Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Volunteers Needed for HAC's Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 10:39 AM
BF_-1_DSC_1058_Medium-1.jpgHAC's Big Fix is a great opportunity to donate your time to help those in need. This year the Big Fix is coming to Brewster. 

What do you get when you bring together over 200 volunteers who donate a few hours of their time to help their neighbors in need? HAC’s Big Fix.

This year, the day of service is coming to Brewster on Saturday, September 17. HAC is currently looking for volunteers who are willing to make small home improvements – yard work, painting, light carpentry, trash removal – for seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in that Cape community.

This is now the seventh year HAC has organized the Big Fix, first bringing it to Barnstable in 2010. Since then, it has been to Sandwich, Dennis, Mashpee, Yarmouth and, last year, Bourne.

“Brewster is very excited to host and be the recipient of the Big Fix,” said its assistant town administrator Jillian Douglass, noting that “it’s an opportunity for homeowners to have repairs made to their home they otherwise could not accomplish.”

HAC volunteer coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin said the Big Fix would not be possible without a group of volunteers committed to donating their time and energy to tackling those home repairs. “Our seniors, veterans and homeowners with disabilities can be absolutely overwhelmed by deferred maintenance,” she said. “Shrubs grow over their first-floor windows. Mountains of items to go to recycling clog the basement or garage. When you turn 10 or 20 volunteers loose on those projects for a few hours, it’s like a miracle.”

Those wanting to volunteer for this year’s Big Fix can fill out an application by clicking this link. If you have any questions please contact HAC's volunteer coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279. The deadline to submit a volunteer application is Thursday, September 1.

Tags: Big Fix, Brewster Big Fix, volunteerism, HAC Volunteers

A Barn Raising at Community Green with Cornell Students

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 05, 2016 @ 12:04 PM
Cornell_Day_4-7.jpgCornell University students were joined by guests at the NOAH Shelter and HAC staff in building a barn at the agency's Community Green property. 

A little more than a week before five Cornell students visited Cape Cod at the end of March, a small patch of land in Sandwich where a miniature donkey named Cooper, some goats and chickens roamed lay vacant.

With the guidance of HAC’s maintenance supervisor Keith Trott, those students helped transform that vacant land into a barn on the agency’s Community Green property where the goal is to one day build 60 affordable apartments.

The project was tackled as part of Cornell University’s alternative spring break, giving college students an opportunity to give back and learn about the impact social service agencies make in the lives of others. Over the past 12 years Cornell has sent a contingent to Cape Cod where they have assisted HAC in its mission to ensure all have access to safe, stable, decent housing.

“I guess I wanted to spend my time and energy away from school doing something valuable,” said Cornell freshman Evelyn Shan as to why she signed up for the trip. It was a similar response for those who joined Shan, including seniors Kentaro Asai of Yokohama, Japan, and Ben Kennet of Silver Spring, Maryland; junior Stacey Kim of Anaheim, California; and freshman Kyle (Eliot) Huang of Salta Lake City, Utah.

Over the course of four days, the Cornell students focused on building the barn while also taking time to visit the NOAH Shelter, to bowl at Ryan Family Amusements in Hyannis with children staying at The Village at Cataumet and to speak with staff about the work they do at HAC.

NOAH Guests Assist With Project

At Community Green, the group was joined by four guests staying at the NOAH Shelter – George, Gayla, Mike and George, all of whom lent their talents to the barn project. Shelter director Greg Bar expressed his appreciation for HAC giving the four the opportunity to help. “I’m just so proud of you guys,” Bar said to the NOAH guests at a farewell dinner for the Cornell students held at Shepley Showcase. “I saw the results after the first day. You just looked brighter.”

Kim, who served as the trip leader, spoke to the passion that staff like Bar have for the work they do and the people they serve. “I guess the really impressive thing about HAC are the people who are invested in housing and homelessness,” she said. “There is a lot of heart that goes into what you do. It is so moving and it really touched me.”

