Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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, Philanthropy, Angel House, Christmas, charitable giving, Christmas Basket Party

Local Realtors Give Back to HAC

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 04:28 PM

Edited Gift Baskets.jpg

At the beginning of December, Angela Philbrook (left) and Kimberly Koplow of Cape Cod Title & Escrow delivered several bags of home goods to HAC. The items were collected last month by Philbrook at her 3rd Annual Friendsgiving party in which local realtors, mortgage lenders and friends were encouraged to bring donations to support HAC’s shelter clients.

Among the items collected were bath towels, cutting boards, kitchen cutlery and pans, all donations that will be given to HAC clients as part of its Welcome Home Gift Basket program. The program provides basic household items to shelter clients when they make the transition from shelter into permanent housing.

Those interested in donating to the Welcome Home Gift Basket program can contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 279. HAC is currently in need of new twin and queen bed sheets, bath towels and dishware.

You can learn more about the Welcome Home Gift Basket program by clicking this link

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, Philanthropy, donations, charitable giving

Tax Credits Ideal for Year-End Giving

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 04:01 PM

tax credits homepage.jpg

As you prepare your year-end-giving, HAC has a tax credit program that can help you stretch your donation further.

The program is open to new donors and those who double their donation from the previous year. Only donations over the $1,000 threshold are eligible for the tax credits.

In return for your donation, you will receive half of it back in the form of a tax credit. This is on top of the federal tax deduction you are allowed to deduct from your taxes. So for a $1,000 donation, you will receive $500 back in tax credits. For a $5,000 donation, you will receive $2,500 back in tax credits. And for a $10,000 donation, you will receive $5,000 back in tax credits.

Those with little to no tax liability could even receive the balance of their credit back in the form of a check from the state.

Since 2014, HAC has been involved in the tax credit program which encourages charitable giving to organizations that are making a significant and positive impact in their communities.

To secure your tax credits before the end of the year, contact HAC’s Margaret Benaka at either mbenaka@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 272 by noon on Friday, December 30.

Tags: Philanthropy, Margaret Benaka, Tax Credits, donations, Community Investment Tax Credit Program, charitable giving

Toy Run Epitomizes Meaning of the Season

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 @ 11:24 AM
HOG Run 16-5.jpgMotorcycles make their way onto Old Main Road in North Falmouth, delivering toys to our Carriage House shelter. Over 150 motorcyclists participated in last month's toy run, ensuring our children in shelter will have gifts to open during the holidays. 

What compels people to give to complete strangers during the holidays? “So this guy doesn’t have to work so hard,” Cotuit’s David Andrade joked as Santa Claus walked by him on the first Sunday of November at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth.

It may have been a comment made in jest, but Andrade and over 150 motorcyclists with nothing to gain other than the satisfaction of helping others, did just that as part of the 17th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run. They came from all over Cape Cod as well as the South Shore, Boston and even Rhode Island to deliver over $3,000 worth of toys that will go to children living in HAC’s shelters as well as $2,600 in monetary donations to support HAC’s housing work on Cape Cod and the islands.

The toy run has actually been taking place for the past 27 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of longtime organizer Christina Wetherbee, who died of cancer the following spring. Since then, her husband, Joe Wetherbee, and his second wife, Clarissa, have organized the run with the help of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG).

“It’s all for the children,” Joe said, a statement echoed by several of the ride’s participants. “It is not their fault they are in shelter and a lot of times it is not the parents fault.”

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey expressed his appreciation for those who participated in the toy run as it will help HAC’s three family shelters and bring a little joy to the nearly 50 families staying there over the holidays. “It’s really the beginning of the holiday season for us,” he said. “It gets the spirit going early, and that’s a good thing.”

HOG Run 16-12.jpg

To view more pictures from last month's toy run, visit our Facebook page here. And to give to our families in shelter, click here

Tags: Family Shelter, Philanthropy, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, charitable giving, holiday giving

Shop on AmazonSmile and Support HAC This Holiday Season

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 @ 03:50 PM

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If you plan on shopping for holiday gifts on Amazon this year, you can help support HAC’s housing programs without any additional cost to you.

