By: David Strege
Combining a passion for fishing with compassion for the less fortunate, two Florida eighth-graders launched a non-profit called Fillet for Friends whereby the fishermen donate their catches to the local soup kitchen.
Now, four years later, Fillet for Friends founders Harrison Konsker and Maccabee Herman—along with four other teen volunteers—are being recognized for helping to feed more than 4,500 needy people as part of the Hot Meal Program at Boca Helping Hands.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission honored the teens at its April meeting with certificates of appreciation “for their hard work and dedication,” the organization announced Wednesday. Ben Mores, Max Feldman, Colin Riley and Emily Elhilow were the other honorees.
“I was overwhelmed at the concept of Fillet for Friends and even more so to learn that it was born in the minds of several young men so willing to help others,” said Capt. Bill Kelly of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Assn. “It’s absolutely amazing what these young men and women organized in such short order.”
It began in 2014 when the two young fishermen were enjoying bountiful catches of fish.
“We were simply catching too many fish,” Konsker said. “We knew we could do something with the excess fish to benefit the community.”
They started out by donating 20 to 25 pounds every two months, “but they kept asking for more fish,” Konsker told WPTV in November. So they reached out to other fishermen and expanded to fishing tournaments.
The teens catch, fillet, vacuum-pack and deliver the fish—more than 800 pounds to date—to Boca Helping Hands.
Last summer, Bill Harper, the director of food and warehouse operations at Boca Helping Hands, wrote in a letter to Konsker that they are providing 4,500 meals per month and “we simply could not meet this need without the support of people like you in our community.”
“The out-of-the-box thinking and ingenuity of this project is a great example of what youth who grow up participating in outdoor sports and conservation activities can accomplish,” FWC vice chairman Robert Spottswood said. “It’s really inspirational for us.”
First photo: From left, Ben Mores, Harrison Konsker, Maccabee Herman, Nate Sermarini. Photo provided by FWC.
Second photo: From left: Commissioner Joshua Kellam, Commissioner Gary Lester, Commissioner Sonya Rood, Maccabee Herman, Bill Kelly, Harrison Konsker, Emily Elhilow, Max Feldman, Commissioner Michael Sole, Colin Riley, Commissioner Robert Spottswood, Ben Mores and Commissioner Gary Nicklaus. Photo provided by the FWC.