Rick Retirement-1.jpgHAC founder and former CEO Rick Presbrey with office manager Lynne Perry at his retirement luncheon which took place at the end of January. 

In 1974, Rick Presbrey founded HAC, operating the fledgling nonprofit out of a cramped West Yarmouth garage converted into an office. The agency had just one program, overseeing the state’s Chapter 707 Rental Assistance to provide affordable rental apartments for Cape Cod’s workforce, seniors and disabled residents.

Forty-three years later, HAC has grown in size and scope, but the one constant has been Presbrey. Under his leadership, HAC has served more than 160,000 clients, providing them with access to safe, secure housing through a variety of programs aimed at low- and middle-income residents.

While that figure is one way to quantify Presbrey’s accomplishments, his colleague Nancy Davison preferred looking at it another way. “I hope his legacy is that you should always treat people the way you want to be treated,” she said. “The main substance of Rick has always been to treat people well.”

That may explain why on the final day of January there were lots of tears and plenty of hugs as HAC staff said farewell to its founder and former CEO. “In the past year I have adjusted very reluctantly to the idea of not being here,” Presbrey said during his retirement luncheon where he talked about his desire to continue helping others.

Several of Presbrey’s coworkers spoke about witnessing that trait in action, highlighting his generosity to both clients and staff. 

Davison praised Presbrey for supporting single mothers like herself as they balanced raising a child with their work at HAC. “You know I always thought that if we were helping families then the families we were helping had to include the staff,” Presbrey explained.

Creating a welcoming environment at HAC was important to Presbrey who implemented several programs which embodied that spirit. “The idea is to be a positive influence in people’s lives in every way,” he said.

Presbrey, who plans on finding ways to continue giving back to those in need, imparted these words to staff as they move forward under CEO Alisa Galazzi’s tenure: “All you have to do to be just as happy and productive as ever is to make sure HAC’s mission is primary in the work that you do.”