Cornell_Day_4-9.jpgTrip leader Stacey Kim (left) and Evelyn Shan show off some of the tools used in building the Community Green barn. 

HAC’s volunteers bring a similar sense of energy to supporting the agency, something that Kennet spoke to as he mentioned the more than 44,000 meals they serve on an annual basis to those at the NOAH Shelter. “I think it is good to know that volunteers are valued and their work means something and it is important,” he said.

The goal at HAC, CEO Rick Presbrey told the students, is to create a welcoming culture, particularly for “the people we serve because they often aren’t welcomed where they go.” That extended to the group from Cornell who he praised for their efforts as he urged them to continue to be charitable, leaving them with this piece of advice: “something magical happens when one person helps another.”

 

Tags: alternative spring break, Cornell University, Community Green, Community Service, volunteerism

Whole Foods Giving Tree Provides Holiday Cheer for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 07:00 AM
Whole_Foods_2.jpgSannie Rocheteau (second from left) of Whole Foods poses with HAC’s Mary LeClair (from left), Deanna Bussiere and Lin Rohr.

A stuffed monkey, building blocks and a Hot Wheels car were just a few of the toys complete strangers bought for children at HAC’s three family shelters last month.

They were delivered by Sannie Rocheteau, metro marketing specialist for Whole Foods Market, during the week of Christmas. Customers and staff at the company’s Hyannis store donated the gifts as a way to pay it forward during the holiday season.

“This was a lot of fun,” Rocheteau said, inside HAC’s Angel House shelter, the first of three stops on the day that also included a visit to Carriage House in North Falmouth, and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne. In all, presents were purchased for 46 children in HAC’s shelters as a way to give them some joy during the holidays.

Rocheteau said that Whole Foods’ Giving Tree was embraced by the entire community, noting that as she was decorating it customers were placing presents under the tree. “It was really a great experience and we were lucky to all be a part of it,” Rocheteau said.

DID YOU KNOW?

Since coming to Hyannis in May 2014, Whole Foods has made a commitment to giving back to the community. Click here to learn about their philanthropic efforts to support organizations like HAC. 

Tags: volunteerism

A New Purpose for Orleans' Woman

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 @ 10:20 AM
Sully2.jpgJayne and John Sully outside the NOAH Shelter last month where they delivered 75 purses full of small items for homeless women staying in HAC shelters.

There are moments in life that can change a person’s perspective. Being diagnosed with cancer is one. That happened to Jayne Sully this past July when doctors discovered she had throat cancer. A month later, the 49-year-old South Orleans resident started treatment.

“It gave her a purpose,” her husband John Sully said last month in the parking lot of HAC’s NOAH Shelter.

That purpose was to “do something for somebody” in need, John said. So Jayne reached out to friends and family in mid-November asking them to donate purses for women living in shelter.

She collected 150, half of which went to those at NOAH, Angel House, Carriage House and The Village at Cataumet. The remainder was donated to the Salvation Army.

Inside each purse were small items – lip balm, toothpaste, socks, mittens, baby powder and candy – collected by the Sullys, utilizing Facebook to encourage charity in their social network. The couple, who formerly owned The Yardarm in Orleans, also received $700 that was used to purchase gift cards to McDonald’s, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts that were also placed inside the purses.

Donations came from as far away as Texas, Jayne said. The pair also received a contribution from the front desk staff at the Renaissance Boston Patriot Place Hotel in Foxboro where they stay when attending New England Patriots games.

After unloading the last of the purses from their car and bringing them into NOAH, the Sullys were thanked by the shelter’s employment specialist Carolann Gillard. “This lets them know somebody cared enough to put these together and bring them here,” Gillard told the couple. “It means so much to them and we so appreciate it.”

For Jayne, who was told a few days later her cancer was in remission, the fundraiser represented a purpose fulfilled. “I had a pretty good health scare myself. I had cancer,” she said. “So I wanted to give something back and I thought giving back to the homeless was the best way to go… After I was diagnosed it put the meaning of Christmas in a whole new light for me.”

