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Amazing things happen under our roof at FISH/Friends in Service to Humanity of Northwestern Connecticut—aiding our homeless and food insecure neighbors in need.
Since early March 2020, facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gone through the stages of fear and anxiety, to what has evolved to become routine and cautious resilience in our services to the hungry and the homeless of northwestern Connecticut.
Today, we continue to focus on placing our residents into permanent supportive housing.
After two hard years, FISH is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Our mission at FISH is to provide the most basic of human needs—food, shelter and hope.
The FISH homeless shelter has 35 beds, five of which are designated for veterans. Among our shelter residents there are three families housed with six children, including the birth of a sweet baby. In addition to the shelter, FISH also has a food pantry that has nearly 1,000 clients/families registered.
Our Case Manager is dedicated to developing a detailed plan of action for each resident, overseeing educational and social service resources, medical and mental health needs, employment opportunities, and housing possibilities to lead to one’s independent, stable, “new beginning” future—into permanent supportive housing. We provide educational opportunities, GED and vocational training classes, and life skills workshops.
There are “feel-good” moments every day at the FISH shelter, such as last year when we welcomed Barbara, a middle-aged woman, who lost her apartment while awaiting disability, who had been apprehensive upon entry to a homeless shelter. She was thankful to feel so safe—and today she is in a new apartment, which we helped furnish.
Any day that we move a resident into their own housing is a celebration, such as Walter, an aging plumber down on his luck following a divorce; or having a visit from a former resident Nicky and her daughter, learning she is excelling in life with her job at a medical office, and she is now happily engaged; or former residents embracing our executive and telling of their positive life progress; or the little girl that raced across the shelter to hug Santa at our “Cocoa and Cookies” party—saying, “I knew you were real”—showing that we provide hope and dreams.
At FISH, we see daily the very human, social welfare challenges of families, individuals and vets facing life crises, as well as additional difficulties caused by the pandemic. We strive to restore and rebuild the confidence and self-worth of those who are the most vulnerable and seek our help. We recognize at both the FISH shelter and food pantry that it takes courage to come forward and humbly ask for help.
FISH has proven resilient, with renewed energy and faith in our future. We have never missed a beat as our staff and volunteers continue to serve tirelessly and bravely. We continue to be tenacious in our efforts, remaining in pandemic mode in our delivery of services, keeping people safe and well to the best of our ability. We focus on building the well-being and the confidence of shelter residents so that they receive the positive boost needed to be stable, independent and always a friend to FISH.
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FISH has evolved into the largest emergency homeless shelter (35 beds) in the NWCT corner, providing families, individuals and veterans a safe and secure haven as they await permanent supportive housing; as well as serving area residents (over 1,000 annually) as a food pantry, distributing food for over 80,000 meals this year.