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

Rockland Trust Gives Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 05:25 PM
Rockland-4Rockland Trust Falmouth Branch Supervisor Anna Bowen (left) and Falmouth Branch Manager Becky Harris lending a hand at HAC’s Carriage House shelter. 

During the last week of June, seven Rockland Trust employees opted to leave the confines of their respective offices and enjoy a sunny summer day outside.

They did so to give back to HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth. Over the course of several hours they cleared brush, raked and removed piles of wood in an effort to help beautify the shelter’s grounds.

“It looks like a different place,” said Mindy Caron, the program director at Carriage House. “I honestly felt overwhelmed by their generosity.”

Nanette Davidson, vice president of business banking for Rockland Trust, said that generosity is inherent in the bank’s work. “We are committed to our community and we want to make a difference,” she said.

Throughout the year, Rockland Trust offers its employees multiple opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in their community.

Several branch managers including three from Falmouth – Anne Marie Dillon of East Falmouth, Becky Harris of Falmouth, and Kristen Cassell of North Falmouth – took part in last month’s effort.

The day had extra meaning for Cassell, whose branch is down the street from Carriage House.

“Hopefully, this gives them a little joy,” Cassell said of the mothers staying at the shelter. “We want to give them a nice place to stay, and for us, this is only one day out of our lives and we’re happy to do it.”

Volunteer at HAC

Are you interested in volunteering at Housing Assistance Corporation? Email our Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org for info on volunteer opportunities that allow you to make an impact in our community. 

Tags: Carriage House, volunteering, HAC Volunteers, volunteer, Mindy Caron, Rockland Trust, giving back

HAC Seeks Recipients for Falmouth Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 @ 10:58 AM
Brewster_Big_Fix-18.jpgAmong the groups that regularly participate in the Big Fix is AmeriCorps Cape Cod. The organization helped HAC create the Big Fix in 2010 when it was held in Barnstable. Now in its eighth year, the day of service will be going to every town on Cape Cod. 

Last fall, 278 people volunteered their time to participate in HAC’s Big Fix in Brewster. It was a record turnout for the annual event in which volunteers spend a few hours making small home improvements for veterans, seniors and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod.

On Saturday, September 16, the Big Fix will be coming to Falmouth. What can we expect this year? More of the same, according to HAC’s Director of Community Relations and Fundraising Laura Reckford. “We’re hoping for more in Falmouth,” she said. “As a Falmouth resident myself, I am really excited that for the eighth year of the Big Fix, it is in Falmouth. The town, through the Board of Selectmen, has already been very supportive and we have already had a number of people reach out to us to be volunteers.”

HAC is currently seeking Falmouth residents who are interested in becoming recipients of this year’s Big Fix. Applications can be found online at www.haconcapecod.org or at Falmouth Town Hall, the Falmouth Senior Center, and any of the public libraries in Falmouth. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 14.

Applicants must either be an income-eligible veteran, senior or disabled homeowner in Falmouth. HAC anticipates selecting anywhere from 12 to 15 homes for this year’s Big Fix.

The Big Fix began in 2010 in Barnstable. It has since been to Sandwich, Dennis, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Bourne, and Brewster.

Over the course of a few hours, volunteers help make small home improvements that can make a big difference in the lives of recipients. Projects typically include yard work, trash removal, repairing of fences and walkways, interior and exterior painting, and light carpentry and electrical work. Those interested in volunteering can sign up on HAC’s website at www.haconcapecod.org.

This year’s Big Fix will kick off at the Lawrence School in Falmouth with a light breakfast provided by Whole Foods Market and Beanstock Coffee before volunteers head to their assigned homes. Once all work is completed, volunteers will return to the Lawrence School for a free lunch provided by the 99 Restaurant.

If you are interested in becoming a recipient of this year's Big Fix in Falmouth, click the green button below. 

Big Fix Bourne Recipient Application

Tags: volunteering, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, Falmouth, Falmouth Big Fix, home repair

Cotuit Church Gives Back to the NOAH SHelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 10:21 AM
Frank_Hallice_Bill_Johnson.jpgFrank Hallice (left) and Bill Johnson spent a few hours hanging new blinds at the NOAH Shelter in January. The blinds were paid for by the Cotuit Federated Church. 

Sometimes the smallest acts of charity can have the largest impact.

And so it is with the Cotuit Federated Church which has made minor upgrades to the NOAH Shelter in recent months that have helped improve the comfort of those staying there.

It started in November, when Bill Johnson of Mashpee was joined by several other church parishioners in putting up 60 coat hooks over all the beds at the shelter.

Johnson returned to the shelter in January when he was accompanied by Frank Hallice, also of Mashpee, as they installed 20 new blinds over the windows.

