The Peninsula Home Fund is a local institution that will enter its 27th season in 2015. Although many of the donations come in around the holidays, the fund accepts donations year round. This fund helps teens, families and the elderly to get through an emergency situation” in the words of a Peninsula Daily News article. The fund grew slowly through the 1990’s and in the year 2000 raised $42,703. The money raised through the Home Fund is administered by OlyCAP and helps individuals and families across the peninsula, or as the News is fond of putting it, “from Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to Sequim and LaPush.” Homer Smith Insurance has been a strong, local supporter of OlyCAP for decades, and appreciates the the Peninsula Daily News fundraising efforts for this organization. The fund has continued to grow, setting new records every year and hitting the $150,000 range around 2006. Last year the fund set its current record of $268,389; odds are that record will be broken again this year. The Home Fund and its series of uplifting stories have become a PDN staple in November and December and they do a great job of showcasing how even small amounts of support can leverage changes in people’s lives. Administration of the Peninsula Home Fund has fallen to OlyCAP since the inception of the fund. Within OlyCAP, the fund is unique because it is one of only a few programs that is locally funded and not hedged by state or federal rules. The fund represents discretionary dollars that can be used to provide assistance for all sorts of basic needs that may not fall under other programs. Common uses include assistance with rent, utilities, energy, prescriptions, gas and public transportation but there are many other uses. One use that seems to be growing is the provision of prescription eyeglasses. Funds can also be combined creatively with other funding sources to solve a particular problem. For example, a person who had received rental assistance from one program might get help for moving expenses from the Home Fund to enable them to solve their housing situation. Home Funds dollars are managed within OlyCAP by a combination of staff and volunteers, which helps keep administrative expenses low. Home Fund volunteers are a small but dedicated group who care deeply about the work they are doing. One volunteer, Rich Ciccarone, was interviewed by the PDN several years ago and spoke movingly about his experience as a volunteer. The use of volunteer program administrators gives the Home Fund a unique local character and obviously deepens the relationship between the volunteer and the community; Rich is now Chairman of OlyCAP’s Board of Directors. More than 3200 individuals, couples and families (many of them with children) in Jefferson and Clallam counties were helped in 2013 by the Home Fund, offering them a “hand up, not a handout.” This period from the end of November to early January is the major fundraising period, although the fund itself never closes. Even though the fund is at record highs, it continues to be based mostly on small donations and any amount is always welcome. You can donate to this unique peninsula institution through the Peninsula Daily News or online THROUGH THIS LINK.