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Assistance group low on funds
One of Sequim’s oldest charities is reaching out for help.Volunteers with Sequim Community Aid — started in 1947 — say community need continues to grow and at the current rate of giving, they’ll be out of money in 1½ months.
Since, Jan. 1, the group has helped 392 adults and 246 children in Sequim School District boundaries pay rent/mortgages, utilities and some medical expenses. The nonprofit spent just over $37,000 through June 22 helping these individuals and families.
Donna Tidrick, group president, said they’ve met with a lot of new clients who once were embarrassed to ask but now need to reach out.
“There’s a lot of young people not back to work at big box stores or construction workers with no work and landscapers because of the bad winter,” she said.
Community Aid only gives assistance once per household per year but does refer people to other organizations.
“If we can’t help, we give them sound advice,” Tidrick said. “We refer them to several other businesses immediately because they have to go through a lot of hoops.”
The group started 2011 with nearly $22,000 between checking and savings accounts and brought in nearly $21,000 this year.
Myrna Ford, group treasurer, said they sold donated IBM stock to keep up with requests for assistance. They’ve transferred $16,000 in the past 5½ months from savings and have about $7,600 between checking and savings.
Organizers decided to limit donations to those clients facing electricity and water cutoffs.
Sequim Community Aid started as a food basket/toy donation at Christmas but added its current format in the 1950s.
Tidrick said its finances haven’t been this dire since she joined the group in 1983 when the group was almost defunct. Volunteers went to the Sequim Ministerial Association to ask for money, Tidrick said.
Looking at the 2009-2010 data, local churches gave the most — $13,640. Ford said some give monthly and some in annual sums.
Other support comes from individuals, businesses, humanitarian organizations, special events like Handel with Care and the annual Christmas pageant.
One large contributor has been the Albert Haller Foundation, which gave $10,000 last year. Sequim Community Aid will apply again this year but any potential funds from that source wouldn’t come in until the fall.
Ford said most of their income comes in during November and December.
The group’s expenses for a phone, pager and postage make up about 2 percent of its annual outlay.
Ford said they do get some money from the Clallam County PUD’s Energy Assistance Resource program, whereby customers choose to make monthly or one-time donations to Sequim Community Aid, OlyCAP or Sequim St. Vincent DePaul.
Tidrick said they’ve tried new avenues for outreach, such as running a table at the Sequim Irrigation Festival’s arts and crafts fair, from which they made about $500.
Another bright spot for the group is that electricity use typically goes down in summer so the demand for assistance is not as high, Ford said.
If someone is in need of utility assistance, for example, the PUD gives him or her a list of service agencies like Sequim Community Aid. The person in need would call the group at 681-3731.
Tidrick said volunteers would make an appointment to meet with the person, either in his/her home or at a convenient place.
Two volunteers meet with the person and his/her family to see what their need would be. They ask about income, what the client is paying for, why he or she needs help and how many people are in the household.
Tidrick said sometimes they find children have different last names from their parents but they change their last name to receive additional assistance. She said it’s always one donation per household per year no matter the number of people in the home.
Volunteers find that meeting with people ensures the system isn’t being manipulated.
Tidrick said it’s critical to find out as soon as possible how much trouble clients could be in.
“We want to help them keep it (electricity) on so we don’t have to pay to turn it back on,” she said. “We want to prevent that because then a $50 bill could become $200 or $300 with fees and deposits.”
Call Sequim Community Aid at 681-3731 for assistance and mail donations to Sequim Community Aid, P.O. Box 1591, Sequim, WA 98382.
Sequim Community Aid
Mail donations to:
Sequim Community Aid
P.O. Box 1591
Sequim, WA 98382