Each year more than 6,000 people are served by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the largest human service provider on the Island.
“I always think that number is so important,” said Sandy Pimentel, a member of the board of directors. “And they never turn people away.”
The organization’s programs include Connect to End Violence, which offers free services to victims and survivors of domestic violence and a 24-hour crisis hotline. Those living with physical or mental disabilities can find employment and family support at the disability services program, and the Island Counsel ing Center provides mental health and substance abuse counseling and crisis intervention services. Early Childhood Programs offers childcare, a Head Start program and runs the Family Center, which serves close to 600 families a year.
Each summer, the center that offers a lifeline for so many Island residents receives a show of support at the annual Art Buchwald Possible Dreams Auction. Last year, the auction raised more than $450,000 for community services. Most of the money goes straight to community services, said Nell Coogan, the community services director of development and community relations. A small amount goes toward fees involved in the event.
This year’s auction will take place Sunday, July 27, at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort. Jimmy Tingle will serve as the auctioneer.
As in past years, there will be dreams up for bid during a live auction and a host of silent auction items, too. As part of a new initiative, there will also be five items available through a raffle.
“Last year we had about 425 people through the gate and less than 50 bid,” Possible Dreams auction co-chair Liza Cowan May told the Gazette last week. “What about the other 375 people?”
Raffle tickets are $10 each, or three for $25 and are available for purchase at the community services offices or on the day of the event. Participants do not have to attend the auction to win.
The raffle’s grand prize is an overnight stay at The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown and dinner for two prepared by chef Justin Melnick at the inn’s restaurant, The Terrace. Other raffle prizes include gift cards to Island restaurants (Lookout Tavern, The Galley, Scottish Bakehouse, Orange Peel Bakery and Blue Canoe/Waterside), a necklace, bracelet and earring set from Stefanie Wolf Designs, a five-hour fishing excursion with Captain Grunty, a design package from Brickyard home store and a gift certificate to a local florist.
“It’s something different,” Ms. May said.
“We still want everyone to feel like they can come and be a part,” said Nell Coogan, the director of development and community relations for community services.
The raffle is part of a continuing effort to refresh a long-standing and popular event. Last year, the auction moved to the Winnetu Resort and for the first time, took place on a Sunday.
With the change in the date and the location, “everyone said to all of us, the sky is falling, and it didn’t,” Ms. Pimentel said. “We took the risk and I think it was a good one.” The changes have stuck.
Last year was also a first for auctioneer Jimmy Tingle, who is following in the footsteps of longtime auctioneer Art Buchwald.
“I was a big fan of Art’s,” said Mr. Tingle, a social and political humorist. He said last year’s event went well. “I had a blast doing it, and it was a lot of work.
“My goal is to not only raise money but be as entertaining as we can,” Mr. Tingle added. “Even if you’re not bidding you can still have a good time and participate in the community.”
From the stage this year, Mr. Tingle will auction off a host of dreams, from the chance to drink a Bad Martha’s beer named after the winner to an opportunity to attend a Hollywood premiere.
In addition to the raffle, this year there will be 26 possible dreams and 55 silent auction items.
“That’s a whole lot of people who have donated to this cause,” Ms. Coogan said.
This year’s possible dreams include a chance to jam with Jim Belushi at Alex’s Place at the YMCA, plus several destination trips. These include a four-day trip to Provence, a tour of prehistoric art in the caves just outside of Paris, a gastronomical tour of the Abruzzo region of Italy and a cruise to Nantucket to meet author Nathaniel Philbrick.
Artist Elizabeth Whelan will paint a portrait in Carly Simon’s garden of one lucky bidder. Another dream includes attending the premiere of the next Hunger Games film, Mockingjay Part 1 (and the after-party).
Ms. May said some standout dreams are a day fishing with Capt. Jennifer Clarke, followed by foraging for a meal and cooking with chef Chris Fischer. One bidder will get a chance to bid some more at a poker night with Island standout Jesse Sylvia, played at Jim Ferraro’s West Chop house.
“We focus a lot on what we do best here on the Vineyard,” Ms. May said. She said finding local talent and tapping into a young crowd has brought in new blood and a broader reach this year.
The dreams are also rooted in reality, and those planning the auction said they want to make it clear where the money is going. Mr. Tingle has become well-acquainted with community services’ goals.
An additional benefit of the new weekend date is the chance for community services staff to attend and volunteer. “It’s nice to have them there,” Ms. Coogan said. “They are the connection between all this money and what we really do.”
“They are the face and the voice of community services,” Ms. May added.
And while new ideas and new enthusiasm are buoying the event, Possible Dreams is bringing back one favorite from the Art Buchwald days, Ms. May said: the lobster rolls.
The 36th annual Art Buchwald Possible Dreams auction, which benefits Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, will take place on Sunday, July 27, at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort. The gates open at 3:45 p.m. and the live auction starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at mvcommunityservices.com/possibledreams or at the gate. A dinner follows at 7:30 p.m. at the Lure Grill; limited tickets are available for $225 each.