When John and Wiet Bacheller first moved to the Island in 1968, seven years after Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) was established, the couple visited the Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven and bought an antique seaman’s chest- something they continue to cherish.
The Thrift Shop is now one of the many MVCS programs that will be benefiting from Ms. Bacheller’s talents, experience, and enthusiasm. She will be impacting programs such as the Island Counseling Center, Early Childhood Programs, Disability Services, and CONNECT to end violence in her new position as president of MVCS board of directors following Susan Wasserman’s retirement.
While acknowledging that the responsibilities of such a large organization are demanding, Ms. Bacheller, who exudes competence, will continue to pursue her other interests: the Vineyard Haven Garden Club, where she serves as vice-president; Vineyard Dance, where she performs, and her two grandchildren, three-year-old twins Nate and Noah Bacheller, on whom she dotes.
The Bachellers came to the Island to teach and raise a family – son Andrew and daughter Natasha. A slight and graceful woman, Ms. Bacheller taught at the Oak Bluffs School and then the Tisbury School for more than 40 years, before retiring in 2004. Mr. Bacheller taught and coached at the Edgartown School, eventually becoming assistant principal.
“I knew something of Community Services, but I was not aware of how many services they offered,” Ms. Bacheller says. It was at the schools that she learned firsthand how many students and their family members benefited from programs Community Services offers, especially the counseling and support services.
Through both her many extra-curricular activities as a teacher and her generous involvement in other Island organizations, Ms. Bacheller earned a reputation for her efficiency, seemingly tireless energy, and organizational and leadership skills. After accepting the invitation to join the MVCS board after her retirement from teaching, she quickly became involved with myriad programs and activities.
And Ms. Bacheller is still getting her feet under her at MVCS. “I’m still the new kid on the block,” she says. “What I hope to do is just be available to every department and be a good listener, especially the first year. The board is incredible. They are far more experienced than I am. I see myself as more of working together with everyone, learning the ropes.”
Ms. Bacheller credits the support of her husband for enabling her to take on the responsibility. He urged her to take the position, she says, and is always there for her behind the scenes. “John is the hero behind the scenes because he picks up all the slack,” she says. “When there are deadlines for any type of project, he’s always right there. I wouldn’t do it without him.”
Funding and fundraising are among the biggest challenges facing MVCS. While much of the funding needed comes from the state, the organization is still expected to raise about $1 million through fundraising events, such as the Possible Dreams Auction.
“I don’t mind knocking on doors,” Ms. Bacheller says. “I’ve done a lot of fundraising before, just never at this scale.” She has worked closely with the planning of the Possible Dreams Auction in previous years and hopes this year’s auction will be a great success. While the auction remains a singular event on the Island, there is competition from the other Island non-profits, and the country’s downward economy has created difficulties.
“We have not made budget in the last few years; our investments took losses in the crash,” Ms. Bacheller says. “The Possible Dreams auction is still a godsend, especially with the new Oak Bluffs venue.”
The hope is that the stock market will improve and investments will again become lucrative, but in the meantime, MVCS is taking action. A new President’s Board has been formed that allows high-level contributors to work closely with the MVCS board in an advisory position.
Ms. Bacheller sees MVCS as unique in that much of its work is behind-the-scenes and intangible. While other organizations have visible results of fundraising, such as new buildings or artwork, community services works behind the scenes, helping the Island community through counseling services, early childhood development, and community building and innovation.
In addition to overseeing fundraising, Ms. Bacheller will work closely with the rest of the board and MVCS staff to explore what needs exist in the community. “We are constantly trying to streamline operations and we are always looking at what other services the community needs,” she says. “You just can’t sit still. You have to be aware of what the needs are out there. If there is a program, no matter how well we do it, that is no longer needed, we will replace it and find out what is needed.”
Brien Hefler divides his time between Tisbury and Baltimore, Md.