Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Shelter Telethon Embodies the Holiday Spirit

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 01:38 PM

HACbeat Email Photo.jpg

There’s a moment every year when Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Matt Pitta truly gets into the spirit of the holiday season. It always happens at the same event – HAC’s annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon – which Pitta co-hosts with WCAI’s Mindy Todd.

“The vibe and the atmosphere in the studio all night is kind of electrifying,” he said. “That’s when I get into the holiday spirit – when I see people giving back to the community. That is the true spirit of the holidays right there.”

This year’s telethon, now in its 14th year, will take place on Thursday, December 14, from 5-9 pm. The show is broadcast live from Cape Cod Community Media Center and airs on local cable access channels throughout the Cape.

The telethon will feature HAC staff, elected officials, and community leaders working to help those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands, placing a spotlight on the region’s housing and homelessness issues.

Funds raised from the telethon go to support HAC’s programs, including homeless outreach as well as its four family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis, the Village at Cataumet in Bourne, Carriage House in North Falmouth, and Scattered Sites in Hyannis.

“I do think every year that it gives a special meaning to Christmas,” said HAC volunteer Wayne Bergeron of Dennis who assists with the event.

Pitta said the telethon serves as an opportunity for people “to make a difference in the community. And that’s really what the holidays are all about.”

Support the Telethon

Sponsor the Telethon, an event that epitomizes the true meaning of the holiday season! Contact HAC Event Coordinator Deanna Bussiere at dbussiere@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 270.

HAC relies on volunteer phone fundraisers at the Telethon to raise funds to ensure we can continue to support the region’s most vulnerable residents. You can register by clicking this link. If you have questions, please contact HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279 to sign up.

You can also donate to the Telethon by clicking this link

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, NOAH Telethon, Mindy Todd, Fundraising, Matt Pitta, Christmas, Wayne Bergeron, holiday giving

Shelter Telethon Puts Face to Cape's Housing Issues

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 @ 04:24 PM

Telethon Thank You Email.jpg

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.”

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Tags: housing, Homeless on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Mindy Todd, Fundraising, Rick Presbrey, Matt Pitta

Shelter Telethon Addresses Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 @ 10:00 AM
Matt Pitta and Lin Rohr-1.jpgTelethon host Matt Pitta from Cape Cod Broadcasting Media interviews Lin Rohr, the director of HAC's Angel House shelter. Pitta will be returning, along with WCAI's Mindy Todd, to serve as hosts of this year's telethon. 

For the 13th straight year, HAC will be holding its Shelter Cape Cod Telethon during the season of giving. The telethon, which takes place on Thursday, December 8, from 5 to 9 pm, at the Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennis Port, helps place a spotlight on the region’s housing and homelessness issues. It also raises funds to support HAC’s homelessness programs which include its three family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis; Carriage House in North Falmouth; and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne – as well as its scattered site units, homelessness prevention for individuals and families and its outreach services for the homeless living in the streets and woods of Cape Cod.

Laura Reckford, HAC’s director of community relations and fundraising, said the lineup will be similar to last year’s, featuring HAC staff, board members and volunteers as well as public officials and representatives from a variety of businesses and organizations that are working to address homelessness and improve housing on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Those interested in sponsoring the telethon should contact Deanna Bussiere, HAC’s event and resource development coordinator, at dbussiere@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 270.

HAC also relies on volunteers to serve as phone fundraisers to ensure the agency can continue to address the region’s homeless issues. The event is ideal for businesses or groups, serving as a way for them to give back to the community in a meaningful way during the holiday season. To sign up, click the Santa icon below. 

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Tags: homelessness, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Fundraising, Matt Pitta, volunteerism, Laura Reckford

Community Leaders Gather at HAC's Shelter Telethon

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jan 07, 2016 @ 12:42 PM
Today_Real_Estate.jpgThe team from Today Real Estate were adorned in festive outfits at last month's telethon. 

The twelfth time was a charm for the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, bringing in a record $100,000 in donations and pledges that will go to support HAC’s shelter programs.

While the total raised was significant, HAC CEO Rick Presbrey noted at the end of the four-hour long telethon, “It’s not about the money. It’s what we can do to improve the services for the families and individuals who are homeless.”

Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Matt Pitta who hosted the last two hours of the telethon – WCAI’s Mindy Todd hosted the first two – called the event “a very important night, one of the most important each year for Housing Assistance Corporation as we get together with the community, from one end of Cape Cod to the other, Provincetown to Bourne, and all spots in between.”

Though the focus of the telethon is fundraising, it also places a spotlight on the homelessness and housing issues facing the region, mixed in with lighter fare that included musical performances from elementary school students at the St. Pius X Catholic School, Sarah Swain of Harwich and a live, acoustic rendition of “Away in a Manger” by NOAH Shelter director Greg Bar.

