Emergency Financial Assistance

Herndon-Reston FISH has assisted local residents in short-term crises since 1969. In the current economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, FISH is taking on additional responsibilities to provide financial assistance for people in need. Fairfax County allocated $20 million of federally provided funds for distribution through its existing safety net partner organizations to aid people suffering financial hardships attributable to the pandemic. As a result, FISH was allocated $1.8 million that was distributed through December  2020 for pandemic crisis relief. (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 89% of FISH clients have incomes below 200% of 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 2020 ending June 30, 2020:

  • FISH paid over $248,800 to landlords, utility companies, and medical providers for people experiencing financial emergencies.

  • 1,373 household members were aid recipients.

  • 80% of recipients had extremely low incomes, that is, below the federal poverty level.

  • 65% of primary clients were women.

  • 68% of emergency assistance went to assist with rent, and 19% helped to avoid shut-offs of utilities.

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.

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.

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 we provided gift cards that families could use to purchase food and toys for their children. To help us this year, click HERE

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 and is available in English and Spanish for computer-based instruction. You simply register your name and start. You can choose which modules you want to cover. Each module takes one to two hours to complete. At the end of each module, you can receive a certificate of completion! To begin, click here: Money Smart Curriculum. The course covers these topics:

  • Learn about the importance of using a bank and guarding against predatory practices in Bank On It.

  • Are you ready to apply for credit? Learn about how credit works and the different types of credit in Borrowing Basics.

  • What are the benefits of using a checking account? Learn how to open a checking account and which type is best for you in Check It Out.

  • Learn how to manage your money and make it work for you in Money Matters.

  • Learn ways to set goals and save money in Pay Yourself First.

  • Learn how to protect your rights as a consumer and guard against identity theft in Keep It Safe.

  • Learn how to read a credit report and how to build good credit in To Your Credit.

  • Learn how to use a credit card responsibly and what to do if your credit card is stolen in Charge It Right.


The Money Smart Podcast Network is also available to use on a computer, smart phone, or any MP3 player. The web address is: https://moneysmart.fdic.gov


The podcasts cover:

  • Basics of Banking

  • Checking Accounts

  • Savings/Spending Plan

  • Borrowing Basics

Another on-line class that you may find helpful is Ally Wallet Wise.

SNAP Matching Benefits

During the Coronavirus crisis, FISH has suspended activities related to the SNAP program.

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. THIS FISH SERVICE IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED .