|Matt Pitta (left), co-host of last month's Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, interviews longtime HAC supporter Paul Hebert about the region's housing issues.
When Paul and Carolyn Hebert arrived on Cape Cod in 1981 with their three daughters Aimee, Mary and Meg, finding a home was difficult. “We had to rent for two years because we couldn’t find housing we could afford,” he said.
Fast forward 36 years later and Paul admitted the situation is even worse. “It was unreasonably high to buy a house back then, but now for people earning basic wages it is nearly impossible and getting more difficult every day,” he said.
It is for this reason that the Heberts have given to HAC for 20 years, highlighted by their most recent $1,000 donation to the agency at its 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon last month. Paul made the donation on-air on behalf of the couple’s company, Charitable Redemption Partnership in Yarmouth, which utilizes proceeds from redeemable cans and bottles to support local charities on the Cape such as HAC.
“As a town councilor in Barnstable, I look to Housing Assistance Corporation as the best prepared to care for the least among us who need housing,” Paul said of his longtime support of the agency.
Paul’s history with HAC goes back to the mid-1980s when he convinced former CEO and founder Rick Presbrey to open the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis to provide emergency shelter for homeless individuals.
In 1991, the Heberts took their activism a step further when they started CHAMP Homes to care for homeless adolescents. “We realized there was more to be done and came to understand that there was this next group that was not being served,” Paul explained. “It was the young people, around 18 years of age, who were sleeping in various places in the community whether it was teaming up six to an apartment or couch surfing or sleeping in cars or the woods just to survive.”
The Heberts spent the next 24 years at CHAMP Homes and were recognized for their efforts with the Presbrey Public Service Award in 2006 at HAC’s Annual Meeting.
Though Paul and his wife stepped down from CHAMP Homes in 2015, he remains as passionate about housing issues as he did when he was first introduced to HAC three decades ago. And he views HAC as a pivotal player in addressing those issues on Cape Cod. “I believe Housing Assistance Corporation is a standard bearer,” Paul said. “They hold the flag to deal with this battle so we have to keep supporting them.”
Why I Give: Paul Hebert
As a Barnstable Town Councilor, Paul Hebert paints a grim picture of the housing reality on Cape Cod. “Living on Cape Cod is not a realistic dream for most people,” he said.
This is why he believes housing development – building more affordable rentals and homes for the Cape’s workforce – is the region’s primary need. “We know Barnstable is short 1,200 rental units,” he said.
Hebert supports HAC because he understands it is best suited to address this need. “We have to build so many rentals and we are so far behind. I don’t know of any other organization that can do a better job and has the capacity to help than Housing Assistance Corporation,” he said.
With the completion of Sachem’s Path on Nantucket, HAC has developed more than 500 units of affordable housing since its inception. It is in the midst of constructing 44 apartments in Bourne and is in the planning stages of building eight affordable and workforce apartments in Hyannis.
Through the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership in Eastham, it is also providing community leaders and residents with the tools to boost affordable housing that is sorely needed in the region.
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
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Charitable Redemption Partnership
Those who attended last month's groundbreaking included Julie Creamer (from left) of POAH; State Representative Randy Hunt; POAH CEO Aaron Gornstein; U.S. Representative Bill Keating; Greg Janey, owner of Janey Construction; MassHousing Executive Director Timothy Sullivan; State Senator Vinny deMacedo; HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi; and Chrystal Kornegay, undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
When HAC and the Preservation Of Affordable Housing (POAH) completed Clay Pond Cove in Bourne five years ago, Nancy Nygard became its first resident.
Since then, she has found it to be more than a home. It’s a community where her neighbors have become her friends. “It is wonderful,” she said. “Everyone cares for each other.”
During last month’s groundbreaking for what will be the final of three phases of a mixed-income housing development HAC and POAH are building at this 19-acre site, property manager Karen Kelley of POAH Communities said this is an example of what residents really cherish here. “A lot of people want a home to be a nice, safe place, and for there to be a strong sense of community,” she said. “Those things are really important to people.”
That is what the residents living in the 28 affordable apartments at Canal Bluffs and the 45 individual, family and senior apartments at Clay Pond Cove have experienced. And that is what HAC and POAH hope to provide with the remaining 44 affordable and market rate townhouse-style apartments that will be built over the next year as part of Canal Bluffs III.
When complete, Canal Bluffs will have allowed “117 families who get to live here an opportunity to come home, put their groceries away, and have a safe place to rejuvenate where their children can launch their dreams and where families can live their lives on beautiful Cape Cod,” said HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi.
|Nancy Nygard (left) with Cathie Michel, friends and neighbors who have discovered a sense of community at Canal Bluffs.
