey’s editorial. “I like to see what Rick is thinking and he always has interesting ideas about what is going on in the housing community,” Pitta said. “And sometimes what he writes has nothing to do with housing, but he finds a way to relate it back to that.”

Pitta said one story published last summer about the Hesse family, living in his hometown of Harwich, was of particular interest to him. “It was a typical situation of the struggle so many families are facing on Cape Cod,” Pitta said. “There was a mom, a dad and their two kids. The father was working two jobs and they were finding it impossible to buy their rental home that was being sold. Then HAC got involved and they were able to purchase it.”

It was indicative of the type of stories he enjoys. “You wonder who is really being helped and is there a face,” he said.

“Those first-person stories of people and families being helped gives you a good understanding of that.”

HAC Client Realizes Dream of Homeownership (Jan Nelson, FSS Coordinator)

As HAC’s coordinator for the Family-Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, Jan Nelson has seen many clients graduate from the program, but few take the next step towards homeownership.

But Adrienne Gonsalves was different. Last year, she did both. And today she could not be happier.

“She absolutely loves her house,” Nelson said, explaining why this feel-good HACbeat story topped her list for 2014.

Your Favorite Articles 

Now that we've shared some of our readers' favorite stories, here are the ones YOU enjoyed most. The following are the top five most read online stories from 2014: 

  1. HAC Celebrates Completion of Great Cove Community
  2. Dream of Owning a Home is Realized
  3. Finding a Home on Cape Cod Thanks to NOAH Shelter
  4. Cape Cod Restaurateur Lends Expertise to NOAH Shelter
  5. Great Cove Community: Affordable Housing

Tags: NOAH Day Center, Jan Nelson, HAC, Rick Presbrey, FSS, Matt Pitta

A Fun Night at HAC's 40th Annual Meeting

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 @ 02:05 PM

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HAC’s annual meeting could be summed up in one word – celebration.

In fact, that is exactly how the evening’s festivities kicked off: with a celebratory video in which HAC staffers, a few volunteers and some clients, danced and lip synced to Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration,” to the delight of the more than 350 in attendance at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Rick Presbrey, CEO of HAC, jokingly assured the crowd the video is not indicative of what really goes on at HAC under his watch. “Whenever I’m away you get the kind of scene you got there and I was away last week and I do know what the staff was doing,” he said to laughter. “I saw little shreds of confetti and stuff on the floor, and I knew there’d been trouble.”

Presbrey used the video to highlight the positive culture that pervades the non-profit. “We have low turnover at the agency. We really do and I think there are some pretty good reasons why and that [video] is one of them: people are having a good time,” he said.

The positive nature of the event, which was sponsored by Shepley Wood Products of Hyannis, was a theme throughout the night, something that WXTK radio personality and the night’s host Matt Pitta alluded to in his opening remarks: “We are here tonight to celebrate your 40 years of making lives better for people and families here on Cape Cod,” he said.

Presbrey, one of the founders of HAC, credited his staff for helping the non-profit reach this milestone, noting they “really believe in the mission and really work uniformly towards the same goal like a team,” calling that aspect of his work over the past four decades immensely satisfying.

HAC took time to honor several individuals, groups and organizations that have helped it achieve that mission over the past year.

Volunteers Recognized

Among those were the 807 volunteers who donated 12,685 hours in 2013, prompting HAC’s Mary Everett-Patriquin to remark, “Right now I feel like the luckiest volunteer coordinator on the planet. You are such an inspiration.”

In exchange for those volunteer efforts, she said, HAC was taking $500 it had earmarked for the annual meeting and moving it into programs and services for its clients. “Five hundred dollars is a whole lot of good,” she said. “It is enough to keep a family from going into shelter and becoming homeless.”

Dennis Selectman Wayne Bergeron, his wife Janine and their children Rebecca and Michael were singled out for their philanthropy, receiving the Volunteers of the Year Award. The family has long been a fixture at HAC events, including the Housing with Love Walk, the Big Fix and the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon.

In accepting the award, Michael relayed a story from his childhood about the first time he helped his father deliver food to the homeless in Hyannis. The message he received that day was one he has not forgotten. “My father said, ‘Mike, no one plans on being homeless,’” he said. “We’ve been so blessed throughout our lives and the opportunity to give back is one of life’s true pleasures.”

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The Town of Mashpee received this year’s Business/Organization Partner Award for its role in pulling off the biggest Big Fix to date, along with its support of Great Cove which will bring 10 rental units of affordable housing to the Upper Cape community this spring.

“What we try to do is go to towns that are enthusiastic about [the Big Fix],” Presbrey said. “Well, we had no idea how enthusiastic a town could be until we ran into the likes of Mashpee.”

Mashpee Assistant Town Manager Tom Mayo downplayed the efforts made by his fellow employees and residents. “It was such an important project and it never seemed like we were doing anything special because it was so important,” he said.

Last year’s recipient of the Presbrey Public Service Award, the Reverend Dr. John Terry of the Federated Church of Hyannis, presented that award to the Reverend Lawrence Brown of Hyannis, a humanities teacher at Cape Cod Academy in Osterville.

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Mr. Brown was joined by two of his students, juniors Emily Brady and Katie Bailey, who have helped organize their school’s coffee houses and the Shelter from the Storm concert at Cape Cod Community College, both of which feature high school artists and which raise money for area charities including HAC’s NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, the Duffy Health Center and the region’s homeless veterans.

“This past year I was the student-manager and MC of one of the concerts and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Brady said. “I can’t believe the program that he created and how much it has helped people on Cape Cod. This year it raised over $10,000 and that will help fund a Stand Down this summer and allow us to give extra money to organizations such as the Interfaith Council [for the Homeless] and HAC.”

Mr. Brown followed up his students’ comments by pointing out the hope they represented. “I mentioned we’re getting older and the question is: who is going to do the work when we’re gone?” he said. “Who is going to care the way that you care and who is going to do the things that you do? The answer is – this is the good news – they will.”

Emotional Moments

Though the night was markedly positive there were several emotional moments, including a speech from one of HAC’s clients, Tracey Dalton of Orleans, who spent seven years homeless, but found hope and recovery through the NOAH Shelter.

And Cyndy Jones, joined by her husband Ken, had many in tears as she spoke about the creation of Heroes in Transition, a Mashpee-based non-profit formed after the loss of their son, US Marine Corps Captain Eric A. Jones, in 2009 in a helicopter collision while he was serving in Afghanistan.

“We’re here because four years, five months and 23 days ago we received a knock on the door,” Ms. Jones said. “From that time we have decided to honor our son.”

The couple has done so through Heroes in Transition which has helped raise over $500,000 since 2010 that goes to support veterans, whether it be through providing therapy dogs, modifying homes, offering transitional support group therapy or financial support.

Last year Heroes in Transition helped fund improvements to several homes owned by Mashpee veterans as part of HAC’s Big Fix, and helped keep Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korean War veterans, all of whom have fallen on hard times, in their homes on Cape Cod. The non-profit was the recipient of this year's Human Services Partner Award. 

“It’s been an absolutely wonderful marriage with Heroes in Transition and HAC,” Ms. Jones said. “We’ve just loved working with HAC because of all the organizations and collaborations we’ve done with other groups, HAC is really the closest to my heart.”

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Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, Cyndy Jones, Lawrence Brown, Rick Presbrey, Matt Pitta, Big Fix, Heroes in Transition, Tracey Dalton, Wayne Bergeron