Surviving nursing services promises to pick up the slack
To the Editor:
Last Wednesday, just a day before the notice went public, the Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA) learned that Martha's Vineyard Community Services will be closing the doors of their Visiting Nurse Service (VNS) effective June 30. The news was received with concern for the patients and employees of VNS and was a complete surprise to our staff and board.
The purpose of this letter is to provide you, your families, and loved ones with our assurance that those who need help will continue to receive care. For nearly 25 years, the VNA has been serving the Island community with top-quality homecare services. We understand our responsibility in light of this challenging situation, and are absolutely committed to accommodating the patient load of VNS in a timely and responsible way-no matter what the cost.
Upon hearing the news of the VNS closure, we took rapid action to begin the planning process that will enable us to enroll VNS patients into our services beginning immediately. This process is now underway and will be completed on or before the June 30 closure. There is much work to be done by both agencies to accommodate this difficult transition. We are working closely with the staff and administration of the VNS to ensure the home health needs of the Island are taken care of and that the impact on patients is minimized. We are also working with the state Office of Elder Affairs to ensure that all Elder Services patients are properly transferred and with the various boards of health across the Vineyard to ensure that we can meet their needs beginning in July.
We want to reassure our existing clients that there will be no impact or interruption in the quality service that the VNA delivers on a daily basis. The VNA is willing, capable and committed to serving the homecare needs of the entire Island. We will do so with a level of professionalism, personal care and quality of service that has helped build our strong reputation over the years.
We have yet to gain full clarity on the enormity of the challenges we will face as we work to take over VNS services. We anticipate that our case load will grow by approximately 50 percent, our staffing needs will increase, training needs will increase and office space requirements will grow. Wherever possible, we will look to integrate former VNS staff into our programs. We expect significant financial consequences from these unforeseen expenses, as we strive to accommodate and serve those in need. We are perpetually thankful and appreciative of our strong donor base that helps us bridge the financial gaps created between reimbursements from Medicare or private insurance and services rendered.
Any business owner who might consider the idea of having their business grow by over 50 percent in a single year can understand how daunting this challenge is for the VNA. To grow at that rate, in just over 90 days, while maintaining our high level of client service, will require an exceptional effort. There is so much to do and so very little time in which to do it, but rest assured the Vineyard Nursing Association is up to the job.
We pledge to the Island community that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to delivering the highest quality homecare possible - as we have for nearly 25 years. We will be working with the local papers to keep you apprised of our plans and progress as we assume the many responsibilities of the VNS and work towards a smooth transition for all. We thank you for your continued support and hope for the very best for the caring staff of the VNS.
Vineyard Nursing Association
MVCS board called 'thoughtless'
To the Editor:
In a secret meeting held last week, the so called leadership of our well-funded Martha's Vineyard Community Services voted to eliminate the Visiting Nurse Service, a life-giving, and life-affirming group of dedicated nurses, homecare providers, and thoughtful administrators.
Shame on those board members of Community Services, who have been entrusted with extensive resources provided by all of us, the wealthy and not so, who believed that you had our best health and emotional interest well in hand.
What has made the VNS such an integral part of our healthcare community?
The close connection with our community hospital is but one facet. Test results, referrals, and close physician contact have made the homecare almost as good as being in the hospital with your personal doctor at your bedside.
The relationships the VNS has thrived with include the prestigious Boston Area hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Partners Collaborative that include the finest facilities in the United States. These relationships ensure a seamless transition to the Vineyard to and from distant hospitals.
Can other groups provide such professional care? Our choices are now extremely limited. The weak and flustering excuse offered by the Community Services board is "to reduce confusion...."
Are the residents of Martha's Vineyard unable to distinguish quality healthcare, kind and caring nurses and aides for themselves?
It would appear George Orwell was right, after all.
I have personally seen the life-extending and emotionally uplifting capabilities of these fine people who make up he Visiting Nurse Service. Those capabilities have included everything from administering chemo therapy to helping a family weather emotional pain, to looking to the future in a healthy physical and emotional state. There is no "confusion" here.
I urge all those who have experienced the superb service provided by the VNS and those who know the wonderful people who are involved within, to not stand by and let unfortunate decisions made by an apparently unprofessional, thoughtless, ill-prepared board of directors deprive our community of such a valuable asset.
