Well, everyone has been rushing to do their taxes and pay the government, but you have to admit the sun is putting a smile on your face.

Happy birthday to all who celebrated their day this past week. Big balloons go out to Taylor Gramkowski, and Joshua Willoughby, who celebrated their day April 13; Daniel Costello, Juan Sanchez and Thomas Weston 3rd who celebrated April 14; Elon Binder and Paulo Pereira Jr April 15; Jonathan Davenport and Brant Maynard, April 16; and to Eva Faber and Kenneth Hatt who celebrate their day today, April 17.

Special wishes go out to Dick Barbini, who celebrated his day April 12; to Paula Smith, April 13; and to Lindsey Mercier who celebrated April 16.

We are happy to have Norman and Margaret Rankow home after their winter in St. Johns. Word has it they had a great winter. They are now anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new grandchild in a few weeks. We also wish them a happy anniversary as they celebrate their 35th anniversary on April 21. Here is to another 35 years together.

A group of Islanders traveled to Lenox last weekend for the wedding of Alexis Elias to Marty McCabe. Alexis is the daughter of Debbie and Aziz Elias of Edgartown. It was a double celebration as their son Alex also graduated from the police academy. Alex is a patrolman on the Edgartown police force.

Billy Johnson surprised his mother, Mary, when he arrived home for Easter. Billy is a first year student at Westfield State. He told his mother he would not be able to make it home and this would have been the first holiday family dinner he would have missed. So it was great for all of them to have him home.

Our sympathies go out to the family of Nancy Leighton. Nancy passed away in Boston after a short illness. She is the wife of Sam Leighton and mother to Nancy Henry, Gail Palacios and Patty Mundt. She is also the grandmother of six and great-grandmother of three. There will be a complete obituary at a later date. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.

Congratulations to Peter Jackson Jr. who passed his captain’s test last weekend. We are very proud of you.

The weekend of March 27 to 29, Federated Church youth leader Melissa Pitt and pastor Jerry Fritz traveled with 11 young people to New York city to experience homelessness and hunger first hand. The group worked with Youth Service Opportunities Project (Y.S.O.P.), a Quaker group based in Manhattan.

Traveling by bus from Woods Hole to New York, the group joined with two other youth groups from Long Island, New York. On Friday evening the group, totaling 35 in all, prepared and served dinner to about 30 homeless individuals at the Y.S.O.P. site. Later in the evening the group spent time getting to know each another while the group leaders made plans for the Saturday activities. The Quaker Meetinghouse was also the site for a dozen regular homeless folk who came in later in the evening and were out of the facility by early morning.

Saturday found the group breaking up into small groups of five or six youth members with an adult leader and heading out to six different locations around the city, over most of the five boroughs. The groups worked in various facilities which ministered to the differing needs of the people. They visited facilities which ministered to women and men who are HIV positive, homeless shelters which provided meals throughout the day, and a facility which was a halfway house for women who had recently been released from prison or jail and were trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. In whatever situation, their main objective was to minister to the men and women they encountered and to learn from them lessons which they might use in their individual settings.

Of course the trip was not all work. After spending Friday and Saturday working with the Y.S.O.P. group, the Federated Church contingent moved a little further uptown in Manhattan to spend Saturday night at the Brick Presbyterian Church at Madison avenue and 92nd street. After settling in at the church it was time to find some dinner. The youngsters, of course, wanted to wander down toward Times Square, so after dinner at Mars 2112, many decided shopping after midnight in Times Square would be a great treat, so for the next few hours the group, minus one leader, who found a quiet place at Starbuck’s to wait, wandered through area stores looking for souvenirs. Finally, almost worn out, the group boarded the subway back to the Brick Church. Sunday the group arrived back on Martha’s Vineyard on the 7 p.m. ferry.

Asked what they learned on the trip, one young lady said, “I learned not to judge people by their appearance . . . because they could be really nice.” A young man from our group commented, “Living like a homeless person was interesting, too. I was hungry, tired and uncomfortable. It felt weird having to jump from church to church so that I could sleep.” The group will now concentrate on how they can apply what they have learned to our local situation.

Traveling with the group from the Federated Church Youth Group were Kathryn Antonsson, A.J. deBettencourt, Paige Donovan, Eva Faber, Katelyn Fritz, Alex Lloyd, Charlotte Lowell-Bettencourt, Ashley Pearlstine, Chris Pitt, Taylor Poggi and Mallorie Wyse.

Have a great week, and keep the home candles burning.