Islanders Help provides valuable networking

Facebook page connects volunteers with those in need.

The Islanders Help Facebook page connects volunteers with those who need support on the Vineyard. — Lucas Thors

As the pandemic continues, a new Facebook page is connecting enthusiastic volunteers with Islanders who need assistance.

With almost 600 members joining since the page was created in mid-March, Islanders Help is using the power of social media to bring people together during this difficult time, and identify folks who need help picking up groceries, obtaining prescriptions, and a myriad of other services.

According to moderator and Vineyard Haven coordinator Ilona Metell, there is a core group of coordinators in each town who try to handle a large amount of the call volume and requests for assistance. If there is an inundation of requests, the coordinators reach out to various volunteers in each town for help.

In the beginning, Metell said there was an influx of people offering their time, but when the stay-at-home order came out, some people were concerned for their well-being.

Metell said Islanders Help is currently doing well with the amount of volunteers they have in each town, but said they can always use additional support should the need arise.

“There are so many ways people can help, but I think the Island is doing a great job at suppressing this virus and working together,” Metell said.

Metell said she suggests that volunteers with Islanders Help also connect with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) Care for Community volunteer coordination program 

“We have had a wonderful response to this effort so far, we would rather have people stay home and have us go out for them,” Metell said.

Madalena Lopes is the founder of Islanders Help. She said the group is especially geared toward supporting the Island elderly population, and is in constant contact with the various Councils on Aging and elderly housing communities. 

“They all have our contact, each town coordinator knows their neighbors and other people who can’t leave their homes or shouldn’t leave their homes,” Lopes said. “People who are sick or self-isolating, not because they necessarily have the disease, but as a precaution — they especially need help.”

According to Lopes, about 70 people have already requested services, and many of those people are Island elders who will need continued support.

“We are always looking for more people to help, and are continuing to come up with different ways to help the community,” Lopes said. “We also do wellness checks and personal protective equipment donations.”