Tune in: Housing on the Tube
Housing on the Tube, a locally supported telethon that raises money for affordable housing on Martha's Vineyard, is back - and bigger and better. A collaboration between the Island Affordable Housing Fund, Plum TV, and Comcast, this second annual event has an impressive host of events lined up with the goal of beating last year's total earnings of a half-million dollars. The events will be broadcasted on Plum TV (Channel 76) and all will take place at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury.
New this year, Plum TV will be streaming the telethon live on their website, plumtv.com, making it available to a much larger viewing audience. In addition, Plum TV produced 15 different segments about affordable housing on the Island that will play throughout the telethon. "They're stories focusing on someone getting their first affordable house, and what it's like on the Island," says Tina Miller, General Manager at Plum TV.
The program begins this Friday, July 25, at 8 am with a live morning show, followed by the telethon, which continues through Sunday, the 27. There will be eight to ten hours of telethon programming each day.
On Saturday, in the middle of the festivities, the premier party will kick-off with a performance by the Vineyard Sound, the a cappella group. The singers will serenade guests as they enter the Ag Hall, where they'll be met by a headlining musical act and a dazzling display of lights and décor. Celebrated musicians Jim Belushi and Jerry Bennett and the Sultans of Swing will take the stage at 7:30 pm. Patrick Manning, Executive Director at Island Affordable Housing, promises a night of topnotch entertainment. "Jim Belushi blew the doors off the place last year. Our theme really is rocking the house for affordable housing. I think it's going to be a great time." This year's events are sponsored by Comcast, Plum TV, Colonial Reproductions, and Cronig's Market.
If you've heard of the Island Affordable Housing Fund and the projects they've undertaken, you're probably aware of their immense success. Since their beginnings in 1998, the men and women of Island Affordable Housing have worked with other local organizations and businesses to find ways to build housing that is not only economically friendly, but environmentally sound as well. The recent completion of Jenney Way, nine affordable and environmentally friendly homes in the heart of Edgartown, is just one example of the company's accomplishments.
Kathryn Barrows, production head at Plum TV, says that the project began with the generosity of a couple who, after hearing John Abrams of South Mountain Company speak about affordable housing, decided to donate their three-acre parcel of land. "They had their house plus this lot - it's an amazing vision and sacrifice for someone to do that, to say, yeah in my backyard - absolutely," explains Ms. Barrows. "It's beautiful housing made out of recycled wood, with solar panels on all of the roofs."
With this year's telethon and weekend-long celebration, they hope to increase the number of similar projects that will benefit the Island and provide people with opportunities they otherwise would not have. "People have a misconception in the public outside the Vineyard that somehow this is a wealthy playground for the rich and famous - when in fact it is an Island community of people who day-to-day keep the Island running all 12 months of the year," says Mr. Manning.
The creation and success of the Island Affordable Housing Fund have come about largely because of a cooperative investment in not only providing excellent service, but doing it in innovative and inventive ways. Mr. Manning praises Ken Karakul and Suzanne Lanzone for their work in organizing events that are rewarding, productive, and, most importantly, show people a great time.
"We're not ones who want to just have a wine and cheese party or an auction - we really want to have something that's fun, new, and exciting," says Mr. Manning. "At the same time, we wanted the telethon to be more inclusive to people, whether they're giving ten dollars or ten thousand dollars."
And, as John Abrams happily adds, "After 10 years it is thrilling to see the fund still rolling along and collaborating with so many other organizations and seeing that the solutions to the affordable housing issue are unstoppable. It's getting done because of an incredible group of people."
Housing on the Tube, Friday, Friday through Sunday 9-11 am and 4-8 pm, Ag Hall in West Tisbury. Premier party, Saturday, 6:30-10 pm, also at the Ag Hall. For more information, call the Island Affordable Housing Fund at 508-696-0943. Purchase tickets and donate online at islandaffordable.org or by calling 508-338-4688, or Plum TV at 508-696-1970.
Kylie Paul is a recent graduate of Skidmore College and a summer resident of Vineyard Haven.