Support for Island families

M.V. Family Center brings families and community together.

If you’ve ever taken a look at our events section, you’ve likely seen their classes and groups posted regularly — the Martha’s Vineyard Family Center, an offshoot of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), is a parent and child haven on the Island. From classes and support groups to a food pantry and swap shop, and every service imaginable in between, M.V. Family Center aims to serve and support all Island parents and children.

“Our events fall into a lot of different categories,” Kim D’arcy, the Family Center program director, said in an interview with the Times. The center offers parent and child classes, including their Play with Me, Learn with Me, and Move with Me classes, among other offerings, all of which are popular among parents and kids.

A lot of these interactive classes have had to be relocated around the community, as the Family Center building on Greenwood Avenue in Vineyard Haven undergoes refurbishment. Right now, some classes are being offered at parks, the State Forest, and many other public spaces, with some set to move to the beach once summer hits. Other classes are taking place at community libraries, schools, and various accessible locations.

Play with Me classes have monthly themes, and focus on and emphasize the importance of families being a child’s first educator, according to the M.V. Family Center website. The classes are held Mondays, hosted at the State Forest in Oak Bluffs this May.

Learn with Me classes take place on Wednesday, and are community-driven, focusing too on a monthly theme. These classes invite families to use fun and interactive activities to foster educational experiences around the Island. According to the M.V. Family Center website, the Learn with Me classes have taken place at the FARM Institute, John Keene Excavation, Polly Hill Arboretum, and Felix Neck, to name a few locations.

Move with Me classes are facilitated experiences for big body movement with your children, according to the M.V. Family Center website. Move with Me is on Thursdays, at Niantic Park this past May, and the Family Center provides mats, Hula-Hoops, parachutes, balls, and music.

Besides these signature offerings, the May docket of regular offerings each week with the M.V. Family Center included positive discipline classes at the Oak Bluffs School, bilingual story time at the Oak Bluffs library, Baby’s First Year at the Vineyard Haven library, and Discovery Friday at the Edgartown library.

On top of offering these opportunities to engage children and families, the Family Center offers parent support groups on topics from adoption to baby’s first year, to special education. There are also a range of parent education series, and topical parent education evenings hosted by the center and based around the interests of families.

The center tries to offer basic necessities to families, including a swap shop catering to items for children from birth to 8 years old, a lending library of materials for activities that families can do at home, and a food pantry with no restrictions.

Beyond these community efforts, D’arcy explained that the center offers individualized support in the form of home visits, one-on-one meetings, developmental assessments, and referrals to other community-based organizations. “We offer a lot of basic needs,” D’arcy said.

The M.V. Family Center will move back into its permanent location on July 1, allowing for programs to take new form, a logical next step as the center continues to evolve and offer a multitude of services and activities.

For more information about Community Services’ M.V. Family Center, visit mvcommunityservices.org, or call 508-687-9182.