Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Cotuit Church Gives Back to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 11, 2017 @ 12:08 PM
Cataumet Easter-18.jpgMary Kjendal (from left), Mircea Dumitrescu and Lindsay Clough were a few of the parishioners from St. Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cotuit who organized an Easter-themed party for children at The Village at Cataumet last month. 

To someone living in shelter, a few moments of normalcy can be a gift. And once a month at the Village at Cataumet, a group of parishioners from St. Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cotuit, share that gift to children living in the Bourne shelter.

It comes in the form of a few hours of play.

Last month, the itinerary looked like this: decorating Easter-themed cookies followed by a visit from the Easter bunny followed by an Easter egg hunt outside. If it sounds like fun, that’s because it was.

“They do such a great job and organize such fun activities,” said Paula Mallard, facility director at the Village at Cataumet. “It is fun for the families and a nice change of pace for them.”

Over the past year, the church has been scheduling monthly activities at the shelter which are geared towards children. Last summer, they organized a cookout for the clients. And in February, each child decorated a picture frame with their picture in it which was given to their parents.

“I like interacting with the kids,” said nine-year-old Mary Kjendal from St. Michael. “It is really fun making them happy.”

As he hid Easter eggs outside, Sturgis Charter Public School sophomore Mircea Dumitrescu said he enjoys the church’s monthly visits to the Village at Cataumet because they give him an opportunity to help others.

His mother, Soraya Bandeli, said the monthly outings teach the children a key life lesson – don’t judge others.

Perhaps most importantly, she said, it allows the church to offer a brief respite for what is often a chaotic time for those in shelter. “It’s a nice atmosphere where it is just pure joy for the kids,” she said. 

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Tags: Family Shelter, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Philanthropy, St. Michael Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church

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.

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

The Village at Cataumet Gains a Garden

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 09, 2016 @ 12:47 PM
retouched_boy.jpgA young boy from The Village at Cataumet tends to the garden as staff, volunteers and clients fill the garden beds with compost and loam. 

You don’t [usually] see people who work at a place put so much care and attention into it. I think it is amazing.” That statement was made at the end of June by Jeff, a father staying at The Village at Cataumet, as he joined several staff members, clients and volunteers from Valley Farm Community Garden filling three newly installed garden beds in the rear of the shelter with a mix of compost and loam before planting an array of vegetables that included tomatoes, peas, spinach, kale, eggplant, squash, beets, cucumbers and herbs.

A little more than two months later, the garden is flourishing. Jeff has continued his involvement, watering the beds every day. And case manager Laura Kiernan is set to teach clients at The Village at Cataumet how to make a dish using eggplant.

“It is going great,” said Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet. “It’s great that we have some fresh vegetables and fresh food for the clients.”

The garden is the latest of several improvements that have been made at the shelter in recent months; a new floor and refrigerator were installed in the kitchen earlier this year.

This project was spearheaded by members of the Valley Farm Community Garden, including Diane Speers, Carolee Packard, Joe Pacheco and Mike Ryan. As they worked to fill the beds, each measuring 36 square feet, with loam, Mallard spoke about the benefits it will provide for clients. “Gardening can be very therapeutic,” she said. “This can be a way people can relax and garden.”

Cataumet_Garden-8.jpgDiane Speers (from left), a volunteer from Valley Farm Community Garden, Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet, and Jeff, a client at the shelter, fill the beds with loam and compost at the end of June. 

Among those who have taken to gardening is Jeff, serving as a perfect fit for one who has a landscaping and construction background. “I love helping out and I love keeping busy,” he said, as he helped set up the beds at the beginning of summer.

By then, he had only been at the shelter with his teenage daughter a little more than a week. “We lived with my mother and she ended up in a nursing home,” he explained, as to how he ended up homeless for the first time in his life at the beginning of June. For a short time, he and his daughter stayed in a tent in a friend’s backyard before he sought assistance from HAC.

The situation, he said, has been particularly difficult on his daughter. “I’m taking it one day at a time,” he said, as he looks to get back on his feet and out of shelter.

As they shoveled loam into wheelbarrows, both Pacheco and Ryan said they were grateful to do something to help those like Jeff out. “We’re giving something these people can use to help themselves,” Ryan said.

Packard expanded upon the benefits of the garden while volunteers and clients planted this summer’s vegetables. “When somebody is gardening, they are in touch with nature,” she said. “It also gives them mindfulness, peacefulness and the satisfaction that they have accomplished something.”

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Tags: homelessness, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, volunteerism, gardening, Valley Farm Community Garden, Laura Kiernan

Dentist Gives HAC Something to Smile About

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 @ 03:11 PM
DSC 0538 resized 600Dental hygienist Emma Lawson inside the family room at The Village at Cataumet.

Living in a homeless shelter can be overwhelming, often forcing one to overlook the minor and major aspects of life while concentrating on the necessity of finding permanent housing.

This is why dental hygienist Emma Lawson of Scituate, has made it a priority to bring her expertise to shelters like The Village at Cataumet so clients do not neglect something as important as the health of their teeth. “They have so much on their plate right now they are trying to deal with,” Lawson said in March, when she made her third trip to the shelter since last fall “They are looking for jobs and trying to make ends meet. By bringing this service to them, they won’t have to take time off of work to go to the dentist.”

Lawson, who has over 25 years of experience working in private practice, expanded her base of knowledge about a year and a half ago when she became a public health dental hygienist.

It was at that same time she started her own company, Visiting Dental Hygiene Associates, allowing her the freedom to ply her trade two days a week at off-site locations which range from senior centers to homeless shelters that include Carolina Hill in Marshfield, Pilgrims Hope in Kingston as well as HAC’s Carriage House in North Falmouth, and The Village at Cataumet.

Because it is a mobile operation, Lawson has to bring her own portable dental chair, compressor and the various tools of her craft – picks, mirrors and eye magnifiers – that allow her to provide shelter clients with a dental cleaning that includes fluoride treatment, an oral cancer exam and periodontal screening.

In March, she was scheduled to meet with seven HAC clients, starting with Ashley Lewis who admittedly, “has not had very good experience with dentists” in the past.

Still, she expressed gratitude that Lawson was there.“This is awesome of her to do this,” Lewis said.

Lawson views her role not only as a hygienist, but as an educator. For example, with patients who may be pregnant, she said, “they may be unaware of the relationship between having gum disease causing preterm labor.”

She works with parents, showing them how to brush and care for their children’s teeth, providing them helpful tips like this: “children up to the age of four should not be given regular toothpaste,” she said, explaining that it can lead to permanent discoloration on their adult teeth.

While Lawson receives payment through each client’s dental insurance, there have been times when some have not had any medical coverage. Lawson has treated them anyway, understanding that this type of service is vital to their health.

“It is a lot of work, but I find it very rewarding,” she said. “The patients I see are so appreciative of the service I have given them. I walk away feeling like I have made a difference. It is a rewarding feeling at the end of the day.”

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Tags: Emma Lawson, HAC, The Village at Cataumet, homeless shelters, dentist