Olympic Community Action Programs has closed its offices to the public and the teams are conducting their business through phone and email in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Offices in Port Townsend, Port Angeles and Forks closed Tuesday, along with the Brinnon, Quilcene and Tri-Area community centers, which Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) manages through an agreement with Jefferson County.
Office doors will not be open, but staff will be available to answer the phones 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For services in Jefferson County, call 360-385-2571. For services in Clallam County, call 360-452-4726, said Cherish Cronmiller, executive director of OlyCAP.
Customers also can email staff at [email protected].
“We encourage people to call us if they are facing possible utility disconnection, and/or need: shelter, food, or volunteer assistance due to self-isolation,” she said.
“The phones between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. will be answered as if [someone] walked in the door.”
OlyCAP plans to follow the scheduling of the school districts and will operate in this manner until April 27 or until advised by county and state health organizations.
The community centers still will offer essential services such as preparing and handing out meals, commodity boxes, food bank drive-through distribution, tax preparation, and help with census, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Cronmiller said.
“We are sorry to the groups and persons that have reserved the centers, but we feel an obligation to protect the staff and community,” Cronmiller said.
At the Port Angeles Senior Center and at the Tri-Area Community Center, OlyCAP will still have its warm congregate meals for people who have pre-registered for them, but the meals will be offered to-go only. Groups will not be allowed to gather to eat, Cronmiller said.
OlyCAP also will give congregate meal participants the choice of taking home frozen meals and/or shelf-stable commodity boxes. The organization will continue its Senior Nutrition Home Delivered Meals, Cronmiller said.
The Emergency Shelter in Port Townsend is in self-isolation mode as of Sunday evening, Cronmiller said.
Anyone who entered the shelter will be agreeing to stay in the shelter until other arrangements can be made. From anyone who doesn’t agree to stay, OlyCAP is asking for contact information so said persons can be contacted if necessary, said Cronmiller.
“We have some volunteers with COAST (Community Outreach Association Shelter Team) that will be helping to prepare and drop off three meals to the roughly twenty-five people there, but we anticipate that volunteer team will need more help or could use offers from local restaurants,” she said.
In addition to food, Cronmiller also discussed with the Jefferson Board of County Commissioners that she is looking for entertainment such as portable DVD players or other streaming devices to help those staying there, she said.
Those interested in donating are encouraged to call the Port Townsend office at 360-385-2571 ext. 1010.
OlyCAP created a form for people to complete if they are willing to volunteer during the crisis. Since it was initially shared on Saturday, there has been over 100 responses so far, Cronmiller said.
OlyCAP created another form for people to use if they need help as another alternative to the phone numbers and email.
“Using these forms and phone numbers, OlyCAP hopes to serve as a point of contact in the two counties for volunteers and as a resource for community members, especially those that are low and fixed income in need of assistance,”Cronmiller said.
OlyCAP has also closed its Early Childhood and Head Start classrooms and are working on home-learning plans and checking in weekly with the families affected, Cronmiller said.
The adult day care is closed, and the staff are working on potentially offering one-on-one music and art therapy for those customers, Cronmiller said.
Cronmiller is encouraging people to follow OlyCAP’s Facebook page for updates, calls for volunteers and donation requests.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].