FISHing for funds | NevadaAppeal.com

FISHing for funds

Cory McConnell
Appeal Staff Writer

The largest social-service organization in Carson City is in line for the largest grant from the city’s pool of federal dollars this year.

City officials are recommending Friends in Service Helping be given nearly two-thirds of the city’s available grant funds.

The nonprofit organization has provided food, shelter, clothing, health care and other services to the needy in Carson City for the last quarter century. Its services are a boon to the city’s health and welfare department. The city regularly refers to FISH people who, for whatever reason, can’t afford temporary shelter, said city health official Kathy Wolfe.

Carson City staff is recommending supervisors award the group about $330,000 of the city’s half-million dollar pot of federal grant money to help the group buy its building, so its presence in Carson City will be set in concrete.

“We want them permanently attached to this community,” said Carson City Manager Linda Ritter.

FISH is also looking to ensure its permanency by buying its facilities on East Long Street, rather than continuing to rent.

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The organization, which gets more than half its budget from thrift store sales, pays more than $150,000 a year in lease and tax payments. With a sizable enough down payment and the right sale price, which could reach as much as $2 million for the building, FISH Executive Director Monte Fast said mortgage payments would be less. FISH could add an extra $10,000 or so a year into its budget, he said.

The group would also like to “move to a new level of community service” and expand services, but it’s wary of paying for more expensive improvements to a building it doesn’t own.

FISH has already poured about $750,000 into the building in the last 15 years, Fast said.

“I don’t want to lose that.”

Negotiating with the property owner to buy the property is moving along slowly, Fast said.

“The owner is reluctant to sell the property.” It’s not so much an issue of price, according to Fast, but a kind of sentimental attachment the owner has to the property.

The group is considering the possibility of buying other property to trade with the owner. Another possibility would be to buy another property and move – a prospect Fast sees as possibly detrimental to the service.

“In another part of town, we’d be lost to the community. That’s what worries me most” he said.

If nothing comes of sales talks and organization officials decide against moving, Fast said he’s confident FISH’s lease deal can be renewed. Worst-case scenario, he said, business would continue as usual.

Started by local residents in 1979 after a homeless man was found frozen to death in Carson City, FISH has expanded from an emergency food closet to a broad social service organization. The group now operates emergency shelters, a free clinic, child-care and educational aid and clothing distribution services to go along with its food pantry.

“If they weren’t there providing that service, those things would probably fall to the city,” Ritter said.

Other programs in line for Community Development Block Grants, the money for which is funneled through the city for dispersal, include the Community Counseling Center, the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada and Carson City Health & Human Services.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at cmcconnell@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

If you go

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 8:30 a.m. Thursday

Where: Sierra Room of the

Carson City

Community

Center, 851

E. William St.

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