Endowment and Island nonprofits make permanent impact

Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard grants $153,000 at ceremony.


Countless smiles, many thanks, and even a Kenyan song of gratitude could be seen and heard as the Martha’s Vineyard Permanent Endowment awarded $153,000 in grants to community organizations from across the Island at its grant award ceremony Thursday night.

Thirty nonprofit organizations gathered at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center to be awarded grants split into four categories — arts, health, environment, and community. This year, the Permanent Endowment increased its total grant amount by $25,000 from last year. Since its founding in 1982, the Permanent Endowment has provided over $7.1 million to more than 200 Island nonprofits and scholarships to over 1,500 Island students.

Each organization received an award from one of 16 funds such as the Joy Fund, a donor-advised fund benefitting Islanders with disabilities; the Mayhew-Nevin memorial fund, a fund benefiting Island residents in need who have received care at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital; the Island fund for the arts, a fund dedicated to supporting creative artistic community on the Vineyard; and many more. The Martha’s Vineyard Community Services driving the future fund and the Katherine Harding Deedle memorial fund were both brand new funds the Permanent Endowment awarded.

“It’s not about us. It’s about the organizations doing the work. It’s a showcase for all these wonderful nonprofits — it’s amazing,” Permanent Endowment executive director Emily Bramhall told The Times.

The list of organizations highlighted the Island’s numerous programs and initiatives like the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, the Island Grown Initiative, Island Elderly Housing, the Red Stocking Fund, and Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.

“It’s great to have the community’s support, to see the need, and appreciate the work we’re all doing,” Felix Neck director Suzan Bellincampi said.

Each grant winner gave a short speech on how the money would be used. Roberta Kirn, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Chorus, told the audience her arts grant would go toward her Winter Concert and Community Sings on Dec. 18, where anyone who wants can show up and sing. After thanking the Permanent Endowment, Kirn asked the audience to sing a Kenyan song of gratitude. Kirn led the song while the audience chanted “asante,” which means thank you in Swahili.

The specific projects ranged from new pathway lighting at the Vineyard House to temporary housing from the Martha’s Vineyard Network for Homeless Prevention’s emergency housing program, which collaborates with hotels so parents can continue working and children can continue going to school.

Saskia and David Vanderhoop of Sassafras Earth Education said they would use their grant to focus on education of Native youth. “We need to begin to address and right the atrocities of the past. Thank you for your support, the Endowment fund and especially the Lillian Hellman fund which enables us to provide Wampanoag youth with year-round full scholarships at Sassafras Earth Education,” Saskia Vanderhoop said.

The final grant award of the night went to Sail Martha’s Vineyard (Sail MV) and it’s US Coast Guard Captain’s Course Instruction and student scholarships. Bramhall gave special recognition to Brock Callen, the retiring executive direction of Sail MV. Bramhall said Callen is “a standout example of dedication to the mission of his organization and of how one person can make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Callen has taught many Island student’s about the art of sailing with an emphasis on environmentalism. He said it was fun to step aside and let the program carry on with new energy, new faces, and new ideas.

“It is rare, I think, in this world that you have the opportunity to wake up every morning and truly say, ‘I’m truly looking forward to what I’m going to do today.’ Then put on top of that to have the opportunity to have an impact on the lives both kids and adults that you work with. Absolutely incredible,” Callen said.

In her closing remarks, Bramhall once again thanked the many programs, stretching across multiple disciplines, for their hard work and commitment to the Island.

“We’re delighted to be able to share all of this. As you have heard tonight, this small community of 18,000 year round residents, we have this remarkable range of organizations dedicated to enhancing the lives of all Islanders in this huge variety of ways. Their dedication, creativity, compassion, hard work, and enterprise…add enormous depth, possibility, and enrichment to our Island,” Bramhall said.