EDITOR’S NOTE: For 25 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 — Laid off from his job, Troy McKelvey, a former Army paratrooper and divorced father of three, found himself drowning in a sea of financial woes and worries.
Today, with “the best job I’ve ever had,” he thanks contributors to the Peninsula Home Fund for helping him get back on the path to self-sufficiency after the crisis threatened to derail his life.
“I was sinking and panicking over my inability to provide for my family,” said the father of twins Bethany and Shauna, 14, and young Troy, 10, after losing his job as a boat electrician amid the waves of the recession.
Troy, 36, gets a veteran’s disability payment of $1,000 a month (for injuries he got while parachuting), but his rent was $850 a month, which only left $150 for the family.
Even with unemployment assistance, he found himself behind on his rent, a $300 electric bill and little money to pay for groceries.
He was put in touch with the OlyCAP office in Port Townsend.
OlyCAP is nonprofit Olympic Community Action Programs, the No. 1 emergency-care agency in Jefferson and Clallam counties.
It manages the Home Fund for the PDN, screens the applicants, carefully disburses the funds and provides life-changing counseling and services to those who need a “hand up, not a handout.”
“At first, I felt too embarrassed to ask for help,” Troy said.
The Home Fund money “helped me pay a couple of bills and gave me a Safeway gift card to buy food.”
His caseworker also was able to assist with his electric bill and rental assistance through a grant from a veteran’s association, negotiations with his landlord (who was willing to help) and a Rotary REACH grant.
Troy, who has a degree in computer science, also got guidance and support from his caseworker while continuing to search for work.
“Times were really hard. I was laid off about the same time another Port Townsend company laid off a bunch of people,” he said.
“We were all out looking for jobs at the same time and not finding anything.
“I’d go a place to give my resume and see two others doing the same thing just walk out.
“The guy taking the applications would barely look up. He’d just say, ‘Oh thanks, just put it there on the stack on my desk.’”
Then Troy saw an ad for a job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.
He applied — but didn’t hear anything back.
“Then I got a call from a guy at [Naval Undersea Warfare Center] Keyport who asked if I was still interviewing.
“I replied with a definite yes, even though I had no idea what the job was. I just wanted a job.”
He was interviewed in Keyport and, a few days afterward, he got a call, offering him a job in computer work with a starting pay of $60,000.
Now he works with computers on Navy undersea warfare projects.
While he doesn’t do the programming himself, he tests and installs the software and hardware for those projects on aircraft carriers and other ships, and provides tech support to the sailors who use it.
Troy gives his heartfelt thanks to those who have given his family — and others like them — a beacon of hope through their Home Fund contributions.
“Without their help, I would have sunk,” he said.
“But thanks to their generosity, I’m in a better place where I can now give back to the program myself.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had.
“Life is good, and I really enjoy being able to help sailors be safer.
“I wouldn’t be at such a good place in my life if I didn’t get much needed help from the Home Fund.”
Peninsula safety net
The PDN’s Peninsula Home Fund — a safety net for local residents when there is nowhere else to turn — is seeking contributions for its annual holiday season fundraising campaign that runs from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31.
From Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to Sequim and LaPush, the Home Fund is a “hand up, not a handout” for children, teens, families and the elderly to get through an emergency situation.
Money from the Home Fund is used for hot meals for seniors in Jefferson and Clallam counties; 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.
Begun in 1989, the Home Fund is supported by Jefferson and Clallam residents.
Individuals, couples, families, businesses, churches, service organizations and school groups set a record for contributions in 2012 — $268,137.
With heavy demand again this year, the carefully rationed fund is being depleted rapidly.
Since Jan. 1, the Home Fund has helped more than 3,000 individuals and households, many with children like that of Troy McKelvey.
As we move into winter, the toughest period of the year, all of the money collected in 2012 is expected to be exhausted by Dec. 31.
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.
Peninsula Home Fund is not a welfare program.
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.
And, as needed, Peninsula Home Fund donations are also used in conjunction with money from churches, service clubs and other donors, enabling OlyCAP to stretch the value of the contribution.
The fund is not set up to hand out money passively.
The Home Fund staff’s most important goal is to get the individual or family through a crisis.
Whenever possible, 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.
The goal again: “a hand up, not a handout.”
All contributions are fully IRS tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law for the year in which a check is written.
(See accompanying story.)
Your personal information also 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.
Applying for a 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.
Geoff Crump, OlyCAP’s executive director, oversees disbursements from the Peninsula Home Fund. He can be reached at 360-385-2571 or by emailing email@example.com.