Greg Bar, NOAH director, expressed gratitude for the church’s willingness to assist the shelter and its guests in such a way. “It seems like this is a small kind of thing, but having blinds on the windows is a privacy issue and helps create a feeling of safety,” Bar said. “I think so highly of them for doing this.”

Both Johnson and Hallice deflected such praise, saying it was their way of giving back.

“I do it because I want to,” Hallice explained. “I don’t expect anything back. I guess it’s in my nature to help… Does it make you feel good? Yes. You’d be inhuman if you said it didn’t. It’s like shoveling an old lady’s walkway. You do it because you should.”

Donate to the NOAH Shelter

Tags: homelessness, NOAH Shelter, volunteering, HAC Volunteers

Spring Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 @ 09:20 AM

describe the image

Each quarter HAC teams up with a local business and holds a drive for basic home goods for clients making the transition from shelter to permanent housing.

Currently, the folks at Sullivan & Sullivan Auctioneers of Sandwich, will be collecting a variety of new household items (towels, silverware, canned goods, paper goods, blankets, cleaning supplies, toiletries, gift cards, hats, gloves, winter coats) that will be placed into Welcome Home Gift Baskets for our clients. The drive runs from March through Friday, April 3.

Those wanting to take part in the gift basket drive and give our clients a fresh start in their new homes can do so by bringing donations to: 

Sullivan & Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC
148 Route 6A
Sandwich, MA 02563
Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm

In December, The Young Professionals Network, a subcommittee of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors, organized the inaugural drive as a way to show our shelter clients how much the community cares and wants them to succeed once they transition out of shelter. 

To learn how your organization can get involved or for additional information contact Julie Wake at 508-771-5400 or jwake@HAConCapeCod.org

Tags: HAC, Cape Cod, Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, CHAPA Regional Meeting Cape Cod, volunteerism, volunteering

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

Sturgis Charter Public School Students Lend a Hand at HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 @ 01:09 PM
describe the imageThe group of Sturgis Charter Public School students who volunteered their day at HAC.

Typically graduation is a time when students are the ones receiving gifts. But at the end of May, just three days before they were to receive their high school diplomas, a contingent of 11 Sturgis Charter Public School students spent their day giving back to the community by volunteering at HAC.

The group was one of 20 that used their second-to-last day as a high school student to make a positive difference in Hyannis – some cleaned up the town's beaches and others volunteered at the Salvation Army.

The students at HAC did basic office work: helping stuff donor letters in envelopes, moving boxes and compiling informational packets for the HAC Energy department.

And in the process they learned a little bit about what HAC does from several of its employees, prompting Lynn Kelley, a history teacher at Sturgis, to remark that this type of volunteerism can be rewarding for students, especially if it’s over a prolonged period of time. “When you get committed to an organization and start working with them you really feel like you are making a difference,” she said.

The time spent at HAC, Kelley said, was also valuable as it ties into the curriculum at Sturgis. “In terms of developing their self we want them to be active and productive members of the community,” she said.

With many of the students looking forward to college some such as Bridgette Isaacs, 18, and Skylar Beauregard, 18, are considering pursuing a career in the social services. 

Both revealed that they have had family members deal with substance abuse issues and were interested in becoming counselors to help those struggling with similar problems. “I think it is easy for someone who has been affected by it to be able to help others,” Skylar said. “And I’ve always enjoyed working with people.” 

Tags: volunteers, HAC, HAC Energy, volunteerism, volunteering, Sturgis Charter Public School

Volunteers the Lifeblood of HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Jun 14, 2014 @ 08:30 AM
DSC 0006 resized 600Brian Rixham at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis.

“I’ve worked here so long they finally gave me an office,” Brian Rixham says cheerfully as he slowly climbs the stairs to the second floor of the NOAH Shelter and walks into a relatively barebones room with a desk, phone and a filing cabinet.

Here Rixham, an East Dennis resident by way of Sheffield, England – he still maintains the accent despite moving to the United States in 1973 – assists shelter director Greg Bar once a week handling intakes, where he records basic information about NOAH clients searching for permanent housing.

“Today I mailed 25 housing applications for two different people,” he said, adding to the list of responsibilities he handles which also includes “a lot of paperwork.”

An engineer by trade the 79-year-old Rixham has been volunteering with those most in need since 1997 when the Reverend Bob Huff, the chaplain at the Salvation Army in Hyannis, visited St. David’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, dressed as a homeless man. “Bob came up and talked about the Salvation Army and the NOAH Shelter,” Rixham recalled.

That initially led to Rixham serving meals for the homeless at the Yarmouth church during the weekends before he expanded his volunteerism to the Salvation Army and eventually to HAC and the NOAH Shelter.

He now has spent 17 years volunteering at HAC and though admittedly difficult, Rixham finds his job working with NOAH staff rewarding. “There are really a lot of sad cases and all of the people have good reasons why they are homeless,” he said. “So a lot of this work is needed… This shelter is a wonderful place. It is a tough, tough situation, but there is housing out there if clients are willing to use our housing specialist.”

