Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Falmouth Big Fix a Display of Community

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 11:51 AM
Big Fix-17-5.jpgClifford Long repairs a front step during the Big Fix in Falmouth last month. 

With one knee on the ground, Falmouth’s Clifford Long hammered a nail into a piece of wood, repairing the front steps leading into John Martin’s North Falmouth home.

“I think this is something we should do more of,” said Long, taking a short break as dozens of other volunteers around him removed brush from Mr. Martin’s yard. In the back a crew from Home Depot was staining Mr. Martin’s deck. “So many people, we could make their homes affordable if we all put a little love and attention into them.”

About 20 feet away, Mr. Martin sat in a wheelchair inside his home. An Army veteran who served two years in Korea, Mr. Martin marveled at the kindness of complete strangers like Clifford Long. “You know what this is like? You hear people talking about neighborhoods. If this isn’t a sign of a neighborhood, I don’t know what is.”

What Mr. Martin calls a neighborhood, others call community, and in the middle of last month, there was plenty of that on display during HAC’s 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth. A total of 340 volunteers – a record for the Big Fix – showed up to make small improvements to 18 homes owned by veterans, seniors and disabled residents in the Upper Cape community.

If that wasn’t enough, one small group dedicated their time to beautifying the Falmouth Senior Center.

Big Fix-17-6.jpgBig Fix recipient Tina Barr (left) with Rev. John Terry of the First Congregational Church in Sandwich and HAC's Meg Chaffee. Rev. Terry, an advocate for affordable housing, organized a group of volunteers, the "First Fixers", from the church. 

“This is really the meaning of community service and it’s what makes the Cape and Islands so special,” said Falmouth Selectman Megan English Braga during the kick-off to the Big Fix at the Lawrence School.

At the kick-off, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi took a moment to praise the work the volunteers were doing. “It really means a lot to be able to have this community support and to come out and help these [people],” she said. “This helps them stay in place.”

These were people like 91-year-old Jim Crossen who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. At his home, a small crew of volunteers repaired his garage door while his daughter Jamie spoke about what the Big Fix meant to her. “What I think is really great is that knowing my dad, he has given so much to the community and volunteering his time, and now it’s nice it comes full circle and people are doing the same for him,” she said.

“I never could do this myself,” West Falmouth’s Valerie Tillman said outside her home where volunteers were clearing brush, removing weeds, and mulching her flower beds.

It was a similar scene at Dorothy Sgarzi’s home in East Falmouth, where volunteer Dana Robert remarked, “It is amazing how much work you can do with so many hands” after crews had finished beautifying her yard.

While the calendar may have read September 16, Christine (Tina) Barr of East Falmouth said the Big Fix actually felt like a holiday. “It was like Christmas morning,” she said. “This was much more than I could have ever imagined.”

Donate to the Falmouth Big Fix 

 

Tags: Philanthropy, volunteerism, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, Falmouth, Falmouth Big Fix, veterans

Barnstable Sunrise Rotary Donates to Children in Need

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 @ 04:01 PM
Barnstable Rotary-1.jpgBarnstable Sunrise Rotary Club members Norman Wilson (from left), Wylton Hampton and Randy Gold dropped off 10 backpacks filled with basic school supplies for HAC clients.

Backpacks and back-to-school supplies are a necessity for every student. But for some HAC clients struggling just to get by, they are a luxury they can’t afford.

Thankfully, HAC has generous donors like the Barnstable Sunrise Rotary Club which fill that need. At the end of August, three of its members – Randy Gold, Wylton Hampton and Norman Wilson – dropped off 10 backpacks filled with basic school supplies that will go to children in HAC shelters and those just out of shelter.

The club, which has 10 members, meets every Monday morning for breakfast. In the middle of last month, HAC’s Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford met with the group, giving info on the agency’s shelters, including Angel House which serves mothers overcoming addiction and their children.

After that meeting, the group elected to do something to give back to children in shelter. “We are hands-on. When we see a need, we fill it,” Gold said. “We do small projects like this and we like to help where we can.”

Tags: Philanthropy, charitable giving, back to school, backpacks, Barnstable Sunrise Rotary

Sandwich Church Holds Donation Drive for Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jul 05, 2017 @ 02:55 PM
First Church-Edited.jpgMarilyn Dexter (left) and Judy Coppola with a few of the donations that First Church in Sandwich donated to HAC's Angel House shelter. 

Giving comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. This past spring, it arrived at HAC in several bags full of diapers, baby wipes, pillows and blankets.

