To the Editor:
We would like to welcome the President and First Family to Martha’s Vineyard.
At the same time, we want to say thank you. Without the support of your administration, the new “Y” Community Center of Martha’s Vineyard could not have been built.
Martha’s Vineyard had no public facility to teach swimming to generations of Islanders. Our schools had no place to teach swimming and the high school never had a swim team. The Island had no centrally located facility for after-school programs for children. The teens had no Teen Center, a safe place for social interaction as an alternative to participating in risky behaviors. There was no place to educate our youth about good eating and exercising habits and integrate those habits into their daily life.
With your support and help we built a 35,000 sq. ft. facility across from the high school within five miles of 80 percent of the Island’s population. We were able to do this with the support of Island organizations, businesses and individuals. But even with their support we still needed additional help.
Working closely with the town of Oak Bluffs and the school superintendent’s office we were able to participate in a grant and loan from the United States Department of Agriculture to build wastewater facilities to provide for the needs of the town, high school, and the new “Y.” On this Island we have a fragile ecosystem, so the appropriate removal of wastewater is critical to our health and future. With your support we built these facilities.
We were able to raise substantial amounts of money from both the year-round and seasonal residents of the Island. Their support has been tremendous and without it we would have never been able to start this project. But the U.S. economic picture changed and the resources of many of our donors and prospective donors were seriously affected. To finish the project we needed a loan. A new nonprofit organization with a $13 million dollar Capital Campaign was not on the top of anybody’s list for a loan. The local banks have always been supportive of our project and our programs, but this was more risk than they wanted to carry. We found a USDA loan guarantee program administered by local banks. The Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank with the support of the USDA was able to provide a $1.5 million dollar loan that allowed us to finish our project
We opened our doors on June 19 this year with approximately 750 charter members and in less than two months our membership has grown to over 3,000 year-round and seasonal residents. We have provided swimming classes to over 200 people and we have 50 to 75 kids each day in our summer camp programs. The positive response to the new facility has been overwhelming.
We invite you and your family to come by and use our facilities as our guests.
All of our best wishes for a relaxing and well deserved vacation.
Jill RobieExecutive Director
Chuck HughesBoard President
Martha’s Vineyard Y