Community helped with family’s loss

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To the Editor:

I’m writing to thank the people of Martha’s Vineyard for the outpouring of love and support my family received after my wife, Erica, passed away in March.
When my family learned that Erica was sick, we were blown away by how the people in our community came together to help us. From all corners of our lives, people were there for us the whole way through. Especially our “hockey family” — the families of kids my son has played hockey with for 12 years. When they heard about Erica’s dream to take a family vacation to Florida, they organized a benefit fundraiser so that we’d be able to make her wish come true.

Sadly, Erica passed away before the benefit, and we never took our trip. But our friends and family decided to have the party anyway, a week after she died, so that people could come together and remember Erica and her beautiful life.

The benefit was amazing. Over 500 people showed up. Words can’t express how much it meant to my children, to me, and to our family to see so many familiar faces. Erica would have been very happy and proud. The benefit helped us with the many bills that come with such an illness, and helped my family through this difficult time.

I’d like to thank a few people in particular for making the event so special. Big thank you to Brian Packish for working tirelessly to put together a great silent auction. Thank you to Buckley’s Catering for donating the food and staff. Thank you to the P.A. Club for having us. Thank you to the Rev. Cathlin Baker and the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury for performing such a beautiful service.

I’d also like to thank the people in our lives who cared for us, while Erica was sick and now that she’s gone. Thank you to the doctors and nurses at the M.V. Hospital, and the M.V. Hospice. Thank you to our hockey family, especially Alecia Barnes for organizing the meal train. Thank you to the girls hockey and field hockey teams, and to Deana Ahearn for setting up our GoFundMe page. Thank you to the Island Wide Youth Collaborative, Ashleigh Poirier and Erin Estrella, for all of your help. Thank you to the Oak Bluffs School and their amazing staff for helping us out when we needed you most. And thank you to Jean Rogers for helping out with our little guy; we don’t know what we would do without you.

For 21 years, I worked for the Oak Bluffs Fire and Rescue Department. I know what it’s like when people are in trouble. My son used to ask me, “Dad, why do you it?” I told him I liked helping others. It made me feel good. I’m proud to live on an Island of helpers. The Ponte family is forever grateful for your support.

Kenny Ponte
Oak Bluffs