EDITOR’S NOTE: For 26 years, Peninsula Daily News readers in Jefferson and Clallam counties have supported the “hand up, not a handout” Peninsula Home Fund.
Today, we feature the first in a series of articles on how the fund operates and who benefits from our readers’ generosity.
To donate online by credit card, click on https://secure.peninsuladailynews.com/homefund
PORT ANGELES — Picking up the pieces after a divorce is never easy, but living in one tiny bedroom with her two growing children for months on end had single mother Kyla Maupin-Carver fatigued and frantic.
She had leaped for joy when notified by the Peninsula Housing Authority that a subsidized three-bedroom home had finally become available.
But her soul sank when she learned how much money she needed for the security and utility deposits.
Peninsula Daily News’ Peninsula Home Fund was able to give the family the last bit of money they needed — and a moral boost — so Kyla and the kids could move in.
“The Home Fund’s help means so much to me,” says the soft-spoken mother of Zoey and Kaleb.
“Without it I probably wouldn’t have been able to get in here, and who knows how long it would have taken before another house became available.”
Prior to the divorce, the Port Angeles native says she was, “not one of those people who asks for or needs help. I’ve always had my life together, had a job and paid my own way.”
The wake of her divorce left her not only without a home and but also without a job to support her family.
She and the kids stayed in a “tiny room at my mother’s house, which is so much better than being homeless and out on the streets, but not ideal.
“It was really hard on us living on top of one another.
“I never thought I’d be in the position of needing help. Honestly, this was mortifying to me.”
Now a volunteer
Armed with an associate degree from Peninsula College, where she studied legal applications, she’s actively looking for full-time work in a law office but says “it’s not exactly panning out, and it’s very frustrating.”
Until she finds a job, she volunteers 20 hours a week for Clallam and Jefferson County Pro Bono, legal services for low-income residents.
“I work for a lot of good lawyers who also volunteer their time there,” she says proudly.
When she didn’t have the money needed to cover all the deposits, she says it was her boss at Pro Bono who suggested contacting OlyCAP.
OlyCAP is nonprofit Olympic Community Action Programs, the No. 1 emergency-care agency in Jefferson and Clallam counties.
It manages the Home Fund for the PDN, screens the applicants, carefully disburses the funds and provides life-changing counseling and services to those who need a “hand up, not a handout.”
“By the time I went in there I was so stressed and frazzled,” she says, “but I meet with [Home Fund caseworker] Laura Calabria who put me right at ease with her soothing personality and good sense of humor. “
She views living where they are as “a stepping stone for us” and has high hopes for getting that full-time job so she can save money to “buy my own house where I can paint and design as I want.”
Doing so, she says, will also allow another family to “partake of the goodness of the Housing Authority’s subsidized housing program.”
Peninsula’s safety net
Peninsula Home Fund is a safety net when there is nowhere else to turn.
It is also a unique nonprofit program:
■ No money is deducted by the Peninsula Daily News for administration fees or any other overhead.
Every penny goes to OlyCAP — nonprofit Olympic Community Action Programs — the No. 1 emergency-care agency on the Peninsula.
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.)
OlyCAP has kept it in the area of 8 percent, a fraction of the average overhead of other nonprofits.
■ The Home Fund is not a welfare program.
Money is used to give families and individuals from Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to Sequim, Joyce and LaPush “a hand up, not a handout” to get through an emergency situation.
Assistance, which usually averages less than $100, is also limited to one time in a 12-month period.
The average amount of help this year has been $69.16 per person.
Money from the fund is used for hot meals for seniors in Jefferson and Clallam counties; 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.
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.”
■ All contributions are IRS tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law for the year in which the check is written.
Your personal information is kept confidential.
PDN does not rent, sell, give or otherwise share your address or other information with anyone or make any other use of it.
Out of money Dec. 31
Since its beginning in 1989, the fund has relied on the support of Jefferson and Clallam residents.
Individuals, couples, businesses, churches, organizations and school groups set a new record for contributions in 2013 — $268,389 — smashing the old record of $268,137 set Dec. 31, 2012.
As of Nov. 17, $249,757 has been spent for Home Fund grants.
And as we move into winter, the toughest period of the year, all of the remaining money — $18,632 — is expected to be spent before Dec. 31.
How to apply for a Home Fund grant
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.
OlyCAP’s website: www.olycap.org; email: email@example.com.
Geoff Crump, OlyCAP’s executive director, oversees disbursements from the Peninsula Home Fund.
If you have any questions about the fund, phone John Brewer, PDN publisher and editor, at 360-417-3500.
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peninsula Daily News will publish stories every Wednesday and Sunday during the holiday fundraising campaign listing contributors and reporting on how the fund works.