Martha’s Vineyard dreamin’

‘Neighbors helping neighbors’ at auction to benefit MVCS.


Updated August 3

The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the checkbooks were open as scores of people threw up their paddles to bid on a number of high profile items at the Possible Dreams Auction.

The auction benefits Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) and is its largest fundraiser of the year.

Held at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, people could grab drinks, oysters, and lobster rolls before sitting down to bid on “dreams.”

The auction was split up into three different “dreams” — silent, super, and live. The silent and super dreams kicked the night off as people wandered around and bid on items displayed on tables. Auction items ranged from the artistic (an Allen Whiting painting) to the adventurous (set sail on a Black Dog tall ship). People could bid to be a character in author Elin Hilderbrand’s upcoming book, or bid on a tea party with musician Carly Simon, poet Rose Styron, author Geraldine Brooks, screenwriter Misan Sagay, PBS correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and author Susan Klein. Smaller items included 100 gallons of heating oil from R.M. Packer and a lobster bake for four provided by Oak Bluffs Fish market.

The night was led by auctioneer Sherry Trular who took center stage playfully haggling people to raise their bids and donate more. “It’s only money, the government prints it everyday,” she joked.

But the hot ticket item of the night was a ritzy wine-tasting adventure for eight people to France’s Bordeaux region complete with a private vineyard tour, and $2,000 gift card for a local hotel or airfare. Peter and Rainy Goodale and Diane and Tom Keller were locked in a tight bidding war, over the French excursion before Goodale offered an entente cordiale — he would pay $10,000 for two of the eight spots. The Kellers agreed to pay another $10,000 for the other six spots and go with Goodale. The one item made $20,000 in donations for MVCS.

“This paddle’s too hot,” Tom Keller joked waving his paddle after winning the bid.

The hot paddles didn’t stop there. Washington Capitals’ minority owner Jack Davies went up on stage to introduce his dream, four tickets to a Capitals home game in Washington D.C., a signed Alex Ovechkin jersey, and a one-year membership to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

A battle over the tickets and jersey peaked at $9,500 before Davies intervened and said he would get another jersey and set of tickets for both bidders. The bidders agreed and brought in a combined $19,000 in donations.

Vivian and Stephen Holland said they were “feeling great” after their $5,000 bid to make a sculpture with master metal artist Tony Holand. Stephen Holland told the Times he and his wife, who is also an artist, were happy to support MVCS and a local artist. It was also a treat for their 13th anniversary.

Bidding for items wasn’t the only way people could donate. The focus of the night was suicide prevention. Mental health counselor David Araujo took a moment to talk about his work counseling people and asked the audience to support MVCS. Trular then asked the audience to donate however much they wanted. Some donated $1,000, $500, and $250. One audience member donated $3,000 in honor of Araujo, totaling $29,000 for that portion of the event.

Auction committee chair Liza May got right to work organizing the event after last year’s auction that raised over $500,000. May said she hopes to surpass that number this year. MVCS development coordinator Jessica Rogers told The Times in an email the total donation amount is approximately $430,000 and counting.

Many people still donate days after the event. Rogers said one anonymous donor who regularly attends the event every year could not make it this year but is expected to make a generous donation.

“This is a very generous Island,” May told The Times. “That’s what it’s all about, neighbors helping neighbors.”

Updated to add Rainy Goodale’s name. — Ed.


  1. “Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.” – John Galsworthy. We’re in the midst of a serious housing crisis, locals are being forced off the island because it’s simply unrealistic they can afford a home on the island their families have lived on for generations. Trust me not a single person at this event lives next to me, and I highly doubt any person that was there lives next to a year round resident that isn’t a retiree. Sick of the trickle down economics on this island, it’s time we start acting in our own interest instead of hoping these people hand us a bone so they can talk about it at they’re next cocktail party

  2. This used to be called ”elegant slumming” back in the 70’s when Leonard Bernstein would have parties with Black Panthers. Solve this problem by loosening zoning laws, opening up large tracts in the middle of
    Chilmark for affordable housing for transient workers and pool money from shopkeepers and restaurants to build modular units. Fight the cronyism that forces new development close to dense areas. Make all of MV one region with one group of selectmen, one police, one everything. Allow Stop and Shop and other retailers to build and expand here since they have the scale to sell things cheaper. Get rid of education systems that cater to only one or two children with special needs forcing up costs and more to the taxpayer. Loosen restrictions on housing and building permits so that people can build and expand on existing lots if they have the septic to handle. This is a white mans reservation owned by the elite and run by liberals to protect them. Its a feudal system where the local 15 thousand are hostages to the 3 month 80 thousand and you keep whining.

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