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F.I.S.H. assists senior in search of family

By Staff | Jun 11, 2020

F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva, whose mission is to lend a helping hand to those who live, work or visit the islands, offers around-the-clock emergency assistance year-round. F.I.S.H. works closely with all community partners to assist in resolving crises on a case-by-case basis, often going above and beyond to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those they work with.

At 2 p.m. on a recent morning, President Maggi Feiner was contacted by a concerned community member regarding an elderly man who seemed in poor health, confused and alone. Immediately recognizing the urgency and that the senior had no place to say, Feiner jumped to action meeting with the man to evaluate the best course of action, calm his nerves, and find him a safe place to stay.

“George, an 83-year-old veteran, had been living in Tampa and prior to that Reno, Nevada,” she said. “He’s a sweet man with a kind heart who traveled, alone by car, to the Fort Myers-Sanibel area in search of a long lost nephew. George said he wanted to make sure his nephew was OK and to reconnect with him, given all ‘this virus talk.'”

After a long conversation, Feiner realized George needed non-emergency medical attention. He talked at length about his disease, Parkinson’s, and his getting up in age. George has a few other medical conditions, so Feiner recognizing his veteran status, worked with him to get in touch with the local VA clinic as well as reach out to other veterans’ resources so that he could have his health evaluated by medical professionals and begin to create a plan.

Family is very important to George, and he was seemingly desperate to locate his nephew but also spoke of his wife of 62 years, who suffers from advanced dementia and is cared for by his daughter in Nevada. After reflecting back on the good old days, George felt comfortable enough to share that he had hoped to stay in Fort Myers, but had no long-term plan in place and limited money for housing.

As Feiner worked behind the scenes to continue to put a plan in place, call his daughters in Nevada, and make arrangements for George. She arranged for hotel accommodations and medical appointments and filled his kitchenette with food while they continued to develop an array of next steps for George to take to either remain in Southwest Florida or reunite with his daughter and wife in Nevada.

Feiner felt that it was important to involve George’s loved ones and professionals in the discussion about how George should proceed, never leaving him out of the decision-making process. Ultimately, George and his family decided he should be living nearby in Nevada so that he would be closer to loved ones. His daughter was grateful for the assistance as she worked full-time as a teacher and only caregiver for her mother.

Community support, in large part, is how F.I.S.H. is able to help people like George. Without the generosity of the community, businesses and service organization, it could not offer the programs and services that it does. For over 38 years, F.I.S.H. has been the social service organization on Sanibel and Captiva and continues to grow to meet the demands of the community. Ninety-three present of every dollar donated to F.I.S.H. goes directly to its programs and services.

For more information, contact Executive Director Alicia Tighe at 239-472-0404 or alicia@fishofsancap.org.