Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Cape Cod 5 Gives Shelter a Makeover

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 02, 2018 @ 10:34 AM
CC5 Cataumet-4Cape Cod Five’s Joe Beasley (from left), HAC’s Maintenance Supervisor Keith Trott, Cape Cod Five’s Elaine Sweeney, and Paula Mallard, the facility director for the Village at Cataumet.

Over the course of one day at the beginning of last month, roughly 40 interns from Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank came together to give HAC’s Village at Cataumet a much needed facelift.

The group painted the exterior of the 18-unit family shelter from white to gray. Combined with new black doors and shutters, installed by HAC’s maintenance department and several contractors, the makeover provided the Bourne shelter with an entirely new appearance.

“This hasn’t been touched in 25 years,” said HAC’s Maintenance Supervisor Keith Trott of the shelter. “This is going to be quite a transformation.”

He made the statement on the morning the interns were about to begin their work. Before they did, he thanked them for their contributions to HAC. “This is probably a $40,000 paint job we’re going to try to knock out with all your help,” he said. “It goes a long way and lets us have funds to do other things with.”

CC5 Cataumet-3Approximately 40 Cape Cod Five interns spent a day painting the Village at Cataumet family shelter in Bourne.

Intern Alyssa Birchfield, a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “it’s nice to be doing something for the community.”

Former intern Joe Beasley, who now works at the bank as a talent management administrative coordinator, said these types of community service projects are a key component of his company’s culture. “Cape Cod 5 really prides itself on giving back to the community and helping out those in need,” he said.

Tags: Village at Cataumet, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Cape Cod 5, Philanthropy, Community Service, giving back, Keith Trott, Family Shelter

Animals Offer Delight at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 01:07 PM
Cataumet Animals-1A child at the Village at Cataumet pets Zima the cockatoo, one of several animals to visit the Bourne shelter. 

His name – Harold – was friendly enough. But his appearance, now that was an entirely different matter.

“That is far enough,” Paula Mallard, the facility director at the Village at Cataumet shelter, laughed as Rick Roth, owner of Creature Teachers in Littleton, pulled out Harold the tarantula from a box and held it in his hand.

At the end of July, Roth and his animal sidekicks – they included Zima the cockatoo, Mr. Prickles the hedgehog, Walter the American alligator, and Gertrude the possum – paid a visit to the family shelter, providing some entertainment and education to more than a half dozen families, including eight children.

Cataumet Animals-2Mr. Prickles, a hedgehog, gets some attention during his visit to the Village at Cataumet. 

Paula, a client at the shelter, was surprised to see that her granddaughter, who has sensory issues, was “actually touching all the animals. Now I want to take her to a petting zoo,” she said.

The animal encounter was paid for by Bourne For Children which offers parenting workshops and play and learn groups in the community. “Kids are fascinated by this,” said HAC volunteer Maura Dankert, who is the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Coordinator for Bourne For Children.

Roth, who does similar presentations at the Jonathan Bourne Public Library, agreed. “It gives kids the opportunity to see and touch some of the animals,” he said. “A lot of them are really interested in the animals.”

Cataumet Animals-3Paula Mallard (from left), facility director at the Village at Cataumet, HAC volunteer Maura Dankert, and Rick Roth, owner of Creature Teachers, with Zima the cockatoo. 

Tags: The Village at Cataumet, Village at Cataumet, animals, Paula Mallard, Maura Dankert, HAC Volunteers, Bourne, Rick Roth, Creature Teachers

Nutrition Workshop Brought to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 03:45 PM
Cataumet Nutrition Photo-1.jpgCooking Matters' Catherine Cleary (middle) with Margaret Peters (left), administrative support at The Village at Cataumet, and facility director Paula Mallard. 

At HAC’s family shelters, the goal is to not only house clients, but to give them the tools to care for themselves and their children. Nutrition is a key part of this equation and recently HAC welcomed Catherine Cleary, program manager for Cooking Matters, to The Village at Cataumet to provide a handful of parents with the skills necessary to ensure their children are fed healthy meals at home.

“It’s not about teaching people,” Cleary said about the aim of the initiative, which she has brought to food pantries, public libraries, Head Start programs, and family shelters throughout Massachusetts. “It’s about building confidence in caregivers of young children.”

For a little more than an hour, Cleary engaged mothers in a conversation about everything from shopping for nutritious foods to cooking those foods for their families, all while on a budget. She stressed that parents are the best judge of what choices to make. “You all know what is best for you and your family,” she said.

