FISH Provides Assistance While Navigating COVID

provided to Santiva Chronicle

As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 health crisis and policy adjustments are made accordingly, many islanders remain in limbo with work and childcare. FISH is working through their array of social services to help island families make ends meet during this difficult time.

“The pandemic is a crisis that we’re battling on all fronts — we’re concerned with our neighbors’ physical health and mental well-being and simultaneously working to provide them the basics to keep their households afloat financially,” said Alicia Tighe, FISH Executive Director. “We also hope that by assisting those working on Sanibel and Captiva that it will alleviate, in some way, turnover and staffing pressures that our small businesses are feeling right now. The uncertainty is difficult for everyone.”

Kathy and Joe, whose names have been changed for client privacy, are a young couple working in the restaurant industry on Sanibel. They sought help through FISH once before and, with nowhere else to turn, re-engaged the organization with a request for assistance. Here is Kathy and Joe’s story:

“My husband and I both lost our jobs within the same week due to COVID-19. Working on the islands during red tide, we knew how quickly business could change on Sanibel, but we have never been in a situation with both of us out of work. Our ten year old son was out of school and we could see the anxiety building inside of him—worried about the virus, becoming frustrated with virtual school, and wondering how we would be paying our bills if both Joe and I were home.

Joe and I have lived and worked Sanibel Island for over 20 years. We remembered that F.I.S.H helped us years ago when we were pregnant and it was off-season. They provided us with diapers and all kinds of other stuff to help. For us Island workers off season can really be a trying time financially, however F.I.S.H saw us through that difficult time. We hoped they might help us through this as well.

We contacted FISH and were put it touch with Nitza. She was incredibly patient and understanding with what we needed to do to receive the help they provide. Within a weeks’ time they had covered two months of rent as we were already a month behind when we called and the next month was quickly coming due. The two hardest months to get through in a normal year, mind you, but with COVID going on, it’s like a double whammy. They also helped us with food for our family and put our son on the food backpack program. It has really brightened his week to get his own bag of fun snacks and food that is just for him each time we pick it up with our regular groceries. Without the help of FISH we most definitely would be in a much different situation right now. The piece of mind their help gave us was priceless.”

Kathy and Joe will continue to search for as many work hours as they can get between the two of them while looking after their son during the school summer break. They will also make use of the Food Pantry to help keep grocery costs down. “If we tag team it, even if one of us has to work a few jobs or double shifts, I think we can make this work,” says Kathy.

The FISH Walk-In Center and Food Pantry hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact Alicia Tighe, Executive Director, at 239-472-4775 or by email, with any questions, concerns or for assistance.

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