Art Buchwald must be rolling over in his grave.
Robert W. Holt
Unfortunate for all
To the Editor:
The terrible news that VNS is closing is causing distress in the minds and hearts of many Vineyard residents who have come to rely on the services provided by this agency.
Particularly troubling is the loss of a uniquely dedicated team of nurses who have demonstrated a willingness time and time again to go above and beyond the call of duty in serving and advocating for their patients and the families of their patients.
I've worked in private duty homecare as a patient care coordinator and a direct care provider since moving to Martha's Vineyard almost seven years ago. I've worked closely with several VNS nurses. The consistent high quality of care, dependability and accessibility of these nurses is unsurpassed in my experience.
In addition to their medical expertise, these individuals bring a tremendous amount of heart to their work. Their warm style of community nursing is difficult to find anywhere in this modern day. Is this their just reward for years, perhaps decades of service?
On Martha's Vineyard we have limited choices in many areas, perhaps most importantly in the area of healthcare. It is difficult to understand why the board of Martha's Vineyard Community Services would make a decision to deprive Vineyard residents of a choice in nursing care. This decision directly and personally impacts the lives and health of our most frail, elderly, and chronically ill neighbors and minimizes the importance of continuity in their care.
The decision to close VNS in the interest of long-term strategic planning is unfortunate for those people who work for VNS, unfortunate for the patients who will lose their long-term (and loved) nursing team, and unfortunate for the Island community as a whole.
Sad news, indeed
To the Editor:
Wednesday morning, the staff of VNS was gathered together on very short notice to hear the "sad news" from administrator Julia Burgess that the directors had decided to close the VNS, effective the end of the fiscal year. I wish to express my thoughts and feelings from the perspective of being both a 10-year employee of VNS and a recipient of VNS services for both myself and my recently deceased mother.
What I remember most about my first week at VNS was how incredibly welcoming everyone was. I felt like I was joining a family, and, indeed, I was. In my 30 years of working as a physical therapist in Boston, Rhode Island, and Richmond, Va., in every possible clinical setting - city hospitals, country hospitals, out-patient clinics, and home care agencies - I can't recall working with a more dedicated, compassionate, and competent group of individuals.
The past couple of years have been difficult for me and my family, beginning with my mother's diagnosis of lymphoma. The extraordinary care given to my mom by her VNS nurses and home health aides will always be remembered. Mom adored and formed a bond with them all. When she was dying, her nurse sat with her on New Year's Eve so that my husband and I could see our son's performance at the Katharine Cornell Theatre.
During the course of her hospitalizations and treatments, I managed to fracture my femur and, days away from returning to work, dislocated and fractured my wrist. Again, my co-workers came to the rescue, not only with necessary home treatments but also with meals brought to the house by these wonderful gals.
Most of us at VNS work there by choice (there are certainly other places that may pay better or offer more consistent work). To me, the VNS is an example of the Martha's Vineyard community at its best. It is indeed sad news that soon there will be no VNS.
To the Editor:
This letter was written to the executive director of Martha's Vineyard Community Services.
I am compelled to write you this letter to express my disappointment on behalf of myself and many other senior citizens who may fail to let you know how they feel as well.
I have just learned of the distressing sad news that the directors at Community Services voted to cease providing the nursing services to senior citizens of Martha's Vineyard.
I am 77 years old and my husband is 74. I am a three-year pancreatic cancer survivor. Among other side effects, my illness has caused me to lose 110 pounds. I hold a small job with the school in order to help make ends meet. My husband has lost one complete lung due to his cancer and is on oxygen 24 hours a day. He suffers from heart disease and C.O.P.D., which brings him much difficulty breathing. He also is unable to walk and has lost a lot of weight due to his sickness. He needs constant care and I have appreciated having the needed help that Community Services has provided our family. These services have been invaluable to us.
I was surprised and disturbed that Community Services did not inform the staff, the patients they serve, or even ask the community for input.
I feel sure that if you reconsider and ask us to help, we would all respond. To simply eliminate the nursing service without including the community is terribly sad and unfair, and it puts citizens in a position to go without needed care and may result in loss of lives.
I am not asking you to reevaluate your decision, I am begging you on behalf of the many that cannot or will not for whatever reason inform you of the drastic mistake you are making.