She began with simple advice – always make a list, for example - that can help clients with budgeting and keeping them better organized while shopping.

During her visit, Cleary touched upon several key areas that included how to choose produce, how to choose whole grain foods and why it matters, how to read the nutrition labels on the food packages, and why the unit price on food is important.

Shelter clients were interested in strategies for getting children to eat healthier. Cleary suggested cooking two types of vegetables, such as peas and carrots, and having the children decide what they want to eat.

In her house, Cleary said she will always have low-salt peanut butter, jelly, and whole wheat bread to make sandwiches for her children. “At least you have a couple of food sources there,” she said, which can then be combined with fruits and vegetables. “That’s more balanced than oodles of noodles.”

These were just a few of the tips Cleary had for clients to empower them to make healthier decisions when cooking affordable meals for their children. The session represented a first for the shelter and was something that its facility director, Paula Mallard, said provided practical skills to clients which they can begin applying immediately and continue to use once they transition into permanent housing.

Tags: Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Family Shelter, nutrition, Cooking Matters, Margaret Peters, education

Westwood Troop Donates Bikes to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 04:20 PM
Cataumet Bicycles-1.jpgWestwood Girl Scouts Tessa Scolaro (from left), Maggie Fahey, Jade Landolphi, and Laurel Barnett with HAC’s Paula Mallard. 

Bicycling is one of the simplest and most effective modes of transportation and thanks to the generosity of Girl Scout Troop 75006 of Westwood, clients at The Village at Cataumet now have the ability to use them both for fun and for more practical means.

The scouts – Laurel Barnett, 13, Maggie Fahey, 14, Jade Landolphi, 14, and Tessa Scolaro, 13 - donated a total of 14 bicycles, nine helmets and two bike pumps to the shelter in May. The donations were a mix of children’s and adult bikes; all but one was used and had been checked over by staff at Landry’s Bikes in Norwood or Common Wheels in Allston.

As part of the donation, Arthur Diangelis of Art’s Bike Shop in North Falmouth, has agreed to provide any reasonable repairs over the next two years. And the troop will pay for any smaller replacement parts, including tire tubes or brake pads, that may be needed for those repairs.

As to why the group chose The Village at Cataumet, Troop Leader Amy Barnett said, that they either vacation in this part of Cape Cod or have homes here.

Her daughter said they decided the shelter would be a good fit because the clients lack the means to get to places. “We felt it was important to have bikes for transportation for adults,” Laurel said.

Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet, said as part of the project the children had an opportunity to learn about the shelter and the people it serves. During those discussions, Mallard told them that many clients have no real way to get around which led to the bike donation. Any client can use the bicycles which will remain the property of the shelter.

Amy Barnett said the project was a rewarding one for the scouts. “I hope they learned that even though they are young, if you have a good idea, you have the ability to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Tags: Village at Cataumet, donations, charitable giving, Family Shelter, Paula Mallard

From Intern to Case Manager

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 10:16 AM

JMunson-2.jpg

Starting over can be difficult, something HAC’s Julie Munson knows all too well. In recent years, she experienced that when she said farewell to a 25-year career in the military to pursue an entirely new path in social services.

That may be why she is so well suited to her new position as a case manager at The Village at Cataumet which allows her to assist HAC clients in a similar situation. At that HAC shelter, clients are trying to rebuild their lives, starting anew, as they look to find employment, permanent housing and stability. “I help clients get back on their feet,” Munson said. “I teach them how to become independent.”

Sometimes progress is slow which Munson herself dealt with when she first started working at HAC in May 2012, as an intern at The Village at Cataumet at the age of 41.

Prior to that, she had spent her entire adult life serving in the Air Force. She was most recently stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base where she attained the rank of Senior Master Sergeant and was employed as a personnel readiness manager. While in the military, Munson said she enjoyed “helping people. In my last position I did deployments so I briefed family members of people going to Afghanistan and Iran and I prepared them for what might happen.”

It is not unlike her current position in which she is working with shelter clients. “Here, I am doing the same thing: I’m giving people the resources they need to succeed,” she said.

Munson balanced her internship at The Village at Cataumet with courses at Cape Cod Community College where she eventually obtained an associate’s degree in human services.

As an intern, Munson served as the shelter’s activities director, bringing children who live at the shelter to the park, playground, museums, the library and even mini-golfing. At the end of her internship, she was able to continue at HAC, working per diem at not only Cataumet, but Carriage House and NOAH.

Paula Mallard, facility director at Cataumet, said that Munson “has a lot of compassion for the clients,” calling her an asset to the shelter.

