Volunteers help Peninsula Home Fund give a ‘hand up, not a handout’

  • By Tim Hockett For Peninsula Daily News
  • Friday, December 12, 2008 12:01am
  • News

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

The next article will appear Sunday. It will include a list of the latest donations.

By Tim Hockett For Peninsula Daily News

Theresa Tracy, Gigi Callaizakis and Bill James are active volunteers for OlyCAP — Olympic Community Action Programs, the No. 1 emergency care agency in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

They have been trained to provide valuable assistance to folks who need help from the Peninsula Daily News’ “hand up, not a hand out” Peninsula Home Fund and other community resources.

OlyCAP manages the Peninsula Home Fund for the PDN, screening applicants and distributing the money in small (but often life-changing) amounts, usually up to $150.

The fund is a safety net for people on the North Olympic Peninsula when they suddenly face an emergency situation and can’t find help elsewhere.

Drawing upon the Peninsula Home Fund, Tracy, Callaizakis and James, along with OlyCAP staff and other volunteers, are able to provide a wide range of assistance.

This includes hot meals for seniors, warm winter coats for kids, help with home heating bills, rental assistance, help with prescription costs, car repair, even access to health and dental care and safe, drug-free temporary housing . . . the list goes on and on.

No administrative charges of any kind are deducted from the Peninsula Home Fund by either the PDN or OlyCAP so every penny can be used to help people.

Assistance is limited to one time in a 12-month period.

Home Fund contributions are often used in conjunction with money from other agencies, enabling OlyCAP to often stretch the value of a donation.

So far in 2008, the Peninsula Home Fund has given “a hand up, not a handout” to more than 2,700 families and individuals across Clallam and Jefferson counties.

More help will be needed in both counties as we begin a cold, cold December — and go into the depths of winter.

‘I was really, really inspired’

Tracy had a 34-year career with the city of Los Angeles before taking early retirement.

“I was the first woman to do lots of things for the city,” she says, “and I loved every minute of it.”

She retired as a superintendent in the Bureau of Street Services — and there are a lot of streets in L.A.

When it came time to retire, she had already decided on another “city of angels” — Port Angeles.

“A friend of mine told me about Port Angeles, so I came up for a visit in 2004,” she recalls.

“I immediately felt like I was coming home.

“I researched the area and read about it in magazines and began to follow the Peninsula Daily News’ Web site — then I got a mail subscription.”

It was in the early days of that PDN subscription that the Peninsula Home Fund articles captured her attention.

“I was really, really inspired by the Home Fund stories and determined that when I retired, I would somehow help.”

She now serves North Olympic Peninsula residents all day Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in the Port Angeles OlyCAP office.

“I always viewed my work in L.A. as service to the community — this is just an extension of my service career.”

Callaizakis worked in the human resources department of a nonprofit agency in Colorado.

She moved to Port Townsend in 2006 and read an ad in the Peninsula Daily News calling for volunteers to help assist neighbors in need through the Home Fund.

Having completed her Ph.D. in psychology, she was anxious to be involved with helping people.

“I realized immediately that I would be providing two benefits — one to the paid staff of OlyCAP, who are often overwhelmed with emergency requests, and another benefit directly to those in need,” she says.

“Working with stressed families can be overwhelming day in and day out.

“When I come in, I am fresh and ready to help. This provides a little bit of relief to OlyCAP employees — and a hand up to those in need.”

Callaizakis has made a lot of discoveries as she has helped dozens of people since she began in February 2007.

“I have found that most people are definitely not trying to work the system.

“I tell them I have limited resources, and the clients generally are more than happy with the limited help I can provide.

“If you treat people with respect, they will shoulder responsibility.”

James retired from Anheuser-Busch and lives between Sequim and Port Townsend.

When a friend, Homer Smith, urged him to take a look at OlyCAP as a place that could use help, he was reluctant.

“I told Homer that I didn’t just want to give a check, I wanted to give ME,” he recalls.

