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F.I.S.H. continues to be island based

By Staff | Nov 25, 2015

As F.I.S.H. OF SANCAP has grown over the years offering new programs and services, it has stayed true to its original mission of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

President and CEO Maggi Feiner said the organization began 33 years ago by four island couples who came up with the idea to help their neighbors.

“They went out and recruited volunteers and they started our basic service,” she said. “They started the meals program, the Friendly Faces Program and the transportation off island to medical (appointments.)”

With the additional services and programs offered over the years, F.I.S.H. unveiled a new brand identity to help educate the community of everything it offers. The brand includes spelling out the acronym – F stands for food programs; I for island based; S for social services and H for helping hands.

“We started as a group of islanders and we still are,” FI.S.H. Director of Operations and Grants Maggie Goldsmith said. “All of our services are island based and open to anyone in the community right here in their backyard.”

When the organization took shape more than 30 years ago the four couples formed a partnership with the City of Sanibel and the police department. The dispatchers of the police department were the organizations answering service.

“The police dispatcher would take their basic information down and contact the volunteers,” Feiner said. “For 33 years we have been working very closely with the police department and the city.”

With many of F.I.S.H.’s clients not owning cars it became of vital importance that all of the workshops, programs and services were “island based” providing convenience for those they assist.

“Many of our clients do not have cars, so going off island for services is very difficult,” she said. “A lot of services don’t really come out here, which is why we bring the services to the island.”

Although new programs and services have been added over the years, Friendly Faces is one that the organization has continued to offer. Friendly Faces, which originated in various island churches, has moved from The Community House to different island restaurants before settling at George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille the second Tuesday of the month at 11:30 a.m.

Another program that has been offered for a number of years, Goldsmith said is their hurricane preparedness program. It provides a plethora of information to islanders about what type of plan they should have in place and what items to gather in the event of a tropical storm, hurricane and whether an evacuation is ordered.

Goldsmith said many of the programs and services F.I.S.H. provides run continuously from year to year, such as their tax preparation program offered six times a year, Cooking with Kids offered quarterly, a budgeting class offered at least four times a year and the mobile mammogram program offered four times a year.

“That is bringing something that is an off island service and brings it right here at home to the community,” she said of the mobile mammogram program, which is making a stop on Dec. 1. “Anyone can take advantage of that service.”

New programs and services are added when needed after certain areas are identified through interviews with clients, as well as what the organization sees in the community.

“We are an aging population,” Feiner said of the islands residents. “Therefore we will be working with the elderly and partner with island agencies.”

Many of the workshops offered are either held at F.I.S.H., or at larger locations to accommodate those in attendance. Goldsmith said their annual home health meeting is always held at the library because it draws a tremendous amount of health providers, agencies and individuals.

The events, such as the 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H. in October, is also island based, gathering the community together.

“The 10K is definitely island based and the only island run,” Feiner said.

All of the volunteers, even those who call the island their home for part of the year, are also “island based.”

“It’s islanders helping other islanders,” Feiner said.

The organization experiences that on a daily basis. She said just last week they received a phone call from an individual who just returned for the winter expressing concern for their neighbor.

“It was just wonderful that here they are . . . they were concerned and picked up the phone and said I have a neighbor that may need help,” Feiner said. “It’s just one of the wonderful things about F.I.S.H.”

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.