Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Donor Spotlight: Michael and Area Princi

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 @ 05:09 PM

Michael and Area Princi-1

Michael and Area Princi at HAC's Annual Meeting in 2017. The pair have been longtime supporters of our work, organizing a Gift Basket Party for clients in shelter during the holiday season. 

This year, HAC is celebrating its 45th anniversary and for 41 of those years, Michael Princi of Marstons Mills has supported the agency in its work to ensure all on Cape Cod and the Islands have access to safe, secure housing. 

An attorney and senior partner in the law firm of Wynn & Wynn in Hyannis, Princi’s initial involvement with HAC was focused on his profession. “I started to do some legal work, most of it on a pro bono basis,” he said.

Princi assisted HAC in large ways by helping move housing development projects forward through the legal process and in smaller, day-to-day matters, including internal, regulatory, landlord-tenant, and lease issues.

For Michael and his wife Area, giving back to HAC is rooted in their identity and has extended to serving meals to the homeless and collecting gifts for homeless families during the holidays.

Their efforts are tied to the belief that everyone deserves a home. “In order for people to move forward in their lives, the most important thing we can give them is a roof over their head,” Michael said. “Many people on the Cape did not have that available to them before Housing Assistance came along.”

That basic concept, he said, was something that “I identified with, in terms of wanting to give my time and efforts to.”

While housing is HAC’s primary goal, Michael noted that over the years its work has expanded to empowering families and individuals through such programs as its financial literacy classes which help clients maintain their housing through budgeting and improving their credit.

As HAC’s services have grown in size and scope, Michael is proud to have been affiliated with an agency that has helped so many over the years. “I feel like I’ve been part of the fabric, I’ve been with HAC so long,” he said. “A number of people and companies have been so supportive of HAC because they genuinely feel what Housing Assistance Corporation does is of tremendous importance to our community.”

Why We Give: Michael and Area Princi

At the beginning of last month, Michael and Area Princi organized their 28th Annual Holiday Gift Basket Drive, collecting presents that went to 50 families in HAC’s four family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis; Carriage House in Falmouth; Scattered Sites in Hyannis; and the Village at Cataumet in Bourne.

It’s a tradition that began with Michael and his first wife who passed away shortly after establishing the event. “The boys and I wanted to continue that tradition very much in memory of her,” said Michael. “When I remarried two years later, Area and her family blended into mine and we’ve expanded on it and continued it together for the past 26 years.”

With their children, Patrick, Peter, and Brendan, the Princis have been able to build a holiday drive that went beyond the confines of their home and now extends to their family, friends, and colleagues. “At the highest point, we did about 70 families and a number of homeless individuals,” Michael said.

While participation ebbs and flows, Michael said, “every year we manage to get 45 to 50 families allocated out so they all get Christmas baskets.”

Admittedly, it is a lot of work to organize the annual event, requiring the help of HAC staff as well as Michael’s legal assistant, Aimee Uhlman.

All of that effort is worth it for the Princis as they know those receiving gifts would have little to nothing to open on Christmas morning. “We play Santa for people who otherwise don’t have much or anything at all under their trees,” Michael said. “For many of the people who participate, the idea of anonymous giving is important to them… They are doing it truly out of the kindness of their hearts because they know there is a need and they are fulfilling that need.”

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Tags: Michael Princi, Area Princi, holiday giving, Holiday Drive, Family Shelter, shelter, charitable giving

Annual Meeting Celebrates Rick Presbrey's Legacy

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 04:15 PM
2017 Annual Meeting-44-1.jpgHAC founder Rick Presbrey with new HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi. During her speech at HAC's Annual Meeting, Galazzi acknowledged Presbrey's efforts, saying, "None of us would be here if it weren't for you." 

Housing is the foundation upon which all of our endeavors stem from. “Home is where we make our dreams come true,” new HAC Board Chair Mark Forest said. “Home is where we launch our lives. And it is the mission of HAC.”

That mission and the man behind it – HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who retired at the end of January – were celebrated at the agency’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition held last month at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Forest, who succeeds outgoing Chair David Augustinho, was one of several to recognize Presbrey’s contributions at HAC’s Annual Meeting. He relayed one story from the early 1980s when a group of people approached Presbrey wanting to create a nonprofit that eventually became the Community Development Partnership in Eastham.

“Rick’s response was, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’” Forest said. “If you went to Rick over the years that is what he would say, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’ For every one of his [accomplishments] we touch or reflect on tonight, there are dozens of others that people don’t even know about.”

New HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about the importance of her predecessor’s work as it relates to the agency’s services. “We all know that housing is where everything starts,” she said. “Nothing can be accomplished without having a safe, affordable house.”

Presbrey, who started HAC in 1974, said his was a career that was focused on helping people. “We never said no to a need ever,” he said. “We helped as many people as we could. The number now is over 160,000 people. Every one of those that we helped is incredibly important.”

Annual Meeting-10.jpgIn his speech, HAC founder Rick Presbrey (center) acknowledged longtime HAC staffers Michael Sweeney and Nancy Davison who both retired in the past year. 

That work continues under Galazzi’s leadership and guidance. During the night, she called on the community’s support, stressing that “it is going to take all of us” to address Cape Cod’s housing issues.

Among those heeding that call are businesses and organizations like the Cape and Islands United Way, Emerald Physicians and Cape Save which were all honored at HAC’s Annual Meeting.

“The incredible amount of work that goes on through the employees of HAC and its programs is an essential prescription for the health of our community,” said Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, who accepted this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Emerald Physicians.

Barbara Milligan, president of the United Way which was the recipient of the Human Services Partner Award, eagerly accepted Galazzi’s challenge. “Let’s get this problem solved,” she said. “Let’s work on it together.”