She and several other speakers credited HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who attended the ceremony, for making the project possible. The site was once slated to become an office building for a failed dot com company before businessman Bill Zammer of Mashpee, purchased it in the hopes of turning it into a housing development.
That plan never came to fruition. Presbrey was able to work out a deal with Zammer for HAC to purchase the property for $2.1 million. Presbrey then came to an agreement with the town that allowed HAC and POAH to turn the site into an affordable housing development that has added to the Cape’s rental stock.
“And to you, Rick, for what you have done over 43 years in this region providing housing for people that is one of the most basic needs we can have in our lives and understanding the significance of that,” State Senator Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo said. “You have left a huge legacy . . . and I apologize that people will not even know who made that difference for them, but for those of us today we know it was you and we thank you so much for your efforts on all these people’s behalf.”
U.S. Representative William Keating said the project fills a critical need for moderate and affordable housing on Cape Cod, allowing people who work here to live here. He said it was a project made possible through the cooperation of federal, state, local, and nonprofit agencies all coming together towards a common aim.
State Representative Randy Hunt said projects like this are a critical piece to preserving the character of Cape Cod. “I’m glad people are really united in getting in front of [these issues] and are starting to put more of this type of housing into the market which will allow the working class people to live here,” he said.
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod,
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.”
|At its meeting last month, DYECH presented HAC's Cassi Danzl with an $8,000 check which pushed its fundraising total to $1.5 million since the group's inception. The money has been used to prevent families on Cape Cod from becoming homeless.
In the grand scheme of things, $8,000 may seem like a relatively small amount of money, but in the beginning of March, it represented a major milestone for a group of residents committed to helping their neighbors in need.
When that donation was given to Cassi Danzl, HAC’s director of Family and Individual Services, it pushed the group, better known as the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH), over $1.5 million raised since it was formed in 1993.
HAC founder Rick Presbrey said the genesis of DYECH was “to prevent people from entering shelters and motels and keep them in housing,” an effort spearheaded by the late Bob Murray in conjunction with parishioners and staff at Christian churches in Dennis and Yarmouth that had reached out to HAC asking how they could support the agency.
And so DYECH was born. Golf tournaments, ham and bean dinners, chicken pot pie suppers and community concerts are just a few of the ways they have raised money to prevent homelessness on Cape Cod and the Islands over the past 24 years.
DYECH has also been able to raise funds from the bulk purchase of gift certificates to participating stores such as Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and CVS. It then sells those gift certificates at face value to those in the community. For every dollar spent, DYECH receives five percent that goes directly to HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families.
Debbie McDevitt-Hayes of Yarmouth, who has been involved with DYECH since the beginning, recalled that the late Art Kimber, a member of the clergy at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, and Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, were instrumental in the launch of DYECH and bringing neighboring churches into the fold.
DYECH’s Early Days
“Those early days were exciting days for sure,” she said, noting that it was less about the money raised and more about the number of families they were able to help. “HAC was good at keeping us posted as to putting a personal face on what was happening. Sometimes you’d meet some of the clients that you helped which was really exciting.”
As to DYECH reaching this fundraising milestone last month, she said, “I’m sure if we put the faces on that $1.5 million it would have a huge impact.”
Akin said the reason for the continued dedication to DYECH is simple: there are people in need. “They say that for 60 or more percent of Cape Codders, if one or two paychecks don’t come, the party is over,” he said. “There is a real hand-to-mouth economy for the have nots.”
“I think we all have to help each other,” said Yarmouthport’s Barbara Lussier, who manages the gift certificate program for DYECH. “Some of us are more fortunate than others, but I think it’s important for us to give back.”
While all agreed there is still more to do, current DYECH President Steve Sozanski was proud of all the group has accomplished. “It’s mind-boggling to think we’ve raised that much money organizing meals and concerts three or four times a year and buying and selling gift cards in bulk,” he said.
Presbrey agreed, calling DYECH’s work “amazing, actually. For them to do it all these years is impressive and also the energy with which they do it. They’ve kept up the program and prevented people from being homeless and keeping them in their current housing. It’s been a huge thing, really.”
To learn more about ways you can help prevent homelessness simply by purchasing a gift card to a local supermarket, store or restaurant, click this link.
You can also purchase gift cards at HAC's office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. Contact Margaret Benaka at 508-771-5400, ext. 272, or at email@example.com for more information.
Gift Cards for prevention,
St. Pius X School,
|HAC founder Rick Presbrey with new HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi. During her speech at HAC's Annual Meeting, Galazzi acknowledged Presbrey's efforts, saying, "None of us would be here if it weren't for you."
Housing is the foundation upon which all of our endeavors stem from. “Home is where we make our dreams come true,” new HAC Board Chair Mark Forest said. “Home is where we launch our lives. And it is the mission of HAC.”
That mission and the man behind it – HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who retired at the end of January – were celebrated at the agency’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition held last month at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.