As a citizen, taxpayer, past selectman for 13 years, board of health member, and almost all boards in my town, I implore you to reconsider and call for public input to preserve this much needed service.
I look forward to your reconsideration on this matter.
Martha's Vineyard Commission member favors Cape Wind
To the Editor:
This is a copy of comments on the MMS Draft EIS for the Cape Wind Project.
I am an elected member of the Martha's Vineyard Commission and a former board member of the Vineyard Energy Project. I will be speaking tonight for myself and my family.
I appreciate this opportunity to express my support for the Cape Wind Energy Project and the adequacy of the Draft EIS Report. I have been a resident of Martha's Vineyard for 35 years and have witnessed many changes which have all contributed to a greater need for electricity and energy from other sources. Increased energy demands come from many more buildings with ever larger footprints, filled with new electronic gizmos. Most of these buildings require multiple vehicles and the necessary fuels to service them. Many of us have made the choice, most unconsciously, to live such an energy intensive lifestyle.
Unfortunately, due to a decreasing supply of and an increasing demand for fossil fuels and the negative environmental impact of burning these fuels, we can no longer afford our energy intensive lifestyles. In my mind, the Cape Wind Project, when it was first proposed more than six years ago, was a much needed wake up call, an opportunity to look at how we live and how we impact the larger community and maybe even the rest of the world. Could we live differently, reduce our energy footprint and perhaps diminish the need for new electricity generation?
During those six years for most of us that has not happened. We are in a crisis now. Electricity supplies are inadequate, rates are rising, and carbon emissions are finally being recognized as a major contributor to global warming.
We need to make some choices, some are easy and others are not. We need to act. Cape Wind should be a part of the solution, since we have decided we need more electricity, not less and we should no longer foul our air in the process. Even when Cape Wind is approved, we are going to have to make many other changes if we want to leave a livable planet for our grandchildren. We don't have the luxury of waiting for the perfect solution to arrive.
Cape Wind has the potential to provide us with a clean, reliable, and abundant source of electricity at rates we can count on over time in a world of escalating energy prices. Cape Wind will reduce our need for burning fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions and reducing our ever increasing need to import energy from many countries around the world. Renewable energy, besides being clean, can also provide local jobs, keeping more of our money in our communities leading to a strengthening of the dollar. Becoming more energy self-sufficient will make our region and our country stronger and safer, reducing security costs.
As a Martha's Vineyard Commission member, I have participated in the evaluation of many projects. With each one the decision comes down to benefits verses detriments. If I could vote on Cape Wind, I feel I have enough information to determine that the benefits do outweigh the detriments and The Cape Wind Energy Project should be approved.
Wind energy can do the job
To the Editor:
We cannot live without electricity, we can only change the fuel used to generate electricity. There are three types of fuels used to generate electricity: climate malignant non-renewable fuels - coal, oil, natural gas (which produce 75 percent of our electricity); climate benign renewable fuels - the sun, wind, water, etc (which produce five percent of our electricity); and nuclear (which produces 20 percent of our electricity). Climate malignant fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas - release carbon dioxide and other pollutants when burned; the sun, wind and water do not. We must change and increase the percentage of electricity generated with renewable fuels from five percent to 75 percent.
The earth, the United States, the Cape, and Martha's Vineyard's most abundant renewable fuel capable of replacing significant amounts of electricity generated with coal, oil, and natural gas is offshore wind. The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Conference Paper Future for Offshore Wind Energy in the United States by Walt Musial and Sandy Butterfield, page four states that, off the coast of the United States, wind has the potential for providing an amount of electricity greater than the current installed U.S. electrical capacity. Fifty percent of America's population lives within 50 miles of a coast. Congressman Delahunt and Senator Kennedy have and continue to try to keep this fuel "off the market." They along with others are trying to convince us that the winds at Horseshoe Shoal are "off limits," "too expensive" to be used as an acceptable source of fuel for generating cost effective carbon-free electricity. The facts do not support this view. In spite of the fact that the winds at Horseshoe Shoal are Massachusetts's highest grade renewable fuel capable of producing cost-competitive electricity, they still attempt to keep this fuel off the market.
