Vineyard Golf Club Foundation hits a hole in one

The charitable arm of the exclusive Edgartown club gives back richly.

The exclusive Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown features manicured greens and a beautiful clubhouse. — Photo by Laurence Lambrecht

The Vineyard Golf Club, an exclusive 18-hole golf club off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, has quietly become a friend to the Island community in 13 years of operations, dispensing $1.8 million to Island nonprofits through the Vineyard Golf Club Foundation.

According to several recipients, the private club also has a knack for showing up for organizations with high demand for critical and important services, including reaching out to nonprofits and inviting applications for financial aid.

“They are rock stars, we love the VGC foundation,” an effervescent Diane Malcomson, development officer for Boston Medflight, said last week from her Boston office. Medflight transports 100 to 125 critically ill Island residents a year by helicopter to Boston hospitals each year. It makes about 300 flights from Nantucket annually.

Medflight recently received a $40,000 grant from VGC Foundation to help purchase a fixed wing aircraft for transport flights. “They have their finger on the pulse of Vineyard needs and they reached out to us,” she said. “We met in October, long after the summer season, and every one of the committee members were there for our presentation. You can tell they take their work seriously.”

Ms. Malcomson, a longtime summer visitor to the Island, said the VGC effort is critical to the life flight work. “We are a nonprofit and we are compensated for $6,000 of a life flight cost of $15,000,” she said. “We serve the sickest of the sick and we come when we are called without reference to ability to pay. Because we are Boston-based, people sometimes don’t recognize us as an Island nonprofit, so we’re grateful for VGC Foundation’s willingness to recognize us.”

“The fixed wing is a godsend because it is cheaper to operate and allows us to land in areas where a helicopter can’t,” she said. Medflight has received $87,000 in VGC donations over the past 8-10 years.

Pete Lambos, executive director of the busy Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, lauded the VGC Foundation’s acuity in recognizing need. “They give us a $5,000 grant every year for operations, but last year they donated $35,000 to repair our leaking roof system,” he said. “I think they know what’s going on because a lot of members and trustees donate privately and are Island residents so they see our benefit to the community. They’re very good to us. We’re glad to have friends like that just down the road.”

A review of past and current VGC Foundation giving indicates an emphasis on healthcare, kids programs, conservation, public safety and housing needs.

The MV Arena received a $100,000 grant ($50,000 outright and $50,000 in matching funds) to repair its roof. “We invited them to come in and present,” said Scott Anderson, general manager of Vineyard Golf Club. “The ice arena is a staple of the community, particularly in winter. I see the benefit of the arena for my kids and for the whole community. We are lucky to live here and have that resource.”

Arena president Jim Kelleher said the board was pleased to receive such a generous donation from the Foundation. “It is clear that club members understand and appreciate the vital role that the arena plays in our community,” he said. “This gift, which really saved the facility, will allow for the rink to remain open and active for the next generation of Vineyarders. The arena is a fantastic resource for our community, and we look forward to the challenge of raising the necessary funds by September in order to receive the second portion of the matching grant from The Vineyard Golf Club Foundation.”

Habitat for Humanity, which helps residents build family housing, received a $10,000 grant this year to develop a thrift store platform, to receive, store and sell furniture and home goods.

“$1.8 million is a substantial sum,” Mr. Anderson said. “With 305 members, many of whom also donate personally to Island organizations, we’ve been able to build some reserves to devote to community projects.

“Now we have some traction. People know to come to us, and we have developed a straightforward online application process that generally takes 45 days from submission to delivering funds. The board wants the money back out in the community quickly.”

The VGC foundation website also notes that donations have been made to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and YMCA building funds in past years. Rounds of golf on the exclusive course are donated for auctions and fundraisers, and each September members relinquish the course to local organizations, including the Vineyard Nursing Association, The Rotary Club, and MV Ice Arena for their annual fund raising tournaments.

Application can be made online at Deadline for submissions is June 30 of each year, and additional grant cycles with invitations to present to the board are offered from time to time as donation funds are available.