All you have to do is head over to AmazonSmile, log in using your Amazon or Amazon Prime account and designate Housing Assistance Corp. as your charity of choice. Then you can start shopping for the same products, at the same prices, as you normally would on Amazon. 

The best part is you will be helping your neighbors in need at a time of year when they need it most. AmazonSmile will donate a small portion (0.5%) of your purchase price to HAC. By shopping on AmazonSmile, you will essentially be giving a gift to our clients, some of whom may be struggling to survive on Cape Cod. Your gift may be just what they need to turn the corner this holiday season.

So what are you waiting for? Start shopping!

Tags: Amazon, AmazonSmile, Philanthropy, donations

New Playground at Cataumet a Favorite with Kids

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 @ 01:00 PM
Cataumet Playground-2.jpgBoth HAC staff and The Village at Cataumet staff and clients were joined by representatives from Cape Cod Senior Residences during a dedication for the shelter's new playground last month. 

What do you get when you combine two swings, a climbing cargo net, a slide and a faux rock wall? A whole lot of fun.

That is exactly what kids at The Village at Cataumet have been having since a new playground arrived at the shelter in September. The set was paid for thanks to a donation from Cape Cod Senior Residences, an independent and assisted living community in Pocasset, following a casino night in June which raised more than $1,600 for the HAC shelter. Residents at the assisted living facility decided they wanted to use that money towards filling a need at The Village at Cataumet.

“They [the kids] love it,” said shelter director Paula Mallard, during a playground dedication in the beginning of October. “It is awesome. It’s really sturdy and going to last us a long time.”

Cataumet Playground-9.jpgChildren enjoying the new playground at The Village at Cataumet. 

Mallard said that it’s been a few years since the shelter had a usable playground. The last one was made of wood and had to be removed because it became unsafe for children.

As a small contingent of children swung, slid and climbed the playground, Michael LeBrun, executive director for Cape Cod Senior Residences, spoke about why this was an important gift for his organization. “I think it is great to be able to help the kids and be a part of the community,” he said.

Support The Village at Cataumet

Tags: Family Shelter, homelessness, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Cape Cod Senior Residences, Philanthropy, donations

HAC's Michael Sweeney, a 35-Year Career Helping Others

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 03, 2016 @ 05:36 PM
Michael Sweeney Edited-3.jpgMichael Sweeney reads one of the many cards he received from HAC staff at his retirement luncheon. 

A person’s life is filled with moments that can have a significant impact on their future. For HAC’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Sweeney, one of those moments occurred in 1972 when his younger brother James died due to heroin use. “I’ve never gotten over it and I never will,” Sweeney told his coworkers at a retirement party held for him at the end of last month. “I think that’s been something that’s always been there. And here at HAC we have helped so many people in similar situations… You look around and we’re helping people who have similar struggles and issues every day. Was that part of what attracted me and what kept me here, the human element of that? I think so.”

Eight years after his brother’s death, Sweeney found himself at HAC as a volunteer, installing energy saving products for seniors on Cape Cod. Sweeney arrived at the fledgling agency as a community organizer with VISTA, armed with a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from the University of Massachusetts.

A year after his arrival, Sweeney was hired part-time in the HAC Energy Department, parlaying that into a full-time position at the end of 1981. “I never believed I would be here 35 years later,” Sweeney said.

Just five days after he celebrated his 67th birthday, Sweeney was reflecting on a career that spanned over three decades, supporting HAC in its mission to ensure those on Cape Cod and the islands have access to safe, secure housing.

Nancy Davison, HAC’s vice president of program operations, said it is difficult to quantify Sweeney’s contributions to the agency and those it helps. “There’s so many and they are so diverse,” she said.

A Bit of Everything

Yes, Sweeney oversaw HAC’s contracts, the hiring of new staff, implementing employee benefits and managing finances. But he also did the little things like shoveling snow, fixing fellow coworkers’ cars and conducting general office maintenance.

