Peninsula Home Fund helps mother becomes self-sufficient

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another in a series of articles on the Peninsula Home Fund.

PORT TOWNSEND — Jasmine Kettle greets her customers with a menu in hand and asks if they’d like a cup of coffee as she leads them to a table.

As a waitress for the Blue Moose Café in Port Townsend’s Boat Haven, she is known by her customers as friendly, efficient and, most importantly, self-confident.

Jasmine is a 20-year-old single mother of a beautiful 15-month-old daughter, Zavannah — and a former welfare recipient.

“When Jasmine came to us as a participant in the Community Jobs program, she was determined to get off of welfare and become self-sufficient,” recalls Patty Cuddeback, Jasmine’s case manager with OlyCAP — Olympic Community Action Programs.

“She was living with her mom, learning to be a good mother herself, but unprepared for full independence.”

Jasmine listened and learned in her temporary position as a receptionist.

She gained many new skills on the job and also took several courses to help her prepare for a demanding world.

“I don’t like to be dependent; I don’t like to sit back and sponge off of the community,” she says.

“But I needed some help, and I needed to learn a lot of things in order to set up a home for myself and Zavannah.”

While Jasmine gives credit to many others for her progress, especially to her mother, she names two key elements to her success.

First was a course of study she took called ‘Financial Literacy.’

The class was provided by First Federal Savings and Loan, a partner agency working with OlyCAP to help people gain independence.

“I learned how to manage my money,” she says.

“They taught me the skills I needed to budget, save, obtain credit, live within my means and even to plan for the unexpected.”

Peninsula Home Fund

The second key was help from the Peninsula Daily News’ Peninsula Home Fund.

“Jasmine needed a deposit to get into her own apartment — she didn’t qualify for other sources, so we used the Home Fund,” says Cuddeback.

Says Jasmine: “It was so important to be able to move into my own apartment.

“I then got utilities and phone and began to build good credit.

“I am so grateful for the Home Fund.

“It was hard for me to ask for help, but in my case, it shows that even a small amount of help means more than you can possibly understand.”

Jasmine and Zavannah now live in their own apartment — and Jasmine is no longer on welfare.

“It feels really good!

“I have been able to buy a reliable car, get Zavannah into a good childcare provider and start saving to buy my own home within two years.”

‘Hand up, not hand-out’

“We view the Home Fund as a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out,’ says OlyCAP Executive Director Dan Wollam.

“Our goal is not only to be there with a safety net, but also to help people find the resources to invest in themselves so that they become so stable that they need no further help.”

Peninsula Home Fund is seeking contributions for its annual holiday-season fund-raising campaign.

Now in its 15th year, the fund is supported entirely by Jefferson and Clallam residents.

It is managed for the Peninsula Daily News by OlyCAP, the No. 1 emergency care agency on the North Olympic Peninsula.

* In the past 12 months, the fund has assisted more than 750 households.

* No money is deducted for administration or other overhead.

* All contributions are fully IRS tax-deductible.

* No money is diverted for administration or other overhead. All costs are absorbed by the PDN and OlyCAP.

* All instances of help are designed to get an individual or family through the crisis — and back on the path to self-sufficiency.

* Home Fund case managers 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.

* Donors’ personal information is kept confidential. The PDN does not rent, sell, give or otherwise share your address or other information with anyone, or make any other use of it.

* Individuals, couples, businesses and school groups set a new record for contributions in 2002 — $67,048. All of that money is expected to be spent by Dec. 31.

* 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.

* To apply for a grant from the fund, phone OlyCAP at 360-452-4726 (Clallam County) or 360-385-2571 (Jefferson County).

* If you have any questions about the fund, contact John Brewer, Peninsula Daily News editor and publisher, at 360-417-3500.

Through the end of December, the PDN will do stories every Wednesday and Sunday about how the fund operates.

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