Karynna Eichmann and Alden Rohrer Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News

Karynna Eichmann and Alden Rohrer Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News

PENINSULA HOME FUND: Help turns around lives of two people after car wreck

EDITOR’S NOTE: For 27 years, Peninsula Daily News readers in Jefferson and Clallam counties have supported the “hand up, not a handout” Peninsula Home Fund.

Today, we feature another 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 TOWNSEND — After a worsening chain of events hit Karynna Eichmann and Alden Rohrer, the Home Fund helped get them back on track.

“The Home Fund really made a difference in my life at a time when everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong,” Eichmann said.

It was summertime when the recent graduate of Chimacum High School, now 19, and her boyfriend, Alden Rohrer, 20, were driving to the store and talking about their first month of living on their own.

Life seemed perfect. Then a wreck in Port Townsend on June 30 caused “a lot of physical damage to our bodies,” she said.

After that, in short succession, he lost his job, she had to cut back her work hours to part time and they were evicted.

“Here I was starting to build my own little empire, and then swoosh, it fell apart,” Eichmann said.

“It was like trying to put a cookie back together that had broken in half. It couldn’t be done.”

The Home Fund helped them with $350 toward a $1,000 security deposit on a new place to live and also provided some toward an electrical power deposit.

“It gave us that little glimmer of hope we needed to help us get back on our feet,” Eichmann said.

“I needed something to happen to show me the world isn’t as cruel as I thought it was turning out to be.”

The Peninsula Daily News’ Peninsula Home Fund is managed by Olympic Community Action Programs as one of OlyCAP’s many services and responsibilities.

OlyCAP screens the applicants in Clallam and Jefferson counties, carefully disburses the funds and provides life-changing counseling and services to struggling families who need “a hand up, not a handout” to overcome a crisis.

Assistance is provided for basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, energy, food, prescriptions, gasoline and public transportation.

The fund is sustained by the donations of generous community members to the Home Fund.

When Eichmann and Rohrer decided to live on their own, they found the only place available within their budget was a room in a private house for $650 a month.

They were, she said, “happy to have it.”

“We were both very fresh at supporting ourselves,” Eichmann said, “kind of like carrots pulled out of the ground that still had the dirt on them. We were that fresh.”

A little over a month later, both were hurt in the wreck.

The next few weeks were a blur as they struggled to recover.

Between doctors and physical therapy, she could put in only part-time hours at what had been a full-time job, and Rohrer lost his job.

When they came up short on their rent, they received a “pay or vacate” notice.

“It was a big blow losing our place to live after almost losing our bodies,” Eichmann said.

The two called a trailer park in Port Townsend to ask if they had anything open because “we were desperate,” she said.

She was told there was one available for $650 a month. Eichmann’s elation was cut short when she heard she’d need a deposit for $1,000 plus an additional amount to hook up electrical power.

“We’re just getting back to our jobs, so I was like, ‘Where are we going to come up with the money?’ And I kind of freaked out,” she said.

A friend suggested she call Olympic Community Action Programs.

A case manager told her she could help her with the deposit, using money from the Home Fund.

“I about fell on the ground when she said that because I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Plus they were able to give me $100 for our [public utility district] deposit.”

They managed to scrape up the remaining $650 deposit and move in.

Thankfully, she said, she was allowed to bring her two cats, Dusty and Skittsy.

She had worried that she would have to take the cats to a humane society, “which would have been the most grievous thing ever because they are my family, too.”

Now settled into their new home, Eichmann said: “I am definitely humbled by the help from the Home Fund.

“All the things that could have gone wrong in my life, they all did, except for that help from the Home Fund.

“It really made a difference in my life.”

And now, the two say, they can get back to enjoying their lives and working toward their longtime goals.

She loves horses, saying she “had a blast” in her senior year competing in Washington State High School Equestrian Team events as a member of the Sequim Equestrian Team through a co-op agreement with Chimacum High School.

She hopes to eventually become a veterinarian. In the fall, she began working toward that goal by beginning as a full-time student working on an associate degree at Olympia College, taking most of her classes online but attending one class in person in Poulsbo.