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said Sweeney did this in a quiet, unassuming way.

Over the years, Presbrey and Sweeney developed a close bond; they could often be found together on Saturdays, extending their work week an extra day just to help a HAC client in need, all on their own time.

Since 1981, Sweeney and Presbrey had a routine, working together on issues big and small which helped forge HAC into the agency it is today. This month, that routine has been broken as Sweeney starts the next chapter of his life.

In the short term, he and his wife Karen will be traveling to San Francisco for 10 days in November. A longer trip is planned to Switzerland, where Karen’s daughter, Kelsey, lives, and the Canary Islands in December.

Sweeney, who has two sons of his own, Patrick and Sean, anticipated that at some point in mid-January, “I’ll wake up and go, ‘What am I doing? What did I do?’” he laughed, half-jokingly.

Presbrey said that Sweeney’s passion not only for his work, but for his fellow colleagues and those HAC serves will be sorely missed. “You can’t really like this work unless you care about the outcomes and the people we’re helping,” Presbrey said. “Michael certainly has been a person who increasingly over these 35 years has cared more and more. You don’t always see that and it’s really been reassuring for me working next door to him.”

Tags: HAC Energy, Philanthropy, Rick Presbrey, Michael Sweeney

HAC Brings Biggest Big Fix Ever to Brewster

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 @ 11:13 AM
Big_Fix-1.jpgHAC's Liz Belcher with her Big Fix team which made improvements to Joan Graham's Brewster home

Early on a mid-September Saturday morning in Brewster, as complete strangers started clearing brush and cutting back overgrown trees from her Main Street yard, 73-year-old Joan Graham had tears in her eyes as she stood inside her kitchen. “It’s very exciting,” she said. “It’s also nerve-wracking too. I am pretty independent and it is hard to accept help.”

Graham was one of 14 Brewster residents to benefit from this year’s Big Fix that saw the largest turnout ever for the day of service, with 278 volunteers dedicating a few hours to make small home improvements for seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in the Cape community.

The Brewster Big Fix attracted volunteers from throughout Cape Cod and at least one from off-Cape, who participated in the annual community service event. And there were several groups – Mashpee Boy Scout Troop 36, AmeriCorps Cape Cod, Cape Associates and the Barnstable High School Human Rights Club, among others – that did their part in giving back to their neighbors in need.

In many ways, the day represents a celebration of what it means to be a community which is why it was more than appropriate that volunteer Deb Beresford of Hyannis spent her birthday cleaning up 88-year-old Eleanor Stieglitz’s yard. “Last year, we did it for a veteran who came out and cried when he said, ‘thank you’ to us,” said Beresford, who has participated in several Big Fixes. “It touches your heart when you can do something so meaningful for somebody. And it’s a great way to spend your birthday.”

Big Fix Beneficiaries
At the same home, more than a dozen children who are members of Shea’s Youth Basketball Association, were busy with yard work, all in an effort to make Ms. Stieglitz’s life a little easier. Jonah Shea, founder of the basketball nonprofit, said the great part about the Big Fix is that “you get to see the actual person you’re helping.”

These were people like John and Antoinette Mara, who had built their Brewster home in 1976, moving there permanently eight years later. John, 92, had served in the Pacific Theater for the Navy during World War II. The couple had recently celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary; the Big Fix served as the icing on the cake to that celebration. “Our home means everything,” said Antoinette. “And now I can walk up my driveway and see our house as I always wanted it to look.”

Big_Fix-3.jpgGiving back can be fun as shown by Ryan Johnson (left), an assistant scoutmaster for Mashpee Boy Scout Troop 36, and Rowan Higgins, who volunteered at the Mara's home in Brewster. 

Earlier in the morning, HAC CEO Rick Presbrey spoke about what the volunteer work would mean to homeowners like the Maras during the kick-off to the Big Fix at Stony Brook Elementary School. “This is something unbelievable for most of them, the fact that somebody actually comes to their house and takes care of things that have been frustrating and bothering them,” he said.

