To the Editor:
Looming thunderstorms, ominous skies, still water did not deter from the excitement at the Boch family's house in Katama last Thursday night. A core group of volunteers, who selflessly worked behind the scenes for
weeks to produce what was one of the best Water Tastings by the Sea in the 15 years of Vineyard House, stood together in anticipation. We were not disappointed.
In full Edgartown regalia, supporters came over the hill by foot and trolley, culminating in the festive white pole tent with its three Vineyard House blue finial flags beckoning. They hailed from all towns to support what has become a great Island initiative, Vineyard House.
As I walked through the crowd, I did my usual unscientific survey as to why one was there and the continual answer was, "Addiction is a community problem whether we like it or not, it affects all of us."
Despite all of its glory, the Vineyard's seasonal economy breeds an elevated habitat for alcohol and drug addiction and depression-related substance abuse. I sit on a beach and soak in all the sun, watch the osprey fish, and smell the sweet smell of schooling fish, but I have to remember I am on vacation. I have a job that goes 365 days a year. Having lived here year-round, I know the chill of the winter wind, the deep gray of the sky and the sting of lack of work despite all my efforts — I am grateful, and in my gratitude I am reminded how lucky I am. Vineyard House provides Vineyarders the supporting care needed to transition back into Vineyard society with the hopes and aspiration of becoming positive contributing members.
In preparing for the event, I read through oral histories of previous graduates of Vineyard House, recorded by Mary Nada, a long-term supporter, and I had an "aha" moment: this model really works. In the words of one graduate, "I learned to live in sobriety while right here in my own community, where I planned to continue living."
Another went on to say, "I grew up on the Vineyard. If Vineyard House hadn't been there for me, I doubt I would be alive now." If it was me, I could go back to Connecticut and move to the next town over and reinvent myself, but on the Vineyard, would I have that luxury?
The evening went on without a hitch. The raffle featured donated items from Juliska, a sail on the Charlotte with a gourmet boxed dinner by the ArtCliff Diner, and an incredible 1943 painting graciously given by Doug Seward of the Gay Head Cliffs, with the last known Noman's dory. It was only fitting that the Vineyard Haven harbormaster, a longtime supporter of Vineyard House, won the painting in front of a group of hundreds. I asked Jay a few days later about his read on the event (another science experiment), and without missing a beat, he said, "I am about as Yankee as one gets when it comes to spending money, but I would have paid double to support such a wonderful cause. It was a special night. Winning the painting was a bonus."
The silent auction was overwhelming, supported with donations from all over the Island. I can hardly recite an eighth, so here is a sampling; the Outermost Inn, R.M. Packer Fuel, Parish Home Goods, The Beach House, Vintage Jewelry, Peggy Schweir Landscaping, and so much more. The point is the community was behind the event, all aspects from seafood donated by Edgartown Seafood, Net Result, and Larsen's of Menemsha, ice cream from Mad Martha's, hors d'oeurves from Tea Lane Catering and water donated from Nestle, L. Knife & Sons, and Vineyard Bottled Water. There was entertainment from Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, who very quietly and unassumingly contributed his talents in his continual philanthropic way.
At every turn I saw the Vineyard, the people you stand in the line with at Cronig's (another great supporter), the drivers who share the navigation of Five Corners with you, and the gentle folk who give you a half wave down North Road each day. I was very proud to be a part of it. At one point, I looked over and the Boch family was happily sitting on their dock with Vineyard House guests, as if we have all known each other all our lives — community.
The rain held out, the wind stayed away, and the night ended with a sigh of "a well done." So simply, please consider supporting us. There was an ad in this week's Vineyard Gazette calling for volunteers to assist the Vineyard House in its continued success. Think about it, there is peace in the balance of taking in the Vineyard and giving out. Join us.
Lucy Patterson Cox