Emily Bramhall embodies the Spirit of the Vineyard


Emily Bramhall’s hard work on behalf of Islanders has earned her this year’s Spirit of the Vineyard Award. The honor, sponsored by Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, thanks volunteers who have put their hearts and souls into service to their community.

Emily served on the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital board for many years. She was an active, thoughtful participant and influential voice in hospital policy. In addition, she wanted to involve young people and the business community in supporting our only hospital. To that end, she started the Nightingales, a group of young women who held an annual party, initially on Valentine’s Day and later, in the summer, to raise money for the hospital. Like the established Hospital Auxiliary, the Nightingales used the proceeds to purchase equipment for the hospital. She also organized the business community to give “Ten Percent on the Tenth” — 10% of their proceeds from sales on August 10th, every year, to the hospital. Over 250 businesses participated.

Emily also served on the Board of Directors of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, and was a leader of the committee to establish an Endowment Fund for Hospice. Thanks largely to her efforts, that fund is now a healthy resource to meet the annual operating deficit of Hospice, which does not charge for its services, but relies solely on contributions and earnings from the endowment .

The longest-serving Board member of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, the Vineyard’s local land trust, Emily has served as President of Sheriff’s Meadow since 2008. Through a period of tumult and transition, Emily ably led Sheriff’s Meadow with confidence, resolve and an optimistic spirit. Emily’s childhood experiences at Ox Pond Meadow and Cedar Tree Neck have motivated her to make sure that opportunities to enjoy and be inspired by the natural world are available to all.

Through her Presidency and her chairmanship of Sheriff’s Meadow’s Property Management Committee, Emily has greatly improved the natural opportunities the Foundation offers to the community and expanded upon them, with new trails opened at the Phillips Preserve in Tisbury, Huckleberry Barrens in Edgartown, and Brookside Ridge Preserve and Quansoo Farm in Chilmark during her tenure as President.

Ms Bramhall has recently joined the board of the Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha’s Vineyard, our community foundation. In addition, she has served on the Chilmark school advisory committee and was influential in the design and decoration of the new Tisbury Steamship Authority office.

Emily Bramhall listens, deliberates and acts. She demonstrates strong leadership both in financing and in ideas, sustaining the services that keep the Island the community-centered place it is

The Spirit of the Vineyard Award, given annually, is sponsored by Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard. This award honors those who have served for one or more nonprofit organizations on the Island, and whose work has made a difference to individuals and to the community as a whole. The criteria for selection include selflessness, the range and depth of service performed, the length of volunteer service, and the effect on the quality of life of the individuals who received help and for the Island community as a whole. The sponsor of this award, Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, relies on its dedicated volunteers and also appreciates the work of volunteers for other organizations. Such caring neighborly assistance enriches the lives of all of us.

Past recipients are: Jack Ware, Estelle Surprenant, Ron Rappaport, the Possible Dreams Auction Committees Past and Present, Nellie Mendenhall, Kerry Alley, Dorothy Bangs, Judy Williamson, the MV Harley Riders, Polly Brown, Melinda Loberg and Denys and Marilyn Wortman.

A breakfast in Emily’s honor will be held on Wednesday, December 15 at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Culinary Arts cafeteria from 8:30-9:30 am. Emily will receive a medallion and her name will be engraved on a plaque that hangs in the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. All are cordially invited to come and celebrate Emily’s contribution to the welfare of the Vineyard community.

Polly Brown lives in Vineyard Haven. She is treasurer of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, a former president of the Permanent Endowment Fund, and the recipient three years ago of the Spirit of the Vineyard award.