• Maggie Goldsmith

Helping Neighbors: Emily’s Story – The Road To Self-Sufficiency


This year has been monumental for Emily because she landed a job—but not just any job—a full time job with benefits. If you had asked Emily a couple years ago about working at a resort, she’d tell you that it was just a dream. She didn’t used to think someone like her could achieve such a goal.

Emily’s success story begins with a struggling start. She suffered a personal accident that left her unemployed for 11 months, during which time her husband abandoned her. She tried to make ends meet, however with multiple surgeries and no work, she eventually lost her home and filed for bankruptcy. She moved into her father’s small one bedroom apartment and finally found work.

While working two jobs on Sanibel (one as a part time trolley driver and the other at a local grocery store), Emily became good friends with one of her ‘regulars’ who was also a volunteer of FISH. The two talked quite often, and became very close. When her friend heard of Emily’s struggles, she suggested Emily visit FISH to see if they could assist with her food insecurities.

FISH met with Emily, and signed her up for the food pantry. During her initial discussion with FISH social workers, Emily divulged other dental and financial concerns leading to a deeper client intake for emergency financial assistance. “I happily provided any information FISH needed; tax returns, paystubs and bank statements. The food pantry filled in the gaps with very nice products, some I could never afford to buy. The hope of financial assistance for recurring dental problems excited and humbled me. Each and every time I met with FISH social workers, never once did anyone make me feel as incapable; their office and building is so inviting and calm, a huge improvement over their previous space,” says Emily. “FISH was helping me up, and helping me to see that the world wasn’t looking as scary as I thought,” remembers Emily. “I was lucky enough to receive financial assistance for dental work, which alleviated continuous pain and gave me more confidence at work.”

Emily was informed of various FISH services and workshops that could possibly help her on the path to financial recovery. “I was afraid of failing and almost didn’t sign up for budgeting workshops at all. Luckily, FISH was behind me 100%, and helped me realize the need to get a grasp on my financial future. I started with one class, just to see if I could do it,” says Emily. “I really learned a lot about budgeting and credit repair and now, several workshops later, my credit score is actually moving in a positive direction.”

Throughout the year, Emily has hit other small road bumps – car troubles, needing assistance with tax preparation, medical bills – to name a few. “It hasn’t been easy for me,” says Emily. “I’ve really run into a series of unfortunate events. Yet FISH has been there for me as a group of caring, loving individuals to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, and to help, when and where appropriate, with financial emergencies and even with a car that was donated by a very generous member of the community. Everyone thinks FISH is just a non-profit organization. But to me, they are so much more. FISH represents everyone on this island that cares about people in every way possible. I can’t thank FISH, and those that donate to them, enough for their kindness. The positive impact on my life will never be forgotten. I’ve learned to trust, again, and the true meaning of hope. And, with increased self-esteem and pride in myself, I have just secured a dream job at a resort with the opportunity to advance! I am on the road (once again) to self-sufficiency, and I cannot tell you how good that feels. Thank you, FISH.”

#humanservices #FISHOFSANCAP #financialassistance #foodpantry

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