“When I heard about the emergency services volunteer program, I still wasn’t sure — but then I thought I’d try it.

“I shadowed Gigi a few times; when I saw the difference it was making in people’s lives, the empathy and sincerity of the staff, it touched me so much.

“I saw people who live in a world I never lived in — and I had to help.

“I got to where I really look forward to coming in because I often take away more than I give.’

“I decided that volunteering at OlyCAP would be a perfect solution to that frustration.”

No deductions

From Thanksgiving through Dec. 31, the PDN’s Peninsula Home Fund is seeking contributions for its 2008 holiday season fund-raising campaign.

From Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to LaPush, the fund is a “hand up, not a handout” when there is nowhere else to turn.

Every penny, every dollar, donated goes — without any deductions for administration or overhead — to making life better for children, teens, families and the elderly in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

Peninsula Home Fund is unique and nonprofit:

• No money is deducted for administration or other overhead.

• All contributions are fully IRS tax-deductible.

• Your personal information is kept confidential. Peninsula Daily News does not rent, sell, give or otherwise share your address or other information with anyone, or make any other use of it.

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

That’s the “hand-up, not a handout” focus of the fund.

• Whenever possible, Peninsula Home Fund case managers like Tracy, Callaizakis and Allen work with individuals or families to develop a plan to become financially stable — and avoid a recurrence of the emergency that prompted aid from the fund.

• Begun in 1989, the fund is supported entirely by Jefferson and Clallam residents.

Individuals, couples, businesses, churches, service organizations and school groups set a new record for contributions in 2007 — $193,312.

All of that money will be spent before Dec. 31.

• 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. Or e-mail him at john.brewer@peninsuladaily news.com.

Peninsula Daily News publishes stories every Sunday and Wednesday during the fund-raising campaign, reporting on how the fund works and, in the Sunday stories, also listing contributors.

More in News

John Brewer.
Former editor and publisher of PDN dies

John Brewer, 76, was instrumental in community

Randy Perry and Judy Reandeau Stipe, volunteer executive director of Sequim Museum & Arts, hold aloft a banner from "The Boys in the Boat" film Perry purchased and is loaning to the museum. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
‘Boys in the Boat’ banner to be loaned to museum

Sequim man purchases item shown in film at auction

Charisse Deschenes, first hired by the city of Sequim in 2014, departed this week after 10 years in various roles, including most recently deputy city manager/community and economic development director. (City of Sequim)
Deputy manager leaves Sequim

Community, economic development position open

Hoko River project seeks salmon recovery and habitat restoration

Salmon coaltion takes lead in collaboration with Makah, Lower Elwha tribes

Clallam Transit’s zero-fare program off to successful start

Ridership is up and problems are down, general manager says

Motor rider airlifted to Seattle hospital after wreck

A Gig Harbor man was airlifted to a Seattle hospital… Continue reading

Traffic light project to begin Monday

Work crews from Titan Earthwork, LLC will begin a… Continue reading

From left to right are Indigo Gould, Hazel Windstorm, Eli Hill, Stuart Dow, Mateu Yearian and Hugh Wentzel.
Port Townsend Knowledge Bowl team wins consecutive state championships

The Knowledge Bowl team from Port Townsend High School has… Continue reading

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls dirt from around the base of an orca sculpture at the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield on Thursday during site preparation to rebuild the Port Angeles play facility, which was partially destroyed by an arson fire on Dec. 20. A community build for the replacement playground is scheduled for May 15-19 with numerous volunteer slots available. Signups are available at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084DA4AC23A5F85-47934048-dream#/. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Site preparation at Dream Playground

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls… Continue reading

Rayonier Inc. is selling more than 115,000 acres in four units across the West Olympic Peninsula last week as the company looks to sell $1 billion worth of assets. (Courtesy photo / Rayonier Inc.)
Rayonier to sell West End timberland

Plans call for debt restructuring; bids due in June