Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Taking Steps to Prevent Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 05, 2015 @ 02:21 PM

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Homelessness is a serious issue, but finding ways to combat it can be enjoyable.

That’s exactly DYECH’s (Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Homeless) approach to the issue on Cape Cod. Over the next two months, the organization will be holding fundraisers for HAC’s Project Prevention program that keeps people off the streets and in their homes. We are confident you’ll find these events will be pleasing to your stomach and pleasing to your ears while ultimately filling your heart with the satisfaction that you helped your neighbors in need.

It starts on Thursday, June 11, from 11 am to 8 pm, when the 99 Restaurant in West Yarmouth will donate 15 percent of your total bill to DYECH. Simply print out the voucher about and present it your server that night. 

On Tuesday, June 30, the Cape Cod Conservatory Jazz Band will be playing a free concert at the St. Pius X Life Center on Barbara Street in South Yarmouth, at 7:30 pm.  And on Sunday, July 5 at 2:30 pm, you can continue with the holiday spirit by attending a free patriotic concert at the St. Pius X Church.

There will be a free will offering at both concerts to raise funds for HAC’s homelessness prevention programs.  

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation, 99 Restaurant, Cape Cod Conservatory Band

Cape Cod Caring Cards Prevent Homelessness

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

Since 1993 keeping Cape Codders in their homes and off the streets has been as simple as purchasing a gift card. Well, make that thousands of gift cards.

A program started more than two decades ago by the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and later adopted by the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC) has been a resounding success.

Known as Cape Cod Caring Cards, the program is simple: DYECH and BIC purchase gift cards in bulk from stores such as Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Roche Brothers and Lambert’s. In return the two nonprofits receive five percent on every purchase.

The gift cards are then sold at face value to consumers. The five percent then goes directly to HAC to oversee Project Prevention which provides financial assistance to help residents on Cape Cod struggling with their bills stay in their homes.

Last year over $80,000 was raised by Cape Cod Caring Cards that went towards Project Prevention. And more than $1 million has been raised during its 21 years of existence. None of this would be possible without the churches, businesses and organizations that sell these gift cards directly to residents.

Thanks also go out to those who participate in the caring card program because it allows people to remain in their homes on Cape Cod.

To learn more about Cape Cod Caring Cards and where you can purchase a gift card for yourself or a loved one click on this link

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, HAC, Cape Cod Caring Cards

Yarmouth Concert Helps Prevent Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sun, Jun 22, 2014 @ 09:45 AM

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Twice a year for nearly 15 years the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) has organized a free concert providing a night of musical enjoyment for residents and tourists alike.

But that joy has extended to complete strangers – those on the verge of losing their homes – thanks to the money raised over that time. Through goodwill offerings the concert series has been brought in roughly $20,000, all of which has gone toward HAC’s Project Prevention program that aims to keep people who are struggling with their bills in their homes and off the streets.

“It is much cheaper and much more economical to keep people in their homes than trying to get them back into housing once they are kicked out of their house and are forced to stay in their car or motels,” DYECH’s acting president Steve Sozanski said.

On Tuesday, June 24 DYECH will once again do its part to ensure Cape Codders will never experience the horrors of homelessness by holding a concert featuring the Cape Cod Conservatory Jazz Ensemble. The event, which begins at 7:30 PM, will take place in the Parish Life Center at St. Pius X Church at 21 Barbara Street in South Yarmouth.

“It is actually old-fashioned type of music which older people all recognize and some of the younger people never heard before, like Count Basie, but will still enjoy,” Sozanski said. “It is really cool music.”  

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Steve Sozanski, music

Regional Housing Network Celebrates Allison Alewine's Housing Efforts

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 09:12 AM

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Rick Presbrey (from left), Maureen Fitzgerald, Allison Alewine and Michael Sweeney at the RHN Conference.

In Allison Alewine’s home is an area she dubs her altar where she keeps items that are reminders of her purpose in life.

At the end of April, Alewine added an award to the altar that symbolizes her more than 27 years at HAC and helping those who are less fortunate. “That is where the award will be to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing on this planet,” she said.

Her work was celebrated at the Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts’ annual conference at the Devens Common Center where she was presented with the Judy Kelliher Award. Created in honor of Ms. Kelliher, a legislative liaison for RHN who died in July 2009, the award recognizes work being done by consumers, staff and advocates of Housing Consumer Education Centers who assist those in need by giving them the skills and training to enhance their quality of life; educate legislators and constituents on the need for affordable housing; and exhibit the determination necessary to help people turn their lives around.

Alewine was both surprised and humbled to be recognized by her peers. “It did not occur to me that I was doing anything more than the job I took on,” she said, adding that the work HAC does is important to her. “Home has always been a special passion of mine and to deal with folks who don’t even have a house, let alone a home has been what I have felt called to do.”

Her colleagues felt the honor was well-deserved given Alewine’s dedication to HAC. “It is incredibly cool,” said Liz Belcher, an intake and referral counselor at HAC. “She definitely deserves as many awards as she can get.”

