When it comes to volunteering, Lynne Whiting of West Tisbury takes a heuristic approach, where one thing seems to just lead to another, although if there were an overarching theme, it would likely be education. Which is ironic, because Whiting vowed not to be a teacher because her mother was a teacher, and she was aware of the long hours teaching demanded, which took time away from her family. But nonetheless, Whiting spent many years teaching on the Island — “I guess you could say it’s just in my blood.”
Another theme is that she is drawn to powerful women. For example, Helen Maley of West Tisbury, who was director of childhood services at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services in the late ’70s, who more or less took Whiting under her wing. Whiting was teaching part-time at the Island Children’s School at the time, and Maley invited her to get involved with a teaching program put on by Wheelock College to enrich her skills.
From there Whiting became a substitute teacher at the West Tisbury School, which she considers a form of volunteerism, seeing as they only paid about $35 a day.
Whiting took a break from teaching to raise her own family, but was thrust into community service when she got a phone call from Beth Kramer, director of the West Tisbury library, asking her if she’d like to join the board of the West Tisbury Library Foundation, which had been created to help fund the building of the new addition to the library.
Whiting’s only stipulation was that she didn’t want to have to ask people for money. The total cost for the addition was nearly $6.2 million, the state would kick in close to $3 million, the town of West Tisbury would pay about $1.5 million, and that left the Library Foundation to raise around $1.8 million from private funding. So much for not asking people for money.
She looks back at those years with great fondness, working shoulder-to- shoulder with Hunter Moorman, Dan Waters, Carol Brush, Beth Kramer, and David McCullough.
Whiting also spent time teaching at the Chilmark School, and in 1983 she started using the Edgartown Historical Society — later to become the Martha’s Vineyard Museum — as a resource. From there she was asked to be on the board of the museum, and she chaired the education committee.
Another strong woman in Whiting’s life was her husband Allen’s aunt, Bea Whiting, whom Whiting tended to when Aunt Bea was coming to the end of life at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge: “I was with her when she died, and it was such a powerful experience that it prompted me, and my daughter Bea, to become involved in Hospice MV.
“Several years ago, when my term was up at the West Tisbury Library Foundation, I got a call from Lindsey Scott, asking if I wanted to be on the board of Island Grown Initiative (IGI).” Whiting knew about IGI from Island Grown Schools, so based on IGI having a program dedicated to teaching kids about good food, she decided to join the board: “I never wanted to be leader, but I was asked to be president in 2019, which I still am today.”
Another organization Whiting feels strongly about, although she’s not a board member, is FUEL, which helps young people find their maximum potential at sea. Whiting remembers, while at the Chilmark School, her students embarking on a weeklong trip on the Shenandoah as being one of the most transcendent moments, not only in her teaching career but in the lives of many of her students as well.
In retrospect, Whiting reflects on her life of volunteering on the Island.
“One reason I volunteer is that I can’t write big checks,” Whiting said. “I guess my mantra might be something like, ‘If you can’t give money, give time … talents, or whatever you can.’ Volunteering gives me great satisfaction, and that’s all the paycheck I need.”