• Maggie Goldsmith

Helping Neighbors: F.I.S.H. Assists Senior In Search of Family

FISH OF SANCAP, whose mission is to lend a helping hand to those that live, work or visit Sanibel and Captiva Islands, offers around-the-clock emergency assistance year round to community members, workers and visitors. FISH works closely with all community partners to assist in resolving crises on a case by case basis, often going above and beyond to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those they work with.

Early last Sunday morning, Maggi Feiner, President & CEO of FISH, was contacted by a concerned community member at 2:00am regarding an elderly gentleman who seemed in poor health, confused, and alone. Immediately recognizing the urgency and that the senior had no place to say, Feiner jumped to action meeting with the gentleman to evaluate the best course of action, calm his nerves, and find him a safe place to stay.

“George, an 83 year old veteran, had been living in Tampa and prior to that Reno, NV,” states Feiner. “He’s a sweet man with a kind heart who traveled, alone by car, to the Fort Myers/Sanibel area in search of a long lost nephew. George said he wanted to make sure his nephew was okay and to reconnect with him, given all ‘this virus talk’.”

After a longer conversation, Maggi realized George needed non-emergency medical attention. He talked at length about his disease, Parkinson’s, and his getting up in age. George has a few other medical conditions, so Maggi recognizing his veteran status, worked with George to get in touch with the local VA clinic as well as reach out to other veterans’ resources so that he could have his health evaluated by medical professionals and begin to create a plan.

Family is very important to George, and he was seemingly desperate to locate his nephew but also spoke of his wife of 62 years, who suffers from advanced dementia and is cared for by his daughter in Nevada. After a long reminiscing conversation reflecting back on the good old days, George felt comfortable enough to share that he had hoped to stay in Fort Myers, but had no long-term plan in place and limited money for housing.

As Maggi worked behind the scenes to continue to put a plan in place, call his daughters in Nevada, and make arrangements for George, he became less and less nervous as he realized that FISH was there to support him. Maggi arranged for his hotel accommodations, medical appointments, and filled his kitchenette with food while they continued to develop an array of next-steps for George to take to either remain in Southwest Florida or reunite with his daughter and wife in Nevada.

Maggi felt that it was important to involved George’s loved ones and professionals in the discussion about how George should proceed, never leaving George out of the decision-making process. FISH works actively to engage all resources available in times of crisis and to coordinate those involved so that the process is clearer and obstacles have been removed. All George and his family had to consider were which options laid out were in his best interest.

Ultimately, George and his family decided he should be living nearby in Nevada so that he would be closer to loved ones. His daughter was particularly grateful for the assistance as she worked full-time as a teacher and only caregiver for her mother, the logistics of long-distance planning for her father became too overwhelming to bear.

Community support, in large part, is how FISH is able to help people like George in their greatest hours of need. Without the generosity of the community, local businesses and service organization, FISH could not offer the programs and services that it does. For over 38 years, FISH has been the social service organization on Sanibel and Captiva and continues to grow to meet the demands of the community thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers. FISH is proud to say that 93 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to our programs and services.

If you have any questions about FISH hours, services, or if you need assistance, please contact Alicia Tighe, Executive Director, at 239-472-0404 or by email, alicia@fishofsancap.org.


2430-B Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957

24-Hour Service: 239-472-0404 ~ Walk-In Center Office: 239-472-4775

info@fishofsancap.org ~ Fax:  239-243-9009 ~ EIN: 20-8892375

F.I.S.H. is an equal opportunity provider

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