We at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services are concerned about the impact of recent events in our community. Clearly the economic downturn is affecting most, if not all of us. Although Community Service does not provide financial support, we recognize that having a place and person to go to when there are concerns can be helpful. We are available to provide an ear as well as links to other services that people may find they need but don’t know how to access.

In difficult economic times, problems such as alcohol abuse, depression and domestic violence also may increase. The Island Counseling Center provides affordable behavioral health and substance use counseling that may be covered in part by insurance. Connect to End Violence provides free services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, their families and significant others.

Some of the recent issues on the Vineyard involving drugs and substance abuse, allegations of inappropriate conduct with students, alcohol and sexual abuse are receiving a great deal of attention and many online comments. Parents are worried about the safety of their children and adolescents and are looking for guidance about how to prevent incidents, identify warning signs of adults who may not be trustworthy and recognize substance abuse by teens. Some are asking what the community can do. Community Services has several programs that may be resources for those who have been affected.

For example, Early Childhood Programs has a program titled Talking About Touching that helps children from preschool through third grade establish personal safety boundaries. This program has been offered in the Oak Bluffs School, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital preschool and will be in the Grace Church preschool in January. For more information or information about parent support groups, contact Marney Toole at 508-693-7900, extension 283.

Connect to End Violence provides counseling for victims and families as well as information to help understand abuse by trusted adults and identify warning signs. Contact Carrie White at 508-693-7900, extension 220, or for a crisis, call the hotline at 508-696-7233.

Island Counseling Center offers alcohol and substance abuse counseling and behavioral health counseling for children, adolescents and parents, as well as therapy for those who have been affected by people with addiction problems. Call 693-7900, extension 225 to apply for services. If in crisis, call emergency services at 508-693-0032.

We are part of this community and are here to be of help to the Island. Our Web site is mvcommunityservices.com. Please contact us so that we may provide the support and connection to others that we all need during these difficult times.

Julia Burgess is executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.