On Saturday, a charitable wash-ashore gifted three individual $10,000 checks to Island organizations: Saint Elizabeth’s Parish, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools system, and the Island Food Pantry.
Edgartown seasonal resident Ernie Boch Jr. and old friend Ryan Ruley of Oak Bluffs joined forces to support Island organizations that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Boch has been a resident of Martha’s Vineyard since 1966, and has had a long-term relationship with Island fundraising. He knew there was a need to support, and reached out to Ruley to help devise a plan to maximize his efforts. During my conversation with Boch, he mentioned that while teaming up, Ruley told him where the funds could make the greatest positive impact for the Island.
Although Ernie Boch Jr. could not be in attendance, his son Alex Boch was introduced to his father’s philanthropic tendencies as he was accompanied by Ruley — then a candidate and now a newly minted selectman in Oak Bluffs — as they put on their masks and began their philanthropic Island tour, and personally handed out the $10,000 checks from Subaru New England.
The first stop was St. Elizabeth’s Church in Edgartown, where the duo handed Father Michael Nagle the first $10,000 check. Nagle is pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, which includes St. Elizabeth and St. Augustine. The church has been handing out groceries every other week during the pandemic, under the direction of Joe Capobianco.
“This will allow us to continue to give out food and support Island families and individuals. Since the pandemic, there is a greater demand for food as people are getting laid off. There are a lot of moving pieces when feeding individuals, and this will be a fantastic help,” Nagle said after receiving the donation.
The next stop on the Island philanthropy tour was the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, where Boch and Ruley met up with Assistant Superintendent Richie Smith and cafeteria staff.
“This will be going toward supporting and feeding a bunch of kids. As of right now, we are supporting about 600 to 700 kids a week,” Smith said. “Even when school is no longer in session, there are still kids. Our main focus right now is to support the students and work with the community to support feeding the kids.”
The last stop on the tour was the Island Food Pantry in Vineyard Haven, where the duo handed the last $10,000 check to the executive director of the Island Food Pantry, Kayte Morris.
“We feed about 250 to 350 families a week; this will go directly to food, transportation, and operation costs. Because of the pandemic, we are feeding more people than ever, and running at a crazy pace. We are a privately funded, small operation that is reliant upon donations,” Morris said. “Before the pandemic we had 80 consistent volunteers. Since the pandemic, all but four of them had to leave due to personal or financial reasons. Because of that, I have had to completely retrain an entirely new group of volunteers. We are fortunate to have had a wonderful response by the community, as many members have been able to fill in the gaps. Now that the state is opening again, the volunteers are going back to work, which is fantastic, but we are hoping that more people will volunteer in the future.”
To contact Morris about volunteering at the Island Food Pantry, you can reach her at email@example.com.