Vineyard Red Cross thanks Islanders
Deborah Medders, executive director of the Vineyard chapter of the American Red Cross, and Wayne Guyther, financial development committee chairman, shared the podium to thank donors and volunteers. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Vineyarders, along with Americans everywhere, responded generously to the extraordinary demands of an especially destructive hurricane season, according to Deborah Medders, executive director of the Island chapter of the American Red Cross, who spoke to an audience of about 70 on Dec. 1 at a volunteer appreciation event hosted by the Island Red Cross chapter.
Ms. Medders told her listeners, gathered in the American Legion Hall in Vineyard Haven, "Vineyarders have been so extraordinarily generous with their contributions of time, money and blood."
Vineyarders gave more than $185,000, which was directed to the Red Cross relief effort, with approximately $95,000 of that passing through the local chapter. Coins and bills dropped in the canisters seen on business and bank counters around the Island produced more than $8,600.
Last Thursday's event kicked off the chapter's planned activities to publicly acknowledge and personally thank the people on the Vineyard for their contributions to the hurricane relief efforts. The event, which came a day after the official end of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season, recognized individuals who conducted fundraising activities during the initial weeks after Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29.
Wayne Guyther, chairman of the financial development committee, thanked those present, including several children from Edgartown - Celia Mercier, who donated proceeds from bracelets she made; the O'Shaughnessy brothers - John Henry, Thomas, and Donald - who ran lemonade stands; Bradley Anastacio, who collected money over Labor Day weekend; Caroline Moffett, who attended the event with her grandmother; and Judy Williamson, who gave the Red Cross proceeds from selling toys and stuffed animals at her family's yard sale.
Brothers Paul and James Robinson, along with Tucker McNeely, collected money at their Oak Bluffs School. Also recognized for their contributions from a bake sale held on Main Street in Vineyard Haven were the children, parents and staff of the Garden Gate Child Development Center, and the Tribal youth from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) who collected money at their powwow in September. Also, Penelope Dickens of Vineyard Haven who organized the Mardi Gras event at Lola's in Oak Bluffs, hosted by Kathy and Paul Domitrovich, along with Lynn Ditchfield, Chris Baer, and Marshal Pratt from the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Art Department, which raised over $15,000 for the Katrina relief efforts in Louisiana.
The chapter thanked Island organizations and businesses who contributed in-kind to the Katrina evacuees who came to the Island: Martha's Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop; Island Health Care Rural Health Clinic. Richard Leonard accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf the Martha's Vineyard Co-operative Bank.
Bridgett Tobin, Vineyard Haven port manager, accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Steamship Authority, who provided ferry passage for the seven Red Cross volunteers who traveled to Camp Edwards Village to assist MEMA with the state's operation for Katrina evacuees at the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
The Martha's Vineyard Chapter also thanked the people who volunteered their time in the office assisting with answering telephones and the tremendous amount of record keeping.
In addition, Tom Rancich, chairman of the service delivery committee, recognized the 64 Islanders who have taken Red Cross disaster services training since September in the areas of shelter operations, mass care, client services, mental health and health services. Mr. Rancich thanked everyone who has taken an interest in the Red Cross as a result of this historical natural disaster down in the gulf coast and stated, "he looks forward to working with them as local disaster service volunteers when the Red Cross responds to the Island in time of emergency or disaster."
To date, the chapter has deployed six volunteers to the Gulf Coast region - Cynthia Farrington, Edgartown, and Teresa Temple, Aquinnah, were Baton Rouge; Jim Pepper, Tisbury, was in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Jim Thomas, Oak Bluffs, has been on assignment twice in New Orleans. Barbara Moore, Edgartown, and Michelle Winnington, Chilmark, are currently in New Orleans. Following Hurricane Wilma, two disaster service volunteers have been down to Florida - Diane Rotondi, West Tisbury, and Marie Laursen, Tisbury.
A special guest, Tim Bachman from National Red Cross who has overseen the deployment of all of the Red Cross disaster services volunteers from the 147 chapters in the northeast region, participated in the event.
Lastly, according to a press statement describing the event, special thanks went to four local chapter volunteers. Ms. Medders said, "behind every successful operation sometimes there are those who give beyond that role of a volunteer and this has been no exception." For the Vineyard chapter, they were Judy Olson and Laura Schroeder from Edgartown, who provided services to the 15 hurricane evacuees who came to the Island, and Lori Perry and Sharon Stevens-Grunden of Oak Bluffs who have coordinated the training and processing of those Vineyarders expressing a desire to join the Red Cross disaster services team.