There were five eighth graders from Cape Cod Academy who spoke about their portrait project in which they interviewed people at HAC’s NOAH Shelter as well as at CHAMP Homes and Homeless Not Hopeless, helping put a face to Cape Cod’s homeless. “What I learned is that these are real people with real stories they want to share with the community,” said eighth grader Maeve Lonergan about the project.

On-air guests included Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet; Jay Coburn, executive director of the Community Development Partnership in Eastham; and Paula Schnepp, the coordinator for the Regional Network on Homelessness.

All spoke about the housing challenges facing Cape Cod, starting with Rick Presbrey who pointed out in the first minutes of the telethon that “there’s a big gap between what people earn on Cape Cod and what housing costs.”

For individuals, he said, the housing challenges can be even more cumbersome when someone becomes homeless.

Mindy_Todd_and_Billy_Bishop.jpgWCAI's Mindy Todd talks with Billy Bishop, founder of Homeless Not Hopeless, about the homeless issue on Cape Cod. 

Homelessness is an issue that affects those of all ages. Gina Hurley, director of student services for Barnstable Public Schools, said there are 140 students in her district that are homeless. “How does it affect their learning?” she asked.

Anne Van Vleck, executive director of CCYP, spoke about the importance of having affordable housing for young professionals. “Housing is an issue for all of the Cape,” she said. “And the homelessness issue which you are doing such important work here tonight is really something that needs people’s attention and focus.”

To provide some perspective of its impact on Cape Cod, Dr. Nate Rudman, an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital, said that 91,000 ER hours were dedicated to those who are homeless in 2015, equaling roughly 10 beds per day. And for those suffering from an illness or disease, he said, homelessness can exacerbate the problem. “Imagine having pneumonia and not having a home to go to,” he said.

Billy Bishop, former president of Homeless Not Hopeless, has a firsthand knowledge of how difficult homelessness can be. He spent more than a decade living on the streets. “There are nights you can’t stay outside. You will die,” he said. He credited HAC’s NOAH Shelter for keeping him safe. “They saved my life,” he said, repeatedly.

The solution to many of the problems related to homelessness, said Gosnold CEO Raymond Tamasi is collaboration among the region’s social services agencies. “The networking of those services has the potential to lift people out of homelessness and, more than that, hopelessness,” he said. 

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon

HAC's Telethon to Address Region's Homelessness Issues

Posted by HAC Staff on Thu, Dec 03, 2015 @ 12:08 PM
telethon01-1.jpgHannah Carrita sings as David Kuehn of Cotuit Center for the Arts accompanies her on piano during last year’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon. 

Join us for one of our most festive events of the year – the 12th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon – that embodies the spirit of the season.

Set for Wednesday, December 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennis, this event will be co-hosted by WCAI’s Mindy Todd and Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Matt Pitta and will showcase holiday entertainment mixed in with nearly 40 guests discussing the housing issues facing Cape Cod.

On-air guests will include local politicians, business leaders and people in the field of human services, many of whom work on the front lines of the homelessness issue.

Tune in the night of the event to watch all or part of the show on cable access Channel 98 or online at www.CapeMedia.org.

Those unable to watch live can still support the telethon and HAC’s shelter program by clicking this link and making a tax-deductible donation.

Your generosity will allow us to continue providing temporary shelter for those most in need in our community so we can ultimately move them into safe, stable housing. 

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Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon

HAC's Shelter Cape Cod Telethon Returns for 12th Year

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 @ 10:28 AM


There are some who think that our world will always have poor people.

If that’s the case, NOAH Shelter director Greg Bar said it begs the question, “What will we do about it?”

HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, he said, “is a direct response to that [question],” funding the agency’s shelter program which is aimed at helping the homeless get the services they need to get back onto their feet and into safe, decent housing.

In addition to the NOAH Shelter, beneficiaries of the telethon include HAC’s Carriage House in North Falmouth, The Village at Cataumet in Bourne and Angel House in Hyannis.

Funds raised help provide the homeless a warm bed to sleep in at the NOAH Shelter, engages individuals and families with housing, employment or health specialists and ultimately “helps them pick up the pieces to move ahead in their lives,” Bar said.

Paula Mallard, director of the Village at Cataumet, said the telethon “highlights the needs of the most vulnerable Cape Codders.” And it gives the community a chance to help them at a time of year, the holidays, when it is needed most.

Filmed at the Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennis, the evening features live and pre-taped musical performances and interviews with HAC staff, volunteers and supporters as well as experts familiar with the region’s housing issues.