They are both trying to save money to help with her career goal.

Rohrer has learned to love horses and cats through Eichmann, and she’s joined him as a member of Sea Scouts, where she’s learning how to sail and “starting to love it as much as he does.”

They both agree that they will never forget the help and kindness that came to them through OlyCAP and the Home Fund.

“We’ll just forever be in awe,” Rohrer said.

It’s opened a whole new world to them and “what good things can come through the power of giving to others.”

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.

From Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to Sequim and LaPush, 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.

■ Assistance usually averages less than $100. The average amount of help this year has been $70 per person.

The maximum allowance per year is $350 per household.

■ 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.

■ 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 and OlyCAP do 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 2014 — $271,981 — smashing the old record of $268,389 set Dec. 31, 2013.

As of Nov. 15, approximately $205,000 has been spent for Home Fund grants.

Most all of the remaining money — $75,000 — 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: action@olycap.org.

If you have any questions about the fund, phone Terry Ward, PDN publisher, at 360-417-3500. Or email tward@peninsuladailynews.com.

Contributions so far

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 Dec. 31, the fund itself never closes.

Donations of any amount are always welcome.

To donate online by credit card, please click on www.secure.peninsuladailynews.com/homefund.


Below is the second half of the list of the donors whose contributions were processed between Dec. 9 and Dec. 15:

Thank you very much for making a difference in the lives — and futures — of your neighbors:

• Charles Williams, Port Angeles — $100.

• Walter and Edith Rowell, Denver — $100. In honor of Ben and Donna Pacheco. This is our Christmas gift to our daughter and son-in-law, who are active in Port Angeles.

• Mary and Jim ­Bettcher, Sequim — $100.

• Dale and Carol Warner, Port Angeles — $200. In memory of Violet and Sarah.

• Charles and Eycke Strickland, Port Angeles — $100. In memory of Karl Laabs.

• Class of 1954 Port Angeles High School, Port Angeles — $235.

• Stanley and Janine Moore, Forks — $100.

• Geoff, Jacob and Laura, Port Angeles — $300. In memory of Grandma and Grandpa Melly and Grandma and Grandpa Kus.

• Craig and Sally Fulton, Port Angeles — $250.

Many thanks also to these donors (who requested that the amount of their donation be kept private):

• Rosemary Kane, Port Angeles. In honor of Midge Bader.

• Nick and Sandy Larson, Port Angeles. In memory of Fred and Bob Michalscheck.

• Lee D. Shames, Port Angeles. In memory of ­Marlene Kling.

• Karen and Steve Anderson, Port Angeles.

• Mark and Pat Lewis, Sequim.

• Cynthia Spawn, Port Angeles.

• Maureen Boyd, Sequim. In memory of

John Boyd.

• Stan and Colleen ­Freidberg, Vancouver, Wash.

• Robert and Virginia Bowling Sequim.

• Mary D. Van Rossen, Port Angeles.

• Pam and Bruce Busch, Sequim. In honor of Rose Crumb, founder of ­Volunteer Hospice of ­Clallam County.

• Lynn and Jenifer ­Taylor, Port Townsend.

• April Kilgore and Monroe Stringham, Port Angeles.

• Marcia and Oscar Heydorn, Sequim. In honor of Aunt Mae and Uncle Bud.

• Dennis Duncan, Port Angeles. In memory of Dorothy C. Duncan.

• Glen and Jeanie Robards, Sequim.

• Lee and Irene Wyman, Port Angeles. In loving memory of Violet Grall.

• Joe and Naomi Denhart, Port Angeles. In memory of our parents and Mary Harris.

• Lindy and Leon Feigenbutz, Carlsborg. In memory of Mary Tomkins.

• Levetta Frymire, Port Angeles.

• Heather Peters, Chimacum. In memory of Ellsworth (Pete) Peters: We remember you, Grandpa, and your service to our country, your family and community. This gift to help others is in honor of all you gave.

• Heather Peters, Chimacum. In memory of Jack and Betty Phillips: In loving remembrance of Nana and Grampy, the firm foundation of our family, now our twin lights in the heavens, watching over us always, ever guiding us home.

