Aquinnah: Sister Island Relief Committee

— Kyra Steck

My friends, I have some very sad news. Nicholas Wallen passed away unexpectedly April 15, 2021 in Stonington, Conn. He was born in the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on May 24, 1987, lived in the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Rome, Italy, before returning to Martha’s Vineyard to graduate with honors from MVRHS in 2006. He attended Brandeis University. Nicholas was an avid sailor, hiker, rock climber, golfer, and traveller, sailing around Cuba, and across the Pacific to New Zealand, bicycling around Taiwan, climbing Mt. Rita Cuba Blanca in Colombia, and exploring various countries in Southeast Asia. He is survived by his parents, Jim Wallen and Kathleen Smith of Aquinnah, his brother Zachary Wallen of Bergen, Norway, his Aunt Joan Wallen of Andover, N.H., and Aquinnah, his Aunt Barbara Wallen and Uncle Gary Paraboschi of Aquinnah, and many cousins. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to NAMI MV (National Alliance for Mental Illness Martha’s Vineyard), P.O. Box 2844, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. attn: Lisa Belcastro.

On top of all of the accomplishments mentioned above, Nick was a sweetheart of a guy. For a few years he helped my husband get our boat ready for the season. He helped friends with their kids, and he had an open and curious disposition so kids loved him. He was adventurous and kind. In my mind’s eye I can see Nick, with his face covered in blue boat paint and a silly grin on his face. I will never forget him. Much love to the Wallen clan in their time of grief.

Be prepared everyone: The annual town meeting and the annual town election have been postponed. The town meeting will be held on Saturday, June 19, at 3 pm at the Aquinnah Fire Station parking lot. The election will be on Thursday, June 24, from noon to 8 pm at the town hall. Early voting by mail is available for the annual town election. Please call the town clerk’s office at 508-645-2304 or email to receive an early vote by mail application or an absentee ballot application.

At the library, the book group meets today, Thursday, at 3 pm to discuss Kiley Reid’s “Such a Fun Age,” email to register. This Saturday at 2 pm is the second installment of Juli Vanderhoop’s virtual teachings on honeybees. This class will focus on behaviors of honeybees. On April 29 at 5 pm, Emily Armstrong from IGI will host a vegetable gardening Q and A via Zoom. Email Julia at to register for either class.

ACE MV will hold a Wilderness First Aid Training in person on April 24 at 9 am, outdoors (location TBA). Earn a CPR/AED and a Wilderness First Aid certificate in one day and be prepared for any emergency when far from help. ACE MV has started Project THRIVE, a new program in support of career navigation for high schoolers and young adults made possible by a grant from MV Youth. They are offering a series of free virtual classes on “Career Readiness” for 18- to 26-year-olds (open to other ages as well for $10 each class), the classes begin May 4. Go to to register for classes.

Pathways Arts will offer “Prepare Your Garden for Spring the Regenerative Way” on Saturday April 24, (raindate April 25), from 10:30 am to noon. The class will be held at a private residence in Oak Bluffs and will be taught by Emily Armstrong from Island Grown Initiative. Learn how to set up systems in your yard for water catchment, mushroom growing, compost making/turning, sheet mulching, shrub pruning, and seed starting. Email if you are interested in attending. On April 27 and May 11, Pathways welcomes the Cleaveland House Poets, both evenings at 7 pm.

On April 9, 2021 there was an eruption of a volcano on the island of St. Vincent. In 2014 Dukes County entered an Island to Island partnership with St. Vincent and Grenadines. In the spirit of this partnership, a Sister Island Relief Committee of Martha’s Vineyard was formed. This committee and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Massachusetts Inc. have joined together to raise funds to aid in the recovery from the volcanic eruption. The eruptions continue to have devastating effects for the whole region. More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from the northern part of the island to other parts of St. Vincent, including other islands in Caribbean. More than 80 shelters have been set up. Water, food, and basic emergency supplies are the biggest challenges for the relief efforts. To support the relief effort, you can donate here:

Aquinnah resident, Betsy Shay, is on the island of Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where she has spent a portion of every year since the 1970s. She would like her MV friends and family to know that she is okay, albeit anxious about the days, weeks, and months ahead.  There are many Vineyarders who have some connection with the Grenadines whether they’re sailors, part-time residents, or simply visitors.

Riley Ignacio turned 19 on April 13 and Eric Vanderhoop turned 11 on the same day. Happy Birthday, boys!

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Molly Purves,