Terry Duenas, executive director of the media center, said the telethon, now in its 12th year, “is a great community event that brings together so many diverse folks from our community that are dedicated to the one cause of eliminating homelessness.”

“It helps us all be reawakened to the idea that there is a need all around us and there’s something we can do to help alleviate the need,” Bar added.

This year’s telethon will take place on Wednesday, December 9 from 5-9 pm and can be viewed on local cable access channel 98 or streamed live on the web at www.CapeMedia.org. Learn more about the telethon by clicking this link

Help Eliminate Homelessness on Cape Cod

Volunteer as a telethon phone fundraiser by contacting Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at 508-771-5400 ext. 279 or volunteer@HAConCapeCod.org.

Want to become a telethon sponsor? Contact Deanna Bussiere at ext. 270 or dbussiere@HAConCapeCod.org.

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon

Longtime HAC Employee Honored for Her Work

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 10:52 AM
Deanna Bussiere resized 600Terry Duenas (left) with HAC’s Deanna Bussiere and her husband David at Cape Cod Community Media Center’s Annual Meeting.

Inside the relatively dark studio at the Cape Cod Community Media Center, the spotlight shone brightly on HAC’s own Deanna Bussiere at the end of June.

The media center is a familiar place for Bussiere, who helps organize HAC’s shelter telethon which is held there every December. And because of her work on the telethon, the media center honored Bussiere with the Barbara Bird Community Impact Award. The award is named after a longtime producer at the media center whose outside activities included volunteering at HAC’s NOAH Shelter in Hyannis.

“The recipient of this year’s award is a really special person,” Terry Duenas, executive director of the media center, said in recognizing Bussiere’s accomplishments.

While he acknowledged HAC’s team that helps to put on the telethon, Duenas singled out Bussiere at the media center’s annual meeting: “They have one person who is
absolutely a stand out because I think they give her the jobs that no one else will do and she gets them done.”

Duenas went even further in an e-mail to Bussiere, who first started working at HAC in 2001, letting her know she had been chosen for the award. “Your amazing behind the scenes work for years with the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon and many other outreach projects make you a great candidate for this award,” he wrote. “You are a consummate team player who wants no personal credit, but is always a supportive and dedicated member of the Housing Assistance Corporation staff.”

Along with the award, which hangs proudly in Bussiere’s office, she was given a bouquet of flowers from her coworkers. Elias Benaka, whose mother Margaret works in the same department as Bussiere, presented her with the gift.

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Cape Cod Community Media Center, HAC, Deanna Bussiere, Terry Duenas

11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon a Success

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 03:07 PM
DSC 1196 resized 600WCAI's Sean Corcoran sings "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with several students from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School.

During the first hour of the 11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, State Representative Timothy Madden made his way onto the festively decorated set at the Cape Cod Community Media Center and spoke with hosts Mindy Todd and Sarah Colvin about the homeless situation on Cape Cod.

“This is our community and people have to step up now and contribute,” he said. “We can’t continue to live in a place like Cape Cod and have people who are homeless.”

The sad reality is that there are homeless people on Cape Cod and the telethon raises funds that go directly to HAC’s four shelters which serve that vulnerable population. In December more than $90,000 was raised during the five-hour live event to help support the programs and services at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, Angel House in Hyannis, Carriage House in North Falmouth and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne.

That money ranged from small $10 and $15 donations from individuals to large ones like a $5,000 check from Heroes in Transition that the Mashpee nonprofit’s co-founders, Cynthia and Kenneth Jones, and one of its directors, Roberta Cannon, presented to HAC on air.

Each donation represented one small step towards giving HAC clients a better life through programs intended to not only provide them with the basic essentials – food and housing – but the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient. Paul Melville, a consultant who runs a parenting group for fathers living at The Village at Cataumet, spoke about his experience working with clients and the benefits his program has brought to them. “They talk about parenting tips and their successes and we talk about their hopes and dreams,” Melville said.

And while he has never been homeless, he said, he has lived in subsidized housing, allowing him a chance to relate to what the parents he works with at the shelter are going through. “I remember thinking [when I was in subsidized housing] this isn’t where or how I wanted to raise my children,” Melville said. “I get them to open up and to realize this isn’t long term.”

If anything, the telethon was an indication of the help, and hope, that the community provides to HAC’s clients. This year’s event saw over 75 sponsors, ranging from Comcast to Clancy’s Tavern in Dennis Port to Hyannis Toyota to Cape Associates in Yarmouth Port to Falmouth Lumber, as well as roughly 170 volunteers that called friends and family throughout the evening asking them to donate to the telethon.