HAC also honored Michael Princi, who has served as the agency’s lawyer for 40 years and organized a holiday gift basket party for children in shelter for the past 25 years, as well as longtime board member Edgar Mangiafico, who was the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award.

Annual Meeting-15.jpg

Cape Save was the recipient of the Business Partner of the Year Award. The Yarmouth-based company insulates low-income homes for HAC's Energy and Repair Department. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Rick Presbrey, Alisa Galazzi, Emerald Physicians, HAC Volunteers, HAC Volunteer Recognition, Cape and Islands United Way, Ed Mangiafico, Michael Princi, Cape Save, HAC Energy

Basket Party Celebrates 25 Years of Anonymous Giving

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 10:15 AM
Princi Party Edited.jpgMichael Princi speaking at the gift party he helped organize last month. Princi and his family have organized the party for more than 25 years, encouraging their friends and family to purchase gifts for HAC clients in need. 

There may be no act of charity more powerful than anonymous giving. And over the past 25 years, Michael and Area Princi of Marstons Mills, their family and friends have done just that, giving thousands of children in HAC shelters a little joy during the holiday season.

They have done so by purchasing toys anonymously and bringing them to the Princi’s Christmas Basket Party held every December. This year, nearly 200 people participated in the annual event so that over 120 children in need would have gifts to open on Christmas morning.

“There are people who have absolutely nothing who we give to and we make their Christmas,” Michael told roughly 50 people in attendance at last month’s party held at the Cummaquid Golf Course. “So thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every year, everybody comes through and I really appreciate it. You don’t know how gratifying it is.”

Among those who are recipients of this kindness are children staying at Angel House in Hyannis. Lin Rohr, the facility director at the HAC shelter, expressed appreciation for those who participated in this year’s party, explaining what it can mean to those the agency serves.

She mentioned one child “who had given up hope” and initially said he did not want anything for Christmas. When pressed, the boy asked for a mini keyboard so he could practice the piano. The donor who picked the child’s name, Rohr said, has a passion for music and ended up purchasing a full keyboard for him.

“For this boy who is in junior high, it will give him his hope back,” Rohr said. “I know it will.”

It is just one example, she said, of “the connection between the generosity of the giver and the hopes of a child in need… I happen to be the bridge between both sides and it is phenomenal.”

Tags: Michael Princi, Christmas, Christmas Basket Party, Angel House, Philanthropy, charitable giving

Bringing Christmas Cheer to the NOAH Shelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 12:06 PM
Greg and Santa at NOAH (Christmas) resized 600NOAH Shelter Director Greg Bar and Santa Claus on Christmas morning. 

Slippers, soap, flashlights, toothbrushes and water bottles are not at the top of most people’s Christmas lists.

But on Christmas morning, these basic gifts were handed out to homeless men and women who had spent the previous night at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis. They were small in worth, but the items were invaluable to the recipients.

“Kindness,” was the answer one client offered when asked what the gifts meant to him.

“This is great for those who don’t have family or anywhere to go for Christmas,” said another client in his mid-20’s who has been homeless for nearly nine months.

The experience of being on the streets, he said, “is pretty miserable” and celebrating the holidays in shelter was difficult because he would not be with his son on Christmas.

But thanks to the charitableness of complete strangers – people like Michael and Area Princi of Marstons Mills, Lisa Balegno of Marstons Mills and her daughters Rachel and Ashley, Jerry and Susan Friedman of Cotuit, and Jason and Melissa Rossi of Marstons Mills – the clients at the NOAH Shelter had something to celebrate. The group arrived at the shelter at 5:30 on Christmas morning, adorned in Santa hats and armed with eggs, sausage, potatoes and bread.

Together, they made breakfast to order – omelettes, scrambled eggs and French toast, helping to ensure the holiday started off on the right foot for NOAH clients. It is a tradition the Princis have done for the last, “five or six years… It is really one of the most rewarding Christmas mornings you can have because we get more heartfelt ‘thank you’s’ from everybody that comes out,” Michael said. “It is not normal for the homeless and people at the shelter to be waited on and be given a nice, hot breakfast.”

Since 1990, the Princis have also organized a holiday gift basket drive for families in shelter and those making the transition out of it. Michael talked about the lessons the drive has taught his children and grandchildren. “One of the things it did for them is that it gave them a tremendous appreciation for everything we have and how important it is to remember and act to help those who don’t have as much,” he said.

Cape Cod's Secret Santa

HAC has witnessed similar charity in one anonymous donor - a true Secret Santa - who donated $50 each to clients at the NOAH Shelter this past December, just as he has in recent years.

That spirit continued through Christmas morning at NOAH, where following breakfast, shelter director Greg Bar was joined by Santa Claus in singing a medley of Christmas songs that included “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as clients joined in.

Scott and Jackie Dutra of Centerville, and their two daughters Gabriella, 16, and Miranda, 15, then handed out gifts to the clients.

“I need these so bad,” one homeless woman said as she was given slippers.

The festivities ended with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung by Mary Stacey-Smith, who works at both the NOAH Shelter and Angel House. “This is great,” she said afterwards. “Hopefully, this lifted people’s spirits and gave them something to celebrate on Christmas. This was a way to make their morning bright and start the day off right.”

Inside the shelter’s kitchen, Bar proudly reflected on the Christmas celebration with Santa by his side. “At least we gave them something to remember,” Bar said.

For Santa, the morning epitomized what the holiday is all about. “All the love in this shelter for the homeless is inspiring. It really is,” he said.

 

Donate to the NOAH Shelter

Tags: Santa Claus, Michael Princi, NOAH Shelter, Greg Bar, Christmas, Area Princi