SIDNEY — FISH of Shelby County celebrated the opening of its recently expanded food pantry, offices, workshop and thrift store on Wednesday, Sept. 15, with an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony.
For the past few months, workers have been cutting doorways through walls and turning what was three separate stores into one. There was extensive painting, reorganizing and moving of a lot of equipment and merchandise to get the new store set up.
“ The most important thing that FISH does is feed people, so, to me the most exciting thing about this move is the larger food pantry, “ said Darla Cabe, FISH president and secretary. “We have a much bigger, cleaner, more organized way to share food. We are all thrilled about that. Our clients have a nicer place to come in for assistance. The new food pantry and office wing is brighter and we hope it’s more inviting.”
The open house was honored with the attendance of Farrel Kaplan who was one of the original FISH founders who opened the first FISH Thrift Shop nearly 40 years ago in downtown Sidney. Kaplan, who led and served FISH for a long time, “retired” from FISH a few years ago. She is now 94 years old and still comes into FISH every now and then. She spoke briefly at the open house and shared some of the FISH history.
Becky Gillman also attended the opening ceremony. Gillman was instrumental in getting FISH moved to its current location nearly 11 years ago, which was a major move up for FISH. Volunteers and their family members also attended the open house.
FISH exists due to the generous donations of many good people in and around Shelby County. Gently used or new clothing ,household items, books, holiday décor and miscellaneous items of all kinds are donated to the FISH thrift store. Volunteers then sort and organize all donations and sell them in the thrift shop. The money made is then used to buy food for those in need whether that be individuals, families or groups that need to be fed. FISH also helps with gasoline, birth certificates, personal care items, steel-toed and slip resistant shoes and certain prescription medications. FISH has been blessed by many local groups and churches which collect food and other nonperishable items and deliver them to FISH. Some groups or individuals support FISH by giving monetary donations as well.
FISH is a Christian organization. The workday begins with prayer as God is thanked for the organization, the volunteers, those who donate to FISH, those who shop at the thrift store and those FISH feels blessed to help.
“Our customers appreciate FISH. And are really good people. They lend a helping hand not just to us, but also to other customers. Good can only make more good!” said Sandy Gehret, one of FISH’s newest board members.
To help get ready for the expansion and remodeling, several youth groups donated their time and labor to repair and paint several shelving units that are used in the store. After it was explained to one group what FISH was, and how FISH operated, an 11-year-old young man from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked, “Well, who actually owns FISH?” It was answered that no one person really “owned” FISH and that FISH existed because of the service of people who wanted to help others. “So Jesus owns FISH,” concluded the youth.
For nearly 40 years, FISH was an all-volunteer organization, but the growth of FISH has required the hiring of two employees who work parttime (and volunteer a bit) for FISH. Although FISH has volunteers who range in age from youth to those who have been around nearly a century, more volunteers are always needed.
“There’s always work to be done at FISH,” says Cabe, “and volunteering here is pretty simple. The hours are flexible and the friends are many! We have some people who volunteer several days a week and some who volunteer a couple of hours a month. Some have set days when they serve and some drop in and help when they can. We even have some who do work for FISH at home! We are immensely grateful for them all!”
If you would like to become a FISH volunteer, or if you need assistance from FISH, come by anytime Monday – Friday from 10 .m. to 3 p.m. FISH is located near the hospital, Little Caesar’s Pizza and CVS at 1128 W. Michigan St. in Sidney. For more information call 937-492-1760.