As 2017 comes to a close, let’s face it: It was a roller coaster ride of a year, with twists, turns, and some unrelenting plunges that would rattle even the most confident among us. So forgive us if we take this time to focus on the positives, those uplifting moments, the euphoric highs that come with any thrill ride. They’re the moments that helped to keep us going, and rallied our fortitude.
We start in January with the women’s march. Timed to coincide with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, it was amazing to see so many women come together in a common cause, not just in Washington, D.C., not just in major cities like Boston, but right here in Vineyard Haven at Five Corners. Truly an amazing outpouring, and a strong message to Washington and the world that women and those who support them are a force to reckoned with, now and in the future.
In February, We Stand Together continued to be a strong voice for the immigrant community by putting together a forum attended by legislators. The group has continued its mission throughout the year, promoting civic engagement and educating the community on rights, important issues like climate change, and making sure that democracy is preserved.
March roared like a lion on the Island, but the kindness of Les Holcomb came through, as he opened a warming shelter at the Good Shepherd Parish Center, where Islanders who don’t have a cozy home could find some comfort and a place to get a meal or a hot shower, or do laundry.
April is election and town meeting season, and it’s great to see democracy in action on the Island. Town meetings are often packed to the walls, standing room only, and that’s a good thing. It also brought us the touching and emotional story of Winnie Welles and Ryan Murray, two Island children with autism, as they make their journey through the educational system.
In May, Vineyard Haven resident Paul Doherty took the nip problem into his own hands, and got some support from local businessman J.B. Blau in the process. Empty nip bottles tossed to the side of the road are a real problem on Martha’s Vineyard, and Mr. Doherty shone a light on it by collecting thousands of the tiny bottles. Mr. Blau offered his help, providing an incentive for others to collect discarded nips to get a discount at his restaurant. Legislators, including Rep. Dylan Fernandes, are attempting to get nips added to the bottle bill, providing incentive not to toss them aside. Could 2018 be the year?
June brought us another impressive state championship by the girls tennis team at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. The queens of the court continue to dominate the competition, testament to the training they get at places like Vineyard Youth Tennis.
In July, when all the tourists and seasonal residents are here in full swing, it’s hard for anyone in Island business to stop and smell the roses. We brought you a tiger of a tale, as Andrew Berry, a retired assistant principal, shared the story of spending time on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier with his son, a helicopter pilot.
August brought us the uplifting story of another journey, the return to Oak Bluffs of Donovan Clarke from Jamaica. He had been caught up in the ongoing immigration issues of a new administration in Washington, but once the freeze on H-2B visas was lifted, Nancy’s owner, Doug Abdelnour, used his own boat to get Donovan and some other Nancy’s workers to the Island sooner. It wasn’t long before those last sips of summer included Donovan’s famous Dirty Banana drinks.
September is Derby month on Martha’s Vineyard, and that annual fishing competition always brings out the best in people — none better than the story of Roger Schaefer, who agreed to use his boat to provide some Island youngsters with an experience his own children have always had, a chance to go out on a boat and cast for fish they could bring to be weighed in.
Of course, the Derby stretches into October, and we had the great story of Trish Lyman getting the big win of a 2017 Subaru at the awards ceremony. And let’s not forget the rescue of Peter Jackson by David Sprague after Mr. Jackson was blown into the water by a gust from Tropical Storm Jose.
There was plenty to be thankful for in November, but nothing quite as inspiring as the return of Noelle Lambert to show her gratitude to first responders and good Samaritans in Oak Bluffs for helping to save her life after a horrible moped crash the year before.
And, as it always does, December saw the Island’s generous spirit shine through. In a month filled with great stories of giving, there was none better than the nurses at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, who rallied around their colleague and friend Carla Furtaw, raising enough for her to spend Christmas at Disney World with her family. The local mother and wife has been battling cancer for years, and is in Florida undergoing radiation treatment.
What will 2018 bring? It’s hard to predict, but we’re positive there will be more highs to bring you next December as it comes to a close.
Happy New Year.