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F.I.S.H. assists neighbors in need

By Staff | Apr 30, 2020

F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva realizes the life challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on lives, families and communities. As a social service agency that cares deeply about the community, it wanted to give the public a brief update on how it is supporting island neighbors.

“Over the last several years our islands have seen crises of all kinds, so F.I.S.H. has become adept at shifting to address situations as they come. F.I.S.H. is always here for those in need, but during a crisis we see many clients who have never needed assistance or only come during extreme events such as hurricanes or now, COVID,” Executive Director Alicia Tighe said. “We want everyone to know that we’re here with resources available to help you meet your basic needs, as well as those of your family. To increase awareness, we are using any and all platforms to inform the community that if they are in need, we’re here to serve.”

George, whose name has been changed for client privacy, is one of those types of F.I.S.H. clients. George has only needed assistance at one other point in the almost 20 years on Sanibel. Until recently, he was working steadily at an island restaurant since the early 2000s, but the COVID-19 health crisis has caused him to reach out for a helping hand.

The following is George’s story:

“My name is George, and I’ve been an island resident and server in a local restaurant for many years. I live alone in a small, one bedroom apartment and rely on my bicycle for transportation. I’m a hard worker, sometimes holding more than one job to make ends meet. With only a couple of friends and no family close by, I spend most of my time at work – I’m always happy to take an extra shift or two. I first came to F.I.S.H. for help when I was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t have anyone else to rely on and they helped me out with transportation to my chemo and doctors appointments, meals, and medical expenses and supplies. When I was well enough, I began to use the food pantry until I was working full-time again.

“Everything was going great, with a few bumps here and there, until the health crisis. When restrictions were placed on restaurants, the restaurant where I worked closed down except for takeout so they didn’t need servers. With no savings, no job and a stack of bills, I reached out to F.I.S.H. again. F.I.S.H. explained that they could help with my rent and utility payments and reminded me that food pantry was still up and running for any of my food needs.

“The support from F.I.S.H. has kept me hopeful that everything will be okay and I can ride this storm out like I have before. I’m not sure when my restaurant will re-open, and I’m looking for other ways to make money until this crisis is over. I don’t know what I would do without the love and support from the team at F.I.S.H.”

Due to ongoing construction, the F.I.S.H. Walk-In Center and food pantry hours have been altered to Saturday to Wednesday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For questions or concerns, or for assistance, contact Tighe at 239-472-0404 or alicia@fishofsancap.org.