Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Davison Retires After 29 Years at HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, May 12, 2017 @ 12:29 PM

Nancy.jpg

Roughly three decades ago, Nancy Davison was struggling to make ends meet as she raised her son Brendan and daughter Kelly here on Cape Cod. “At that time I was working three jobs and I really couldn’t afford a year-round rental, but I took it anyway,” she said. “One night, I remember coming home from my third job – I was teaching real estate – and I just lost it. I didn’t know how I could keep this going.”

And then two things happened that stabilized her life – she was approved for a Farmers Home Administration loan and was hired at HAC as a program representative in its Leased Housing Department. “Within three months’ time I went from almost being homeless and working three jobs to coming to Housing Assistance Corporation and buying my own house,” she said.

That was in 1988. Twenty-nine years later, Davison has remained in that South Dennis home. But at the end of February, she said goodbye to HAC, where she has been able to help those who were dealing with similar issues that she was when she first arrived here.

During her farewell luncheon, HAC founder Rick Presbrey said Davison was an invaluable asset, the type of employee he could tap to manage and find ways to improve any department at HAC. Over the course of her career, Davison oversaw HAC’s Leased Housing Department, Consumer Education Department and, finally, its Energy and Repair Department.

Those experiences have colored Davison’s thoughts on HAC’s wide-ranging impact on the region. “There have been hundreds of thousands of people who we’ve helped in so many different ways. The list just doesn’t end because of the number of different things we do,” she said. “From tenants to homebuyers to homeowners to landlords to developers, there really isn’t a segment of the population that we haven’t helped in some way.”

What Davison discovered during her time here is that HAC helped her as much as it helps those it serves. “This is where I really found myself, what my values are and what my passions are,” she said. “I didn’t have an extended family. It was always myself and my children so this place really became my foundation. I was very passionate about my work and I loved the people I was working with.”

Tags: Nancy Davison, HAC Energy, Rick Presbrey, retirement, Leased Housing

Rick Presbrey Retires After 43 Years

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Mar 02, 2017 @ 01:10 PM
Rick Retirement-1.jpgHAC founder and former CEO Rick Presbrey with office manager Lynne Perry at his retirement luncheon which took place at the end of January. 

In 1974, Rick Presbrey founded HAC, operating the fledgling nonprofit out of a cramped West Yarmouth garage converted into an office. The agency had just one program, overseeing the state’s Chapter 707 Rental Assistance to provide affordable rental apartments for Cape Cod’s workforce, seniors and disabled residents.

Forty-three years later, HAC has grown in size and scope, but the one constant has been Presbrey. Under his leadership, HAC has served more than 160,000 clients, providing them with access to safe, secure housing through a variety of programs aimed at low- and middle-income residents.

While that figure is one way to quantify Presbrey’s accomplishments, his colleague Nancy Davison preferred looking at it another way. “I hope his legacy is that you should always treat people the way you want to be treated,” she said. “The main substance of Rick has always been to treat people well.”

That may explain why on the final day of January there were lots of tears and plenty of hugs as HAC staff said farewell to its founder and former CEO. “In the past year I have adjusted very reluctantly to the idea of not being here,” Presbrey said during his retirement luncheon where he talked about his desire to continue helping others.

Several of Presbrey’s coworkers spoke about witnessing that trait in action, highlighting his generosity to both clients and staff. 

Davison praised Presbrey for supporting single mothers like herself as they balanced raising a child with their work at HAC. “You know I always thought that if we were helping families then the families we were helping had to include the staff,” Presbrey explained.

Creating a welcoming environment at HAC was important to Presbrey who implemented several programs which embodied that spirit. “The idea is to be a positive influence in people’s lives in every way,” he said.

Presbrey, who plans on finding ways to continue giving back to those in need, imparted these words to staff as they move forward under CEO Alisa Galazzi’s tenure: “All you have to do to be just as happy and productive as ever is to make sure HAC’s mission is primary in the work that you do.” 

