Stepping up to help by volunteering at OlyCAP is Peninsula Home Fund case manager Laura Calabria

Stepping up to help by volunteering at OlyCAP is Peninsula Home Fund case manager Laura Calabria

PENINSULA HOME FUND — Ring out 2013 with a ‘hand up, not a handout,’ and thank you for making a difference

RING OUT 2013 by offering struggling families “a hand up, not a handout” through the Peninsula Daily News’ Peninsula Home Fund.

Your gift will fulfill that time-honored adage: Charity begins at home.

All the money collected for the Home Fund stays in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

Today is the last day to make a donation and get a tax deduction for 2013.

To donate online today using a credit card, push the “Home Fund — Click Here to Donate” button at www.peninsuladailynews.com.

Or go directly to the donation webpage — https://secure.peninsuladailynews.com/homefund.

You can also use the donation coupon on this page (2nd photo) — and mail it with a check dated today.

If you wish to make your donation by phone, or have any questions about the fund, call John Brewer, PDN publisher and editor, at 360-417-3500.

Or email him at john.brewer@peninsuladailynews.com.

For 25 years, the Home Fund has helped thousands of families across the North Olympic Peninsula.

They are your neighbors, with nowhere else to turn, that our partner, nonprofit OlyCAP — Olympic Community Action Programs — wouldn’t be able to assist otherwise.

OlyCAP, the Peninsula’s No. 1 emergency care agency in our two counties, oversees the Home Fund for the PDN, screening the applicants and carefully distributing the funds.

No money is deducted by the Peninsula Daily News for administration fees or any other overhead.

Every penny goes to OlyCAP to help the most vulnerable members of our community, from infants to families to seniors.

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 $69.86 per family.

But even though the dollar figures are small, the impact can be big, in huge, life-changing ways.

Laura Calabria volunteers once a week with OlyCAP’s Port Angeles office as a Peninsula Home Fund case manager.

“It’s rewarding to help others,” says Laura, 33.

“It’s a really good feeling to make a difference in their lives.”

Her clients, she says, are varied and come from all walks of life.

They are single, married, with and without children.

Some are homeless or living in temporary shelters like Serenity House.

Some are lost, some have mental disabilities and many are depressed.

Some just lost a job, or just got a job but haven’t gotten the first paycheck.

All are in need of help to get through an emergency situation.

“Having the ability to not judge others is one of the most important aspects of my job,” she says.

But she finds it “especially gratifying to help those who are working hard to make it on their own.

“It’s almost amazing to me when I see so many young people with kids who come in asking for help.

“You can tell they are trying really hard to hold it together, but their circumstances can be really hard so I tell them, ‘You’re actually doing pretty great,’ which can reassure them they are OK.”

Most of the Home Fund clients, she says, “just need a bit of guidance on how they could be doing a little bit more to help themselves.”

Laura is married, holds down a job tending a wine bar and volunteered in the past at Hamilton Elementary School, assisting teachers and students.

She grew up in Italy and volunteered there “at youth centers and places like that, because helping others is important.”

Marki Lockhart is OlyCAP’s Peninsula Home Fund leader.

“Laura caught on very quickly and is a great asset to the Port Angeles office” says Marki.

“Without the help of dedicated volunteers we wouldn’t be able to assist as many clients as we currently do.

“They are the ones that help make this program such a success.”

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 phones, and a Home Fund caseworker will phone you back.

OlyCAP’s website: www.olycap.org.

Email: action@olycap.org.

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