For 67-year-old Owen Hirtle, the Big Fix represented exactly that. After volunteers had left his home, having removed trash and cleaned his yard, the Vietnam veteran reflected on the act of charity that had been thrust upon him. “This is the biggest ‘thank you’ I have had since I got out [of the military],” he said. “It makes me feel even more proud I live in this country and that people do care.”

To view more pictures from last month's Big Fix, click this link. Next year, HAC will be bringing the Big Fix to Falmouth. You can click the above link to learn more about the Big Fix or apply to be a recipient or a volunteer. 

Tags: Philanthropy, volunteerism, Big Fix, Brewster Big Fix

Cape Realtors Association Pays it Forward

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 @ 02:30 PM
Cape_and_Islands_Edited_9216.jpg Sunny Fellman, chair of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors Young Professionals Network, with the donations that her organization dropped off to HAC this month. They will eventually go to HAC clients who are transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing. 

By themselves, backpacks, clothes hangers, towels, kitchen utensils, pillows and notebooks are relatively ordinary, everyday items. But to a select group of HAC clients they will represent a way to move forward with their lives.

At the beginning of September, these were just a few of the new household goods that Patricia Pry, marketing director for the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors, and Sunny Fellman, chair of the association’s Young Professionals Network, delivered to HAC.

The association collected the items as part of its latest drive for HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket Program. They will be given to families and individuals to help in their transition from shelter into permanent housing.

As part of the drive, Pry went to the Kmart in Hyannis to purchase some goods. While checking out, she struck up a conversation with a woman in line, explaining these items were going to HAC. That woman told Pry she had been a HAC client “and she may have been a recipient” of the Welcome Home Gift Basket Program, Pry said.

“We exchanged info and I had tears in my eyes,” Pry said. “It was a real pay it forward moment for me.”

“That is our ‘why’,” Fellman said, explaining why the association has conducted these drives in the past and will continue to do so in the future. “For us it is really touching to see the people benefitting from this.”

Those interested in donating to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket Program can contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 279. 

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, Philanthropy, volunteerism, CCIAOR, giving

Donation Provides Warmth for Cape's Homeless

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Sep 07, 2016 @ 01:31 PM
Yarn_Photo_Edited.jpgMary (left) and Ron Weishaar of A Great Yarn hold up one the donated blankets with HAC’s Deanna Bussiere. 

A spool of yarn doesn’t become a blanket, scarf or hat without a little time, care and devotion. Earlier this year, nearly 100 Lower Cape residents provided just that as part of a project aimed at supporting the region’s homeless population.

“A lot of love and a lot of creativity went into these,” said Ron Weishaar in May, when he and his wife Mary, dropped off 29 homemade blankets as well as several hats and scarves that went to those in HAC’s homeless shelters.

The Weishaars, owners of A Great Yarn in Chatham, allowed their customers to use their store space and unused yarn at the beginning of the year, to create the crafts as part of a community-wide knit-a-thon. In addition, they helped collect $1,500 that went to assist HAC in helping those most in need.

Support for the project came from those near and far, including second homeowners in California and Florida, who shipped panels, or individuals sections of the blankets, via mail. “This is one of the panels from California,” Mary said, holding up a finished blanket. “The reason I know that is this was a very dreary day when I opened this up and it just spoke sunshine.”

The Chatham store’s customers were more than eager to add a little brightness to the lives of Cape Cod’s homeless men and women. “They knew these people needed help,” said Mary. “And they were glad it was going to people on the Cape.”

The Weishaars said their only goal was to “whip up a lot of enthusiasm” and it was their customers who did the rest of the work in creating the pieces.

“You definitely succeeded,” HAC’s event and resource development coordinator Deanna Bussiere told the Weishaars. “This is amazing.”

After dropping off the donations, the Weishaars had a chance to visit the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, to see who some of their gifts would benefit. “I know our clients will definitely appreciate this,” Bussiere assured them.

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

Tags: homelessness, Philanthropy, donations, A Great Yarn