Tags: housing, Nancy Davison, HAC, Rick Presbrey, HAC History

Dogs Bring Cheer to HAC Offices

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Sep 09, 2014 @ 11:57 AM
DSC 0170 resized 600Hobie, a yellow Labrador, spends some time with Tristan (left) and HAC's Peggy Konner.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but not far behind on that list is HAC. For it is here in the hallways and offices at 460 West Main Street that one is as likely to encounter a four-legged animal as a two-legged one.

HAC’s proclivity to dogs began a little over a decade ago when its CEO Rick Presbrey adopted SCHENLEY, a Labrador-corgi mix.

This month Schenley, the senior canine at HAC, will celebrate her 13th birthday, spending the day seeking out treats from Marie Johnson, Dolores Barbati-Poore and Alison Reid - “long-term biscuit-ers,” who provide the dog with her daily nourishment, according to Presbrey.

She was born around September 11, 2001 and became a part of Presbrey and his wife Melanie Powers’ family a year and a half later.

“She’s been a valued member of our household ever since and for the last decade has been a part of HAC’s workforce,” Presbrey said.

describe the image      Nancy Davison showing Rufus some love.

Initially, Powers was the one bringing Schenley into work at IFAW in Yarmouth Port. But when Powers changed jobs Presbrey took over that responsibility. It marked a first in HAC’s history – the day a dog began to regularly punch in to work, nine to five, Monday through Friday.

Schenley was perhaps the best dog for what has become the norm at HAC. “She is a very gentle, accommodating, sweet dog,” Presbrey said.

RUFUS, a 10-year-old mutt that vice president of program operations Nancy Davison adopted from a kill shelter in Georgia, was the next to prance into HAC offices.

In his younger days, Davison said, Rufus was somewhat rambunctious so she only brought him in when working in manageable spaces like her current one in the HAC Energy department. “He is a good boy,” she said. “He likes to sleep underneath my desk and at lunch we go for a walk and then he sleeps in the afternoon.”

These days his worst habit is “eating all the tissues and papers” in the trash buckets at HAC, Davison said, attributing this to Rufus “looking for attention.”

At HAC getting that attention is relatively easy to come by. “I have people who like to come over and pet him and talk to him,” Davison said. “It gives people something to talk about and it opens the doors to other communications and relationships.”

describe the image   Schenley in her favorite spot: a soft dog bed in Rick's office.

Presbrey, who added another dog, GRAVY, a miniature Australian shepherd, to HAC’s ranks a little less than four years ago, agreed, adding that this benefit extends to the nonprofit’s clients. “Even though Gravy is really a shy dog he has an appealing appearance so lots of people coming in here for help with housing try to engage him,” Presbrey said. “He makes people feel welcome in the waiting room. Because often times their lives are in trauma having a dog there they can interact with is really a nice thing for a lot of people.”

Julie Wake, HAC’s director of communications and development, has seen the same types of interactions in the lobby with her dog HOBIE, a seven-year-old male yellow Labrador. “The clients trust him and it is almost like a nice distraction for what can be a stressful, daunting time in someone’s life,” she said.

Hobie, who goes by multiple nicknames – Hoberto Gonzalez the Embattled and Butters by his “surrogate mother” Cindi Maule – “is beloved by all,” Wake boasted, including her one-year-old son Soren. His first word? Hobie.

Though she is partial to her yellow Labrador, she said, “I like when other people’s dogs are here. It is very therapeutic to have dogs in the office.”

It is a similar sentiment from HAC accountant Nancy Sander who can be seen on daily walks in the parking lot with ADDIE, a one-year-old bichon frise. “I would have never got a dog if I couldn’t have brought her in here,” she said. “I can’t stand them being left at home all day because they are just like people.”

At HAC Addie is relatively quiet, usually staying inside her crate near her owner’s desk which is exactly what Sander prefers. “She is my family. I love having her with me,” Sander said. “It is pretty cool they let us bring our dogs to work.”

Addie 2 resized 600         Addie in the file room.

Tags: Julie Wake, dogs, Nancy Davison, HAC, Rick Presbrey, Nancy Sander