DSC 0920 resized 600Volunteers from Shepley Wood Products were in the holiday spirit.

A team of phone volunteers from Shepley Wood Products was adorned in Santa hats while a group from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod wore pink construction hats.

Among those providing entertainment during the evening were several HAC staffers, including Alison Reid who sang a live rendition of the Jackson Five’s “Give Love on Christmas Day” as well as Greg and Karin Bar and Derick Bussiere who performed a pre-taped acoustic version of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”

WCAI’s Sean Corcoran, who served as a co-host during the evening, led several children from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in a sing-a-long of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while David Kuehn, executive director of the Cotuit Center for the Arts, was joined by actress Hannah Carrita in performing a Christmas-themed medley.

DSC 0770 resized 600State Representative Timothy Madden (right) talks about homelessness on Cape Cod with telethon co-hosts Mindy Todd (left) and Sarah Colvin.

Underlying the performances was the theme of action, one that several speakers touched upon throughout the night. “We’ve got to do better and we will do better,” Madden said. 

“Homelessness is a national disgrace,” said David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s executive board. “Everybody needs to solve this problem together.”

It is a problem that not only HAC is working to solve, but those in the community. Dr. Nate Rudman, an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital, noted that he sees homeless men and women spend anywhere from 140 to 170 hours in the ER because they have nowhere else to go.

“There are so many people in need,” Hyannis Fire Chief Harold Brunelle said. “I think so many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless and we already have a big homeless population on the Cape.”

Thank you so much to all our sponsors (click here for the full list) who helped make this telethon our best yet!

Even though the telethon is over, you can still help support HAC's shelter program. Click the button below to do so today!

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

Tags: Homeless, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Cape Cod, NOAH Shelter, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House, shelter

HAC's Shelter Cape Cod Telethon Aims to Fight Homelessness

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 04:14 PM
santa03 resized 600Santa Scott with an attendee from last year's telethon.

“I know what it’s like to be homeless.”

These words were spoken on camera at last year’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, not by an adult, but by a child.

It was one of the more poignant moments in the telethon’s 10-year history. “When the students read their essays I was really surprised how many kids had actually experienced homelessness,” said telethon host Mindy Todd of WCAI. “I found those essays really moving.”

Having lent her talents to the telethon for the past five years, Todd said she enjoys the festive event because it fills a vital need in the community. “I think it is important to spread the word for what is happening on Cape Cod. There are many folks who can’t afford to find a place to live and there are such a wide range of reasons that people find themselves on the streets,” she said. “It could be your neighbor. It could be your child, grandchild or grandfather.”

Regardless of how one ends up homeless, Todd stressed that, “everyone deserves to have a roof over their heads.”

And that is what the telethon, now in its 11th year, aims to do. The event is one of HAC’s major annual fundraisers for its four homeless shelters – the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis; Angel House in Hyannis; Carriage House in North Falmouth; and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne.

Money raised not only provides clients with the basic necessities – food and a safe place to sleep – but housing and employment services that help them gain the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient and live independently.

IMG 5816 resized 600Telethon co-host Matt Pitta talks with students from the Nathaniel H. Wixon School in Dennis.

Though the telethon deals with a serious subject matter, Terry Duenas, the executive director of the Cape Cod Community Media Center, said it is always an entertaining evening with a blend of live studio performances and pre-recorded ones featuring local choirs, bands and student ensembles singing holiday favorites. “I love the excitement of a live event,” Duenas said. “It creates a different environment that is always fun.”

His favorite memory from past telethons was when Siobhan Magnus was volunteering on the phones and someone called in and offered a sizable donation if she would sing the Irving Berlin classic “White Christmas.”

“She wasn’t scheduled to sing, but she said, ‘Sure,’” Duenas said. “It was just great.”

Ultimately, he said, the telethon is such a powerful event because the money raised goes to those most in need on Cape Cod. “It helps folks who are right here in the community,” he said.

The success of the telethon is tied to both the sponsors and those manning the phones. Andrew Young, the treasurer for HAC’s executive board of directors, has been a constant presence on the phone bank in recent years, calling friends, family members and co-workers in an effort to raise funds for HAC’s shelter program.

In making those calls, Young has found that people tend to “warm right up because they know someone who has volunteered at NOAH or Angel House or who has been there or might need to be there. And during this time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are a lot of folks understanding it is a good time to recognize thankfulness and the generosity of the human spirit.”

This year's telethon takes place on Wednesday, December 10 from 4-9 PM. Residents can watch the live production on local community access Channels 98 and 99 or via the web at www.CapeMedia.org.

To volunteer for the telethon or become a sponsor click this link

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Mindy Todd, NOAH Shelter, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House