CHATHAM – Shannon Eldredge and Morgan Parker know what difficulties fishermen go through just getting by because they grew up in a fishing family. The two sisters come from a Chatham fishing family and Shannon fishes for a living with her father.
To help other fishing families in the community, the two work in the Chatham office of Fishing Partnership Support Services, which helps fishermen with a range of services.
Fishing Partnership is a non-profit organization with a charter to support the health and well-being of fishing families in New England.
Since the organization was founded back in 1997, that support has taken different forms.The organization started as a health plan because, according to organizers of the agency, that’s what commercial fishing families needed.
Fishing has been called one of the riskiest businesses in the country, and health insurance was hard to get prior to health reform—and it was expensive. In a groundbreaking effort, Fishing Partnership created an affordable health plan that covered a group of hard-to-reach, chronically uninsured, high-risk individuals and ran it successfully for nearly 15 years.
Now that it’s easier for everyone in Massachusetts to get affordable health insurance, Fishing Partnership is no longer a health plan and they have changed their name from Fishing Partnership Health Plan to Fishing Partnership Support Services to reflect a broader mission.
They have kept their offices open in port towns and kept them staffed with Fishing Partnership Navigators—members of fishing families who are trained as Community Health Workers.
The Partnership connects members with a broad range of professional counseling services, provides assistance with health insurance applications, and offers safety and survival trainings and other special health-oriented events for fishing families.
To listen to sisters Shannon Eldredge and Morgan Parker of the Fishing Partnership office in Chatham talk about the services the Fishing Partnership offers to local fishermen, click on the arrow below.