Open letter to President Obama


To the Editor:

Happy Birthday and welcome to our Vineyard community! As you know by now, the summers here are a glorious time for seasonal and full-time residents alike, as the Island reveals its unrivaled beauty for us to enjoy. But beyond the stunning beach vistas lies a hidden and dangerous tide. Substance use disorder is the undertow tearing Islanders from their families at an alarming rate. The Martha’s Vineyard Substance Use Disorder Coalition has served this community since its formation in 2016 and its work rescuing victims of that deadly tide have been nothing short of incredible.
But, we need help. 

Along with this summer’s warm embrace, successful fundraisers with a focus on addressing housing and infrastructure building projects have taken center stage while fundraising for substance use disorder has floundered. A mention from a person in your position can forever alter the trajectory of a cause. 

And we need help. 

President Obama, I invite you to watch our documentary called On island for an unfiltered look into the eyes of the SUD community and how brutally hard life can be behind paradise’s curtain. I also implore you to share your reaction to the film with your friends and acquaintances, as many are gathering here for the traditional August political fundraising season. 

I would not be asking for this favor if I hadn’t become involved as a volunteer with the SUD Coalition a few years ago in the wake of the death of the son of dear friends. Frankly, their loss infuriated me and I promised I would try to prevent others from living through this tragedy. We have much to do. The unrelenting pressures of COVID have exacerbated what was already a national horror, with 90,000 of the American family swept away from overdose last year, including some Islanders. 

We need help. 

We need hope.

Thank you Mr. President for your time, attention and consideration.


Chip Coblyn
Oak Bluffs
Chair, On Island Public Health Subcommittee