The Lee County School District’s last day of school is May 30, and FISH OF SANCAP is busy working with families to ensure kids are safe and active. For those who qualify, FISH offers scholarships for families to send their children to summer camps throughout the county.  The program offers limited financial assistance for families who cannot afford the rising cost of summer childcare and camps. Households that can receive a youth scholarship must have an island connection through residency or employment.


“Many households struggle to find balance between work and childcare particularly during the summer months. Some facilities that closed due to Hurricane Ian have not re-opened, while others are open with less staff meaning fewer children can attend,” says Nitza Lopez, Social Services Director, FISH. “Summer months for island employees can often bring about a reduction in work hours, and with rising costs it’s becoming difficult to afford childcare.”


The uncertainty that surrounds summer care for children adds additional stress to working families and many do not have a plan in place, even though school ends for summer recess in less than one month. FISH understands the challenges of finding appropriate programs and the costs associated with summer childcare and continues to provide financial assistance in the form of youth scholarships.


Additionally, FISH has partnered with Camp Noah and St. Michaels to provide a free camp beginning June 3-7, when other camps are not available. Camp Noah is a nationally acclaimed program where children in communities impacted by disaster can experience the power of hope and healing through a proven resiliency curriculum that includes creative activities and play. Lunch is included with this complimentary camp, and FISH will offer before and after care hours. For additional information, contact Manuela Martinez, FISH, 239-472-4775 or [email protected].


“We offer scholarships for summer programs every year to ensure children remain active and in enriching environments when they’re out of school,” continues Lopez.  FISH is in close contact with area camp directors both on and off island to show families options. “We work with the Sanibel Recreation Center, Sanibel Sea School, CECI, CROW and others, as well as off-island camp locations, so that our families have an array of options,” added Lopez. “It’s all about finding a balance that makes sense, keeping children engaged, and most importantly keeping them safe.”


The FISH Summer Youth Scholarship Program is supported by private donors and grant funding.  “Last year FISH helped with a portion of the camp costs for my granddaughter, Avery. Her mom [my daughter] has been living with us since Hurricane Ian while her home gets rebuilt,” says Anne, an island employee and resident.  “My daughter and granddaughter have really been struggling financially since the storm, and the cost of rebuilding their home is taking every dollar they have saved. We are all grateful that FISH can help to keep Avery safe and let her have a little fun. Their new offering, Camp Noah, sounds amazing and so important after everything Avery has been through with the storm disaster. We’re excited to learn more and give it a try and hope it will help with Avery’s anxiety as we near hurricane season.” The names of the individuals have been changed for privacy purposes.


Scholarship assistance is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  The FISH Social Services Department determines eligibility for need-based financial assistance through a review of a family’s income and expense documentation. Scholarship amounts vary depending upon the length and cost of the program and the family’s financial status. Available funding is limited, and scholarships may cover only a portion of the cost.  To learn more and to determine eligibility, please contact Nitza Lopez, Social Services Director, at 239-472-4775.


For additional information on the FISH organization and their programs and services, please contact Maria Espinoza, Executive Director at 239-472-4775 or visit their website at

Photo included – youth camp participants


FISH of Sanibel-Captiva has been a ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ organization on Sanibel and Captiva for over 40 years. As a social service organization, FISH has been ground zero, in recent years, from natural and environmental crises to the impacts of COVID and now, for catastrophic Hurricane Ian. FISH offers something for everyone—if there is not a service in place for unmet needs of community members, they work to meet it through their expansive regional network. In addition to their Long-Term Recovery program, FISH continues to offer programs representing their four major pillars – Food, Island Based Education, Social and Senior Services, and Helping Hands.

Although FISH has grown from the grassroots organization it started as, it remains a network of ‘neighbors helping neighbors’; a group of community members committed to the betterment of the islands and southwest Florida community by assisting one neighbor at a time. FISH is proud to say that 86% of every dollar donated goes directly to programs and services including but not limited to:

  • Long-Term disaster recovery
  • Emergency financial assistance
  • Food pantry
  • Non-emergency transport
  • Temporary loan of health equipment
  • Hurricane preparedness information
  • Daily hot meals program


More information about FISH is available online at, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). For details about hurricane recovery and other services, contact Maria Espinoza, FISH Executive Director, at (239) 472-4775.