While Alewine’s role in HAC has diminished – last September she retired, partially – her importance has not. She continues to work part-time for the non-profit helping raise funds for homelessness prevention through HAC’s Cape Cod Caring Cards program.

Tags: Project Prevention, Prevention, HAC, regional housing network, allison alewine

Help Prevent Homelessness by Dining at the 99 Restaurant

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jun 02, 2014 @ 11:29 AM

This Thursday the 99 Restaurant in West Yarmouth has kindly offered to donate 15 percent of your check to the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council to Prevent Homelessness (DYECH).

That money will then be funneled to HAC's Project Prevention program which helps Cape Codders struggling with their bills to remain in their homes.

In order to participate in the fundraiser simply print out this voucher and present it to your server on Thursday, July 5 between 11 AM and 8 PM.

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Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, DYECH, Project Prevention, HAC

Cornell Student Returns to HAC for Alternative Spring Break

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, May 06, 2014 @ 03:42 PM

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Cornell University sophomore Christine Chow (right) decorates handmade picture frames with Nellyda and Josmalyz at the Village at Cataumet.

For all but one of the six Cornell students who assisted Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) in April, it was their first introduction to life on this side of the canal.

But San Jose’s Christine Chow, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences, is one step closer than her peers to attaining true Cape Codder status, having visited here last year as part of Cornell University Public Service Center’s alternative spring break program.

Every April the Ivy League college encourages its students to spend their spring break giving back to communities as close as Ithaca, New York, and as far away as Orlando, Florida. Over the past 10 years Cornell has sent a contingent to Cape Cod to assist HAC in carrying out its mission.

In 2013 Chow was part of a team that was tasked to improve marketing efforts for HAC’s gift card program that helps to fund the non-profit’s Project Prevention which is aimed at keeping residents struggling with mortgage payments or bills in their homes. 

This year Chow returned as the team leader, working with her peers, under the guidance of Cheryl Kramer, the department manager of HAC’s consumer education center, to create a presentation on financial literacy targeted to students at Barnstable High School and Dennis-Yarmouth High School.

During the two weeklong stints Chow has spent at HAC, she has developed a deep respect for the wide variety of programs aimed at helping the region’s neediest residents. “It has been interesting to see how HAC has such a big presence on the Cape in addressing its housing issues,” she said, adding that she has also enjoyed witnessing the dedication of HAC staff. “I am always impressed, both last year and this year, at how positive, welcoming and enthusiastic the HAC employees are.”

Though she is unsure whether she will attend an alternative spring break as a junior or senior, Chow hopes to continue finding ways to help others, regardless of their socioeconomic status, as she plans on pursuing a career in the medical field as a doctor. “I really like the scientific approach and using science to be able to help people because health is an issue that impacts all people’s lives and their quality of life,” she said.

Learn more about last year's project that Cornell University students worked on for HAC here. And look for more stories about this year's Cornell spring break trip to Cape Cod in this month's HACbeat! 

Tags: Cornell, alternative spring break, Project Prevention, HAC, Christine Chow

Reflections on the 118th Running of the Boston Marathon

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

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Around this time last week Gerald “Curly” Carey of South Dennis, was in the midst of running his 14th Boston Marathon since 1999 when he first participated in the historic race to honor his mother who had died two years earlier.

How did this year compare to the others he has run? “This one was no doubt the grand daddy of them all, even ahead of the first one I ran for my mother,” he said.

And when he crossed the finish line, just under five hours and 30 minutes, he knelt down and kissed the ground before greeting his wife Kelly. “To be honest it was very emotional. That is the one word I have to use,” he said. “Running up and taking a left on Boylston Street and having thousands and thousands of people cheering you on it felt like this was my Super Bowl.

“Even though I didn’t win the race I was part of one of the biggest days in the history of Boston sports,” he continued.

Last year Carey was one of the more than 5,000 runners unable to finish the race after two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three spectators and injuring 260 people.

This year there was no such tragedy though for Carey there were several difficult moments that included running past Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 15 on Boylston Street, the station that lost Lieutenant Edward Walsh Jr., 43, and firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, while battling a blaze in a Beacon Street apartment building in March.

Earlier in the race Carey passed Mr. Kennedy’s longtime girlfriend Sarah Wessman, who had been planning to run the marathon with her boyfriend. She was wearing two bibs – one for her and one for Mr. Kennedy. “I talked to her briefly in Wellesley,” Carey said. “That was one of the most emotional parts of the day outside of the finish line.”

For Carey the race was a way to accomplish what he could not last year – finish the grueling 26.2 mile course – while raising funds for the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council’s (DYECH) Project Prevention program.

HAC oversees the program which assists Cape Cod residents struggling with their bills, ensuring they will not find themselves without a home. As of last week he had raised close to $4,000, adding to the roughly $50,000 he has raised for Project Prevention since 2001.

The money raised is the capstone for what he termed “a great day… It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.” 

