All posts in “Help”

Fish Abled Foundation

The Fish-Abled Foundation

It is with a sincere and humble heart that I write to thank you for your generous gift to The Fish-Abled Foundation. The Foundation provides social outings for those with mental and physical disabilities in Winnebago and Boone Counties and the surrounding area. They continue to expand those boundaries as they build and restore a better quality of life for people who otherwise would not get out because of their disabilities. The Foundation is dependent on the generosity of individuals and organizations so that they may continue to provide “day-cations” for these individuals.

The events include performing arts, bowling, sporting events, picnics, holiday banquets, zoos, apple orchards, support groups, museums and … of course … FISHING. Eric’s influence, passion and love for Jesus has affected not only the more than 200 individuals involved in the Foundation, but also the many “behind the scenes” volunteers. The Fish-Abled Foundation is changing the lives of those with mental and physical disabilities by expanding their horizons, giving them an opportunity to socialize with others and showing the love of Jesus every step of the way. This has a ripple effect in our community and opens doors for other opportunities. It also helps educate our community regarding the personal needs of these individuals and their desire to be a part of our growing society.

The Fish-Abled Foundation’s mission is to lift up and encourage people with disabilities through planned events, fellowship and various outreach opportunities. Erick Fishe, the founder, has a passion to empower our friends with disabilities by providing them fellowship, field trips, and encouragement. Many of these people were just bouncing from doctor appointment to doctor appointment. By getting to know each person individually, Eric began to see what burdens they had. The Fish-Abled Foundation liberates them, so they can re-establish an active lifestyle.

I am personally inspired by Eric’s love, compassion and devotion to God’s leading regarding the Foundation and each individual participant. I also appreciate the many selfless volunteers who have a special place in their hearts for these members of our community. There is no monetary compensation, but the personal, relational and spiritual compensation is eternal. All events are free to the participants and many times their guests. Your generosity will help The Fish-Abled Foundation continue to grow and bring enjoyment and purpose to many more in our community as well continue to spread the love of Jesus. Your generous gift is appreciated beyond words.

May God richly bless you all!


Jeanne Greenfield, Board Member

The Fish-Abled Foundation

Lydia Home

Lydia Home receives funds to train staff.

I want to thank First Free for the Jeremiah Fund Grant to Lydia Urban Academy last spring.
For some time, Lydia has been serving many low-income Rockford youth who had been unsuccessful in their previous schools and who needed a non-traditional classroom setting as well as appropriate specialized intervention to improve their chances for earning a diploma and gaining the life skills for employment so that they can contribute to their community. Our classroom ratio is 10:1, which allows students to receive more help from the teacher. We use much project-based learning experiences so that students can learn subject matter material in different ways, allowing a student to express their learning in ways appropriate for their learning skills and abilities. It had become increasingly apparent that our specialized intervention program, utilizing the  NILD (National Institute for Learning Development) program, needed to expand so the Jeremiah Fund contribution helped make it possible to train additional staff so we could expand help to low-income students who otherwise could not afford such services. So many of our students have Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s) and 504 Plans and still were unsuccessful in their previous schools because their achievement scores were often 4 or more years below their expected grade level. For them to earn diplomas and become successful in getting jobs, they needed intensive intervention that would change the way they learn and help them develop strategies to become efficient and effective learners at the level that would allow them to become successful and independent. NILD Educational Therapists are trained to guide learning and mediate student’s thinking to higher levels with good questioning, utilizing specific academic and processing techniques so they can make more than a year’s progress academically in one year, rather than to continue to lose ground each year they are in school. The NILD philosophy is based on the expectation that cognition and academic difficulties can be improved, giving student’s new hope in the future. This year we were able to provide  Educational Therapy to three more Lydia students and we expect that more will be added during the year.

Thanks again for the Jeremiah Fund contribution.

Vesta Gillette