The Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship has announced the slate of 2021 Vision Fellows. Since its first class of Fellows in 2006, the Vision Fellowship has sought to support Island-based individuals committed to the community and natural environment and who recognize the importance of sustaining both. The 2021 Fellows join a robust community of 126 current and past fellows, their mentors and sponsoring organizations. The 2021 Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellows are:
Marcelle Alves is a 2016 Vision Fellow who earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science with a minor in African studies from the University of Arizona in 2020. Marcelle has received a 2021 Vision Fellowship award to support her journey to become an immigration attorney. Marcelle has interned as a paralegal with Rebecca McCarthy, Esq., on Island immigration matters since 2014. At the University of Arizona, Marcelle was a college navigator at the Immigrant Resource Center, which works to recruit and retain students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds.
Ollie Becker, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s MVVF Productions, has been awarded a two-year Fellowship to continue making a documentary series that captures the story of the Island’s great ponds and their journey to better health. The films are a call to action that seeks to give the Island community, and communities elsewhere, examples of what good pond stewardship looks like. Collaborators include the Vineyard Conservation Society and the Great Pond Foundation. Ollie returned to the Island in 2018 after 15 years away, first at college and then in Los Angeles, where he produced more than 200 hours of television and documentaries.
Cecilia Brennan will earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling at William James College in Newton. Cecilia serves on the board of the Cape Cod and the Islands chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and is one of the original volunteer steering team members for the Island Disability Coalition, which was established in 2018 and is overseen by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS). Cecilia is an advocate for both NAMI MV and MVCS, and has worked to increase the visibility for both organizations. After a 30-year career in corporate human resources, Cecilia decided to pursue this path to help Islanders with mental health issues lead productive and fulfilling lives.
Lydia Carlos will graduate from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) this June. She plans to study premed at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She has volunteered at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and was working to earn certified nursing assistant status until the program was suspended due to the pandemic. In high school, she played four years of field hockey, worked as a student facilitator in MVRHS’s homeroom groups, was part of the school’s race culture retreat, and was inducted into the National Honor Society in 2019. During the pandemic, Lydia volunteered with Islanders Help, a group formed to do grocery shopping and prescription delivery for the elderly.
The Island Food Waste Composting Project has received a two-year Fellowship award to enable the food waste committee to engage a project manager and a project intern, to be hosted by the Vineyard Conservation Society. This project is the final phase of the Vision Fellowship’s food waste composting project, which started in 2015 when it created and funded the food waste committee to study the Island’s food waste problem and recommend a solution.This two-year phase will require coordinated public policy activities, including engagement with local public officials and presentations to town officials and at town meetings through 2023. As part of the project, the committee initiated a food waste pickup pilot in 2016 that showed such early promise that Island Grown Initiative (IGI) took it over in 2017. With subsequent funding from the Fink Family Foundation, IGI grew the pilot into what is now Island Food Rescue, a distinct program within IGI that works to reduce, repurpose, and recycle food waste.
Jenaleigh Griffin graduated from MVRHS in June 2020. She will earn a health science degree at a four-year college on her way to becoming a nurse. This summer, she will intern at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She volunteers at the Island Food Pantry, and is currently a teacher’s assistant at the Oak Bluffs School Project Headway. She is also planning to earn certified nursing assistant status. Jenaleigh moved to the Island from South Africa as a young teenager. The transition was challenging, but Jenaleigh met it head-on, and is now the first in her immediate family to earn a high school diploma.
Jacob Gurney graduates from MVRHS this June, and plans to study marine science and biology at a four-year college. He worked as a junior camp counselor for Mass Audubon Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary’s Fern and Feather Day Comp, which he attended as a child. This summer, his role will be environmental educator and camp counselor. Jacob is an avid conservationist, handy with fixing things, and loves the ocean and nature.
Angela Luckey’s two-year Vision Fellowship award will enable her to advance the backyard habitat movement through the Natural Neighbors program. This program will be a partnership between BiodiversityWorks and the Village and Wilderness Project to address the need for private property stewardship. The Island’s flora and fauna need more connectivity than conservation lands can provide. The program will recruit and support Island private property owners to manage their lands for the benefit of biodiversity and to reduce habitat fragmentation. The long-term goals are to transform at least 10 percent of the Island’s residential properties into ecological sources rather than sinks. The project will promote a culture of stewardship by establishing a partner-based, community-scale conservation program with replicable strategies.
Kelly McCarron will earn her master’s in social work from Simmons University School of Social Work. Currently, she is the program coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Recovery Support Center, a program of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. Kelly has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in El Salvador, a Boston shelter for young adults, an orphanage in Egypt, and for Harbor Homes, which works to ensure that low-income Islanders have access to safe, sanitary, and secure housing so they can function as healthy and productive citizens.
Molly Menton will graduate from MVRHS in June. Molly plans to study nursing with a goal of becoming a maternity nurse. She has done a mentorship under Joyce Capobianco, maternity nurse and registered nurse manager, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Molly plans to intern there again this summer. In high school, Molly played lacrosse and field hockey, was a member of the Interact Club, which conducts service projects, and is an executive member of the Island Cleanup Project, which hosts weekly cleanups on Island trails and beaches. Molly also volunteers with the Island Food Pantry.
As a 2016 Vision Fellow, Brian Morris earned his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Massachusetts Boston. With the support of a 2021 Vision Fellowship, Brian will earn a doctorate in social work from the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Brian is the mental health and substance use disorder coordinator at Island Health Care. He serves as a peer recovery coach in Island schools, serves on the Martha’s Vineyard Substance Use Disorder Coalition, and is working to develop the MV HUB Initiative, an evidence-based intervention model that links at-risk Islanders to an array of psychosocial supports to address needs such as homelessness, access to clinical services, transportation, food insecurity, trauma-informed care, and domestic violence services.
Sheryl Taylor has received a two-year Vision Fellowship award to scale up the Community Ambassador Partnership (CAP). CAP was formed at the beginning of the pandemic by Sheryl and MVPS English language learner director Leah Palmer, with the financial support of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, to bridge the communication barrier with Islanders who cannot speak, understand, read and/or write English fluently. Through CAP, multilingual individuals are trained to communicate timely, necessary information of services and resources for the Island’s Brazilian- and Portuguese-speaking community. Sheryl’s vision is to establish a centralized, community-based language access network that is fiscally self-sustaining, easily accessible, and affordable for Islanders and Island organizations. The project will also create career and technical educational pathways to support multilingual people in the retention of existing language proficiency skills, and development of basic and/or specialized interpreting skills in such critical areas as medical, legal, mental health, and education. Sheryl is the MVPS Island-wide health curriculum coordinator and MVPS grants coordinator.
The following students have been awarded a second two-year Vision Fellowship to assist with the completion of their undergraduate degrees.
Alley Estrella is working toward a bachelor of science degree in social work with a minor in psychology at Western New England University. She plans to become a school adjustment counselor.
Curtis Fisher is earning his bachelor of science degree in computer science and business administration at Northeastern University. Curtis’ goal is to solve community problems through technology and collaboration.
Victoria Scott is majoring in environmental studies with a concentration in ecology and earth systems and a minor in earth and climate science at Bates College. Victoria plans to do a SEA Semester this coming year.
Mark Turner is working toward his bachelor of science degree in chemistry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Since 2017, he has worked as water operator for the Oak Bluffs Water District. His degree will help him advance his career there.