What would Milton Mazer say? The late Dr. Mazer, the Vineyard’s first psychiatrist whose pioneering work in the field of rural mental health led to establishment of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services more than fifty years ago, would no doubt be proud of the institution that he helped to found and that still stands today as the Island’s oldest umbrella social services agency. Like the Island, Community Services has seen much change through the decades, but one thing that has remained unchanged has been the constant demand for social services. Early childhood services. Mental health services. Support services for victims of domestic violence. Job training for people with mental challenges. The needs and demands have shifted through the years along with a shifting population. And while it has not always been smooth sailing, Community Services has adapted to meet those changing needs.

Now the institution finds itself at another crossroads, and the announcement this week that a new executive director will soon take the helm is welcome news. Juliette Fay comes to the job with forty years of experience in the field of social services, health and business management, especially in the areas of mental health and development. Her skills should be an asset as Community Services embarks on a new strategic initiative to evaluate and reinvigorate its mission and strengthen its financial footings. In a telephone interview with the Gazette this week, Ms. Fay wisely outlined no specific agenda but instead pledged her willingness to listen and get to know both the institution that is Community Services and the Island culture. It calls to mind the words of Dr. Mazer in his timeless book People and Predicaments, a clinical psychological study of the Vineyard population that remains relevant reading today. Dr. Mazer wrote:

“The stresses that arise from the community’s small size cannot be prevented but are compensated for to some degree by its inhabitants’ awareness of a common destiny, by their long tradition of mutual helpfulness, and by the nurturing bonds of its intricate social network.”

We welcome Ms. Fay into the Island fold and wish her well as she takes the leadership reins of this vital Vineyard institution.