Olympic Community Action Programs executive director to leave
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Tim Hockett, executive director of Olympic Community Action Programs, will leave the position at the end of December.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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Tim Hockett, the enthusiastic executive director of Olympic Community Action Programs, is departing his position.

Hockett, 61, of Port Angeles said Friday that after 22 years at OlyCAP, including the past six as executive director, he is leaving the nonprofit organization.

His official departure date will be Dec. 31, but his last day on the job will be Friday, as he takes a couple of weeks of vacation.

“It was at my initiative,” Hockett said, citing stress as a major reason for his decision.

Some of that stress is the frustration of working to provide the social services the agency distributes to low-income residents of Clallam and Jefferson counties in the face of a shrunken pool of grants and government funding.

“Frustration is part of it, but there are lots of other things that contribute to stresses,” added Hockett, a cancer survivor.

Hockett had a year of treatment after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003.

“You never come back 100 percent,” he said.

“The stresses on my body take a toll, and frustration is part of the stress,” he added.

“I'm not just throwing my hands up in the air,” he said. “I had to start dealing with my own physical limitations in a significant way. I'm OK, but stress takes its toll.

“There are considerable stresses associated with this work, especially with this environment and feeling the pressure of the stress of trying to serve people with fewer and fewer resources.”

Hockett, whose salary is $81,000 a year, negotiated a separation agreement with OlyCAP that prevents him from discussing the pact's details, he said.

Next step

OlyCAP board Chairman George Randels of Port Townsend, also the city's deputy mayor, will meet Monday with OlyCAP board Finance Chairman Ed Hopf­ner of Sequim to discuss hiring an interim or full-time replacement.

“Our intention is to fill Tim's position,” Randels said, calling Hockett's departure “absolutely amicable,” though far from a happy occasion.

“I feel lousy,” Randels said. “It's a sad, sad thing.”

Hockett praised the organization's employees, whose numbers had dwindled from 268 in January to 201 as of Friday, and said he worked well with the board.

Hockett, who is divorced, plans to take a quick vacation and may do some writing but will stay in Port Angeles, he said.

He also has two daughters in Australia he plans to visit.

Home Fund continues

The Lancaster, Calif., native's efforts since his hiring in 1989 included his partnership that same year with the Peninsula Daily News to generate and distribute money from the newspaper's annual Peninsula Home Fund drive.

Over the years, the Home Fund has raised nearly $1.6 million for North Olympic Peninsula residents.

The newspaper conducts the fundraising, which begins Thanksgiving and ends New Year's Eve, while OlyCAP distributes the funds.

An average of $95 per family was distributed from the Home Fund this year.

“The Home Fund touches about 2,000 households,” Hockett said, adding that it and other programs administered by OlyCAP annually help a total of 11,000 individuals and households out of the 15,000 residents of Clallam and Jefferson counties who live in poverty.

The Home Fund generated $248,367 in 2010, a record.

“We sure help a lot of people,” Hockett said, adding that the Home Fund was OlyCAP's signature program for helping those with emergencies such as paying for access to medical appointments and help with emergency housing assistance.

Because of the plummeting cutbacks in grants and government support, for the first time in the 22-year history of the Home Fund, OlyCAP will use a portion of the fund in 2012 to pay for staff to screen applicants, provide counseling and carefully disburse the funds.

The amount will be limited to 10 cents of every dollar donated.

Previously, the organization had absorbed all Home Fund costs, deducting nothing from donations for staff costs.

Hockett has worked closely on the Home Fund for the past 13 years with John Brewer, the PDN's publisher and editor, writing many of the newspaper's stories about how the fund operates and who it helps.

“The Home Fund won't miss a beat, thanks to the excellent structure put in place by Tim,” said Brewer.

“But while the Home Fund will continue onward, being the safety net for North Olympic Peninsula residents in crisis, I'm certainly going to miss working with my very good friend and visionary partner.”

‘Good work'

“I absolutely love OlyCAP and the good work it does,” Hockett said.

“OlyCAP is not an agency; it is a group of people and neighbors that work hard to help other people.”

But programs such as the senior nutrition program have suffered mightily under budget constraints, and OlyCAP's budget has shrunk from $12.4 million in 2009 and 2010 to an estimated $10.4 million this year, Randels said.

The budget is expected to drop to an anticipated $9.4 million in 2012 — a projected 24 percent drop in funding in just two years, he added.

Changing eligibility requirements for aid also makes it more difficult to serve all those who need help, Hockett said.

In addition, needy clients are being forced to pay for the programs intended to help them because subsidies are shrinking, he added.

Randels said OlyCAP lost more than $1 million in 2011 compared with 2010, much of it now-dried-up federal stimulus money or gutted state funding, including $500,000 for a dental program in Port Angeles, $250,000 for a community jobs program, $200,000 for home care and $100,000 for emergency food programs.

Randels said Hockett's ability to “move a crowd” for the cause of helping those less fortunate was a sight to behold, recalling an appearance by Hockett at a Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce meeting in Port Townsend.

“He was spellbinding, almost, it was so good,” Randels recalled.

“He knows how to not just work a crowd, but to move a crowd.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 10. 2011 5:01PM
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