Helping Neighbors: The Face of a F.I.S.H. Volunteer
F.I.S.H. volunteers are the heroes who accomplish remarkable accomplishments every day. Our volunteers have a real impact on the lives of island neighbors and help to make our community stronger. Pat Boris, F.I.S.H. volunteer, joined the team about 14 years ago after a long career in healthcare. “My greatest joy is helping people stay healthy and that is what brought me to F.I.S.H., to provide help at the simplest level – food, healthy safe homes, connecting to resources,” says Pat.
She continues, “Most volunteers start as part time islanders, snow birds, as I did. I collected food, added F.I.S.H. to our church mission outreach, posted pictures of our empty pantry, and helped spread the word. I worked at the front desk, meeting clients coming in wide eyed for their first visit to the food pantry. They often apologized for a lost job, an inadequate job, an ill child, life circumstances. I was proud to say, ‘this is why F.I.S.H. is here, to help’.
I got involved with home safety, especially with frail elderly. Together with F.I.S.H. social workers, I developed an assessment tool to use at home visits that dovetailed with F.I.S.H. services. On our islands, many elders are alone, maybe after losing a mate, not wanting to impose on friends or neighbors or even family. Sometimes they had no food in the house because they can no longer drive to the grocery store. Maybe there is mental confusion or falling issuers. Whatever is discovered because of a home visit, F.I.S.H. has the resources to help. There’s no judgement, no shame. We are just neighbors helping neighbors.
I have delivered meals and equipment, and I have visited many of those same folks for the hurricane preparedness program, currently underway. Each encounter is well planned and personal, whether meals, equipment, hurricane, food pantry, or other. Hundreds of hours are spent checking and rechecking details. There are phone calls, logs, hours and miles to track. It’s never troublesome, it’s a labor of love.
With F.I.S.H., I found an amazing community of service. Maggi Feiner is always a step ahead, ready as the #1 volunteer. The culture of giving in the F.I.S.H. office rubs off. Some of these needing help also give back when they can. One woman brings banana bread to the staff, another brings cookies.
The mission of F.I.S.H. has never gotten tired. Every volunteer finds their niche, a place of joyful service, and completes their tasks with enthusiasm and compassion, serving the clients in a dignified and humane manner. I hope I have many more years to devote to F.I.S.H. I’ve watched it grow and change, but it always strives to meet the needs of people who come.
There are always opportunities to become involved with F.I.S.H. OF SANCAP. With so many possibilities everyone can find a good fit! If you are interested in volunteering with this unique organization, please contact Lyn Kern, Office and Volunteer Manager, at (239) 472-4775.