By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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As of last Tuesday, the Captain Joseph House Foundation is now a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, foundation founder Betsy Reed Schultz said Friday.
The designation sets the stage for formal fundraising efforts, Schultz said.
She said the designation does apply retroactively to Aug. 11, 2011 — when the foundation was created — so the few donations received so far will be tax-deductible.
Schultz said she now can begin seeking donations to turn the building that housed The Tudor Inn, Schultz's onetime bed-and-breakfast, at 1108 S. Oak St., into the Captain Joseph House, a respite designed for the families of fallen service personnel from any branch of the U.S. military.
JP Morgan Chase, which carried the mortgage, is donating it to the Captain Joseph House Foundation.
The Captain Joseph House Foundation is planning an open house for mid-December to introduce anyone who is interested to the foundation and the renovation plans for the house, Schultz said.
The house and foundation are named to honor Schultz's son, Army Capt. Joseph Schultz, who was killed in action in Wardak Province in Afghanistan on May 29, 2011.
Schultz said she came up with the idea after realizing how hard it would have been to deal with the loss of her son on her own.
Schultz said she is thankful for veterans' assistance programs but said few if any houses similar to the one she's planning exist to help the families who have also made the ultimate sacrifice.
The house also will serve families of those lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which Schultz said was her son's impetus for joining the Army.
“We think this is the only house like this in the state, maybe the country,” Schultz said.
Gary Velie, president of the Clallam County Veterans Association, said such a place is sorely needed.
“No other service like this is available, to my knowledge, in the state and definitely not in Clallam County,” Velie said.
Velie, who was in the Navy from 1961 to 1981 and served in the Vietnam War, said the families of fallen veterans have been an overlooked casualty of war.
“[The families are] only important when you're over there, then you're forgotten about,” Velie said.
With charitable foundation status secured, Schultz can begin to raise the estimated $500,000 needed to retrofit the Captain Joseph House so it can house up to three families at a time.
The renovations, which Schultz said she would ideally like to have done in time for a Memorial Day 2013 grand opening, will include turning the five bedrooms into three, doubling the size of the kitchen, adding a sun deck and adding an elevator to comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
Schultz said the Captain Joseph House Foundation plans to hire a handful of full-time and part-time staff to cater to families 11 months out of the year, with February set aside for maintenance.
“We're going to be doing some economy building here,” Schultz said.
The house will be able to host three families from Sunday to Friday, with meals being prepared for them or with the option to cook for themselves.
“They can cook their own meals, which is also very healing,” she said.
The foundation also will provide drivers to and from local airports, including Sea-Tac, Schultz said.
She said she has heard from fallen veterans' families from across the country.
Schultz said she also is partnering with the Sierra Club to help organize outdoor trips for the families across the North Olympic Peninsula.
She also plans to team up with local biking and kayak shops to host tours of the area's most beautiful locales.
“We're going to take families anywhere they want to go on the Peninsula,” Schultz said.
For information on the foundation or to make a donation, go online to http://bit.ly/S8MyDt.
Checks also can be mailed to the Captain Joseph House Foundation, 1108 S. Oak St., Port Angeles WA 98362.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.