Volunteers, the Backbone of FISH OF SANCAP, Bring Great Value

FISH OF SANCAP, the islands’ only wrap-around human services organization, values their volunteers as the lifeblood of the organization.  Through activities big and small, the over 200 FISH volunteers assist with programs and services FISH offers year-round — food pantry, hot meal delivery, food backpacks for kids, equipment for loan, transportation and more — to serve island residents and workforce. 

“Volunteers are the essence of our organization. We couldn’t exist without the people who share their time and hearts with us and our community, states Maria Espinoza, Executive Director, FISH. “Volunteers help us with everything from delivering meals and assembling backpacks and Smile Boxes, stocking shelves and grocery shopping, event planning and more – and we appreciate all of it!” 

“Hurricane Ian definitely had an impact on the number of individuals able to volunteer with FISH,” continues Espinoza. “While many volunteers have since returned, others have moved on and are severely missed.” The organization notes they work with students from Florida Gulf Coast University, individuals from United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties, church volunteer groups and others to ‘get the job done’.

In 2023, FISH volunteers recorded 10,603 hours of service on behalf of FISH and the community. The value of a volunteer hour in the state of Florida is $29.41, equating to an impressive $311,834 saved by FISH thanks to the kindness and dedication of volunteers. Additionally, volunteers drove nearly 24,000 miles during their 2023 service hours.

“Having volunteers assist with our programs and services not only helps us from a financial standpoint, but is important for ensuring that we can achieve our critical mission,” continues Espinoza. “Our volunteers are highly valued for the advocacy and awareness they bring to our organization, their diverse and unique skillsets and expertise, and the positive contributions they make to our community. Their dedication to FISH is more than a financial savings, it’s a priceless gift to our organization and community for which we are truly grateful.”

Dave Scheiber, a FISH volunteer, is celebrating 50 years of living on Sanibel. He has been volunteering for FISH for 3 years, dedicating his retired years to giving back after 40 years in consumer marketing up North for Playtex, Colgate-Palmolive, Clorox, and Filippo Berio Olive Oil.

Dave assists with the FISH food pantry operations, hurricane relief, holiday outreach programs (including events, food basket distributions, and toy drives), workshops, tabling for FISH at events, medical equipment delivery and pickup. Of all the ways he helps out, Dave’s favorite job is when he transforms into ‘Van Man’ and drives the FISH van to pick up donations for the Food Pantry.

“Sanibel has given me so much,” Dave shared. “Sanibel is in my blood! Volunteering is my way of giving back to this special place.”

FISH volunteers are full and part-time residents, retired and working. Some help in one service area, others assist  with several, and some can only give mornings or afternoons or certain days of the week, while others have more availability.

There are always opportunities to become involved with FISH and with so many possibilities everyone can find a good fit!  New volunteers are trained in their area(s) of interest, and placed with a more seasoned volunteer, giving newcomers the necessary tools to be successful. For those interested in becoming a FISH volunteer, submit an inquiry form at https://www.fishofsancap.org/volunteers.

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