SHERMAN – Friends in Service Here (FISH), a Sherman-based non-profit dedicated to helping the disabled, infirm, and those lacking transportation living in the town, has been servicing the local community since 1971—some 47 years.
FISH provides two services. It offers free transportation to those Sherman residents who can’t drive—often the elderly or disabled—shuttling them from Sherman to healthcare-related appointments (dental appointments, doctor’s appointments, etc.) both in town and in the nearby towns of Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, and Pawling, NY; FISH also maintains an “inventory of medical equipment,” and loans canes, crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs to those who need them. For their services, FISH’s steering committee was awarded the State Treasure Award by former governor Jodi Rell in 2003.
At the helm of this organization is FISH’s president, local author and longtime Sherman resident Ted Hollander. Hollander, who has lived in Sherman since 1961, has been involved in supporting his community for over 40 years. “I joined around 10 years ago,” said Hollander of FISH in an interview. Previously, he noted, a number of nearby towns had their own FISH or analogous programs, and while many of those groups have since disbanded, Sherman’s has remained and thrived.
Today, FISH has roughly 50 volunteers, including roughly 25 drivers (including reserve drivers), and around 25 telephone persons. Directing the organization is a steering committee of 11 members, including Hollander, who has been FISH’s president for the past five years. “Work is pretty well spread out amongst all of us,” said Hollander of the steering committee, which, along with the president, includes a secretary, treasurer, and vice president, as well as a coordinator, trainer, scheduler, and statistician.
And though the group only provides two services, they certainly have their work cut out for them. “Somebody is on duty to drive and man the telephone every day of the week,” mentioned Hollander.
Aside from an annual state transport grant of $750, FISH also depends on donations, which can be made through mail, online, or at their annual fundraiser, which takes place in Sherman, usually in November. The group also sends out an appeal letter soliciting donations each year. While FISH does not typically plan activities or programs, they do hold a quarterly meeting open to steering committee members, as well as a luncheon for their volunteers in conjunction with their annual meeting in October. Their annual meeting this year will be held at Sherman’s Jewish Community Center.
FISH volunteers rotate duties, and typically work one day a month. However, Hollander noted that there is no upper limit to the number of volunteers, active or on reserve, that FISH can recruit, and that the group is always looking for more.
To contact FISH, or if you’re interested in learning more about them, or volunteering for or donating to them, give them a call at 860-355-4334. You can also visit their website, fishofsherman.org, or send them a letter at P.O. Box 311, Sherman, CT.
By Ryan V. Stewart