Donate to the Project Prevention Program

Tags: Project Prevention, HAC, Curly Carey, Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon Takes on Special Meaning for Cape Resident

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 @ 02:39 PM

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Since 1999 Gerald “Curly” Carey has run 27 marathons, but there was only one he did not finish – last year’s Boston Marathon.

The marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt for the suspects were well documented in the news, capturing the nation’s attention in the days and weeks that followed. And for many runners, like South Dennis’ Carey, it represented a difficult time. “I would say the first week afterward was very emotional watching TV and knowing that five years prior I would have been coming in at the time the bombs went off,” he said. “It was very emotional and it still is.”

He anticipated this year’s Boston Marathon – his 14th time running it – will carry similar weight. “It will be an emotional race for me, especially the last mile and a half because I didn’t get to finish last year,” he said.

Instead, like the thousands of other race participants who had not yet crossed the finish line, Carey found himself searching for loved ones – his wife Kelly was planning on watching him finish – as helicopters flew overhead and the sounds of fire and police sirens could be heard racing towards the crime scene.

He estimates he has helped raise close to $50,000 for the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council’s (DYECH) Project Prevention since 2001 when he was inspired to somehow give back in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A conversation with David Akin, a deacon at St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth and a member of DYECH, convinced him to focus his efforts locally. “He told me we have a big problem on Cape Cod,” he said, in reference to the region’s homeless population.

Though he has run dozens of other races, Carey holds a special place in his heart for the Boston event, listing a litany of reasons from its history to its stature as a worldwide event to the difficulty of the course itself. The race also serves as a fundraiser to a cause important to Carey: fighting homelessness on Cape Cod.

Carey’s money has gone towards Project Prevention which HAC oversees and which ensures Cape Codders struggling with their bills will never find themselves on the street. “Last year I was able to raise $2,044 and through that effort at least three families were able to stay in their homes and avoid being homeless,” Carey wrote in his fundraising letter for this year’s marathon.

He expressed pleasure in being in a position to help those who are less fortunate. “When I find out where the money is going and that it keeps people in their homes it makes me proud,” he said.

Along with running marathons, Carey serves monthly meals to the homeless as a member of the Yarmouth Rotary, an experience he has found rewarding. “I have a beautiful house in South Dennis. I have a good life,” he said. “One of the things my parents taught me is you have to give back. That is what keeps me going.”

It was his mother Mary, who passed away in 1997, who he dedicated his first Boston Marathon to in 1999. To this day the 57-year-old Carey honors her spirit every time he runs the historic race which will take on special meaning this month because of the lives that were lost and those that were injured last year. “If I had to run it on crutches I would do it,” he said. “It really means a lot to me.”

Help Curly reach his goal! Send a tax-deductible donation to "Run to Prevent Homelessness," c/o Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council, P.O. BOX 507, Yarmouthport, MA 02675

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Athletics, Curly Carey, Boston Marathon, David Akin

HAC Bids Farewell to Allison Alewine

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sun, Oct 20, 2013 @ 09:47 PM

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A festive retirement party was held in September for Allison Alewine, who worked at Housing Assistance Corporation for more than 25 years, most recently as vice president of operations in the Family Housing Services Department.

Allison was hired at HAC on October 5, 1987 to work in the family services department. Allison says her passion is Project Prevention, and so she will continue to work to spread the word about this important program that helps people experiencing a temporary difficulty in paying their rent or mortgage payment.

Among those attending the party at the Lighthouse Inn in Dennis were old friends and new, including people Allison worked with over the years and people she helped along the way.

The message on her cake said it all, “Congratulations Allison, Forever on the Team.”

Tags: Project Prevention, Family Shelter, Prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation

Vivapalooza Winner Gives Back To NOAH Shelter

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Bobbie Curley of West Barnstable believes “it is important to help people get a better start” and “everybody deserves a second chance.”

That is why she decided to donate a $100 Stop and Shop gift card she won in a drawing at the Housing Assistance Corporation table at the Vivapalooza expo to the NOAH Shelter to be used to help feed people in need.

Emerald Physician’s Vivapalooza took place on Sunday, June 2, filling Barnstable High School with vendors promoting community resources for healthy living.

At HAC’s booth, staff sold Cape Cod Caring Cards, formerly known as food certs. The cards have their full cash value and can be used at many stores on the Cape. For each gift card purchased, 5 percent of the money spent benefits HAC’s Project Prevention, which provides financial assistance to prevent Cape Codders from becoming homeless. Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council and Barnstable Interfaith Council sponsor the cards.

When Ms. Curley found out she won the gift card drawing, she was surprised. “I don’t usually win anything,” she said.

Then she asked, “Now, is that something you could use for clients at one of your shelters?”

Ms. Curley said she regularly buys Cape Cod Caring Cards from the Barnstable Interfaith Council at village fairs and other events.

HAC put Ms. Curley’s donation to use at the NOAH Shelter where it was used to stock up the pantry with items unavailable from the food banks.

Tags: Project Prevention, Food Certs, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH, Cape Cod Caring Cards, Gift Cards for prevention