PORT TOWNSEND — David Burroughs loves Romani — aka Gypsy — music. He is, in fact, his own kind of gypsy.
As a young man headed west from his hometown of Amherst, Mass., Burroughs boarded the transcontinental train one day in the early 1970s. He rode it all the way to Vancouver, B.C., where he caught the Amtrak train bound for Southern California. There, he enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts.
He never forgot the way the Pacific Northwest looked out his train window.
At school, Burroughs studied art and multimedia — all of which was analog, of course. He became a freelance photographer, using that mystical thing called a darkroom. Back home in New England he developed his craft, but still felt the pull of the West.
So he returned, or started to return, to Los Angeles. Got a car, drove it down the coast and midtrip asked himself: Do I really want to go back there?
He turned around, pointing the car north and west. He moved to Port Townsend in 1981.
In the ensuing years Burroughs built a bookbinding business here, and during the 1990s, he was hired as a bookbinding consultant in Belarus, of all places. He roamed across Eastern Europe discovering the songs of the Romani people.
Back home, he became the volunteer host of “On the Romani Trail,” a music program on KPTZ-FM, Port Townsend’s community radio station.
Burroughs Hand Bookbinding continued until 2008, when the Great Recession hit. The business didn’t survive. Burroughs found work at the Port Townsend Food Co-op.
“I felt I was lucky to have a job during the recession,” he said. But he suffered severe muscle injuries there and had to quit work — and rethink his life.
Burroughs learned of the multimedia communications program, a degree he could earn online at Peninsula College. It includes digital photography, video editing, digital illustration and web design — a brave new world of art forms.
Burroughs, now 65, found he was eligible for financial aid from the college. He became a full-time student again, taking “a whole slew of courses,” far more than what was required. Web publishing, sound editing, photography: It all beckoned to him.
Hits a rough spot
But earlier this year, Burroughs hit a rough spot. The rent at his place in Port Townsend rose, as did his stress level. He took a break from his courses.
“I was overwhelmed,” Burroughs said.
This is a man who doesn’t go on and on. He offers the minimum of what needs to be said, which is that last summer, “OlyCAP helped me through.”
The Olympic Community Action Programs, which administer the Peninsula Home Fund, provided the support he needed to stay in his apartment and return to school.
Thanks to the hand up, Burroughs emerged from that period of time with fresh resolve. He’s on track to graduate in spring.
“All of my courses are online, but they encourage people to attend classes. So I do,” he said, adding that “the college has really high-caliber teachers,” on a level with his best instructors at Cal Arts.
Marina Shipova and Renne Emiko Brock are two professors who have given him unflagging encouragement.
“Marina is really enthusiastic about her students,” he said. “She really wants them to learn.”
Shipova admires Burroughs as an original thinker, an artist unafraid to push creative boundaries. He doesn’t shy away, she added, from complex design concepts.
“Meticulous with his own work, David constantly gave supportive feedback to his classmates,” Brock added.
Burroughs took four of her courses: Introduction to Digital Video; Directing and Production; Digital Video Project and a digital storytelling class called Infographics and Data Visualization.
If you’re a high school student wanting to go into the arts, said Burroughs, you would do well to attend Peninsula College for much less than an urban art school costs.
This winter, he’ll be looking at online job boards and thinking about freelance web design.
“You never know what will come up. I’m not going to retire,” he said. This field interests him too much.
There may even be a marriage of bookbinding and digital images, in Burroughs’ version of a photo album. He has equipment and skills in both formats, after all.
With digital technology, he said, “there is just so much you can do.”
Peninsula’s safety net
The Peninsula Home Fund — a safety net for local residents when they suddenly face an emergency situation and can’t find help elsewhere — is seeking contributions for its annual holiday season fundraising campaign.
The campaign will end Monday, although people can— and do— contribute donations all year to the fund, now in its 30th year.
All contributions are IRS tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law for the year in which the check is written.
At this point, OlyCAP is helping people with funds from the 2017 campaign. By the middle of January, it will switch to the money donated this year to help Peninsula residents in 2019.
From Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to Sequim and La Push, money from the fund is used for hot meals for seniors; warm winter coats for kids; home repairs for a low-income family; needed prescription drugs; dental work; safe, drug-free temporary housing; eyeglasses — the list goes on and on.
• The average amount of help this year has been $129 per person.
• All instances of help are designed to get an individual or family through a crisis — and back on the path to self-sufficiency.
Home Fund case managers often work with each individual or family to develop a plan to become financially stable — and avoid a recurrence of the emergency that prompted aid from the fund.
As needed, Peninsula Home Fund contributions are often used in conjunction with money from churches, service clubs and other donors, enabling OlyCAP to stretch the value of the contribution.
The goal again: “a hand up, not a handout.”
• No money is deducted by the Peninsula Daily News for administration fees or any other overhead.
Every penny goes to OlyCAP.
The money goes to help the most vulnerable members of our community, from infants to families to seniors.