In May, Munson’s relationship with HAC grew when she was promoted to case manager, filling the vacancy left when Yvonne Rivers was named the facility director at Carriage House. Just a few days later, Munson was receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work from Bridgewater State College. “It was overwhelming,” she said. “All in one week my life changed and it was all positive.”

Her story serves as an example to shelter clients that progress does not always happen overnight. It takes time and requires hard work and patience, along with the support of staff like Munson whose recent experiences have given her an understanding of how to handle significant transitions in life.

Tags: Village at Cataumet, Julie Munson, homelessness, Family Shelter

Village at Cataumet Gives Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 @ 11:01 AM
DSC_9511-1.jpgRyan Callahan and his fiancee Ashley O'Connor used the gift-giving program as a way to teach their children about the importance of helping others in need.

"You matter." That was the message case manager Laura Kiernan gave 17 families living at The Village at Cataumet one week prior to Thanksgiving. 

She did so as those families, many of whom have little to their name, started placing gifts into shoebox-sized packages that will go to children in countries all around the world. Called Operation Christmas Child, the program is run through Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational evangelical Christian International Relief organization, and its aim is to provide gifts to the poorest of the poor throughout the world.

The idea to participate in the program was inspired by John Ely, pastor of the Falmouth Baptist Church, who also serves as a security officer at The Village at Cataumet one night a week. Ely and his parishioners have taken part in Operation Christmas Child for nearly two dozen years. He suggested to Kiernan it might be a good fit for those at the shelter.

About a month prior, Kiernan brought the concept to those living at The Village at Cataumet who embraced the idea of helping others. “I discovered how important it was to these families to give back,” Kiernan said.

So on a late-autumn night in November, mothers and fathers gathered their children in a modest-sized community room in a Bourne shelter and showed a little love for complete strangers. It was an example of compassion - the needy giving to the needy.

At some point this month, those at the shelter will receive similar gifts from the hearts of complete strangers. Kiernan told them that this was their way of “passing it on… I really like the Desmond Tutu quote, ‘Do your little bit of good where you are.’ Your little bit of good is overwhelming the world.”

DSC_9513.jpgJust one of the boxes that The Village at Cataumet sent to needy famiies throughout the world.

Ryan Callahan and his fiancée Ashley O’Connor used the project to teach their children Faith, 9; Ruby, 4; and Rhys, 1, about the importance of charity. “It feels good to help others,” Ryan said.

The family has been at the shelter for the past five months, arriving after Ryan lost his job and they were evicted from their home. Living in shelter, he admitted is difficult, particularly because of the cramped quarters. “Right now we live on top of each other,” he said.

He hoped to move into a three-bedroom house before Christmas, acknowledging that “it will mean the world” to have a place to call their own.

Across the room Meliscia Collins packed three boxes of gifts – Ninja Turtle puzzles, crayons and small cars - she bought from Stop & Shop, Ocean State Job Lot and Dollar Tree with her children Abraham, 4, and James, 3. “I believe in giving back,” said Meliscia, who has been at the shelter for about a week.

“I had fallen on hard times,” she said as to what brought her there.

Like those around her, Collins is looking forward to getting out of shelter and into permanent housing. “I just want to create a better environment for my children,” she said.

As she works towards that personal goal, Collins did not allow her personal difficulties prevent her from providing a little holiday joy to those who may be worse off than her.

“You should be proud of yourselves,” Kiernan told Collins and her neighbors at The Village at Cataumet. “You matter. You really do.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

 

Tags: Village at Cataumet

Village at Cataumet Volunteers Exemplify Dedication

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 08:50 AM
DSC 7118 resized 600Falmouth's Betty Bailey (from left), Robert McIntire, Nancy Ledger and Tanya White at a meal they prepared and served at The Village at Cataumet in December.

Webster’s Dictionary may have its own definition of dedication, but at HAC it’s exemplified in volunteers like Dr. Robert McIntire of Falmouth.

Over the past decade, Dr. McIntire and several other members of the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Falmouth, have devoted one night every month to cooking meals for clients at The Village at Cataumet.

“It is nice to reach out and be able to meet these folks and hopefully bring a smile to their face,” said Nancy Ledger of Falmouth. “It means a lot to us and hopefully it means a lot to them.”

In December, Ledger joined Dr. McIntire, Tanya White and Betty Bailey, all of Falmouth, in making a meal of chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn and apple crisp for shelter clients. Because it was the week before Christmas, the group also gave each client a small gift package that included candies and a Walmart gift card.