I would like to remind the Congressman and the Senator that the Cape Cod Canal plant burns oil. The canal plant is Massachusetts's third largest power plant capable of generating 1,100 megawatts of electricity. I would also like to remind the Congressman and the Senator that six out of every ten barrels of oil burned at the canal plant comes from the crude oil supplied by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Russia, Canada and Mexico.
If the Congressman and the Senator are successful in keeping this fuel "off the market," I would ask each of them to explain to their constituents, the residents of Massachusetts, what fuels Massachusetts will use to generate the electricity it needs for the next ten years without emitting carbon and other harmful pollutants in the process?
Take the step to green energy
To the Editor:
It appears that a majority of the people in the U.S. now believe in global warming and global air and water pollution. Even the Southern Baptists have gone along with this idea believing that God could use a hand to save our planet. Of course there are a number of doubters among our elected officials including Congressman Delahunt and Senator Kennedy. Instead of opposing an opportunity for advancing the cause of alternative energy they should be leading the charge to develop a strong national energy policy.
It is also evident that many of us believe the planet is really running out of natural resources and primarily oil. There is also much discussion that alternate sources of clean energy must be utilized now in order to avoid an impending disaster. This of course includes solar, water, and air which are being used but giant steps must be taken to effect major changes. Those of us who live on the Cape and the Islands have the opportunity to take a long step forward for the next generation and beyond by approving the Cape Wind project.
A lesser evil
To the Editor:
I had to miss the Cape Wind hearing. I support Cape Wind. For me, it is an indication that we are learning to dream differently, and think differently, and act differently. I have no quarrel, however, with those who oppose it. It is what it is to each of us.
But here's my concern. I haven't heard anyone embrace the pollution that comes from the oil fired Cape Cod power plant, or the severe environmental degradation that comes from its supply chain. I haven't heard anyone stand up for the devastating consequences of mining and burning coal, which provides 50 percent of U.S. electricity. I haven't heard anyone support sending more Americans to fight for the remains of a dwindling resource.
So, my only hope is that those who see Cape Wind as an evil will come to see it as a lesser evil than other alternatives.
Relative to our national needs, Cape Wind is a drop in the bucket. If our children are to have security and prosperity, we will need many Cape Winds. Fortunately, wind is the fastest growing energy source in the world. It probably won't be long before wind farms are as commonplace as wires by the roadside or masts in the harbor.
Deep-water turbines are a decade away, at best. Cape Wind is now, a good start. Will both be beneficial? Absolutely. Will they be specifically beneficial to Martha's Vineyard? I hope so.
But, I look forward to the time when we can stop arguing about Cape Wind, let it take its course, and devote ourselves to uniting to create local community-owned wind energy, which will be tremendously good for the environment, for our individual pocketbooks, and for our local economy.
For the future
To the Editor:
(The following testimony was given by Bill Meyer of West Tisbury and Charlestown at the U.S. Minerals Management Service hearing March 13 in Boston on the Cape Wind proposal. He was allotted three minutes. He organized Vineyarders for Clean Power, which has lobbied for construction of the wind farm in Nantucket Sound.)
On behalf of scores of citizens who have worked seven years for the Cape Wind project, thank you for your initial endorsement. On behalf of my two granddaughters, thank you. The Cape Wind project will make their future cleaner and healthier.
Beware the wealthy waterfront home owners and their influential politicians. They will try to discredit your environmental studies.
They have already succeeded in delaying the wind farm in Nantucket Sound five years.
Cape Wind Associates had $800 million in hand and planned to activate the project in 2006. Now it is planning a 2011 operational date.
Time is of the essence. The health of the planet hangs in the balance.
The chairman of the UN Commission which received the Nobel Peace Prize for alerting the world on the immediate dangers of global warming, recently said, "What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future,."
Conserve Boch Park architecture
To the Editor:
In reading about Boch Park the thing that jumped out at me was the reference to it as an "eyesore." I think that is dangerous terminology.
Martha's Vineyard is a unique place of natural beauty. People come from all over the world for that reason. And there are tremendous, commendable efforts put forth to protect and conserve the land. However, what is too often overlooked, and of equal significance, is the importance of our buildings.
What differentiates Martha's Vineyard from other beach communities? Is it the oceanfront alone? Or is it also the charm of our quaint towns? Yet, I see flagrant dismissal of the importance of our structures.
