Emergency Financial Assistance
Herndon-Reston FISH has assisted local residents in short-term crises since 1969.
During the current economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, FISH has taken on additional responsibilities to provide financial assistance for people in need. We were one of 19 agencies chosen by Fairfax County to distribute funds from two major federal programs: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 2020, which funded CARES 1.0 and started in our 2019-20 fiscal year, and CARES 2.0, which began during our 2020-21fiscal year. Additional funds were provided from the Emergency Rental Assistance program funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. During the past fiscal year, we distributed approximately $2 million of federal funds to qualifying families and individuals. (For further details, see the Annual Report here. For information about how to get assistance, click here.)
FISH provides Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help by responding to emergency requests for rent, utilities, medical prescriptions, and other critical needs.
More than 83% of FISH clients have incomes below the federal poverty level. They often work multiple low-paying jobs and live paycheck to paycheck. FISH helps those neighbors when they are in crisis.
We work closely with social workers from Fairfax County, local schools, hospitals, and other nonprofit organizations.
In fiscal year 2021ending June 30, 2021:
FISH paid from our non-federal funds over $187,000 to landlords, utility companies, and medical providers for almost 1,000 families experiencing financial emergencies.When federal funds are included, the payout was over $2.1million.
FISH funds (not including federal money) aided nearly 1,000 household members and went prodiminently for rent and utilities.
Further details can be found in our Annual Report.
The FISH Emergency Assistance Program accepts referrals from our partners at Fairfax County on all week days except holidays. If you need emergency financial assistance and are a resident of Herndon or Reston, please call 703 222-0880 to begin the process or click here. County social workers will communicate your needs to FISH.
The Bargain Loft
The Bargain Loft is a thrift store operated by Herndon-Reston FISH. Serving local residents since 1981, it is staffed by volunteers and offers affordable shopping. The Bargain Loft accepts donations of good quality, saleable items. We provide donors with receipts for tax purposes. For a list of the items we accept and sell, click HERE.
Holiday Food & Gift Assistance
FISH offers Holiday assistance to households with very low incomes. We traditionally provide non-perishable foods and gifts for children, but the problems of distributing physical items during the coronavirus pandemic made this approach unworkable. So, instead, in 2020 and 2021 we provided gift cards that families could use to purchase food and toys for their children. To help us this year, click HERE.
SNAP Matching Benefits
During the Coronavirus crisis, FISH has temporarily suspended activities related to the SNAP program. We anticipate that our participation will resume in June, 2022.
The federal SNAP program offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. FISH helps SNAP families to double their spending dollars on fresh local produce purchased at the Herndon Farmers Market on Thursdays, May through November, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Lynn Street in historic downtown Herndon..
Helping Students Learn
This last year, FISH began a new program— Helping Students Learn— to aid schoolchildren needing aids to help them with their learning. Local elementary school social workers identify the children and their needs, and we use FISH assistance funds to meet those needs. For example, last year we provided funds for eyeglasses, and during the period of distance learning, a place to sit with computers instead of the floor or couch, and headphones for listening to teachers without interference from siblings listening to their own teachers. The programs is available for children in schools in the Herndon-Reston community, with a budget of $8,000 and a spending limit of $150 per child.
Financial Literacy Training
Herndon-Reston FISH has suspended the financial literacy classes that we previously offered to help clients who need assistance in basic budgeting and financial management. In their place, we encourage use of on-line training.
We recommend the Money Smart curriculum, which covers basic financial topics
Another on-line class that you may find helpful is Ally Wallet Wise.