For him, he said, the benefits are less tangible, but still meaningful: “I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people,” he said.

Importance of Volunteers

Volunteers like Rixham are an integral part of HAC’s organizational structure. “They enable us to do a lot of things we would otherwise be unable to do,” HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said. “Yes, they do stuff envelopes, but we are also using them to do things programmatically.”

They do so by cooking and serving meals at NOAH and making home repairs for needy residents during the annual Big Fix event. They also fill other necessary roles within HAC whether it be caring for children living in shelter, fundraising or serving on the board.

“We have over 800 volunteers,” Presbrey said. “So you can imagine the kinds of ways they provide quality to the things we do on a very tight budget.”

At HAC’s annual meeting in April volunteer coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin presented statistics for 2013 when 807 volunteers donated 12,865 hours towards everything from clerical work to soliciting donations during the Shelter Cape Cod Telethon in December.

Those numbers increased from 2012 when over 500 volunteers donated over 10,000 hours supporting HAC’s programs and services.

Everett-Patriquin called HAC’s volunteers “the lifeblood of a non-profit agency like HAC. Without them, we’d have no childcare or drivers at our family shelters, no dinner for our NOAH clients, no one to help with the mounds of paperwork at our main office.

“The list is really endless,” she continued. “Our volunteers gave 12,000 plus hours of service in 2013 which is truly remarkable. But they don’t just give time, they give hope and a way for our clients to start anew.”

Volunteer Statistics for 2013

NOAH Meals: 237 volunteers for 6,912 hours
Childcare: 68 volunteers for 1,800 hours
HACbeat Mailings: 22 volunteers for 258 hours
Fundraising: 206 volunteers for 608 hours
Big Fix: 188 volunteers for 1,029 hours


Click me

Tags: volunteers, HAC, volunteering, Brian Rixham

Making Connections at NOAH Shelter

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 @ 07:30 PM
“A minimal amount of human contact can change a life,” said Greg Bar, manager of HAC’s NOAH Shelter, about a new volunteer project at NOAH Shelter. 
Bill Dado resized 600
One night Bill Dado had a dream he was working with the homeless in Hyannis.  “When I woke up I just had to go to the computer and Google shelters in Hyannis,” said Bill Dado.  Dado moved to the Cape two years ago and is a retired high school guidance counselor from Sturbridge, MA.   “The next thing I knew I was filling out an online application to volunteer for HAC, meeting with the volunteer coordinator and being quickly introduced to Greg Bar.”

Dado’s concept is to create a “pen pal” type relationship with NOAH clients and high school students.  Students would be connected to a client and would initiate a letter exchange as simple as, “I’m thinking of you and I care.”  Clients would receive a letter with just the student’s first name and vice versa. Letters would be managed through the school’s community service person.

In Dado’s previous career as a guidance counselor, he saw major benefits when “at risk” students were connected to a teacher on a one on one basis.  “I thought if we applied this to the homeless, even though the gesture is small, we might really make a personal impact on so many levels,” said Dado.

Sturgis West and Cape Cod Academy have signed on to be pilots for the program. 

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, HACbeat, volunteers, Volunteer Cape Cod, Volunteer coffee hour, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH, volunteering

Mashpee Big Fix An Opportunity To Help Those In Need

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Mashpee Big Fix

Spend half a day and make a real difference in the comfort, safety, and quality of life for those in need in our community.

Housing Assistance Corporation is looking for volunteers for The Mashpee Big Fix on Saturday, September 28. Not all the work requires heavy lifting. Besides yard work and light repair work at the houses, we need volunteers to help out with sign-in duties and lunch service.

The Big Fix sends teams of volunteers to assist homeowners with clean-up, landscaping, and small home repair projects. Since 2010, we’ve mobilized over 250 volunteers and assisted 40 households in Barnstable, Sandwich and Dennis.

Kick-off on September 28 will be at Mashpee High School, and begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts. Most houses are finished by 1:00 p.m. Volunteers also receive lunch and a T-shirt.

Volunteers helping at the houses should be physically able to perform tasks of moderate intensity, such as pruning hedges, raking, hauling brush, cleaning gutters, and moving heavy/bulky items to and from storage. Basic home repair skills (painting, carpentry, electric, plumbing, masonry) are a plus but not required. Please note that minors must be accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian. Please, no pets.

Interested individuals and groups should sign up by Sept. 13 at  www.haconcapecod.org/big-fix. You can also get further information and sign up by contacting our Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Everett-Patriquin, at volunteer@haconcapecod.org, or by phone at 508-771-5400, ext. 279.

Tags: volunteers, Volunteer Cape Cod, housing assistance corporation, volunteering, Big Fix