Every year, many older buildings are torn down and replaced with larger structures. This should be stopped. No one is happy about this, but it continues. If developers are allowed to have their way they will get rich, and the rest of us will wind up living someplace that looks like Long Beach Island, N.J. - not a desirable outcome.
The Boch Park building is a fine example of Island architecture, it only needs a little refreshing. I enjoy looking at it as I drive by and would hate to see it demolished. What is the justification of destroying any usable building and taking the debris to the landfill? Demolition and dumping have become issues of social responsibility today. Whatever is decided in regards to Boch Park, I hope the structures are saved.
Let's move toward a future that conserves all of our landscape, and in doing so, retains our charm for future generations.
How about Islander parking
To the Editor:
Here's an idea for the currently plain Jane Vineyard Haven lot we call Boch Park. How about doing something for the Islanders for a change? My suggestion is turning Boch Park back into a parking lot.
All right, let's not all jump off the deep end quite yet. My thought is that this time Vineyard Haven converts the lot into a paved, year-round, "Islander Only" parking lot. By "Islander Only," I mean that only residents that live on the Island year-round would have access to this parking lot, particularly in the summer season when parking in Vineyard Haven is the most difficult to obtain.
This idea would also generate funds for Vineyard Haven by creating "Boch Park Parking Permits". Vineyard Haven could issue these on a first-come-first-serve basis, exclusively to Islanders that are willing to pay the set fee for this parking access. I am sure that for a nominal fee of say $60 to $75 per year, this idea would generate plenty of interest. The permits could be made to be effective from May 1 to April 30, renewable each year.
As for the idea of making Boch Park into an actual park, there are pedestrian vs. vehicle traffic issues and liability concerns that Vineyard Haven really doesn't need to add to its plate. Putting an actual park or playground here would create yet another parking problem, and there are other ways to make this more than just another parking lot.
Yes, maybe we are "paving paradise and putting up a parking lot" in a sense, but if the view perimeters were lined with fixed park benches and maybe a couple of Vineyard Haven historical information podiums in between, well maybe a little paradise is saved?
I believe that this option would be very low maintenance and serve multiple purposes for Islanders and Vineyard Haven alike.
Arts education - priceless
To the Editor:
The recent production of "A Chorus Line" provided the real life illustration of the vital importance of our high school's performing arts programs. The cast included students involved in academics, competitive sports, the Model UN, music, theater, dance, etc. The cast, and particularly the 20-plus soloists, put on a truly extraordinary show. Our young people are multi-talented and enormously capable; they deserve to be taken seriously. Under the direction of the performing arts faculty, look what they accomplished.
I am involved in the effort to maintain current staffing levels in the music and theater programs. Education in the creative and performing arts results in well documented benefits to a wide range of students, including successful college admissions; enhanced test taking and performance in academic classes; the development of public speaking and leadership skills; the coordination of visual, auditory, and sensory skills and learning; and the integration of academic and creative skills. I appreciate the growing financial pressures facing the administration, school committee, and towns. I appreciate that enrollment numbers may play a role in course offerings. However, given the obvious high level of interest and talent among high school students, and the many benefits of arts education, rather than cutting courses and faculty, it is important to consider options for positive change and expansion in the current performing arts program.
Emerging ideas include expansion of the performing arts programs, and the creation of a performing arts track or "major." Further development of elective classes available to all students will engage them at a beginning level, and introduce the integration of intellectual thought and creative action/arts. At the other end of the spectrum, there is a growing number of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School students applying to audition-based, college level performing arts programs and pursuing higher education and careers in this area. Our students will benefit by the addition of dance classes, by courses that integrate history, literature, language and the creative and performing arts, and by classes that prepare them for college applications and requirements, as the high school does in many other areas.
These ideas may seem impractical to some given the current financial climate and projected enrollment decline. At this time, supporters of the performing arts programs are looking for a one year "grace" period during which these programs will be maintained at current staffing levels (one full-time theater faculty member, three full-time music faculty members.) Through continued collaboration between Dr. Weiss, the School Committee, Peg Regan, Steve Nixon, the performing arts faculty, students, parents, and community members, the ongoing, thoughtful, and thorough assessment of needs, resources, and options will provide concrete information about next steps as we approach budget development in the fall of 2009.