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

Tags: volunteerism

Spring Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive

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

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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

Volunteers the Secret Behind the Big Fix's Success

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Oct 08, 2014 @ 01:06 PM

Nearly 225 volunteers took part in this year’s Big Fix in Yarmouth, each with their own reason for helping complete strangers on a seasonably warm Saturday in September.

These included eight children from Boy Scout Troop 36 in Mashpee (the site of last year’s Big Fix), a former client of the NOAH Shelter, a handful of town officials from Yarmouth and more than two dozen members of AmeriCorps Cape Cod.

Here is a snapshot of a few other volunteers who made our 5th Annual Big Fix one of the most successful yet.

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Gail Benson

As owner of the West Yarmouth landscaping company Gail’s Gardens, Benson was a perfect fit for the Big Fix where she spent a few hours helping to improve Donald and Elaine Lang’s South Yarmouth yard.

Though this was her first time volunteering for the event, she has participated in similar events in Central Massachusetts. Her experience this year was so rewarding that she promised the Lang’s she would return, free of charge, to ensure their yard was well maintained.

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Andrea Hubbard

The award for volunteer who traveled the farthest goes to Hubbard who flew in from Bremen, Georgia, to take part in the event.

Hubbard, who visits the Cape regularly, read about the Big Fix online and planned her vacation around the day of service. “I was looking for some kind of opportunity to help out with housing on Cape Cod,” she said, noting that the Big Fix is special because the results of one’s labor are both tangible and immediate.

“I thought this was enjoyable and it was so well organized,” Hubbard said. “It is just amazing what 30 people can do in two hours time.”

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The Kuchar Family

“We do this every year,” Brian Kuchar said proudly as his wife Christine and their two children, Jack, 13, and Caroline, 11, introduced themselves to homeowners Donald and Elaine Lang.

“This is important for community outreach,” Brian said, before touching upon how the Big Fix has personal significance to him. “My mother she is 83 and we would hope someone would do this for her if she needed the help… It is a lot of upkeep to own a house. When we get older we may need someone to help us because it can be too much.”

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Matt LoSapio

“I did this just to help out our senior citizens,” said the assistant manager of the Yarmouth Port branch of the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod.

In the process, LoSapio, a native of New Jersey who moved to Cape Cod three years ago, found a kindred spirit in homeowner Harry Petersen of South Yarmouth. Both are diehard New York Yankees and New York Jets fans.

Despite being in enemy territory the pair had a chance to celebrate their common bond before LoSapio returned to landscaping Petersen’s front yard.  

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Rana Murphy

This represented the first time the HAC board member had volunteered for the Big Fix and outside of recipient Michael King’s home in South Yarmouth, she was busy clearing brush. “This is one of the most important events for HAC and as a board member I wanted to see what it is all about,” she said.

She was impressed with the number of volunteers who came out to help those like Mr. King, 68, a former school teacher who admitted it would be difficult for him to physically do the work or financially be able to pay someone to do it for him.

Twice he has fallen in his own house, leading to hip surgery about a year ago. “I appreciate the people coming to do this,” Mr. King said while sitting in a chair in the living room which had just received new carpeting, the result of the Big Fix.

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The O’Brien’s

Over the past three years the Big Fix has become a family affair for the O’Brien’s. This year dad Lawrence was joined by his children Savannah, 16, a student at Cape Cod Community College, Benjamin, 15, a sophomore at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School and Jackson, 14, a freshman at Upper Cape Tech.

“This is a great event because you are able to help people,” said Lawrence, who accepted the Big Fix hammer on behalf of the town of Bourne from Mary Ann Gray, a member of the Yarmouth Rotary Club.

“I love coming here and meeting people,” Savannah said. “Everyone is so appreciative to receive help.” 

Tags: volunteers, Gail Benson, HAC, volunteerism, Big Fix, Rana Murphy

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