As Dr. McIntire handed out the packages, one client responded, “This is wonderful. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”

DSC 7124 resized 600

Having a chance to meet and interact with those staying at the shelter, Dr. McIntire said, has been the most rewarding aspect of his time spent volunteering at HAC. While all are grateful for the help they are given, he said, “It is pretty tough for small families having to live in a small hotel room, especially when you have two adults and two children. It’s not a holiday.”

“It is difficult,” said Brianne Gonzalez, who has been at the shelter with one of her two children since the middle of October. “I would probably say living so close to other people is the most difficult thing. And having to share things; you normally would have your own kitchen.”

“I’d rather have my own place,” said Richelle Green, a client who lives with her boyfriend Perikles (Perry) Karakostas. The two will be having a baby boy, due in April.

As the couple enjoyed the December meal cooked by relative strangers, Perry praised the group’s generosity. “They are saints,” he said. “It is so good to see nice people with everything that is going on in the world.”

This meal represented one of the few gifts he would receive this season. “Being in the situation we are in, it is hard to focus on the holidays,” he admitted.

It is why, Ledger said, the best part of their volunteer work is when the shelter’s clients are finally able to have a place to call home. “It is always sad to see young families who are homeless. It is tragic, especially at this time of year,” she said. “That is why you are so happy when you come here and they are gone because they have gone on to their own place.”

Tags: volunteers, Robert McIntire, nancy ledger, HAC, Village at Cataumet, volunteering, shelter

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

Making Science Come Alive at Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 @ 02:39 PM
DSC 4223 resized 600  Is it safe? Noah cautiously touches a live horseshoe crab held by science instructor Kim Torres.

Officially summer did not start until June 21, but three days beforehand a group of more than a dozen parents and their children got a jump start on the hectic tourist season inside the confines of the community room at HAC’s family shelter the Village at Cataumet.

Though there was no sand or ocean water, the setting had all the signs of what summer means to many here on Cape Cod: the beach.

That was all due to a few unusual visitors – a horseshoe crab and several hermit crabs – that made their way into the HAC shelter thanks to a grant the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care awarded to the Bourne Early Childhood Council.

That money paid for a hands-on educational session led by Kim Torres, owner of the Chatham-based company Elements, Etc., which allowed children of all ages to get close and personal with a few lively sea creatures along with some much softer stuffed ones as well.

The most entertaining part of the hour and a half long workshop were the actual animals that Torres brought with her straight from Pleasant Bay.

The horseshoe crab was first as Torres gave some key facts about it before placing it on a small blue tarp in the center of the room where it maneuvered around the small feet of children standing over it.

“See the long tail?” she asked.

“Yeah!” the kids screamed.

“Everyone thinks there is poison in it, but there is not,” she said, explaining that the tail is used by the horseshoe crab as a swimming mechanism.

DSC 4218 resized 600

“This is the way to hold him,” she said, with her hands on the side of the animal.

Though horseshoe crabs look “scary,” Torres said, “they are very gentle.”

And they are important to humans, currently being used as part of cancer research. “We are close to finding a cure for cancer because of their blood,” Torres said.

Torres also showcased much smaller hermit crabs which Paula Mallard, director of the Village at Cataumet, shied away from. “Those are creepy,” Mallard laughed. “I can touch the other one, but those are just creepy.”

Even some children – like Krista Hansen’s one-year-old son Noah - were initially reluctant to get too close to the animals. Eventually, Noah summoned up the courage to touch the horseshoe crab’s shell.

“That little one, he was scared during the first part of the show,” Torres said later. “It is nice to see them overcome that fear and get excited and actually learn more about science.”

Hansen, whose four-year-old son Matthew also took part in the educational workshop, was thrilled to see her kids interacting with real creatures found on Cape beaches. “I love this,” she said. “It is cool to see my kids having fun.”

At one point she even got in the act, touching the horseshoe crab after which she joked, “I want one as a pet now.”

Along with the live animals Torres had a variety of dried and stuffed animals on display including a sea star, sponges and a plush horseshoe crab. And she gave children the opportunity to color a picture of a seahorse as well as a shark.

“I think this is great,” Mallard said. “The kids are having fun and it is educational.”

The fact that children enjoyed the experience was a reward for Torres who hoped this may inspire them to explore their natural surroundings. “Most kids don’t know this is out there and that these are animals they are living with,” she said, adding that through classes like this, “they can appreciate nature and start to notice the stuff around them.”

DSC 4229 resized 600

Tags: HAC, science, Paula Mallard, Kim Torres, Village at Cataumet, education