A helping hand behind the PDN Peninsula Home Fund
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Rich Ciccarone meets with clients in the OlyCAP/Home Fund office in Port Townsend in 2010, shortly after he began as a volunteer.
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Give voice to your heart

A GIFT OF any size is welcome.

The Peninsula Home Fund has never been a campaign of heavy hitters.

If you can contribute only a few dollars, please don't hesitate because you think it won't make a difference.

Every gift makes a difference, regardless of its size.

To donate, write a check to “Peninsula Home Fund,” print out the donation coupon in the photo gallery above ("Click Here for Related Photos") and mail both items to Peninsula Home Fund, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

You can also donate online by credit card.

Just go back to the home page and click on “Peninsula Home Fund — Click Here to Donate.”

All contributions are fully IRS tax-deductible.

The fund's IRS number, under the auspices of OlyCAP, is 91-0814319.

Whether you donate by coupon or online, you will receive a written thank-you and acknowledgment of your contribution.

To delay may mean to forget.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Nonprofit Olympic Community Action Programs — OlyCAP — is the No. 1 emergency-care agency in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

OlyCAP also oversees the “hand up, not a handout” Peninsula Home Fund for the Peninsula Daily News, screening the applicants and carefully distributing the money donated by PDN readers.

Rich Ciccarone, a retired corporate executive from New York City, is chairman of OlyCAP's board of directors.

He is also a Home Fund volunteer in the OlyCAP office in Port Townsend.

In this article, he writes firsthand about his experiences as a Home Fund caseworker.

The PDN publishes information on the Home Fund every Wednesday and Sunday during our annual fundraising campaign from Thanksgiving to Dec. 31.

The Sunday articles also list the week's Home Fund donors.

By Rich Ciccarone
For Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Back in February 2010, I learned that OlyCAP was looking for Home Fund volunteers to counsel clients seeking assistance.

After joining the OlyCAP Home Fund team, I quickly discovered that there are many people in our community who have literally fallen through the cracks and are in dire need of assistance.

Assistance can take many forms — monetary, counseling or referral to other sources in the community.

Many people mistakenly think these folks have never worked.

While some are elderly or disabled, many are folks who have lost their jobs and are struggling to find work.

Some people still are employed but find it impossible to make ends meet or pay for medical emergencies.

The story behind each client's situation is different, but they all have a common need for help.

None of these folks seeking assistance wants to be in this situation.

I often see that it is very difficult and embarrassing for people to walk in and ask for help.

Our first goal is to ease their journey and work from there.

Thursday sessions

Each Thursday, I meet with three or four clients.

Through a structured interview process, I assess their situation and the assistance options available.

However, it is the actual story of each person's dilemma that is so gripping.

Many times, people are doing fine, and then their life situation takes a sudden turn for the worse.

Some cases remain with you forever — helping a homeless woman, only to learn she passed away a few weeks later.

Remembering her gratitude and the hug of joy this kind woman so freely gave me — this will always remain imprinted in my heart.

I felt blessed to know this woman and provide assistance for her.

It was heart-wrenching to see a young mom crying and to hear her murmur to her little baby, “It is going to be OK now. Mommy can buy soap and shampoo for you.”

The stories go on:

-- A man with severe tooth pain thanking me profusely for getting dental assistance.

-- A woman who needed work clothes to start a job as a traffic coordinator.

-- A man who needed eyeglasses to get his commercial driver's license so he could start work as a truck driver.

-- A woman on the verge of eviction who needed a bit of rental assistance before her Social Security started.

Each story leaves its mark.

All the clients I meet are so very grateful for the assistance OlyCAP provides.

It is not only the amount of money we provide, but the fact that we can help when there are no other options available to these people.

Many times, our assistance is enough to get them through their immediate crisis.

Some clients keep in touch and let me know how things are going.

It is a privilege to be able to meet and assist these good folks.

This is indeed the most rewarding experience of my life.

More volunteers needed

We do need more Home Fund volunteers at OlyCAP.

If you can make a commitment to meet weekly with three or four clients, we will train you for this volunteer opportunity.

Personally, giving of oneself is the ultimate richness in life.


To learn more about becoming a Peninsula Home Fund volunteer or to apply for a Home Fund grant, phone OlyCAP at 360-452-4726 (Clallam County) or 360-385-2571 (Jefferson County).

-- OlyCAP's Port Angeles office is at 228 W. First St., Suite J (Armory Square Mall); 360-452-4726.

-- Port Townsend office is at 803 W. Park Ave.; 360-385-2571.

-- Forks/West End office is at 421 Fifth Ave.; 360-374-6193.

OlyCAP's website: www.olycap.org; email: action@olycap.org.

If you have any questions about the fund, phone John Brewer, PDN publisher and editor, at 360-417-3500.

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

Our twice-weekly stories about the Peninsula Home Fund are posted at the PDN's website, www.peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 11. 2012 10:51PM
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