On Saturday, August 23, Island stalwart Benito Mancinone, known to generations of Islanders as Benny, came back to the Oak Bluffs barber shop on Circuit Avenue that still bears his name and raised $1,672 for the Joseph Jerome Memorial Foundation (JJMF), one haircut at a time. Ed Jerome, the former Edgartown School principal and longtime chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby who is a close friend of Benny, started the JJMF in memory of his son, Joseph, who died last September after a long illness, at the age of 24.
“The foundation was created to help Island families with chronically ill children afford the high cost of taking them to Boston for treatment,” Mr. Jerome said. “They might be in the hospital 50, 75 nights a year. It can create tremendous financial strain.” Mr. Jerome said that when Joe was receiving care in Boston, he and his wife, Maryann, at times had to alternate five-day stays in the city while raising another child back on the Island. “It’s a difficult situation you don’t understand unless you’ve been there,” he said.
Mr. Jerome said that there are no strings attached to assistance from JJMF, and there’s no application process. “This is a fund where we try to find those folks who are too proud to say anything,” he said. He and other board members will rely on the Island grapevine, as well as local health care professionals, teachers, and counselors, to find families in need. “It’s all done very quietly,” he said. “Nobody’s going to know.”
Contributions to the Joseph Jerome Memorial Fund can be mailed to PO Box 2232, Edgartown, MA 02539