While many are appropriately concerned about the financial bottom line, the real bottom line is the welfare, support, education, and care of our young people. What I saw on that stage was a group of diverse, talented and professional young performers. I also saw a group of kids who worked their butts off, sang/danced/acted their hearts out - and really cared about what they were doing. Priceless.
A few things about the Island Home
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Wayne Lamson of the Steamship Authority.
My family and I have had occasion to travel on the new Island Home several times since she was introduced to the run between the Vineyard and Woods Hole. Although she does emulate - in some ways - our much loved and missed Islander (the double-ended configuration and drive through mode, etc.) she has some very curious design and construction features. Here are a few things that I noticed yesterday.
First, the structural surfaces (bulkheads, partitions, overhead, etc.) are coated with some sort of rough substance. It probably has to be fire resistant, and a rough surface may have been specified to alleviate abrasion damage but it also resists all attempts to clean it. Indeed the vertical surfaces are already starting to look "tired," particularly in the lower sections. Surely a more easily cleaned, yet durable surface, could have been selected.
The auxiliary ramps, which accommodate additional cars, forced a double height freight deck. This has resulted in side cabins with passenger seats on the mezzanine level. The third deck up has the central core with the refreshment area. This apparently benefits the galley functions but the front counter is cramped and poorly laid out - quite inefficient. Further, there is a long partition to one side which blocks the open flow of traffic and vision. The passenger section on that side is tunnel like and an unfortunate design.
The worst feature, however, is that the only restrooms for passengers are located in the same central core - on the third deck. If you are on the freight/vehicle deck or the mezzanine level you have to search for the accommodation plan, locate the restrooms, and then climb up. For anyone who is no longer young and nimble, for parents (or grandparents) with small kids, for someone with baggage (remember the admonitions about unattended luggage) or for anyone with mobility issues, but who is not technically handicapped (and where ARE the elevators anyway?), the climb is an issue.
The Island Home has had recurring teething problems; before the next shipyard maintenance period some serious thought and planning should be devoted to correcting flaws such as these - particularly the restroom situation.
Virginia Crowell Jones
No winning in Iraq
To the Editor:
John McCain tells us that we're winning in Iraq. Who are "we" and what are we winning?
As we enter the sixth year of this tragic and misbegotten war, maybe it's time to take a look in the mirror.
We are a people easily duped. We, 85 percent of us, were all too willing to let blind rage and fear overrule our better judgment and let Bush's shabby case for war prevail over a worldwide outcry for reason.
We professed shock at the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and the steady stream of other torture revelations but hardly noticed when the President vetoed the anti-torture bill and McCain backed him on it.
We can't seem to muster much interest in the sinister erosion of our civil rights, allowing the government to tap our phones and retract habeas corpus, the right of a prisoner to be informed of the charges against him and who his accusers are.
We know or should know that this war has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the people we supposedly are there to help, and blame them for the misfortune we've imposed on them.
We have allowed our legislators to squander what will amount to more than a trillion dollars on security for a far-off country that we made insecure - enough money to educate every child in the world and then some.
We get wildly excited by sports events, turning out a million strong in the streets to honor our champion teams, but few of us bother to stand up publicly when we see America's leaders trashing our Constitution and our status as an honorable nation.
For Americans, it's all about us. We love to chant "We're number one!" We seem to only be able to see ourselves as some amazing football team blasting our way from victory to victory.
But there is no victory here or in Iraq. The toll has been too great and will only be compounded in the coming years, unless we as a people grow up and take personal responsibility for what is done in our name.
Freedom, but not for all
To the Editor:
Vineyarders who tuned in to Comedy Central on Wednesday night, March 12, could have viewed an entertaining, though not hilarious, program by comedian Lewis Black, which consisted of a mock debate over whether Oprah Winfrey or the Catholic Church posed the greater threat to civilization.
Would Comedy Central have dared to air a program which poked comparable fun at the Muslim religion - a religion whose extremist elements do, in fact, constitute a serious menace to Americans?
Not likely. Christianity has evolved to a stage where Christians do not explode in uncontrolled rage at those who make jokes about their religious beliefs. Regrettably, the same cannot be said for the world of Islam. Had the Muslim faith, rather than Catholicism, been the target of Comedy Central's humor, the response might have been street riots, embassy burnings, death threats, and murder.
