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Turning heartbreak into a place of healing

B&B will be respite for Gold Star Families

Betsy Schultz and her son, Capt. Joseph William Schultz, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011. Photo credit: Captain Joseph House

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Betsy Reed Schultz will never forget that day, five years ago in May, when she learned that her son, Capt. Joseph William Schultz, a Green Beret stationed in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, had been killed in action when the Humvee he was riding in was hit by an IED.

According to those who knew him, Capt. Joseph was a trusted leader, one who always "led from the front." As it turns out, so does his mom. What Betsy discovered as she began her journey through grief was that among the professional counseling and conferences and support groups, there was something missing: that personal touch.

With more than 10 years experience in the hospitality industry as the owner of a bed-and-breakfast in Port Angeles, Washington, Schultz began to dream of a place of comfort and peace where two or three Gold Star Families at a time could gather to relax and connect with one another. Nothing like this existed anywhere in the country, so Betsy decided to "lead from the front," and the vision for the Captain Joseph House was born.

Located at 1108 South Oak Street in Port Angeles, Schultz's bed-and-breakfast is currently being extensively renovated, under the direction of Charles Smith from Lindberg and Smith Architects, in order to provide a place of "respite for Gold Star Families on the journey from grieving victim to empowered survivor; from familiar military community to civilian life." Her dream is to eventually have a total of five such houses that will provide one more resource for Gold Star Families, along side already existing military, religious and private nonprofits.

Schultz's dream is to be able to provide transportation, food and lodging for bereaved families to enjoy five days in the beautiful, peaceful surroundings of the Captain Joseph House free of charge. Two or three families at a time would arrive on Sunday and stay through Friday. With no schedule and no agenda, her vision is to provide a space for these families to share their stories, cry together, laugh together - even play together - and begin to heal.

A quarter of a million dollars is needed to complete the necessary renovation. There are many ways to contribute. PayPal donations can be made at their website: captainjosephhousefoundation.org. Of course, checks are always welcome, and if you'd like to donate funds for a specific item, email cptjosephhouse@cjhf.org and request their updated wish list. There are also a number of fundraising events throughout the year. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar on the webpage.

Their premier annual fundraising event, Run For Joe, will be held Sunday, June 5, in Port Angeles, as part of the North Olympic Discovery Marathon. To learn more about the Run For Joe or to sponsor a runner, check out www.runforjoe.com.

On Sunday, May 29, as part of their annual Memorial Day Service, and then again on Saturday, June 4, the day before the Run For Joe fundraiser, the Captain Joseph House will host an open house.  The public is invited to stop by and see the progress that's being made and catch a vision for Schultz's dream.

To learn more about the Captain Joseph House, visit the Captain Joseph House Facebook page, check out their website at captainjosephhousefoundation.org or give them a call at 360.460.7848.

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