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FISH Luncheons help islanders mingle

By Staff | Jan 30, 2009

Bill and his wife, Jane, moved to Sanibel 30 years ago. Jane attended the F.I.S.H. Friendly Faces Luncheon every month for 10 years. Bill, a F.I.S.H. transportation volunteer, always dropped Jane off at the luncheon and would walk on the beach for 2 hours before returning to pick Jane up. When Jane passed away a year ago, Bill found himself alone after 52 years of marriage. Bill started attending the Friendly Faces Luncheon each month enjoying his time with other islanders, visitors, and F.I.S.H volunteers.

Mary Lou, a widow, has resided in subsidized housing for three years. When she developed some health problems, Mary Lou had to leave her part-time work in a gift shop which not only helped pay for the “little extras” in life, but was also a source of socialization. Alone, with no family in the area, Mary Lou heard about the F.I.S.H. Friendly Faces Luncheon, and wished to attend. Living on limited means, Mary Lou was worried about being able to pay for her lunch. When a F.I.S.H. volunteer learned of her interest, Mary Lou was invited to attend as a guest of F.I.S.H. F.I.S.H.’s Friendly Faces Luncheon is now more exciting than ever with Mary Lou’s bubbly personality entertaining all with stories and jokes.

Jim and Dorothy return to their home on Captiva each November. Although they have family and friends in the area they look forward to the luncheon each month. Dorothy will tell you, “I met this man today and I have to tell you he was so interesting. He told me of his years as a civil servant working all over the world and the many beautiful places he had been to and the wonderful friendly people he met. Every time I attend this lunch I am amazed how many interesting and nice people we have right here on Sanibel and Captiva. That’s why I never miss a month.”

Friendly Faces Luncheon is held on the second Tuesday of each month and is attended by Sanibel-Captiva residents and visitors, individuals using F.I.S.H. services, as well as volunteers and Board members. Although there is a small individual charge for the lunch, each luncheon is subsidized by F.I.S.H., which is proud to have the support of the Good Neighbor Community Foundation of Sanibel-Captiva for its Friendly Faces Luncheon program. Anyone interested in attending should call Gillian Bath at 395-4550 to make a reservation.

F.I.S.H of Sanibel, Inc. is a non-profit, all volunteer run organization assisting Sanibel and Captiva islanders and visitors with a wide range of services. For more than 25 years, FISH has been a “neighbor helping neighbor” by providing non-emergency transport on and off the Island, a daily hot meals program, temporary loan of health equipment, in-home visitation, person-to-person telephone calls, hurricane preparedness information and health care referral. F.I.S.H. sponsors a monthly Alzheimer Support Group and monthly Friendly Faces Luncheon. The Walk-In-Center, which opened in September 2007, is staffed with volunteers who meet individuals and families and provide information on the services FISH offers as well as services provided by others.

F.I.S.H relies on community support to fund all programs including a subsidized meals program, maintaining equipment, overhead for the Walk-In-Center, and an emergency financial assistance program for individuals and families. F.I.S.H. is now accepting donations of non-perishable food items that will be delivered directly to island families in need.

The Walk-in-Center is located in the Village Shops at 2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit I-1. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday.