PORT ANGELES — Captain Joseph House Foundation’s first online Facebook auction raised $32,500 for a first-of-its-kind respite center for families who have lost loved ones in combat, said Betsy Reed Schultz, founder.
Funds from the virtual auction, which ended Aug. 22, will be used for Gold Star Family travel, room, board and recreation and operation expenses for the respite program, Schultz said.
That won’t happen for a while, she said last week.
Not only is construction incomplete on the remodeling of the former bed and breakfast at 1108 Oak St., but COVID-19 pandemic precautions also prevent using the respite center as it has been designed to be used, a gathering place for three families at a time, she said.
Construction was on hiatus for three months after the pandemic hit, and the need for precautions has not changed.
“We are moving as quickly as we can and as safely as we can,” Schultz said. “I’m responsible for the health and safety of everyone there.”
The house “won’t be open until can safely bring three families here,” Schultz said.
“We want them to be able to gather together, sit together, hug each other. … The program is being able to sit down and share.”
Families will not be brought to the house “until we know we can make it safe for them, and they can get here safely, Schultz said.
Donations have continued to come in for the project even after bidding ended.
Auction participants included many from outside of the state, she added. It also encouraged new volunteers.
Schultz said the foundation had hosted five volunteer days so far, and another couple are planned.
The respite center will be for grieving families who have had immediate family members killed in combat since Sept. 11, 2001.
Schultz formed the Captain Joseph House Foundation, donating her bed and breakfast for the center, after her son, Army Special Operations Capt. Joseph Schultz, was killed at the age of 36 in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device while on patrol on May 29, 2011.
He had been inspired to serve after 9-11, Schultz has said.
When the program becomes operational, the plan is for the house to accommodate as many as three Gold Star families at a time for a maximum of 16 people per week. They will gather together to share their experiences and also will have an opportunity to enjoy recreation in the area.
Sponsors for the eighth annual auction were Strait View Credit Union; Peter and Alex Star; Hartnagel Building Supply, Inc.; Angeles Millwork and Lumber Co.; D.A. Davidson; Gary and Beth Velie; and Carlsborg VFW Post 6787.
The next auction is tentatively set for Aug. 24, 2021, at the Cedars at Dungeness.
“We hope to do it live,” Schultz said, “but we may do some online leading up to it.”
Another fundraiser will be Sept. 18-20 in Reno, Nev.
Reed Finfrock, 74, has volunteered to raise money for the Captain Joseph House Foundation during his ride, Schultz said.
The annual chowder cook-off fundraiser will be hosted in October, but differently from how it was done in the past. Chefs will prepare chowders, and people will be able to vote for their favorites.
For more information, visit captainjosephhousefoundation.org.