Please note: Because of heavy community demands, the loss of grants because of the economy and recent cuts in government funding, OlyCAP beginning in 2012 was permitted to use 10 percent — 10 cents of every dollar donated — to pay for the vital programs and services for Home Fund clients. (Previously there were no deductions.)
How to apply
To apply for a Peninsula Home Fund grant, contact one of the three OlyCAP offices:
• OlyCAP’s Port Angeles office is at 228 W. First St., Suite J (Armory Square Mall); 360-452-4726. For Port Angeles- and Sequim-area residents.
• Its Port Townsend office is at 823 Commerce Loop; 360-385-2571. For Jefferson County residents.
• The Forks office is at 421 Fifth Ave.; 360-374-6193. For West End residents.
Leave a message in the voice mail box at any of the three numbers, and a Home Fund caseworker will phone you back.
A number of generous individuals and organizations have been donating money to the Peninsula Home Fund since the first of the year.
While most of the money is raised between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, the fund itself never closes.
Donations of any amount are always welcome.
To donate online by credit card, click on www.olycap.org/peninsula-home-fund.
Here is a list of donors whose Home Fund contributions were processed up to Tuesday last week.
Name and amount
Ray Weinmann, Port Angeles, $400.
Marcia and Bob Homer, Sequim, $100. In memory of Harold and Velma Winters.
Sara Lee O’Connor, Port Angeles, $100.
Emil and Judy Moilanen, Port Angeles, $500. In honor of Dale A. Durrwachter.
Emil and Judy Moilanen, Port Angeles, $250. In memory of Sylvia Durrwachter.
Pam and Jim Walton, Port Angeles.
Jake, Laura and Geoff Melly, Port Angeles. In memory of Grandma and Grandpa Melly and Grandma and Grandpa Kus.
Ron Hayes and Melinda Bryden, Port Townsend.
Kurt Buck, Port Angeles.
Brian, Gary and Jan Holmquist, Seattle. In honor of Danny Holmquist.
Kelly Thomas, Sequim.
John and Phyllis Kendall, Port Angeles. In memory of Earl Taylor.
Dorothy Phillips, Port Angeles. Kudos to Port Angeles city light crews for getting power back on so quickly.
Mel and Vicci Rudin, Port Angeles.
Walter and Bonnie Davison, Port Angeles.
Sam and Martha Baker, Port Angeles.
Charlotte Duchow, Port Angeles. In memory of Wayne Duchow.
Russ and Linda Mellon, Sequim. In memory of our parents, Ken and Louise Sadilek, and Al and Dorothy Mellon.
Terry Hoch, Port Angeles.
Becky and Earl Archer, Sequim.
Jay and Paula Richter, Port Angeles. In honor of veterans.
Dan and Janet Gouin, Port Angeles. In memory of Bjorn Larsen.
Darlene and Michael Clemens, Port Angeles. In memory of Bea and Walt Dier.
Mark and Diana Schildknecht, Sequim. In loving memory of Don and Lois Bakker. We miss you very much.
Keith Wollen, Port Angeles. In memory of Fran Wollen.
Ricardo Fleischfresser, Port Angeles.
Carolyn Braun, Port Angeles. In honor of Ellen Patrie.
Barbara Comer, Port Angeles.
Carol Peet, Port Angeles.
Darlene and John Mjoen, Port Ludlow.
Roger and Kay Paynter, Port Angeles. In memory of Holly, Pat, Don and Joan.
Joe Floyd and Barbara Noble, Sequim.
Richard Kohler, Port Angeles.
Elmer P. Krogue, Port Angeles. In memory of Celia Krogue.
Sheila Formhals, Sequim. In memory of Sandra Dalton.
William and Margaret Klover, Port Angeles.
Roy G. Brown, Port Angeles.
Richard and Barbara Jepson, Sequim.
Donald and Betty Skidmore, Sequim.
Art and Ruth Dewey, Sequim. In memory of our brother Jim.
Wes and Puri Heacock, Port Angeles.
Harry and Pam Grandstrom, Sequim. In honor of Roger and Edna Pike.
Jack B. Ramberg, Port Angeles. In memory of Cliff and Dorothy Aden.
Joanne Garner and Lee Brewer, Sequim.
Carol and Chick Carmichael, Port Angeles.
Norma Wiggins, Port Angeles. In honor of Tony and Dora Anton.
Mad Maggi Boutique & Salon, Sequim.
Mr. and Mrs. P. J. Noonan, Port Angeles. In memory of Samuel Winick.
Joseph G. Cammack, Port Angeles.
Larry and Pat Ledbetter, Port Angeles. In memory of family and friends.
Port Angeles, $100.
Port Angeles, $25.
Port Angeles, $100.
Sequim, $25. In memory of Steve Kowal.
Port Angeles, $25.
Port Townsend, $100.
Kansas City, Mo., $1,000.
Port Townsend, $100.
Port Angeles, $50.
Port Townsend, $100.
Carlsborg, $200. In honor of 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Fresno, Calif., $500.
Port Ludlow, $500.
Port Angeles, $40.
Port Angeles, $500.