|Santa Scott with an attendee from last year's telethon.
“I know what it’s like to be homeless.”
These words were spoken on camera at last year’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, not by an adult, but by a child.
It was one of the more poignant moments in the telethon’s 10-year history. “When the students read their essays I was really surprised how many kids had actually experienced homelessness,” said telethon host Mindy Todd of WCAI. “I found those essays really moving.”
Having lent her talents to the telethon for the past five years, Todd said she enjoys the festive event because it fills a vital need in the community. “I think it is important to spread the word for what is happening on Cape Cod. There are many folks who can’t afford to find a place to live and there are such a wide range of reasons that people find themselves on the streets,” she said. “It could be your neighbor. It could be your child, grandchild or grandfather.”
Regardless of how one ends up homeless, Todd stressed that, “everyone deserves to have a roof over their heads.”
And that is what the telethon, now in its 11th year, aims to do. The event is one of HAC’s major annual fundraisers for its four homeless shelters – the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis; Angel House in Hyannis; Carriage House in North Falmouth; and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne.
Money raised not only provides clients with the basic necessities – food and a safe place to sleep – but housing and employment services that help them gain the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient and live independently.
|Telethon co-host Matt Pitta talks with students from the Nathaniel H. Wixon School in Dennis.
Though the telethon deals with a serious subject matter, Terry Duenas, the executive director of the Cape Cod Community Media Center, said it is always an entertaining evening with a blend of live studio performances and pre-recorded ones featuring local choirs, bands and student ensembles singing holiday favorites. “I love the excitement of a live event,” Duenas said. “It creates a different environment that is always fun.”
His favorite memory from past telethons was when Siobhan Magnus was volunteering on the phones and someone called in and offered a sizable donation if she would sing the Irving Berlin classic “White Christmas.”
“She wasn’t scheduled to sing, but she said, ‘Sure,’” Duenas said. “It was just great.”
Ultimately, he said, the telethon is such a powerful event because the money raised goes to those most in need on Cape Cod. “It helps folks who are right here in the community,” he said.
The success of the telethon is tied to both the sponsors and those manning the phones. Andrew Young, the treasurer for HAC’s executive board of directors, has been a constant presence on the phone bank in recent years, calling friends, family members and co-workers in an effort to raise funds for HAC’s shelter program.
In making those calls, Young has found that people tend to “warm right up because they know someone who has volunteered at NOAH or Angel House or who has been there or might need to be there. And during this time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are a lot of folks understanding it is a good time to recognize thankfulness and the generosity of the human spirit.”
This year's telethon takes place on Wednesday, December 10 from 4-9 PM. Residents can watch the live production on local community access Channels 98 and 99 or via the web at www.CapeMedia.org.
To volunteer for the telethon or become a sponsor click this link.