|HAC FSS Coordinator Jan Nelson (left) with Stacey Whittemore, who recently graduated from the program and became a homeowner on Cape Cod.
When some clients graduate from the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, it can be a large celebration with a number of HAC staff in attendance. Others, like Cotuit’s Stacey Whittemore, opt for something more low key.
That did not make the moment any less meaningful when Whittemore and her son Connor received a $9,061.84 check at the end of July from Jan Nelson, who manages the FSS program for HAC.
With tears in her eyes, an emotional Whittemore spoke about the impact that FSS has had on her since she first entered it a little more than a year and a half ago. “You helped me out tremendously,” Whittemore told Nelson.
With the support of Nelson, FSS clients find ways to increase their income so they can move off of public assistance. As one’s income increases, their rent increases. The difference between the new monthly rent and the old rent is placed into an escrow savings account that clients can access, and use as they deem fit, upon completion of FSS.
Whittemore was able to accumulate more than $4,000; she received another $5,000 in federal funds because she was giving up her Section 8 voucher and becoming a homeowner, moving from her Mashpee home into what she called, “my forever home” in Cotuit.
Nelson called Whittemore, who has two jobs, including a full-time one as an overnight dispatcher for a towing company, “a hard worker” something that was witnessed when she boosted her credit score from roughly 500 to over 700 during her time in the FSS program.
While she was looking forward to decorating her new home for Halloween and Christmas, Whittemore said, the most important aspect is, “just giving him [my son] the security. It’s something I never had as a child.”
To have that kind of security on Cape Cod is the icing on the cake. “It is so beautiful here,” Whittemore said. “I’m pretty content to call this place my home.”