FISH OF WESTMINSTER was established in 1970 by a group of Westminster Christians, called to express their love and concern for their neighbors. In the early days, FISH was the emergency service referral network for the entire city. As the city grew and matured, and more social services became available, FISH evolved in two neighborhood food pantries – one at Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC) and one at Westminster United Methodist Church (WUMC).
In this unusual and extremely challenging second year of COVID, FISH of Westminster was able to continue to provide neighbors with needed food, hygiene supplies, and cleaning supplies. We were able to remain open in 2021 with excellent support from Westminster Presbyterian Church staff and members as well as the Tri-County Health Department using a drive-through food distribution model. Unfortunately, the WUMC food pantry had to remain closed given the on-going pandemic.
In 2021, FISH of Westminster:
- Assisted 4,807 people,
- Aided 1,237 families,
- Provided 50,150 meals,
- Supported 958 homeless individuals (208 via food panty/750 via outreach) with food and hygiene products.
We were able to provide 132 Christmas Food Bags to our clients including $25 gift cards. The bags included canned and packaged food items; homemade cookies donated by members of the WPC and WUMC congregations, friends, and the sisters of P.E.O. Chapter HX-Westminster/Thornton. Each bag had sufficient food to feed a family of 4 one large holiday meal. Families received multiple food bags if they had more than 4 members. We were also able to provide $20 gift cards to 85 homeless for Christmas, including both food pantry clients as well as outreach clients.
FISH of Westminster provided food and hygiene kits to 208 unhoused visitors to the food pantry. Food for homeless kits was primarily provided by our Church of Latter-Day Saints of Westminster Stake partners. In addition, FISH of Westminster provided over $4,775 worth of hygiene goods and supplies such as headlamps, underwear, gloves, and socks for the homeless in our area. Since 2020, we have partnered with Alan Farb to meet the needs of the homeless in our area. Mr. Farb walks the homeless camps weekly, talking to people and distributing goods, water, and food as well as gift cards when they are available. In 2021, he connected with 750 clients. His efforts are also supported by Westminster and Adams County.
Over the past few years, FISH of Westminster has been maturing as a community organization – enhancing or developing new partnerships within the community, establishing an Internet presence, and developing effective communication tools. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and people’s desire to help those experiencing food insecurity, the results of these efforts included:
- Financial contributions from local businesses including Murdochs Ranch and Home Supply;
- Financial donations from throughout the community, beyond the members of the two sponsoring congregations and long-term sponsors; and
- New volunteers from within the community who were recruited through the FISH of Westminster Internet page (https://fishofwestmintster.org).
Long-time partnerships also continued with:
- Valente’s Italian Deli and Bakery, and Curves; and
- Grocery Rescue (a Food Bank of the Rockies program) partnerships with King Soopers and Kum & Go, which resulted in donations of bakery goods, meat and dairy products, canned and boxed items, produce, and non-food items.
The primary government funding sources for FISH of Westminster in 2021 were:
- City of Westminster Human Services Grant and
- City of Thornton Human Services Grant.
Two fundraisers for FISH were held in 2021. Because we were unable to gather for our Annual Afternoon Tea, we held an Afternoon Tea-to-Go. One-hundred three tea-to-go bags were distributed, resulting in a profit of $939.61. Reach for Change was also re-established, resulting in $150.01 in donations.
Due to the pandemic, fewer groups were able to meet in order to coordinate food drives. Food drives for FISH were still conducted by new and long-time partners – specifically by the City of Thornton in the summer and fall and by Obi Ezeadi, Westminster resident, and his friends at Colorado Classic Barbers. This is in addition to the weekly food donations made by members of the congregation and neighbors.
FISH of Westminster is an entirely volunteer organization with volunteers ranging from 17 years old through 92 years old. These volunteers make it possible to keep our doors open. The 50 volunteers donated 2,500 hours in 2021.
In talking to our clients, we discovered that many were having difficulty obtaining COVID vaccines. Others were vaccine hesitant. We partnered with WPC and the Tri-County Health Department to host a COVID Vaccine Bus multiple times over the second half of 2021. In 2021, 1,088 COVID vaccines and flu shots were given by the staff at the bus. We plan to continue to host the COVID Vaccine Bus in partnership with Tri-County Health Department/Colorado Department of Public Health and Education until such time as they no longer offer this service.
Thank you to everyone who has supported FISH of Westminster, Inc. throughout 2021! We believe 2022 will be a better year for our clients and our organization!
FISH of Westminster, Inc. is a proud partner of the Food Bank of the Rockies.