Broomfield FISH's annual fall luncheon and their biggest fundraiser of the year, Embracing Hope, is returning to its in-person format on Thursday, October 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lionsgate Event Center. To register for free or sign up for a sponsorship, visit their webpage.
Maggie Sava, the Communications and Media Manager for FISH, explained that the luncheon, which was previously called Harvest of Hope, had to be held virtually in 2020, and in 2021 it was a hybrid format that was half in-person and half online.
"We renamed it to Embracing Hope as a kind of renewal or reintroduction of the fall event since we've gone through so many changes these past few years," she said.
Registration is free, and the event's purpose is for people to gather as a community and learn about FISH’s mission.
Donations go directly back to the programs, explained Sava.
"It's really a time for our neighbors to come together and celebrate all the good we've created over the past year and all the ways we've served our neighbors in need," she said.
During the pandemic, Sava said there was a huge spike in the need for their services and in 2020, they served over 12,600, or one in seven, Broomfield residents. That number was still over 12,000 in 2021.
"We're still seeing a much higher need than we saw pre-pandemic, and we're distributing between 110,000 and 140,000 pounds of food each month," she said.
Broomfield FISH does more than help families with food, it provides rental, utility and transportation assistance and helps connect people to partner organizations, explained Sava.
"We're looking at how we can help families in a more holistic manner, and if they are experiencing food insecurity, what are the other things we can help them with so they can reach greater self-sufficiency and stability," she said.
Sava added that the need for rental assistance has also skyrocketed with the cost of housing increasing, and low-income residents continue to struggle to make ends meet, especially as the cost of groceries, gas and living have increased across the country.
When people support FISH, they help families thrive, and 95 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to low-income Broomfield residents.
"After losing my job and my spouse losing a third of [their] income too, this has provided stability of food and diapers," said a Broomfield FISH participant. "It's kept my anxiety of food insecurity away."
Sava explained that many families work multiple jobs and spend up to 70% of their income on housing costs alone. Among the highlights FISH achieved in 2021, Sava said FISH helped 2,166 residents with housing assistance to keep them in their homes and placed 27 people in affordable housing at the Academy Place Apartments.
"Being able to give gifts to make sure that families meet their basic needs and get back on their feet is huge," she said. "We see ourselves as neighbors helping neighbors in need.”
Providing families with a sense of normalcy during difficult times is huge, Sava added and is why the FISH grocery store is designed to resemble a market with shelves of food that provides families with choices and dignity in their shopping.
Sava said a child went shopping with their parents and commented that it was "the nicest grocery store in the town." Another child commented that their mom had forgotten to pay for the food as they left "because it felt so much like a normal grocery store.”
Sava noted how grateful she was to the community for their support which makes FISH’s work possible.
"We've been around for almost 60 years because we've had the support of our community," she said. "We couldn't do what we do without the support of our donors and volunteers who give time every week to make sure our marketplace and programs are running."
The Embracing Hope Fundraiser will be held at Lionsgate Event Center on Thursday, October 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register for free or sign up for a sponsorship, visit their webpage.