These gifts, all courtesy of First Church in Sandwich, were collected and donated to Angel House and the mothers and their children the HAC shelter serves. Each year, the church’s outreach committee selects a handful of local causes it wants to support; this year, they chose Angel House.

“It’s so important to give back to the community you live in,” said Marilyn Dexter, chair of the committee, who was joined by Judy Coppola in delivering the donations.

“Everything that you give, you get back,” Coppola added.

The church wants to continue supporting Angel House and has plans to plant a small garden there this summer.

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Philanthropy, Fundraising, Angel House, First Church Sandwich

Cotuit Church Gives Back to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 11, 2017 @ 12:08 PM
Cataumet Easter-18.jpgMary Kjendal (from left), Mircea Dumitrescu and Lindsay Clough were a few of the parishioners from St. Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cotuit who organized an Easter-themed party for children at The Village at Cataumet last month. 

To someone living in shelter, a few moments of normalcy can be a gift. And once a month at the Village at Cataumet, a group of parishioners from St. Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cotuit, share that gift to children living in the Bourne shelter.

It comes in the form of a few hours of play.

Last month, the itinerary looked like this: decorating Easter-themed cookies followed by a visit from the Easter bunny followed by an Easter egg hunt outside. If it sounds like fun, that’s because it was.

“They do such a great job and organize such fun activities,” said Paula Mallard, facility director at the Village at Cataumet. “It is fun for the families and a nice change of pace for them.”

Over the past year, the church has been scheduling monthly activities at the shelter which are geared towards children. Last summer, they organized a cookout for the clients. And in February, each child decorated a picture frame with their picture in it which was given to their parents.

“I like interacting with the kids,” said nine-year-old Mary Kjendal from St. Michael. “It is really fun making them happy.”

As he hid Easter eggs outside, Sturgis Charter Public School sophomore Mircea Dumitrescu said he enjoys the church’s monthly visits to the Village at Cataumet because they give him an opportunity to help others.

His mother, Soraya Bandeli, said the monthly outings teach the children a key life lesson – don’t judge others.

Perhaps most importantly, she said, it allows the church to offer a brief respite for what is often a chaotic time for those in shelter. “It’s a nice atmosphere where it is just pure joy for the kids,” she said. 

Support The Village at Cataumet

Tags: Family Shelter, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Philanthropy, St. Michael Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church

Home Builders Association Goes Bowling for HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 @ 04:59 PM
DSC_1952 - Copy-1.jpgAmong the teams that returned for this year’s Bowling for Beds fundraiser was Shepley Wood Products. On the sleeves of their shirts were the words, “Vinny’s Team” in honor of  Daniel Vincent, a 15-year Shepley employee who passed away in a car crash at the end of January.

For the third straight year, local banks, builders, architects and building supply companies came together for a night of bowling to benefit HAC.

Organized by the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod (HBRACC), the Bowling for Beds event was held at the beginning of last month at The Lanes Bowl and Bistro in Mashpee Commons, bringing together 20 teams vying for the right to be called the best. That honor went to Wood Lumber Company of Falmouth, which took home the top prize, besting Beacon Marine Construction of Mashpee, and Coastal Engineering Company of Orleans, which took home second and third, respectively.

Together, they helped raise more than $4,300 that went to support HAC’s housing programs on Cape Cod and the Islands. “Our mission is to support homeownership on Cape Cod and its trade members, through legislative, educational, business and civic endeavors,” said Christine Duren, executive officer of HBRACC. “And what better way to demonstrate our members’ commitment to making homeownership and safe, quality shelter accessible to all than supporting the good works of HAC.”

Tags: fundraiser, Philanthropy, Home Builders & Remoders Association of Cape Cod, HBRACC, Bowling for Beds, Christine Duren

Mother's Day Photo Sessions to Benefit Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 @ 12:24 PM

Mother's Day Portrait Event.jpg

At the end of this month, two Harwich photographers will celebrate Mother’s Day a few weeks early, all in support of clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

The pair – Jen Clark, owner of PhotoJenic Studio, and Rebecca Sher, owner of Rebecca Sher Photography – are offering $100 mini-sessions for mothers and their children on April 30, from 10 am to 2 pm, at Local Color Art Gallery in Chatham. All proceeds from the event, titled “You Are My Sunshine,” will be donated to Angel House, which serves mothers in recovery and their children.

“I thought of Angel House as a beneficiary because I know how difficult it is to be a young mother under ordinary circumstances,” Sher said. “I understand that the mothers in need of support from HAC are facing extraordinary hurdles and circumstances.”

