Donations helped feed the community

To the Editor:

What started out as John’s suggestion in late March to Stephen and Susan Bowen, Waterside Market owners, to provide free meals to hospital workers and first responders ended 3½ months later, and a total of over 750 complimentary restaurant meals served.

When the Bowens came to us for assistance in raising a portion of the funds necessary to provide a free Easter meal, we agreed to do our best. Via email we reached out to groups of friends, who in turn contacted their circle of friends. Particularly helpful were the Rev. Stephen Harding, who immediately appealed to his congregation, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which publicized it in their bulletin. Within a week, 25 donors and Waterside Market raised $2,100. On Easter Sunday, April 12, more than 50 complete dinners, each serving either four or six people, went home with first responders and hospital workers.

This inspired John and me to continue by contacting other restaurants to participate. Just as we were trying to figure out how to fund this complimentary restaurant meal program, I received a call from Patti Leighton. In short, Martha’s Vineyard Bank was in the process of finalizing their Lift Certificate program, and Patti was wondering if I was available to try it out. Since the Lift program was created to provide our Island businesses with some much-needed cash flow during the shutdown, I shared with Patti that we were trying to provide hospital workers and first responders with free meals while at the same time giving our restaurants a chance to earn some money.

Thank you, Patti and MV Bank, for coming to the rescue by creating and managing the Donate-a-Meal tab pro bono. This tab was prominently displayed on the same page with the Lift program, so Donate-a-Meal donors were conveniently able to support the program and receive confirmation of their tax-deductible donation via email. A great big thank-you also to Kayte Morris, Leslie Gray, and the Island Food Pantry’s board of directors. Without their cooperation and acting as the receiving agent for the donated funds, we would not have been able to offer the possibility of a deduction. Thank you, Leslie, for donating your time to do all the bookkeeping and bill paying for all these months.

This letter serves as a report to the 182 donors, who in total raised $10,975 through Donate-a-Meal. Starting on April 24 with the Barn, followed by the Wharf, Edgartown Pizza, Waterside Market, Offshore Ale, Sea Smoke, and La Soffitta, ending on July 12 with the Barn, 554 free restaurant meals were served.

After closing Donate-a-Meal, the balance of $2,265 was then donated to M.V. Hospital’s cafeteria to offset the free meals they have provided during the height of the crisis.

Many thanks to all the participating restaurants. Please know that you have helped provide a much-needed treat and break from the stressful work environment our hospital workers and first responders faced, especially during the start of COVID-19.

And last but not least, there aren’t enough words to express our gratitude for the amazing generosity that our Vineyard community displayed once again. Without the support of more than 200 people, Easter dinner and Donate-a-Meal would not have been possible. From the bottom of our hearts: THANK YOU ALL!

John and Wiet Bacheller
Vineyard Haven