Anne Van Vleck

Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2020 /

Writer: Julie Craven Wagner

Change Agent  \\  Advocate for those in need of a strong, stable future

It can be challenging for young professionals to create a life for themselves here on the Cape, but Anne Van Vleck has done it, and she wants to make sure that others have the chance to do so too.

As the former executive director of CCYP (formally known as Cape Cod Young Professionals) Anne Van Vleck spent seven years advancing the opportunities and collective power of this valuable yet vulnerable segment of the Cape’s population. During her time as the head of the organization, she was responsible for increasing the membership almost four-fold to over 1,200 members. “We lived in the Boston suburbs with jobs in the city, when in 1998, we decided to make the transition to living full-time on the Cape,” Van Vleck recalls. “My husband spent time growing up at a family friend’s house in Chatham. He loves being out on the water and is a passionate fisherman, so when he introduced me to the Cape, I fell in love with it.  The beauty of the natural environment, and the quality of life seemed to be an ideal place to raise a family.”

Her story is a familiar tale that is shared across the Cape. “I would hear from people all the time that their quality of life is more important, and they give up their corporate jobs, and they come and start businesses or find good jobs and somehow make it all happen, but it is not easy.”

Van Vleck, a mother of three active boys who are mostly grown now (the youngest heads off to college in the fall), does not regret a moment that she and her family have spent living and loving their life on the Cape. But, she understands all too well that the decision to live in this region between the ages of 25 and 45 most often includes trade-offs that other residents across the country are not forced to consider. Jobs and housing are at the forefront of challenges the demographic faces. At CCYP, Van Vleck instilled a culture focused on addressing the Cape’s workforce issues through mentoring, civic engagement programs and community summits—all initiatives that were enthusiastically embraced by the growing organization. “The young people on the Cape are adding such value to our community, through their intellectual capital, and their ability to make a meaningful contribution both in the workplace and through volunteering,” Van Vleck observes.

Now, at the Housing Assistance Corporation, Van Vleck has transitioned to a new role as Chief Development Officer. Today, she is leveraging her passion and ensuring reliable resources are available to provide our year-round community with safe and stable housing options, especially for those most in need. The dream of building a life on the Cape that was at the core of CCYP’s focus is not exclusive to young adults, but experienced by people across a variety of spectrums including income-challenged families, retirees and the elderly.

“The challenges I see at Housing Assistance Corporation are complex and multi-layered, and each individual has a different story and different aspirations. The goal is to meet people where they are and provide them with the tools they need to become self-sufficient and live the life they want to lead,” Van Vleck says.  The Housing Assistance Corporation strives to provide housing solutions for a wide range of recipients through a variety of different offerings that include preventing homelessness, stabilizing families, and empowering economic mobility into the future. There is also a focus on developing housing options and first-time home buyer support.

“It starts with housing,” Van Vleck explains. “Once you have housing, you are able to focus on your goals and build a meaningful life. Empowering people with the stability of a home has a positive impact not only on the people themselves, but the entire community. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a single mom overcome horrific circumstances and make it on her own to then become the head of a household, complete her educational goals, and work her way up professionally.  The best part, however, is not the transformation that the mom has made, but the ripple effect it has on her children who have witnessed her transform.  Breaking the cycle and inspiring hope is what we see happen every day”

The Housing Assistance Corporation also serves the missing middle, which includes the segment of the population that makes too much to receive a subsidy, but not enough to qualify for home ownership—and the elderly who would like to age in place but are challenged to find options in a modestly-priced segment of the market, as small modest homes are increasingly replaced with larger, expensive versions. 

Van Vleck finds the core supporters of the Housing Assistance Corporation to be remarkably responsive. “Our donors are incredibly inspiring,” she says. “There are many who contribute year after year, and have done so for decades. People are so committed to the work and truly want to make a difference. Without the donors, the impact would not be the same.”

Van Vleck is continuing to grow the relationships she has been able to establish since she became a Cape Codder over 20 years ago. Perhaps more critically, she can look at the direct impact she has had on a person’s ability to put down roots, find some stability and call themselves a Cape Codder as well.

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Julie Craven Wagner

Julie Craven Wagner began her experience with Cape Cod Life in 2010 when she joined the sales team after 10 years of working with local businesses on the Cape and Islands with WMVY. In addition to sales, she is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. Growing up on the Outer Cape has given her a unique perspective of life on Cape Cod, from tip to bridge, and that is reflected in her appreciation and presentation of stories found within the pages of our publications. Julie lives in North Falmouth with her husband, Eric, and their yellow lab, Enzo. When she finds free time, she enjoys her Cape Cod life sailing on Buzzards Bay, spending time on the beach in Wellfleet, or exploring Martha’s Vineyard.