More than 1,000 of our friends and neighbors on the North Olympic Peninsula were helped with Peninsula Home Fund grants in the last year.
The annual campaign for Peninsula Home Fund donations began on Thanksgiving Day and will continue through the holiday season.
But generous donors contribute all year long. You brought the Peninsula Home Fund to $97,511 collected between the first of this year and Monday last week.
Before that, as COVID-19 lockdowns intensified in 2020 — putting many out of work, keeping children home from school and slashing child-care availability — people in Clallam and Jefferson counties stepped up to donate $392,724 to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, which was based on the Peninsula Home Fund structure, and also contributed $51,238 to the home fund between Jan. 1 and Nov. 24 to help those in need.
In the past year — Nov. 24, 2020 through Nov. 23, 2021 — OlyCAP has spent $345,229 providing services to 1,064 people. Of those, 557 were in Clallam County and 507 lived in Jefferson County, said Audrey Morford, OlyCAP executive coordinator.
The average amount granted was $324.46, serving 634 households.
For 32 years, the Peninsula Daily News has collected donations to create a safety net for residents of Clallam and Jefferson counties when their finances just don’t add up.
North Olympic Peninsula residents in need can use the funds, which are dispersed by Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), to help them go on with being or becoming productive members of society and improving their lives.
OlyCAP case managers help people stay in their homes, get to work or school and find a safe place to stay, among other services.
Over the time period between last year’s Thanksgiving and this year’s, the largest number of grants — 202 — were for rental assistance. The next biggest need was for public transportation to get to jobs or school, with a total of 132 people given help.
Utility assistance for 118 people was the third greatest need. OlyCAP gave 116 grants for groceries or personal hygiene goods.
Grants also went to people needing such items as work clothes or tools, car repairs, clothing for both adults and children, medical/dental/eyeglasses services, home repairs, laundry, internet and emergency shelter.
All contributions are federally tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law for the year in which the check is written.
No money will be deducted by the Peninsula Daily News for administration fees or any other overhead. Every penny will go to OlyCAP, which will use 12.5 percent to assist with administrative costs.
“The Home Fund administration is subsidized by OlyCAP through its own operational funds to ensure that as many donation dollars as possible go directly to people in need,” Morford said.
During this season’s campaign, the PDN will list contributors and report how the fund works.
In 2020, OlyCAP amended its rules for dispersing funds to emphasize providing a one-time infusion of funds to help increase self-sufficiency. It will continue that in 2021.
Since some needs can surpass the $350 cap OlyCAP has in place, the agency has removed the cap for a one-time grant, although amounts of $500 or more will require the director’s approval, Morford said.
Exceptions to the one-time-only guideline can be made if special circumstances arise, she said.
Donations don’t have to be large. If you can contribute only a few dollars, please don’t hesitate because you think it won’t matter. Every gift makes a difference, regardless of its size. It creates a life-line for Peninsula residents when there is nowhere else to turn.
The Peninsula Home Fund is a unique nonprofit program:
• 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 La Push “a hand up, not a handout” to get through an emergency situation.
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.
• 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.
How to apply
The best way to request assistance from the Peninsula Home Fund is to fill out an online inquiry.
If you are unable to access the internet, you may call OlyCAP offices in Port Angeles — 360-452-4726 — or Port Townsend — 360-385-2571, regardless of which county you reside in, and the front desk staff will fill it out on your behalf over the phone.
Physical offices remain closed to the public due to COVID-19 health concerns, but services are available.
Cherish Cronmiller, OlyCAP’s executive director, oversees disbursements from the Peninsula Home Fund.
How to donate
To donate, write a check to “Peninsula Home Fund” and attach it to the coupon that appears in today’s PDN.
Mail both items to Peninsula Home Fund, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
You can also contribute online using a credit card. Just go to olycap.org/ donations.
From children’s pennies to checks for thousands of dollars, the generosity of Peninsula Daily News readers makes a positive difference.
If you have any questions about the fund, call Publisher Terry R. Ward at 360-417-3500.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].