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Robert Beck: The help that’s needed


Sept. 1, the rain was like nothing in memory. Eleven inches in little more than two hours.
Water came out of the hills faster than you could run or drive and breached the creek bank at the North end of Union. People were swept down the streets in torrents up to their waists, their chests, their necks. Cars were piled against houses, against each other, on their sides, on their roofs. People ran to the second floor if they had one. The same thing was happening at the South end of town.
On the morning of Sept. 2, more than a thousand people in Lambertville alone needed help. Fifty families were homeless. People needed basic supplies: food, water, sanitary products. Nearly half of the buildings were affected in some way. Due to Fisherman’s Mark’s excellent working relationship with the city, and its built-in nimbleness and quick response, it was able to open a large distribution facility in the empty Homestead Market and get it stocked immediately.
One woman who came had to swim out of her house. She had no shoes on her feet when she got there. A family of four came because they were living in a friend’s living room. The mother is eight months pregnant. They were worried about their baby. The water came through the new house of a couple who recently moved town and had contributed to Fisherman’s Mark just the week before. Now they were back for help. It wasn’t supposed to work that way.
You could walk down Union Street and see table legs, wall decorations, and kitchen appliances scattered in the mountains of trash. Front-end loaders worked for days scooping people’s belongings into dumpsters. Young and old. Owners and renters. Well-off and not so well-off. You just never know what is going to happen to whom.
What do you do when you don’t have food, you can’t cook anything, and there is no way to get anywhere? What do you do when you home is covered in mud up to your knees, you need sanitary napkins or adult diapers, and you just don’t know which way to turn? You go to Fisherman’s Mark.

Fisherman’s Mark’s mission has been complicated by the virus, and the caseload doubled in the past year, to 1,500 people needing help. They distributed 120 tons of food and personal health supplies. Now the task is much, much, larger. The social strain is enormous. With the increase in clients comes a greater need for language services, health services, and counseling. This is going to take a long time to fix.
The mission at Fisherman’s Mark is to promote stability and health in the community. They’ve been getting people back on their feet and self-sufficient for 41 years. They do it without direct government financial assistance. Fisherman’s Mark has a full-time staff of three and a handful of part-time workers, and they rely on volunteers, business partnerships, and the people who support them with donations.
People for whom this area is a much-loved place. The place we proudly tell people we are from.
Fisherman’s Mark doesn’t give people money, but must have it to function. FM targets specific needs and operates economically, so a monetary donation is the best way for you to make a huge difference in people’s lives.
This is us. Be the help that’s needed.

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