Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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

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: Angel House, Lin Rohr, Sandwich Women's Club, donations, Philanthropy, charitable giving, 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: Angel House, Philanthropy, holiday giving, Family Self Sufficiency, FSS

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

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, donations, Philanthropy, 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: Tax Credits, Community Investment Tax Credit Program, Margaret Benaka, donations, Philanthropy, 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: Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, holiday giving, Carriage House, charitable giving, Philanthropy, Family Shelter

Shop on AmazonSmile and Support HAC This Holiday Season

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

amazon_logo-resized-600.jpg

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, donations, Philanthropy

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

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: Michael Sweeney, HAC Energy, Philanthropy, Rick Presbrey