By Rachel Ann Johnson
Friends of Fishhawk, a Florida nonprofit, celebrated its second year as a charitable organization in March. Founded after a family in the community lost its home to fire just before Christmas in 2011, residents regularly team up to lend assistance to those in need.
Friends of Fishhawk members have helped hundreds of people over the two-year span, according to founder, Kelly Rowjohn, who organizes assistance for the various segments serve.
“We recently held a fundraiser to help three teachers who were battling cancer and we raised $17,800 that night,” said Rowjohn. But some circumstances require a different kind of help. “One of the things we do is to help families that are in catastrophic situations,” she said.
Kathleen Loux, whose daughter was recently killed in a car accident, was grateful for the organization’s provision of food and other items following the memorial.
“I was just amazed,” she said. “All these people didn’t even know me and they took the time and money to help me. It reaffirms my faith in people.”
Members have established a birthday tree at What’s in Store? to commemorate its second year of service. The retail shop is located at 16727 Fishhawk Blvd. in Lithia.
The purpose of the tree is twofold. Along with marking the charity’s second birthday, Rowjohn said she hopes to elicit items necessary for fundraising events such as tablecloths, glassware, tables and chairs, so that members wouldn’t have to purchase or rent the necessary items for every event.
Each of the requested donations on the tree would comprise a dream storage room, Rowjohn said.
In addition to fundraising, the group’s activities include setting up an angel tree during the Christmas holiday, creating Easter baskets for children whose families are struggling and performing daily tasks like yard work and meal preparation.
“Basically, any type of humanitarian need, we will try to provide support,” Rowjohn said.
In order to receive assistance from Friends of Fishhawk, recipients must live in or around the Fishhawk community or have a tie to the community.
For those who can help, Rowjohn said there is ample need in the areas it serves.
“We have 1,484 members at this point and there are tons of volunteer opportunities,” she said. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/friendsoffishhawk/.