Nonprofit Spotlight | FISH offers Food, Instruction, Shelter, Healthcare

GOT JOBS? Can you help us develop a skilled labor force? Our on-the-job (OJT) training program develops new and existing job skills for veterans, and low-income/homeless clients.

In the spring of 2017, FISH and its partners will open a new 39-unit apartment complex in Carson City that will provide “wrap around” services for veterans and low-income residents. This new facility has a large OJT center integrated into the apartment building.

FISH currently provides five OJT career tracks: 1) warehousing, 2) facilities maintenance, 3) retail operations, 4) food services, and 5) logistics/distribution management. The new facility will expand the number of clients that we can train and will allow us to expand our career tracks. Future career tracks include appliance repairs, small engine repairs, furniture refurbish/repair, website/computer training, and other skill based training supported by the community.

We also provide critical training for social service interns, nursing students, medical students and graphic art interns, so they can gain the experience needed to succeed. We get fresh young minds to help us expand into the future.

So if you can provide us with OJT training ideas, equipment, volunteers, or financial support, please contact FISH (email:; web: so we can jointly develop and expand training for our underemployed/unemployed clients.

FISH Emergency Referral Services Program, Inc. (FISH) is a Nevada non-profit established in May 1979, to help those in need. FISH does not rely on the government for funding. Nearly 99 percent of our multi-million dollar budget is funded through the local community via thrift store sales, donations and grants, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in the communities that we serve.

We have found that by creating a stable living environment, and providing nutritious meals, our clients find a renewed hope. With hope, clients can more accurately assess their behaviors and skills, and develop a willingness to change behaviors and improve their skills. Clients create goals and FISH holds them accountable. For an example, if someone needs an ID to begin work, we give them a check made out to the DMV. The client just needs to follow through. As clients achieve small goals, we work on bigger goals, like developing skills to move from a minimum wage part-time job to a higher paying full-time job.

We summarize our services using our name: FISH provides Food, Instruction, Shelter, and Healthcare. FISH has locations in Carson, Douglas and Lyon counties, where we provide “a hand up, not a hand out.” Last year FISH served 4,110 households, of which 3,195 were under the federal poverty level. FISH operates food pantries, a dining room facility, and shelters. Last year, these facilities provided 391,602 pantry meals, 35,610 dining meals, and shelter for 187 men and 84 women.

FISH rolled out a “community database” so local nonprofits and government agencies can jointly track and coordinate services for shared clients. This database improves overall services, reduces duplication of effort, and helps to identify “super utilizers” who over-use available community resources. We find that if our staff has to work harder than the client, the client will not succeed. So we challenge them to take an active role toward self-sufficiency.

FISH operates with a very small staff of paid employees, and a very large volunteer staff. So if you are looking for other opportunities to help during the fall and winter, we collect turkeys and all the fixin’s that are given out at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We encourage organizations to help us with our sock, glove, and coat drives (we typically run low on youth sizes and XXL & larger adult sizes). In addition, many help us by collecting cash, or canned goods (high protein foods like peanut butter, chili and ravioli with meat, or canned fruit). Our dining room is always in need of fresh vegetables, butter, and tomato sauce/ketchup.

FISH is primarily known throughout northern Nevada for our three thrift stores. Our largest and main store is on Highway 395 in Carson City. We also have stores in Moundhouse on Highway 50, and at the Gardnerville/Minden boarder on Highway 395. We take donations of everything that is clean and sellable, including the kitchen sink! Our business model is to maximize each contribution. Some of these donations are given directly to clients and others are sold, with all profits staying in the community and going toward client services. Retail operations training is provided through those same stores. Store sales make up over 25 percent of our revenues, so be sure to do your “value shopping” and DYI project shopping with us.

Check us out on our website at and like us on Facebook at Or if you are in the area, come by our Carson City complex at 138 E. Long St., corner of Hwy 395 and Long St. for a behind-the-scenes tour.


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