To the Editor:
To be truly literate in the early European history of our region, one should have read or been familiar with the late Harvard historian, Samuel Eliot Morison's, works, most particularly his "Portuguese Voyages to America in the Fifteenth Century" (1940).
Short of metropolitan Boston, the nearest copy to be found is in the truly outstanding New Bedford Public Library (and Athenaeum). Incredibly, no copies are to be found in the free public libraries and the historical societies of the entire Cape and Islands region. Makes you wonder.
Single copies become available, on average, every 20 years when an owner dies. It is an extraordinarily hard book to find. The "Holy Grail" of early Portuguese navigation and discovery in the Americas, both real or fanciful.
Peter Colt Josephs
To the Editor:
What a great turnout for our first beach cleanup at Owen Park on Friday, March 7. The kids and parents came in droves, and we gathered a large amount of trash. Plastic bottles were separated and put in bio-degradable bags kindly donated by Cronig's, along with the hot chocolate. Sorry we ran out; there were so many kids in need of a little pep on a bitterly cold day. A nearly full bag of cigarette butts was gathered from the SSA terminal end of the beach on their way to the ocean.
Some of the kids were interested in seeing where the recycle went, and others were eager to participate on a greener level. But most importantly, the kids had fun.
April cleanup, first Friday at 3 pm. Go green team. Open to all.
Every driver needs a license
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Angel Gouzoules's letter on March 13. The driver involved in the accident that took Brandy Gibson's life may not have been at fault for the accident, but that does not excuse him of the fact that he did not have a license and had been cited for this at least three times.
The problem on this Island is a continuing problem. A large amount of the Brazilian population do not have licenses. Why the court system allows them to continue driving without one by just fining them a mere $100 is crazy. A Brazilian worker I know was just arrested for his third offense. He is still driving today. His excuse is that he needs to work.
How can we allow this to continue to happen? It's not just that they are unlicensed, but they also do not have insurance, which affects all of us. The court system has got to step up and stop this problem. Brazilian or not, those of us in our community driving illegally have got to be stopped.
Yes, most of us are immigrants. My family came from the Azores, three generations ago. But the difference is they learned the English language and abided by the laws. They were here to make a better living for themselves, not just to reap the benefits and go back to their homeland, after they have made enough money to live on.
A matter of diversity
To the Editor:
The Island community recently suffered a tragic loss with the death of a young woman. No one denies this. But in the aftermath of the accident, some members of our community began to talk in disparaging and mean-spirited terms about other members of our community.
The Island Diversity Council would like to speak out in support of the Brazilian members of our community. Living together on a small island, residents of Martha's Vineyard have a unique opportunity to bring people together from all walks of life. We are a microcosm of the larger society, and we have the opportunity to make our community one that is welcoming to all. Our mission is to keep diversity on the minds and voices of our community by providing safe forums where people can think out loud about these sensitive and difficult topics.
In an article entitle "Black man vs. white woman" in the Feb. 17 edition of the Boston Sunday Globe, the author explains that when psychologists talk about bias, they use three technical categories: stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Stereotyping is the tendency to ascribe people a set of traits based on the group they belong to (e.g. "black people are good at sports," "Jews are cheap"). Prejudice is an emotional bias, disliking someone because of their group identity. And discrimination is how we act on the first two.
Let us work together to make Martha's Vineyard a place without stereotyping, without prejudice, without discrimination. Please help us make our mission a reality. Come join us at our public meetings, events, and discussion groups, which will be advertised in a future edition.
We welcome the Martha's Vineyard community to join us on Monday, March 24, at 6:30 at the West Tisbury School for our monthly meeting.
Island Diversity Council
Off to Ireland
To the Editor:
The Irish history class at the Regional High School had some Irish luck this week. They found a community of friends who helped them on their way to Ireland. The Irish tradition was celebrated in style at the Cornerway in Chilmark, and a capacity crowd ate corned beef and cabbage and raised money for the trip with amazing generosity.
We have many people to thank, but let's begin with Frank and Judy LoRusso, who donated the use of the building to us and then worked with us to make the evening a huge success. We are so very grateful to Merrily and Frank Fenner, who organized the event and to the Smoking Flamingoes, an exciting Boston band that provided wonderful music and refused to take even traveling expenses from us. We have to thank Barbara Fenner and Donald Beaton, who did a great job with the food, and to Audrey Schwab Harding for her fantastic sheet cake.
