Jan Hatchard heads home
After eight successful years as Development Director for Martha's Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), Jan Hatchard will be moving on. Friday, Dec. 12, will be her last day on the job.
A member of the Quaker faith, Ms. Hatchard has accepted the position as Development Director for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. "I hope to take everything I've learned and use it towards development for my faith," she says. Ms. Hatchard and her husband, Art, also have family in Pennsylvania, and are looking forward to being closer to some of their six children and numerous grandchildren.
Until she arrived at Community Services, an organization that has been providing critical social services to Islanders since 1961, it had not had a fulltime staff member in development for many years. She put together a development program that includes marketing, public relations, the MVCS newsletter, communications, and fundraising in the form of annual giving, planned giving (bequests, trusts, etc.) and major gifts. She's been at the helm of the organization's events such as Melody on Music Street, the windsurfing competition, Martha's Vineyard Challenge, and the celebrated Possible Dreams Auction.
Photo by Lynn Christoffers
Ms. Hatchard previously held the same position with a smaller nonprofit organization in Pennsylvania. She visited Martha's Vineyard years before with her husband and children and remembers thinking, "If only you could find a way to earn a living here." Some time later, her wish was fulfilled.
"What was unexpected was the level of need on Martha's Vineyard," Ms. Hatchard says. "When I told people in Pennsylvania [about the new job] they laughed - 'What do they need social services for?'"
Ms. Hatchard quickly discovered that the need here was immense, but found that this attitude of Island privilege made her job particularly challenging. "Sometimes the barrier to having those needs met was that people viewed this as a utopia," she says.
Reflecting on the problems many Islanders face - poverty, the challenging job market, isolation, and substance abuse - Ms. Hatchard says, "These things were a surprise to me and a surprise to others who were not familiar." Focusing on the positive, she adds, "The flip side is that you have a very supportive community here."
For Ms. Hatchard the decision to leave both her job and Martha's Vineyard was a difficult one, stressing Martha's Vineyard's commitment to the needs of its neighbors. "I've learned the power of a small community where people truly care about each other. A lot can happen when you have that combination of need and caring."
Although living on the Vineyard had been a dream of Ms. Hatchard's, she says, "It was more the organization [of Community Services] that attracted me: their mission, their reputation and the challenge of developing a department."
About the impact of having created a development department, she says, "In the past people couldn't really wrap their arms around what we do. That awareness has increased because of greater communication."
Community Services' various programs help about 6,000 people a year, Ms. Hatchard says, adding, "There's hardly anyone whose life hasn't been touched by Community Services."
Ms. Hatchard's interest in working in social services began when she herself sought help while pregnant with her second child. She was struck by double misfortune - a crisis in her marriage and a diagnosis of cancer. She turned for guidance to a mental health center, where, she says, "I got so much help that it really impacted my life and the life of my children." She decided then to pursue a career with social services, noting, "If they hadn't had their hand out when I put my hand out I don't know what would have happened."
The admiration Ms. Hatchard expressed for the people in Community Services is mutual. Executive Director Julia Burgess speaks of the affection she has engendered, referring to her as, " a terrific development director."
Although the people she has worked with and those who've received help have in turn been Ms. Hatchard's inspiration, she also has fond memories of the annual Possible Dreams Auction. "One of the highlights," she says, "was getting to know and love Art Buchwald," recalling that her father reading Mr. Buchwald's column to her regularly when she was a child.
Says Jim Shane, Chair of the Possible Dreams Auction, "She brought the auction to new heights and new levels, with new expectations." He notes that the proceeds during her tenure went from an average of $400,000 to an all-time high of over $800,000 three years ago. "Give me Jan and the Possible Dreams Committee and we can conquer the world," he says. "Anything the committee contemplated, she and (Special Events and Volunteer Coordinator) Mary Jean Connelly were able to make happen."
"This is a really remarkable place," Ms. Hatchard says of MVCS, "Every day they are doing heroic work, and supporting that work has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. The people who work here and the people they help have made it very worthwhile."