Making a list, checking it twice

There are all sorts of ways to support nonprofits during the holiday season.


The holidays are a time for giving — people give gifts to their families and friends, and many donate to their favorite charities.

With hundreds of benevolent nonprofits on-Island all doing important work in various sectors of the community, there are plenty of opportunities for people to donate their time or make monetary contributions.

Some organizations, like the Island Autism Group, are in the process of getting major capital projects underway, and could use additional funding.

IAG recently purchased property on Lambert’s Cove Road, and are currently working on planning and constructing a center that will serve as the home base for their programming.

“That is a really huge undertaking,” said co-founder of IAG, Kate DeVane. “I think if somebody was really interested in helping out with that, and wanted to be our angel and provide funding for the capital campaign, that would be amazing.”

But another major IAG initiative that DeVane said could use support is the group’s scholarship fund. If they were able to raise $1 million, IAG could place that money into a fund in partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation or one of the local banks. That would allow them to give out $50,000 each year in scholarship awards for locals, young and older, with autism.

Additionally, IAG could use money for their summer programming, which costs about $200,000 each year, according to DeVane. 

For executive director of Healthy Aging Martha’s Vineyard, Cindy Trish, the importance of securing funding from Island towns and putting that money toward good use is an essential part of her job. 

That’s why HAMV is looking for older adults to participate in creating a five-year plan for the Vineyard that the organization will work toward in its programming and implement into yearly goals. 

“I really want to emphasize the role of the community in all this — we need them to help make sure we are doing the right things and scaling and leveraging town funds in a well thought out way,” Trish said. “We need to make sure we are planning the infrastructure and services we need now and in the future, as well as identifying new programs that will benefit the Island.”

Trish noted that the older adult population on Martha’s Vineyard is “exploding,” according to recent data acquired by HAMV.

Because of support from the towns, the Island has been designated by the Word Health Organization as an aging-friendly community. In order to be designated again, Trish said, they must create the five-year plan illustrating how HAMV will support the aging population.

Apart from the need for volunteers to help in the planning process, funding for pilot programs like the GoGo Grandparents program (an older adult car service) and the home safety modification program — which helps keep older adults safely and comfortably in their homes — would also greatly benefit the Vineyard community.

“Our older adult population is the backbone of our community, and we need to support them however we can,” Trish said.

Lynn Orlando, coordinator for Vineyard Village at Home, said in an email that her organization has been assisting Island seniors since 2007. Today, with the help of volunteers, the nonprofit is able to drive members to medical appointments, assist in grocery shopping, bring them to church, “and anywhere else that is needed in order to assist with living independently,” Orlando wrote.

Vineyard Village would greatly appreciate a donation in the amount of $1,000, which can be used to help members that cannot afford membership and could be used to fund activities that would help recruit new volunteers,” Orlando wrote. 

With addiction so prevalent on Martha’s Vineyard, the Vineyard House — a sober living home that assists people while they are in the early stages of recovery — has become a pillar of the community. 

Kate Desrosiers, executive director of Vineyard House, said they could use money for drug testing equipment and other materials necessary for them to do their work.

But one more specific thing Desrosiers said would be a major boon to Vineyard House is money for a child’s swing set or a jungle gym. 

The house has a number of parents currently living there, and Desrosiers said an outdoor play area would allow people to have their children over to play, creating a warm and positive environment.

“That would be great because it allows parents to bring their kids here, and the kids feel like it is a friendly place for them, and daddy and mommy are in a friendly place. It makes them want to visit and be near their parents,” Desrosiers said.

Check out the full wish list with requests from 30 nonprofit organizations across the Island: