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Harriet Goldberg fund transferred to Permanent Endowment Fund
Friday, the Rev. Loring Carpenter, executive director of the Boston Seafarer's Friend, officially transferred 75 percent of the assets of the Harriet Norris Goldberg Fund to Deborah Hale, chair of the Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard, handing her a check for $1,114,265.
The Rev. Loring Carpenter, executive director of the Boston Seafarer's Friend (left), hands a check to Deborah Hale, chair of the Permanent Endowment Fund of Martha's Vineyard, while the Rev. Michael Nagle looks on.
Mr. Rappaport thanked Father Nagle, who attended Friday's ceremony, for acting as the "bridge" between the Seafarer's Friend board and the Endowment Fund's advisory board as a member of both.
"I think the struggle with the process was that everybody involved on all sides was trying to remain true to what they saw as Harriet Goldberg's intent," Mr. Carpenter said. "Because she had no concept in the 1940s there would not be a need for a bethel. I'm sure she had no concept of the changes in maritime life."
The court found that the distribution of the Goldberg Fund assets to the Endowment Fund are to be used "to meet the unmet spiritual, social and emotional needs of seafarers of demonstrative needs working in the waters off Martha's Vineyard."
The court further stipulated that the money should be used to provide educational financial assistance to seafarers of demonstrative need from Martha's Vineyard or other persons in the pursuit of educational programs in furtherance of maritime careers.
The court-defined "seafarer" as "a person who for his or her livelihood works onboard or in direct connection with commercial seagoing vessels (other than recreational vessels) or is a Coast Guard member stationed on Martha's Vineyard."
"The court decision very clearly defines the word and makes provisions for people who are going to college to become a Massachusetts Maritime Academy student or something like that, who may not be the definition of the word today," said Ms. Hale. "The fund is not for recreational purposes, and I think it is very critical for people to understand that.
"Otherwise, everybody who has anything to do with boats is going to be calling up," she laughed.
A native Islander, Harriet Norris Goldberg left one-third of her residuary estate to benefit the ongoing operations of the Seaman's Bethel in Vineyard Haven. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Vineyard Sound was one of the world's busiest commercial shipping lanes. The Bethel provided support for mariners in Island waters.
In October 1893, a chapel and sailor's reading room were opened roughly where the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority (SSA) terminal is now. After the SSA bought the Bethel building, the Bethel chapel was moved to serve as a chapel at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
The Boston Seaman's Friend Society operated the Vineyard's Bethel, which remained in operation until 1978, Mr. Loring said. As commercial ship traffic in the Martha's Vineyard area ended, the organization, renamed Seafarer's Friend in 1998, focused on carrying out its mission in ports with more ship traffic. The Seafarer's Friend continued to make funds available under the Goldberg Trust to serve Martha's Vineyard seafarers.
Transferring the Goldberg Fund assets to the Endowment Fund will simplify its management and allow some administrative flexibility, Ms. Hale said. Under the previous arrangement, she explained, there was no administrative funding provided, and she had to request reimbursement for expenses related to the Goldberg Fund from the Seafarer's Friend.
"We have been in a transition period, working side by side," Ms. Hale said. "Now, we on Martha's Vineyard will take more of a lead and get out into the community, looking for new appropriate uses for the funds."
The Goldberg Fund already has been used to provide scholarships to high school students for education related to getting captain's licenses and for tuition for attending the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
"There are a whole host of other things that are allowed under the court decision that we would like to be reaching out into the community about," said Ms. Hale, "which has to do with the spiritual, social, and emotional welfare of seafarers."
Mr. Carpenter said he does not want people on the Island to think that the Seafarer's Friend is in the process of leaving the Island. "We've made arrangements so we're still present through this endowment fund and also through a relationship with the Historical Society," he said.
Over the years seafarers who visited the Vineyard left gifts of artifacts dating back 100 years, which Mr. Carpenter said the Seafarer's Friend hopes to display and use in school programs for children.