There are no words to say how grateful we are to all of the people who donated valuable items for our auction. We thank artists Joan Walsh and Allen Whiting for the paintings generously donated, and Allen for the autographed copy of his book; Buddy Vanderhoop and Jen Clarke and Hollis Smith for the charters donated to us; Beth and Louie Larsen for the gourmet food basket; Mary Beth and Alison from Chilmark Chocolates for their generous donation, Chrystal Angelini and Betsy's Hands for the massage and reflexology sessions and Diane and Blair Emin for the $100 gift certificate for Offshore Ale. For all those who brought desserts, we have a big thank you and to Steve Bernier of Cronig's Market, who donated 50 pounds of potatoes, without which no Irish dinner would be complete. Our deep gratitude also to the families and friends who supported us; from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
This evening solved our financial worries and set us on the road to Ireland, but more than that, it showed us they we live in a loving and supportive community, one that values all of our children. Slainte, and health and long life to you all.
Elaine Cawley Weintraub
Irish Trip Advisor
To the Editor:
Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has enjoyed significant community support over the last four years that I have been the administrator.
The nursing home had a roofing repair that was an emergency. Kevin Peters of the new Island company KJ Enterprises, has come to our rescue. He has graciously donated his company's time and materials to provide an intermediate repair. We want to publicly thank him for his efforts.
Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
It's all about real estate
To the Editor:
On April 15, the voters of Tisbury will go to the polls to vote on a proposal to allow the selectmen to license the sale of beer and wine in establishments around our town. If you think that this proposal concerns what beverage you may drink with your meal, think again. This is about real estate and community.
Check the ads in the real estate guides. One states openly that the value of a property will increase with the passage of this proposal. Another is more subtle. And so it goes. May I remind you that we are the voters of Tisbury, not the owners of the properties and businesses.
Most of us moved to Tisbury because we liked the atmosphere of this year-round town; Main Street, with its gabled buildings set at angles to the sidewalk, the benches and spaces where we get a view of the harbor. When I first came here, there was a thriving dry goods store, a grocery and a hardware store, a barber, shoe store, even a Thrift Store. Since they closed, their spaces have been taken by a succession of tourist trinket shops.
We, the taxpayers of Tisbury, have recently invested in a sewer system for the downtown. We have made other improvements, too, to Main Street and the downtown. Very little has changed among the businesses.
Now we are asked to allow the selectmen to license establishments to sell beer and wine. The town committee on beer and wine has shown that the only beneficiaries will be the restaurants that sell them. And, if the ads are correct, the owners who sell their property for a higher price. The profits, if any, will go to the owners, not to the town.
We still have an unique and charming downtown for hanging out, even if there is little to buy. Let's defeat this proposal and hope that the owners will, at last, put in the necessary toilet facilities and provide the year-round goods and services that we need.
Please take a walk down Main Street and think about your needs. Then go to the polls on April 15 and vote. Thank you.
Mary H. Snyder
Many to thank
To the Editor:
I have many to thank for receiving the Vineyard Youth Tennis scholarship, and I hope all parties concerned will see this letter.
First, I would like to thank the owner of Vineyard Youth Tennis. I have not had the opportunity to thank him in person but would like to convey my gratitude. Had this program not existed, I am not sure that I would have started playing tennis.
Scott Smith, the director, and head pro Michael Halisky have been instrumental to my developing into a better player. Their experience, knowledge, and ability to teach helps me want to improve more every day.
You get to a point where you start to think you are becoming a decent player; then you watch Scott or Michael play, and you realize there is much to learn. The good news is they give you the incentive to strive to become a better player. Scott and Michael are definitely two great coaches. Dave Larsen, another great coach, is always willing to help adjust or fix your strokes, volleys, etc. Dave has the ability to study your style and help make small adjustments that make a big difference.
A big thank you to all my team members who hit with me in all of our practices and open court time, I appreciate all of your help.
The success of the fundraiser for the scholarship took place because of all the tennis enthusiasts who took the time to come out and play in the Vineyard Youth Tennis round robin doubles tournament. I thank you and hope to see everyone at the next round robin, mixed doubles tournament on May 30, so another VYT player can be as fortunate as I.