To the Editor:
Our Island Club began in August 2005 with Cronig’s, Island Propane, and Jim’s Gas as the three anchor businesses.
The club’s initial residency requirements were consistent with the Steamship Authority’s qualifications for the Islander excursion program. However, when we and our merchant partners determined that these did not target the intended community — those who live and work on Martha’s Vineyard — we modified them to their and our satisfaction. And, when issues arose, as is often the case with loyalty programs such as this where some attempt to take undue advantage, we worked with our same merchant partners who continue to generously support a program that benefits the customers whose patronage they clearly value.
The club’s residency requirements are as follows:
Each member must vote on-Island or be employed/self-employed by an on-Island business for at least six consecutive months that provides a regular and ongoing product/service to Islanders.
Further, we take into consideration health care and education services that benefit the Island community that are not provided in six consecutive months. There are individuals who may provide services to the hospital during the summer (that could be only two-to-three months). Similar with teachers who provide summer school services.
Also, other special circumstances are considered. This is on a case by case basis. For example, there are families who have children in school here. However, they work off-Island or in a virtual office.
We understand the challenges that our immigrant population face, and have encouraged their participation. From the beginning our website has been available in Portuguese.
We recognize the contribution to our community of all who live and work on-Island, including tradespeople, store owners and their employees, service providers, nurses, teachers, town employees, professionals, physicians, school administrators, and health and wellness providers.
During the 12-plus years of the program, the club has provided hundreds of free memberships to residents of Island Elderly Housing and Dukes County Regional Housing, and clients of Vineyard Healthcare Access, the Food Pantry, Serving Hands, and the Red Stocking Fund.
Our program is one of inclusion.