Sher is joining Clark, who has organized similar fundraisers in recent years for local nonprofits, including the Boys & Girls Club of Cape Cod. “It’s a lot of fun,” Clark said of the sessions that allow her to give back to the community through the use of her talents.

As to why she typically does these fundraisers in advance of Mother’s Day, Clark said, “Portraits are very important for our family history. A lot of times moms don’t exist in many pictures because they are the ones taking them. I’m really pushing this for Mother’s Day so moms can be in the photos in a totally stress free environment.”

Because space is limited to only 12 sessions, appointments must be booked ahead of time. You can do so by calling Jen Clark at 508-432-5083 or Rebecca Sher at 617-721-1202.

Tags: Philanthropy, Angel House, Mother's Day, Rebecca Sher, Jen Clark

Realtors Provide HAC Clients with Fresh Start

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 03:56 PM
Welcome Home Edited.jpgHAC's Mary LeClair (from left) and Deanna Bussiere with Sunny Fellman, chair of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors Young Professionals Network which recently organized a drive for the agency's Welcome Home Gift Basket Program. 

The start of the new year always represents a chance at a fresh beginning. And in January, the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors provided HAC clients with just that when they donated six laundry baskets filled with a variety of basic home goods that will go to them when they make the transition from homelessness to permanent housing.

Since 2014, the association’s Young Professionals Network has spearheaded several drives in which they have collected a variety of household goods ranging from bath and kitchen towels to pots and pans to oven mitts to sponges to soap that provide our clients a solid foundation once they move into their new homes. The drives are tied to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket Program.

In January, Sunny Fellman, chair of the Young Professionals Network, and Patricia Pry, sales and marketing director for the realtors association, dropped off the donations to HAC. “This is the right thing to do for our community,” Pry said of her organization’s involvement in these drives. “We want to keep this going, absolutely.”

Those interested in learning more about the gift basket program or donating to it, can contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at either volunteer@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 279.

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, Deanna Bussiere, Philanthropy, donations, charitable giving, Mary LeClair, Cape Cod & Islands Associaton of Realtors

St. Peter's Pantry: Osterville Church Supports HAC's Shelter Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 @ 07:45 AM
St Peters Edited-1-1.jpgMary Beebe (from left), Bob Bartholomay, Katherine Levinson and Gretchen Perry are a few of the parishioners from St. Peter's Episcopal Church who donate food to families in HAC's Scattered Site shelter program. 

On the last Friday of February, several boxes of non-perishables were delivered to HAC’s Scattered Site shelter in Hyannis. There were cans of beans, carrots and peas, an assortment of cereals, pastas and sauces as well as some bed sheets, pillowcases and wash cloths, all courtesy of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Osterville.

It may not seem like much, but to the 17 families who are the recipients of this generosity, it will make a world of difference. “It is a big help. A huge help,” said HAC case manager Geoffrey Gagnon.

“It means a lot because they always run out of food stamps each month,” added case manager Antoinette Bills.

About once a month, the church delivers the donations, filling the cupboards of a small kitchen adjacent to the offices where Gagnon, Bills and Katie Geissler, the director of HAC’s Scattered Site program, work. Their office is on the first floor of one of the shelter buildings in Hyannis, that houses 11 families.

Parishioners have been collecting and delivering the donations, which consist primarily of food, since the end of 2015. Because of their dedication, the kitchen has been given its own nickname: St. Peter’s Pantry.

A Desire to Do More

Several years prior to the monthly offerings, the church had put together Thanksgiving baskets for families staying at the shelter. Mary Beebe of Cotuit said she and her fellow parishioners realized they wanted to do more.

“I like this because it gives everybody a chance in the church to participate, no matter what their age is,” Beebe said. “And people seem to embrace it with enthusiasm so that is very nice too.”

Among those who have embraced the effort is Bob Bartholomay of Centerville, who has dropped off recent donations to the shelter. “I like the idea that we’re helping people,” Bob said. “I think it’s tough to live on the Cape. Property values are high and you know there is a lot of affluence, but sometimes we don’t see there are people in need.”

Both Gagnon and Bills said the donations help fill the gap for those in need who are struggling to get by, serving to augment their food stamps and the additional food they receive from area food pantries.

As an example, Gagnon said, one client receives only $60 a month in food stamps for him and his 3-year-old son. “He loves beans with his hot dogs so we’ll stash beans aside for him to supplement his dinner,” he said. “This tides them over and gets them through some tough times.”

