What is FISH? What does it do for its clients?
FISH is an acronym for Friends In Service Here and was founded in 1982 as a nonprofit organization based on the idea that “neighbors help their neighbors.” This concept continues today.
FISH services are carried out by local volunteers who in 2008 gave 5,500 hours of service and traveled more than 22,000 miles to provide assistance to residents, workers, and visitors to Sanibel/Captiva. The services provided by FISH volunteers are designed to support independent living for individuals and families in need. In 2008, FISH was recognized by federal and state agencies as a Human Services Organization.
FISH services include:
n Transportation on and off island for those who are no longer able to drive;
n Temporary loan of non-electrical health equipment ;
n Delivery of a hot meal at lunch;
n Visitation with people not able to get out readily and who want and need the social interaction;
n Person to person morning calls to individuals living alone;
n Respite care for caregivers;
n Referral information on home health agencies and medical or non-medical home health care;
n Hurricane information packets;
n Reverse visitation through a subsidized Friendly Faces Luncheon each month; and
n Holiday meals for families in need.
FISH sponsors two programs which have the biggest impact on revenue. First is the Food Pantry. Since the pantry’s opening in April 2008, FISH has distributed 16,750 lbs of food to individuals and families on our islands. Food products are either donated or purchased by FISH each week. Items like diapers, paper towels, laundry detergent, toothpaste and shampoo are not covered by food stamps.
The second impact on our revenue is Emergency Financial Assistance. During this economic crisis, we are seeing a dramatic increase in families struggling to pay rent, utilities, and medical bills and put food on the table. Case by case evaluations are made for those who need a helping hand. In past years, FISH averaged 10 cases a year. Since July 2008, we are averaging 10 cases a month. FISH has paid $45,000 in financial assistance. In the first six weeks of 2009, FISH has already received 19 new cases.
We assisted a 55-year-old working grandmother whose daughter became ill and could not support herself or care for two small children. When the grandmother’s hours were cut, she tried to obtain a second job, but was unable to find one. Her rent and utilities were past due and she needed to buy groceries. Her daughter had medical expenses and the children needed clothes. FISH was able to help by bringing the rent and utilities current and providing gift cards for groceries and clothes. The grandmother has since found a second job, and her daughter has recovered and is now able to work.
Who are FISH clients? They are the residents and workers on Sanibel and Captiva. They wash dishes in our restaurants, bag groceries in our stores and clean our homes. They are the elderly and disabled living on a fixed income in a world of rising costs. They are our neighbors who do not drive but still need to go to the grocery store, the bank or hair salon. They are your neighbors.
FISH is grateful for the continued support of our community-you have provided funds to support our programs and assist our neighbors and you have volunteered your time and talents. For more information, please contact FISH at 472-4775 or visit the FISH Walk-in Center at the Village Shops, 2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit I-1 (in the left rear corner).