Forest, who succeeds outgoing Chair David Augustinho, was one of several to recognize Presbrey’s contributions at HAC’s Annual Meeting. He relayed one story from the early 1980s when a group of people approached Presbrey wanting to create a nonprofit that eventually became the Community Development Partnership in Eastham.
“Rick’s response was, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’” Forest said. “If you went to Rick over the years that is what he would say, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’ For every one of his [accomplishments] we touch or reflect on tonight, there are dozens of others that people don’t even know about.”
New HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about the importance of her predecessor’s work as it relates to the agency’s services. “We all know that housing is where everything starts,” she said. “Nothing can be accomplished without having a safe, affordable house.”
Presbrey, who started HAC in 1974, said his was a career that was focused on helping people. “We never said no to a need ever,” he said. “We helped as many people as we could. The number now is over 160,000 people. Every one of those that we helped is incredibly important.”
|In his speech, HAC founder Rick Presbrey (center) acknowledged longtime HAC staffers Michael Sweeney and Nancy Davison who both retired in the past year.
That work continues under Galazzi’s leadership and guidance. During the night, she called on the community’s support, stressing that “it is going to take all of us” to address Cape Cod’s housing issues.
Among those heeding that call are businesses and organizations like the Cape and Islands United Way, Emerald Physicians and Cape Save which were all honored at HAC’s Annual Meeting.
“The incredible amount of work that goes on through the employees of HAC and its programs is an essential prescription for the health of our community,” said Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, who accepted this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Emerald Physicians.
Barbara Milligan, president of the United Way which was the recipient of the Human Services Partner Award, eagerly accepted Galazzi’s challenge. “Let’s get this problem solved,” she said. “Let’s work on it together.”
HAC also honored Michael Princi, who has served as the agency’s lawyer for 40 years and organized a holiday gift basket party for children in shelter for the past 25 years, as well as longtime board member Edgar Mangiafico, who was the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award.
Cape Save was the recipient of the Business Partner of the Year Award. The Yarmouth-based company insulates low-income homes for HAC's Energy and Repair Department.
HAC Annual Meeting,
HAC Volunteer Recognition,
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|HAC 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.”
|This year's Annual Meeting will be a celebration of Outgoing CEO Rick Presbrey's legacy. Presbrey, who founded the agency in 1974, is retiring this year. Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi, who started in January, is replacing him.
HAC’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition in March will be a seminal one, representing a changing of the guard as we celebrate Outgoing CEO Rick Presbrey and welcome Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi. Presbrey is retiring after 43 years with the agency; in 1974 he founded HAC to oversee the state’s rental voucher program on Cape Cod.
The meeting, which will be held on Thursday, March 23, from 5 to 7:30 pm at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa, will also recognize individuals and organizations that are working to make a positive impact in the community.
The event is also a way to thank the more than 750 volunteers who support HAC in its mission of ensuring all on Cape Cod have access to safe, secure housing. One of those volunteer groups, Emerald Physicians, will be the recipient of HAC’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
The medical group has served as phone fundraisers, filling more than a dozen seats for a half hour at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon for the past eight years. “They have been so extraordinary every year,” said HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin, who noted that Emerald Physicians and HAC often serve the same clientele. “I feel so blessed we work together in helping those in need on Cape Cod.”
The Cape and Islands United Way has been chosen for HAC’s Human Services Partner Award. Since 2005, the nonprofit has provided HAC with more than $243,000 in funding that has gone to support the Angel House shelter in Hyannis, homelessness prevention for families and individuals and homeless efforts on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. “Providing housing stability and affordable housing for our residents is a priority for our organization,” said Barbara Milligan, the CEO of the Cape and Islands United Way. “We’re honored to have been able to partner with and support the outstanding work that HAC has done for many years.”
The Business Partner Award is going to Cape Save of South Yarmouth, which has been insulating low-income single-family and multi-family homes for HAC’s Energy and Repair Department for more than a decade. “They definitely deserve it,” said Al DiMuzio, interim director of the energy department. “They have a mindset much like HAC.”
The final honoree is longtime HAC board member and former board chair Edgar Mangiafico (pictured above) of Chatham, who is the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award.
|HAC’s Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition
March 23 ~ 5 to 7:30 PM
Cape Codder Resort & Spa,
1225 Rte. 132 Hyannis
HAC Annual Meeting,
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Holding a microphone in her right hand and a handwritten essay on a piece of paper in the other, Autumn Rivieccio’s words came out slowly and softly. “When I slept in my car one night with my mom and dad I really learned what homelessness was,” she started.
Perhaps no moment during last month’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon was more poignant than that one; the moment when a 10-year-old student at the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in South Dennis, spoke about her experience of sleeping in a car and living in motels.
