The 44th annual Martha’s Vineyard Community Services benefit, Possible Dreams, pulled in massive amounts in donations on Sunday; another successful fundraiser in the books.
The sweltering heat was no match for the approximately 200 eventgoers, who gathered under a bright white tent at Katama’s Winnetu Resort, dripping with sweat, and paddles in hand.
Having no expectations for total funds raised, MVCS vice president of development, marketing and communications Barbara Bellissimo told The Times, Sunday’s outcome “is amazing.” This year’s amount raised exceeds that of 2021 by nearly $200,000.
By the end of the evening, the 39 items held in silent auction garnered $68,500, while the nine live-auction items generated $213,000. Additional donations brought the sum to a whopping $675,000, the highest amount raised at the annual event thus far.
MVCS CEO Beth Folcarelli took a moment to thank the Possible Dreams board, its partners, sponsors, and everyone in attendance — both live and virtually — for taking the time to support the Vineyard community, in raising awareness and resources for the organization.
Having entered the role in 2020, Folcarelli expressed to the crowd what she’s learned about the Island and its residents.“Among many things,” Folcarelli said, “despite its 22,000 year-round residents and more than 100,000 seasonal residents and guests, Martha’s Vineyard is a super-tight-knit community, it is an intimate, caring, and compassionate slice of the world.”
“It’s a place where residents care about the wellbeing of those who live and who visit here,” she continued. “[Islanders are] fiercely committed to the beautiful environment and mostly, it’s a place deeply caring to its people. It’s a community where we routinely come together to address the needs unique to living and working on an Island. MVCS is a vital part of that interconnected Island story.”
In addition to the wide-ranging services offered by the program, Folcarelli shed light on a few programs, emphasizing the importance of MVCS and significance of the fundraising. Connect to End Violence, a greatly “impactful” domestic and sexual advocacy service and support program, “continues to serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” she said.“Like all the survivors we’ve helped over the years, Connect stands even stronger today.” Folcarelli said that in the past year, Connect answered 379 emergency calls and conducted 1,900 service visits. Folcarelli also highlighted the newly established Early Childhood Center (ECC), which opened last fall, deeming it “an accomplishment reflecting more than five years of hard work, expertise, collaboration, partnership, and resilience.”
Following the intros, “Late Night” show host Seth Meyers loosened up the crowd — and their wallets — with some on-point humor, immediately drawing laughs by commenting on the stifling climate. “If you’re watching this online, I cannot stress to you what a mistake I made with my jacket,” he said. “I took it off, and I already sweat through my shirt, so basically I’m wearing a prison I can’t get out of.” Meyers spoke to the white-leather-couch lounge attendees by the stage, “Congratulations,” he joked, “on a 100° day, you hit the jackpot … Nothing says Martha’s Vineyard like a white leather couch.”
Meyers is a native New Englander who only first came to the Vineyard upon meeting his wife 13 years ago, a mere blip compared to multigenerational seasonal Islanders. “Thirteen years I’ve been lucky enough to come here, and after 13 years, you treat me like I’ve just come off the ferry … like I just rented a moped and I’m going 12 miles per hour on a holiday weekend down a main road.”
Following a few minutes of lightheartedness and casual laughs, Meyers stepped aside — and changed into a Winnetu Resort staff polo shirt — and vivacious auctioneer Sherry Truhlar took the stage, reining in the crowd, and announcing the ongoing bidding wars.
Making its debut, “Secrets of the Ag Fair,” donated by the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, and pulling in $6,000, promised the winner a sneak preview of this year’s fair. The night-before-the-fair pass is the first of its kind, said Agricultural Society president Brian Athearn from the crowd. The sneak peek will include a maiden voyage on the Ferris wheel, some wine and appetizers, and a look at this year’s fair entries during active judging. The auction already included some fair swag, and eight four-day passes; Athearn threw in unlimited rides for four mid-bid.
A dinner with Seth Meyers, his wife and in-laws, Tom and Joane Ashe, along with Islander Chris Fischer and his wife Amy Schumer catered by Chef Johnny Graham enticed a lively one-upmanship, with the winning bid reaching $56,000.
A six-night stay at Vail Colorado’s Four Seasons for eight people, with full access to resort amenities, ski rentals included, was won with a $26,000 bid. The vacation was donated by Laure Sudreau and A. Jeffrey Bennett.
Donated by MVY Radio and Michael Bellissimo, two tickets to the 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the opportunity to be interviewed with the one and only Carly Simon by Laurel Redington of MVY Radio, went for $36,000.
One limited-edition Game of Thrones–inspired Ulysse Nardin watch, donated by showrunner David Benioff, sold for $10,500, and included a signed copy of the show’s script.
Amassing 13 bids, five skip-the-line passes at Back Door Donuts were sold for $650; a one-of-a-kind sculpture by David Joseph accumulated 22 bids, to be sold for $1,550.