• Naomi and Tom Foley, Sequim. In memory of Barbara Mull.

• Katherine Dunham, Sequim.

• John and Mary Wegmann, Port Angeles. In memory of John Willits.

• Walt and Montel Livingston, Sequim.

• Beverly and Glenn Dawson, Port Angeles.

• David and Georgeann Castor, Port Angeles.

• Charlotte Patterson, Port Angeles. In memory of Ken Patterson, the love of my life and the most honorable and tolerant man I ever knew.

• Susan A. Kreml, Sequim. In memory of Mark.

• Jim and Kathy Conquest, Sequim. In memory of Dorothea Beggs.

• Diane Mulholland, Port Townsend.

• Lillian Adamson, Port Angeles. In memory of my own Idaho cowboy, Bill.

• Kenneth Bleyer, Port Townsend.

• Dorothy Phillips, Port Angeles. In memory of Barbara Clampett.

• Margaret Levitan, Sequim.

• Sue and John Miles, Port Angeles.

• Miss E. Laneous, Port Angeles.

• Leslie Campbell, Port Angeles.

• Joan and Jerry Kasher, Sequim.

• Dick and Jackie Wilhelm, Port Angeles.

• Beverly Stanley, Port Angeles.

• Jerry and Sue Fowler, Sequim.

• Ann Waldron and Enza M. McCormick, Sequim.

• Carolyn Muller, Port Angeles. In memory of Will Muller.

• Mary K. Otto, Port Angeles.

• Sue Priddy and Allen Herlyck, Port Townsend.

• Cornelia Schadler, Sequim. In honor of Lee Squier and Rebecca and Kim Knudeson.

• Diane Reaves, Sequim. In memory of Graham Reaves.

• Evan, Thea and Brett Waldron, Port Angeles. In memory of our Matt.

• Nancy and Ed Grier, Port Angeles.

• Don and Elizabeth Strait, Port Angeles. In memory of Evan Matt ­Waldron.

• Joanna Baker, Port Angeles. In memory of Harrison “Bud” Baker and Piper Cameron.

• Ronald Hoffmaster, Sequim.

• Patty and Terry Barlow, Port Angeles.

• Maureen Sandison and Joe Corn, Port Angeles.

• Janet Cattano, Sequim.

• Jan Williford, Sequim.

• Bette Wood, Port Angeles.

• Don Wilson, Port Townsend.

• James and Joan Sanderson, Carlsborg. In memory of Prosper Ostrowski.

• Ken and Marilyn Jacobson, Port Angeles. In memory of our parents, Mons and Nadene Botnen and Norm and Phrania Jacobson.

• Roy and Mary Gotham, Port Angeles.

Many thanks also to these donors (who ­requested anonymity):

• Sequim, $50.

• Port Angeles, $500. In honor of Gene Turner.

• Sequim, $100.

• Sequim, $500.

• Port Angeles, $500.

• Port Angeles, $100. In memory of Bob Dalton.

• Port Angeles, $50.

• Port Angeles, $100. In memory of William Hayes.

• Port Angeles, $150.

In memory of Barbara Clampett.

• Port Townsend, $200.

• Port Angeles, $50.

• Sequim, $50.

• Sequim, $1,000.

• Sequim, $100.

• Port Angeles, $25. In memory of David Gillis. Miss you.

• Sequim, $200.

• Port Ludlow, $500.

• Sequim, $100.

Port Angeles, $100.

In memory of Kraig W. Johnson.

• Port Townsend, $100.

• Port Angeles, $200.

• Sequim, $25.

• Port Townsend, $200.

• Port Angeles, $100.

• Sequim, $101.

• Port Townsend, $100.

• Port Townsend, $100.

• $10. May God bless us all and God bless America.

• Sequim, $100.

• Sequim, $200.

• Port Angeles, $100.

• Port Angeles, $100.

_________

EVEN THE BEST handwriting can be hard to decipher at times.

Please report any errors in this list to Terry Ward, 360-417-3500 (there’s voice mail if he’s away), or email him at tward@peninsuladailynews.com.

We’ll rerun the listing correctly.

Our sincerest appreciation again to our donors.

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