There were “six or seven motels” to be exact. Perhaps the worst part, Autumn said, is that “we couldn’t have friends over.”
In September, that changed when Autumn and her parents moved into a home in West Yarmouth. “I feel like an actual family because friends and family can come over,” she said, adding that, “my favorite thing is my own room that I can decorate.” Her favorite decoration is a poster with a white kitten holding onto a rope; on it are three simple words: “Hang in There.”
Now in its 13th year, the telethon not only raised awareness to the region’s housing issues, it helped put a face to those impacted by them. People like Autumn Rivieccio and Cathy Gibson, the chair of HAC’s Constituency Committee.
Gibson, a former client, praised HAC for assisting her, first through its voucher program and then its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. “The programs run by housing assistance really need to be exactly what they are intended to be: a leg up to be able to set yourself on a path that leads towards self-sufficiency,” she told co-host Matt Pitta of Cape Cod Broadcasting.
Throughout the night, both Pitta and co-host Mindy Todd of WCAI, spoke to those within the agency as well as those outside HAC about ways they are working to address the Cape’s housing issues.
The event also served as a way forward, raising nearly $80,000 for HAC in support of its mission to ensure that all on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have access to safe, secure housing.
Since 1974, when CEO Rick Presbrey founded the agency, it has been committed to that work. At the end of the night, Pitta took a moment to ask Presbrey about his legacy as he will be retiring in March. “The organization is going to continue. It’s helped 160,000 people and that’s going to continue,” Presbrey said. “I have tried to establish very positive values in how to treat people, how to be honest, and essentially to always be respectful to others, and I think that will stay and I feel good about that.”
Homeless on Cape Cod,
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With the New Year comes a fresh start for HAC. Our Incoming CEO Alisa Galazzi has begun work, starting a period of orientation before officially becoming the CEO.
With her arrival here in the office, there is lots of talk and laughter as she meets office staff. She will be on the road visiting our four family shelters and meeting staff and clients there, as well as meeting our many partners within the community through the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and even up in Boston.
It is an exciting time for the agency but, I have to admit, it is anxiety-producing for me. I have always loved what I do, but my time for exiting has come.
At HAC, our focus is helping people. That means that we work with others to get the job done, whether it is counseling a family to prevent foreclosure, bringing a homeless individual in for services, repairing a heating system in the home of a senior citizen, or sheltering a homeless family.
When someone approaches us asking for help, we try to always, say “Yes, we can help.” I know that this is not the way most of the world works, but for me, that’s how I like it. I know that the agency will be able to do even more good in the next 40 years and that it will remain a culture of sensitivity to the needs of others and our community.
I have found solace in the quote, “Decisions of the heart are always right.” I’m not sure who said it, but I have heard that it was Gandhi. Others try to make decisions through their intellect. I suspect the truth is that neither way is always the right way, but the decisions you make based on heart or intellect may be very different.
I will miss HAC. I will miss the new projects in the works and I will miss the wonderful staff. But be assured, I will keep busy. It has been so long since I started anything new that I had forgotten that starting new things is part of my DNA. There are many ideas and many opportunities in store, both for me and for HAC. And I know that helping people will remain the focus for both.
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
In her spare time, Dolores Barbati-Poore likes to paint. She has over a dozen original paintings in her Bourne home, the result of the popular paint nights that allow friends to socialize, all while nurturing their creativity.
If Dolores were to create a painting that epitomized her nearly 28 years at HAC, it would most likely represent a picture of hope. “Dolores brought compassion, empathy and she never really gave up on people, some of whom were our toughest clients,” HAC’s AnnMarie Torrey said in describing her coworker. “She took a person at face value. There was never any judgment. She was always trying to save people, trying to help people.”
On the Friday before Thanksgiving, Dolores said farewell to a career spent helping people get the housing services they needed to move forward with their lives. Her time now will be spent with her husband, Edward, a retired glass artist, and her family. She has two children, John and Kara, who live in Bourne, and he has two children, James and Mary Ann.
Dolores first started with HAC in February 1989, processing Chapter 707 certificates with Michael Sweeney, before becoming an assistant to Allison Alewine. Her role at HAC quickly expanded; over the years, she was the family shelter director, helping the agency start the Village at Cataumet in Bourne. She retired as director of the agency’s Project Prevention program which provides emergency funding for those at risk of homelessness due to illness, loss of job or family crisis.
“If the agency was an arrow, she would represent the very tip of it,” said HAC CEO Rick Presbrey. “She is the one that penetrated the target and was able to provide counsel and assistance to even the most difficult clients to get them into housing.”
Having a job where she could affect real change was the most rewarding aspect of her time at HAC. “I’ve been so lucky to have a job where I can help people and get paid for doing it because I like helping people progress in life,” Dolores said.