provided to The Santiva Chronicle
FISH OF SANCAP’s Senior Services Director Erika Broyles works daily overseeing programs and services as they relate to the community’s senior population. At FISH, these include social and educational offerings, food programs, financial assistance and support and healthcare related programs including equipment for loan and mental health counseling. “Just after Ian, many seniors relocated until their homes were remediated and repaired, causing confusion and isolation from family and friends,” says Broyles. “When social needs are not met, it can lead to mental health concerns for the older population.
A study by the UCSF Division of Geriatrics found that 43% of seniors regularly experience loneliness.i Fortunately, “socialization has been shown to be one of the most effective ways for seniors to improve their mental health. According to the American Public Health Association, socialization improves mood, cognition, memory recall, and is associated with healthy behaviors, including exercise.”
Broyles focuses on providing assistance to the senior community, including socialization programs. The FISH Friendly Faces luncheon, held the 2nd Tuesday of each month, invites residents, visitors, and friends and family to a social gathering that includes an educational element. The event has been a FISH tradition for many years and was recently reinstated in late spring. “We were thrilled to bring back our luncheon and reconnect with community members we haven’t seen for a while,” says Broyles. “Friendly Faces is a great way to catch up with friends and make new connections – something that has been terribly missed since Ian.”
The monthly luncheon is held at the Sanibel Recreation Center located at 3880 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel and a virtual option will also be provided. Sanibel Deli prepares meals, and FISH offers them complimentary to participating guests. Reservations and meal choices are required. Unfortunately, there is no meal delivery available for virtual participants.
Says Maria Brown (not her real name), a frequent Friendly Faces guest, “I’ve not been able to get a hold of my friend since Ian. Feeling like I wanted to get out, I joined the Friendly Faces luncheon and low and behold, Margaret was there!” Both were
pleasantly surprised when they reconnected at the luncheon, not knowing the other would be in attendance. “To top it off, I ended up winning the Bingo game! I never win anything, and that day I won both rounds,” continues Brown.
While Friendly Faces is a great way to reconnect and socialize, it is also an opportunity for the FISH team to talk with and evaluate neighbors’ status and needs. “We invited a resident to our luncheon after he attended our furniture distribution event,” says Broyles. “While he was at Friendly Faces, we learned of his food insecurity, financial struggles and loneliness. We were able to start him on our Meals program, refer him to our Helping Hands program and set up an appointment to start OPT with SalusCare.”
FISH is answering all requests for assistance including but not limited to emergency financial assistance and assisting with medical and mental health referrals and resources. Through their long-term recovery assistance program, FISH assists Sanibel and Captiva residents and workforce with Hurricane Ian recovery aid. In addition, the agency continues to offer traditional programs focused on their four major pillars – Food, Island Based Education, Social and Senior Services, and Helping Hands to ensure no need goes unmet.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, contact FISH at 239.472.4775. For questions or services specific to seniors, please contact Erika Broyles, 239.472.4775 or email@example.com.
To learn more about FISH, please visit their website and social media pages to see firsthand how the agency works to better the community and particularly their response to the Ian disaster. To learn more about hurricane recovery and other services of FISH, please contact Maria Espinoza, Executive Director, at (239) 472-4775.