A year at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services


From the very beginning, collaboration has been at the root of our work at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. It all began in 1961 with a small dedicated group of year-round and seasonal residents collaborating to find a solution to simmering concerns over the health and stability of individuals and families on Martha’s Vineyard. Each member of that founding board brought different concerns and perspectives to the partnership, and only through their collaboration were they able to see the whole picture and work together to achieve the solution that became Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

Fifty-five years later, it has been our consistent experience that when community partners come together to work toward common goals, services are more sharply focused, impactful, and far-reaching. We celebrate all of our partners: our board and staff, the donors who make sure we have the resources required to meet the needs of our community, and all of our nonprofit and for-profit partners.

2016 brought some transformative collaborations, and we proudly share them. We only wish everyone could have shared the feel-good experience of:

  • Walking along the campus deck and catching a glimpse of Island Grown School staffers working together with the 3- and 4-year-old preschoolers of our Early Childhood Center, planting their raised beds with food they would later harvest and eat for lunch — foods like asparagus, which they tended carefully, picked enthusiastically, and ate willingly when it was the vegetable of the month!
  • Standing up with 19 17-year-old male students of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School as they pledged their support and protection for girls and women after completing SWEAR (Stand With Everyone Against Rape), a program of Connect to End Violence focused on speaking out through the education of young men and boys on the realities, stereotypes, and repercussions of rape and violence against women.
  • Seeing the faces of clients (and staff) when they entered the newly refurbished Island Counseling Center. A unique partnership between Cape Cod 5, the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard, and a group of private donors not only brought much needed telemedicine psychiatry to the Island Counseling Center, it also provided resources to transform that old, tired, and unwelcoming space into one that truly reflects the caring nature of our relationship with our clients.
  • Watching Island veterans, their families, and clinicians connect and heal around the true experiences of war at performances of Molly Maxner’s awardwinning play “Occupied Territories.” This partnership has further enhanced the connections among Island veterans through the MVCS Veterans Outreach Program, and opened up dialogue among families and in the community concerning the intergenerational effects of war trauma and the care and treatment necessary for reintegration into society.
  • Feeling the impact of our Daybreak Clubhouse members working hard to support the vision of Betty Burton by staffing the Island Food Pantry to ensure that their neighbors have the food they need.
  • Knowing that our Family Support Center of Disability Services and the Island Wide Youth Collaborative joined forces with the Youth Task Force, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Martha’s Vineyard public schools to provide free trainings and educational opportunities for clients, educators, clinicians, and the community, such as an all-Island free training on inclusion by Kids Included Together (KIT), and workshops and forums on anxiety presented by Lynn Lyons, LICSW.
  • Witnessing the launch of the Recovery Coaching Services Program, a new and vital addition to our Island Counseling Center’s substance-abuse program in response to the growing substance-abuse epidemic on the Island, and its integration into the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s Substance Use Disorder Team. Twenty recovery coaches (15 of whom are volunteering their services) have been trained to support individuals in exploring their relationship with substance use and establishing a new foundation for living life without the need for drugs or alcohol.

Our annual donors, those who so generously support the Possible Dreams Auction and the Vineyard Charity Golf Outing, and those who donate and shop at the Thrift Shop, underwrite the operations of all programs at MVCS. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to this collaboratively woven safety net!

To learn more about MVCS programs and services, these initiatives and many others, please visit our website at mvcommunityservices.com.

Jan Hatchard is the development director at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.