If you have any questions about the fund, phone John Brewer, PDN editor and publisher, at 360-417-3500.
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions so far
We’ve gotten a running start on this year’s holiday season fundraising campaign.
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.
Thank you very much for making a difference in the lives — and futures — of your neighbors like Troy McKelvey and his three children:
■ Employees of Clallam County Road Department — $400. We are proud to support your fund again this year. Even though our employees are feeling the effects of the economy slump, they still stepped up to the plate. Thank you for all the work you do to help those in need.
■ Nancy McDonald, $150. In memory of Robert “Mac” McDonald.
■ Georgia Fraker, Port Angeles — $50.
■ Darryl and Shelley Wolfe, Port Angeles — $50. In memory of Lucy Marie Bay.
■ Fidelity Charitable (Grace’s Bounty Fund) — $500.
■ Lois Mahaney, Port Angeles — $100.
■ Bobbie and Jerry, Port Townsend — $200.
Many thanks also to these donors (who requested that the amount of their donation be kept private):
■ Robert Sheridan, Sequim.
■ AMS Audio Enterprises Inc., Sequim
■ Olympic Springs Inc., Carlsborg
■ Wesley R. Ringius, Port Angeles. In loving honor of Emily Ringius.
■ Carla Michaels, Sequim.
■ Dee Dee Hansen, Port Angeles.
■ Marjorie Carpenter, Port Angeles. In memory of Harold Andreson.
■ Pam and Paul Cunningham, Port Angeles.
■ Marci Newlon, Sequim. In memory of Richard (Dick) Newlon.
■ Beverly J. Kinney, Sequim. In memory of Lyle B. Kinney.
■ Nancy Blackmer, Port Townsend.
■ Richard and Barbara Jepson, Sequim.
■ Carol L. Martell, Port Angeles. In memory of Ric Prael.
■ ExxonMobile Foundation Mobile Retiree Matching Gifts Program (Stanley Johann).
■ Sandy Frankfurth, Sequim. In memory of Roma Gummersall-Sharp-Cox.
■ Gary Twiss, Port Angeles.
■ Janet Young, Port Angeles.
■ Peggy Broemeling, Sequim.
■ James and Helen Karr, Sequim. In memory of Gus.
■ Homer Kesterson, Forks.
■ Ed Chadd, Port Angeles.
■ PJM Interconnection (matching contribution for Ake Almgren).
■ Mike Kurhajetz, Port Angeles. In memory of Kurhajetz and Vincent families
■ Mr. and Mrs. Dale Doran, Port Angeles. In honor of our Moms and Dads.
■ Fred and Georgine Sullivan, Walnut Creek, Calif. In memory of Marge Hansen.
■ League of British Woman, Carlsborg.
■ Don and Joanne Morrison, Carlsborg. In honor of my brother, Dr. Strawn.
■ Philip Hunt, Port Angeles. In honor of Roshie L. and Ethelene B.
■ Glen and Marilyn Adolphsen, Port Angeles. In memory of Jean Johnson.
n Vaughn and Sherry Shamp, Port Angeles.
■ Robert and Jerry Macomber, Sequim.
■ Paul Richmond, Port Angeles.
■ Joe Cammack, Port Angeles.
■ Carol Lee Moses, Carlsborg. In memory of Don Morrison.
■ Charles, Ed and Susan Chadd, Port Angeles. In memory of Sam and Evelyn Chadd.
Many thanks also to these donors (who requested anonymity):
■ Sequim — $200.
■ Port Angeles — $50.
■ Mojave, Calif. — $20.
■ Sequim — $25.
■ Port Angeles — $25. In memory of Cheryl Mayer.
■ Sequim — $50.
■ Port Angeles — $200.
■ Port Angeles — $50.
■ Port Angeles — $5.
■ Port Angeles — $25.
■ Sequim — $50.
■ Port Angeles — $75.
■ Sequim — $200.
■ Wilmington, Del. — $500.
■ Port Angeles — $100.
■ Sequim — $20.
■ Port Angeles — $100.
■ Sherman Oaks, Calif. — $400. In Honor of Patty, Randy, Sarah, Daniel and Donald. Thank you for your love and generosity. — S.
■ Port Townsend — $100.
■ Sequim — $200.
■ Sequim — $1,000. In memory of Myron Fuller.
HANDWRITING CAN BE hard to decipher at times.
Please report any errors in this list to John Brewer, 360-417-3500 (there’s voice mail if he’s away), or email him at email@example.com.
We’ll rerun the listing correctly.
Our sincerest appreciation again to our donors.