Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Harwich Big Fix Helps Transform Lives

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 08, 2018 @ 04:18 PM
Cape Associates BFBarbara and Chris Mack join volunteers, which include staff from Cape Associates, who donated their time fixing up the Harwich couple's home. 

Outside Chris and Barbara Mack’s Harwich house, volunteers were busy painting the trim, landscaping the yard, and fixing gutters. Inside, a skilled crew from Cape Associates was installing a new bay window.

As the scene unfolded in front of them, Barbara acknowledged how much this work meant to her. “It is just so overwhelming,” she said. “It makes my heart so happy.”

Individually, the projects done at the Mack’s house, which they have owned since 1998, may have been relatively minor. But combined, they made a huge impact on the couple who repeatedly expressed their gratitude for the kindness of complete strangers.

This is the magic of the Big Fix which started in 2010 in Barnstable as a way to support seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod. Through the one-day event, volunteers help raise funds for HAC’s programs while conducting the types of small home repairs that can be financially or physically difficult for homeowners like the Macks to do themselves.

Harwich Big Fix-8Jeanne Roque of Cape Cod 5 hauls trash during the Harwich Big Fix. 

“When you go to the site take a mental note of what it looks like before and what it looks like after,” HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi said during the kick-off ceremony at Monomoy Regional High School. “You’re going to see how the power of a community coming together, like-minded people coming together, can transform a life and transform a house.”

This year, roughly 340 volunteers donated a few hours of their time to help 18 homeowners in Harwich at the end of September.

They included people like Ralph Perry, a US Army veteran, who has lived in his home for 32 years. He had nearly two dozen volunteers clearing brush, trimming trees, removing an old swing set, and hauling trash at his house.

“It means a lot. It means an awful lot,” he said. “I can’t believe how many people have come to help.”

Tags: Big Fix, Harwich Big Fix, Harwich, Cape Cod 5, Cape Associates, Alisa Galazzi, veterans, home repair, HAC Volunteers, volunteering, volunteerism, Volunteer Cape Cod

HAC Assists Falmouth Veteran

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Feb 17, 2018 @ 06:00 AM
John Martin-2.jpgHAC Event and Resource Development Coordinator Deanna Bussiere (from left) with Army veteran John Martin, Falmoth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy, and Heroes In Transition Executive Director Nicole Spencer. 

"Since September, all that you’ve done for me, it’s like I hit the jackpot, you know,” John Martin said on the last day of January when HAC, Heroes In Transition and Falmouth Toyota came together to give him a used Toyota Camry.

Last fall, HAC was introduced to Martin through the Falmouth Big Fix. An Army veteran, he was one of 18 recipients of the day of service which saw over 340 volunteers come out to make small home improvements for their neighbors in need.

It was through the event that Keith Trott, HAC’s maintenance supervisor, realized that Martin’s Toyota RAV4 was inoperable, and the cost to fix it was beyond his means. Because Martin suffers from respiratory issues and needs transportation to get to and from his medical appointments, Trott said, finding him a new car was the right thing to do.

Together with HAC, Heroes In Transition, which covers the cost of improvements for veterans’ homes during the Big Fix, agreed to fund the purchase of the used car.

Finding the car was left to Falmouth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy and his staff. While his company strives to be as charitable as it can, Murphy said, it truly appreciates moments like this when it can “drill that down to one individual and do something that’s hopefully special for someone on an individual basis. It’s not something we can do all the time, but when we do it’s really nice to see.”

Read more about last year's Falmouth Big Fix by clicking this link

Tags: Falmouth Big Fix, Big Fix, Deanna Bussiere, Heroes in Transition, Nicole Spencer, Falmouth Toyota, John Martin, veterans, Falmouth, Matt Murphy, Keith Trott

Falmouth Big Fix a Display of Community

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 11:51 AM
Big Fix-17-5.jpgClifford Long repairs a front step during the Big Fix in Falmouth last month. 

With one knee on the ground, Falmouth’s Clifford Long hammered a nail into a piece of wood, repairing the front steps leading into John Martin’s North Falmouth home.

“I think this is something we should do more of,” said Long, taking a short break as dozens of other volunteers around him removed brush from Mr. Martin’s yard. In the back a crew from Home Depot was staining Mr. Martin’s deck. “So many people, we could make their homes affordable if we all put a little love and attention into them.”

About 20 feet away, Mr. Martin sat in a wheelchair inside his home. An Army veteran who served two years in Korea, Mr. Martin marveled at the kindness of complete strangers like Clifford Long. “You know what this is like? You hear people talking about neighborhoods. If this isn’t a sign of a neighborhood, I don’t know what is.”

What Mr. Martin calls a neighborhood, others call community, and in the middle of last month, there was plenty of that on display during HAC’s 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth. A total of 340 volunteers – a record for the Big Fix – showed up to make small improvements to 18 homes owned by veterans, seniors and disabled residents in the Upper Cape community.

If that wasn’t enough, one small group dedicated their time to beautifying the Falmouth Senior Center.

Big Fix-17-6.jpgBig Fix recipient Tina Barr (left) with Rev. John Terry of the First Congregational Church in Sandwich and HAC's Meg Chaffee. Rev. Terry, an advocate for affordable housing, organized a group of volunteers, the "First Fixers", from the church. 

“This is really the meaning of community service and it’s what makes the Cape and Islands so special,” said Falmouth Selectman Megan English Braga during the kick-off to the Big Fix at the Lawrence School.

At the kick-off, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi took a moment to praise the work the volunteers were doing. “It really means a lot to be able to have this community support and to come out and help these [people],” she said. “This helps them stay in place.”

These were people like 91-year-old Jim Crossen who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. At his home, a small crew of volunteers repaired his garage door while his daughter Jamie spoke about what the Big Fix meant to her. “What I think is really great is that knowing my dad, he has given so much to the community and volunteering his time, and now it’s nice it comes full circle and people are doing the same for him,” she said.

“I never could do this myself,” West Falmouth’s Valerie Tillman said outside her home where volunteers were clearing brush, removing weeds, and mulching her flower beds.

It was a similar scene at Dorothy Sgarzi’s home in East Falmouth, where volunteer Dana Robert remarked, “It is amazing how much work you can do with so many hands” after crews had finished beautifying her yard.

While the calendar may have read September 16, Christine (Tina) Barr of East Falmouth said the Big Fix actually felt like a holiday. “It was like Christmas morning,” she said. “This was much more than I could have ever imagined.”

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Tags: Falmouth Big Fix, Big Fix, Falmouth, veterans, Philanthropy, HAC Volunteers, volunteerism