FISH of Northwestern Connecticut assistance programs.

With a focus on basic needs of the poor and homeless, Friends in Service to Humanity of Northwestern Connecticut, or FISH, administers several services. They can help find shelter or low income housing for the homeless, provide food or groceries, and case management to working poor.

The charity and its partners provide assistance across Hartford County and nearby Litchfield. The resources are limited, but if FISH can’t help, then referrals to other programs may be available, even including government benefits.

FISH’s Outreach Program is an essential component of their continuum of services for the homeless or even families facing imminent eviction. Staff from the faith based charity make contact with homeless people where they live, whether that is a park, a transitional housing facility, relatives house, alley, vehicle, temporary shelter, or under a bridge.

The Outreach service addresses the immediate needs of the homeless in the area of both Litchfield and Hartford Counties. Whenever possible, the charity will provide safety as well as crisis intervention. This may include referrals to government grants for paying rent and other housing expenses. The ultimate goal is provide the resident with connections to shelter or low income housing in Hartford.

Friends in Service to Humanity also provide clients with free medical and mental health care, emergency aid, clothing, food, access to public benefits and other necessities. There is no timeline for success, and ongoing case management and assistance may be provided. The relationship between outreach and client is based on each client’s unique needs, and in some cases many months or even years may be required for some to make the transition to mainstream services and permanent housing.

At FISH, they also run the Emergency Shelter, which is a family-friendly home that offers those in need a safe and secure, place to stay. There is another place for children, single parents, and others in the region as well. The Shelter has dozens of beds, many of which are dedicated to veterans from Hartford County. Available services include the following:

  • General Educational Development as well as Case Management. There are computer classes, resources, and support services at the Education Connection.




  • Ongoing Career and Job Counseling as well as Placement Services.
  • Low cost medical and health care, including mental health assistance, from Litchfield area clinics.
  • Free food and meals from FISH partners that are In-House Food Services.

The FISH Life for Vets program offers a transitional housing program for homeless or at-risk veterans in their service territory of Connecticut. Program goals include guiding residents through the process of transitioning into long term, affordable permanent housing.

For those that enroll, their length of stay at the shelter varies from individual to individual, and may continue for a period of up to two years. During this time, Life for Vets case managers also provides referrals to community-based services or benefits. In addition, they work closely with residents in establishing a continuum of appropriate specialized and individualized VA services to meet current and future needs. Programming includes vocational services, evaluation and medical assessment, and psychosocial rehabilitation if needed.

Dependent upon availability of funding, FISH’s RX Assistance Program provides financial support to enable eligible residents to obtain prescription medications. This can help the seniors or people from Hartford or Litchfield that have a life threatening condition.

The Food Pantry furnishes supplemental food to individuals and families. FISH of Northwestern Connecticut will only assist those people who meet income guidelines established by the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which is determined by the government.

The pantry depends on the generosity of donors throughout the community, as well as from food drives held by charity, organizations, churches, schools, local police officers, the Connecticut Food Bank, local families, and postal workers. Please donate if you can. Also, they receive donations of dairy items, meat, vegetables, and other produce and foodstuffs from local farmers and grocery stores.





Holiday Programs help low-income individuals, especially those with children, and families enjoy the holiday season. At Thanksgiving, Friends in Service to Humanity will supply free baskets filled with the traditional staples of a delicious dinner, including turkey, vegetables, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, bread, and so on.

Free Christmas assistance is available as well, and the charity will provide the makings for dinner. While more limited, there may be toys, presents and gifts for children age 17 (high school senior) and younger. To qualify for the Christmas Program, there must be children living in the household and families must meet income guidelines set by FISH.

Funded solely through donations and grants from the state and federal government, Operation Fuel, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to those who have exhausted other avenues of home energy bill assistance. Applicants need to have first enrolled into the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), weatherization, and other services.

Clients who have either used all CEAP assistance available to them or have been found to be ineligible for CEAP – but still feel they need assistance with energy bills – can turn to Operation Fuel. For help with the Operation Fuel application process, residents of Barkhamsted, Torrington, Litchfield, Goshen, Harwinton, Bantam, New Hartford, Morris, Hartland, Norfolk, Colebrook, and Warren, and are encouraged to call for an appointment with the FISH Energy Assistance Program.

For more information, FISH, or Friends in Service to Humanity of Northwestern Connecticut, is located at 332 S. Main St., Torrington, Connecticut 06790. Telephone number is 860-482-7300.



By Jon McNamara

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