While church parishioners have not met the recipients of their kindness, they are taking satisfaction in knowing they are helping others. “Even though it is pretty small, I think people are really kind of proud of the pantry,” said Beebe.

Help End Homelessness

Tags: Family Shelter, Philanthropy, donations, Scattered Sites, charitable giving, St. Peter's Pantry, St. Peter's Episcopal Church

Sandwich Women's Club Donates Beds to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Mar 01, 2017 @ 01:36 PM
Angel House Beds-1-1.jpgAngel House Director Lin Rohr with Lily and Danielle Moore, president of the Sandwich Women's Club. 

On an overcast Friday in the middle of January, stacks of brand new twin mattresses sat outside, next to a Budget rental truck parked on the grounds of HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. The 12 new mattresses and 10 box springs were replacing ones that were roughly 10 years old and had far outlived their useful life.

As Guillermo Jimenez and Brady Perez of Mattress Firm in Hyannis, carried the old ones out and the new ones into the shelter, Angel House facility director Lin Rohr spoke with Sandwich’s Danielle Moore, president of the Sandwich Women’s Club, and her daughter Lilly, 12.

“This is a compassionate way to extend tangible care to our clients,” Rohr told Moore, who organized the donation on behalf of the women’s club.

Last year, Moore had seen Rohr speak about Angel House, which serves homeless mothers struggling with addiction and their children, at a meeting of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. That talk was enough to convince Moore to find a way for her club to support the shelter and those it serves.

They were able to do so on January 20, when the new twin mattresses, which had long been on the shelter’s wish list, arrived at Angel House.

Mattress Firm offered the mattresses and box springs at a discount, adding another layer to the charitable gesture. “We have a very proud philosophy of working with a lot of nonprofit organizations in the local area,” Chelsey Tahan, the assistant manager for Mattress Firm said. “One of the things we like to do is have an impact at the local level.”

For Moore, there is a personal affinity to Angel House; during her visit to the shelter she tearfully confided in Rohr, telling her that another daughter had lost a best friend to addiction last year.

Rohr expressed her gratitude to Moore and the Sandwich Women’s Club for their generosity. “Many of these women are going from sleeping on cardboard and newspaper to a bed,” she said. “This is probably the first brand new bed some of them have ever slept on.”

That means a lot, Rohr said, to the clients in shelter. “When you’re in a safe, secure, supportive place, you begin to heal,” she said.

Support HAC's Angel House Shelter

Tags: Philanthropy, Angel House, Lin Rohr, donations, charitable giving, Sandwich Women's Club, Mattress Firm

Harwich Third Grader Gives Back to Angel House Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 @ 02:15 PM
Michael Webster-1.jpgMichael Webster (left) passes out gifts he purchased for the children at Angel House. 

As a client in HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, Harwich’s Amy Webster understands what it’s like to receive help from others. She has passed on those lessons of compassion to her nine-year-old son, Michael, who was on the giving side of the equation in December, when he opted to pay it forward to children staying in HAC’s Angel House shelter.

It started when the Websters were at Ocean State Job Lot, waiting patiently to check out. The woman in front of them was participating in the store’s program encouraging customers to purchase boots for veterans. In exchange, she received a gift card to Ocean State Job Lot which she gave to Michael “because of how well he was behaving,” Amy said.

Instead of using the card on himself, Michael wanted to find a way to help others. With his mother’s guidance, Michael decided to purchase toys and art supplies for those at Angel House, delivering them just one day shy of his own birthday in the middle of December.

The act of charity was well-received by those at the shelter, Amy said. Even better, her son was able to meet the recipients of his kindness, spending a few hours playing with them.

“I’ve seen, throughout my life, how doing things for others without expecting anything back has made a huge difference,” Amy said of why this was an important exercise for her son. “I want him to learn that other people’s feelings are more important than things, and you’re never too good to help other people.”

Since 2014, she has been working with Jan Nelson, HAC’s FSS coordinator, to attain personal goals, all in an effort to eventually move off state and federal subsidies.

The program provides incentives for clients to do so by establishing an escrow savings account that is available upon completion of FSS. Any increase in rent as a result of an increase in one’s salary is placed into that escrow savings account.

If Amy continues meeting her goals, she will eventually graduate from the program in December 2019. So far, she has already noticed the benefits of FSS. “It encourages people who are motivated to get a job, get off subsidized housing and is a stepping stone to a better life for you and your family,” she said.

Support HAC's Angel House Shelter

Tags: Family Self Sufficiency, Philanthropy, Angel House, FSS, holiday giving