Deb Dolliver: ‘Someone you can count on’

Deb Dolliver is a volunteer on the Island. — Courtesy Debra Dolliver

Each year around the holiday season we run a section on people doing volunteer work in the community, and I often give Laurel Redington, a DJ and community activist at MVY Radio, a call. She runs a regular segment on the station called “Person of the Week” that profiles what people are doing to help others on the Island. And without hesitation, Laurel said, “Yes. Deb Dolliver, she’s a nurse at the hospital and she’s a super volunteer!”

Laurel went on to write in an email, “Deb Dolliver is someone you can count on. She is a solid, thoughtful, loyal friend. No-nonsense, authentic, and fun! Deb moves through life with love, empathy and compassion in every step. 

“When she volunteers for anything, you know it’s in good hands, and will be done to perfection. She has shown up for MVY Radio in so many capacities it is a challenge to list them all. We love her as a volunteer and a friend. She’s there for everything! Especially when it comes to music!”

Dolliver was born in California, and her father was in the Navy, so as a girl she moved around a good deal, but both her mother and her grandparents were from the Vineyard, so her roots were here. She can always remember spending time here, and she started working as an R.N. at M.V. Hospital about 35 years ago, and is known for her work in the ER and the ICU. 

While she didn’t grow up in a family that put a big emphasis on volunteering, Dolliver realized that her job as a registered nurse gave her a unique set of organizational skills, which she was able to apply to a great many volunteer organizations where people tend to have their hearts in the right place, but they sometimes they could use help in getting things organized.

One of the first organizations Dolliver volunteered for was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Martha’s Vineyard, where she had gone about 20 years ago to find a Big Brother for her son Eric. For years she helped with their fundraising efforts. As a nurse she also did much volunteer work for the Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.

At the hospital, Dolliver became involved with the Nightingales, a group of women who held an annual party to raise money for the hospital. Her work at the hospital also brought her in touch with two of her fellow nurses, Tricia Bergeron and Bertha Blake, who got her involved with the charitable work being done by the P.A. Club on the Island. 

One of their big fundraisers was for the Chili Fest, which the P.A. Club sponsored, and Dolliver showed she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Among other things that she did, in the aftermath of the Fest, was go through the trash collecting bottles and cans which could then be redeemed, “For a good amount of cash,” Dolliver added.

When her three kids were in school, they were involved in sports, and Dolliver was involved right along with them, working for the Booster Clubs of youth and varsity lacrosse and varsity football. “It’s not like the equipment for these sports just grows on trees,” Dolliver said, “so the Booster Clubs were there to help out where they could.”

She remembers one time where her role as a lacrosse mom intersected with her role as an R.N: “We were at an off-Island boys lacrosse game, and suddenly one of the kids went into diabetic shock, and I had to make sure he got Gatorade, and another kid broke a bone and I had to go with him to the hospital. I never even got to see the game,” she said.

All of which brings us to the work Deb has been doing most recently for WMVY. “I can’t play any instrument,” Dolliver says, “but my way of getting involved is to help out the people who bring us the music.” 

Over the past few years, MVY has been busy opening up its new studio in West Tisbury, and Deb pitched in to help doing everything, from manning the phones to helping host private parties for listeners, where she sometimes even got to bartend, which was a labor of love. 

Dolliver also got involved in picking up off-Island talent for the station’s Porch Series held at MVY, the Harbor View Hotel, the Whaling Church, or the Winnetu Oceanside Resort. But perhaps Deb’s favorite MVY function was when they hosted the live music events on the Shenandoah last summer.

“Now that was a lot of fun,” Dolliver said.