F.I.S.H. and The Sanctuary Golf Club Foundation Collaborate to Help Island Neighbors

With funding from a one year grant awarded to FISH OF SANCAP by The Sanctuary Golf Club Foundation (SGCF), FISH is able to aid island neighbors through their Helping Hands Program.  The program provides limited financial assistance for island residents and workers when they have fallen upon difficult times.

“SGCF is a committed partner that helps us provide assistance beyond what the resources of FISH can offer alone. Our partnership is a critical connection between FISH and those we serve,” says Maggi Feiner, President & CEO.  “Without the strong, caring partnership between FISH and SGCF, our island neighbors may have struggled to feed their families; may have lost their homes; may not have been able to receive critical health treatments and may have suffered in other ways.  We are very grateful to have received this grant, as it is used to bridge the gap for so many community members.” 

Partnering with SGCF has made a difference in the lives of our island neighbors, as described in the following case study.  Steve Daley, whose name have been changed for client privacy, is a single middle-aged man working in the hospitality industry on Sanibel. He is not new to FISH — his health crisis began several years ago.  Steve is always hesitant to request assistance as he does not want to ‘take from others’. However, with the uncertainty of the COVID crisis and his underlying health problems, he felt compelled to turn to FISH for help.  Here is Steve’s story:

Steve has been working on Sanibel for over 25 years, living a very simple life of work and enjoying all that Sanibel has to offer – fishing, beachcombing, riding his bike.  Steve has few friends and no family close by; but for work, he rarely spends time with others.  “I see my neighbors when I get my mail, but other than that, I usually spend my off time alone,” says Steve. 

Steve became a member of the FISH Food Pantry, visiting once or twice a month to supplement his grocery needs, about five years ago.  He knows everyone by name and always waves hello to volunteers and staff.  A few years later, he began experiencing headaches, back pain, muscle weakness and nausea.  He didn’t think much of it, and let it go for weeks before visiting an island doctor where it was discovered he had a spinal tumor.  His team of doctors arranged to surgically remove the tumor and chemotherapy and radiation treatment was scheduled.

As he does not drive, Steve approached FISH for transportation assistance to his treatment appointments.  FISH arranged for a team of volunteers to rotate driving him to appointments, and ordered supplemental products like clear liquids and superfood smoothie mixes to help him through his toughest days. Steve missed a lot of work, and FISH was able to assist with rent and utility payments to keep his home as stable as possible. Home visits were scheduled, and Steve was placed on the daily well-check call list.  FISH assisted in any way they could through his treatment and recovery, including helping with the high cost of his prescription medication.  Once he was well enough to return to work, Steve began visiting the pantry every so often, always smiling, always thankful. And never forgetting that his tumor could come back.

Every so often, Steve called FISH to request a ride for follow up appointments.  And, then came COVID.  Steve spread out his follow up appointments as much as possible and completed many of them by tele-Med, only taking a taxi to those requiring testing.  Earlier this year, Steve started feeling ‘off’ and strangely different.  He was fearful he may have another tumor and also fearful that, since he was so compromised, he may have COVID.  Unfortunately, the latter was the case; Steve tested positive for COVID-19. 

Deemed not critical enough to be hospitalized, Steve was sent home with an oxygen therapy device and treatment advice. Although exhausted, he was afraid to sleep and tried everything to stay awake, even though he could hardly move. Steve thought he was going to die.  “If COVID didn’t kill me, I was certain my tumor would come back and that would be the end,” Steve noted in a conversation with Nitza Lopez, FISH. 

Fortunately, Steve survived COVID much like he has survived his tumor, through faith and determination.  While he’s not 100%, he is slowly recovering.  Through medication modification, revised treatment plans and constant monitoring, Steve is on the mend, with FISH by his side, assisting again with prescription costs, medical expenses, rent and living expenses.  “Funding from the SGCF grant is crucial in cases like this,” says Nitza Lopez, Social Services Director, FISH.  “His medical costs are so high and his income low, it’s a struggle for him to maintain everyday living expenses.  Steve’s road to recovery will be a long one.  We’re so grateful we can help him in his greatest time of need.” 

Based on circumstance and eligibility, financial assistance through the SGCF grant may be available as determined by FISH.  Assistance is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and amounts vary depending upon financial status. Available funding is limited, and assistance may cover only a portion expenses. 

To learn more and to see if you qualify, please contact FISH at 239-472-4775.