Patricia Bergeron and the Portuguese American Club accepted this year’s Spirit of the Vineyard award Sunday in a ceremony marked with laughter, love and a few tears.

The honor is awarded annually to a volunteer who has performed outstanding service to the Island community.

Oak Bluffs electman Mike Santoro told Ms. Bergeron she's made her town proud. — Steve Myrick

President of the PA Club for 22 years, Ms. Bergeron was the driving force in establishing a number of annual events and individual fundraisers that generate money for charities, scholarships, and to help Island families in need. She was also the chief organizer of the club’s annual Feast of the Holy Ghost.

Ms. Bergeron, “Trish” to her many friends, is legendary for her ability to organize events, with generosity and good humor.

She demonstrated both when Sue Medeiros, her friend of 36 years, stood to speak. Ms. Bergeron broke up the room when Ms. Medeiros opened up a piece of paper with her prepared remarks. Ms. Bergeron wisecracked that it was another list of chores to be done.

“Which list is that,” she asked. The whole room burst into laughter.

Ms. Medeiros described her friend and co-worker as someone who is always thinking of others.

PA Club vice president Jack Law said Ms. Bergeron is the heart and soul of the organization. — Steve Myrick

“Over the past 36 years, I have witnessed you selflessly pour more energy, love, and kindness into this community than we could possibly tell here,” she said.

Mike Santoro, chairman of the board of selectmen, offered congratulations from the town of Oak Bluffs.

“You’re special to this community,” Mr. Santoro said. “This town couldn’t be more proud to have a citizen like you in our community. We love you.”

Speaking for the PA Club, vice-president Jack Law spoke of her commitment to the club.

“She is the heart and the soul of the PA Club,” Mr. Law said. “We love you, Trish.”

Kaylea Moore, legislative liaison to Rep. Tim Madden, read a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives thanking the guest of honor for her volunteer work.

Ms. Bergeron deflected the accolades to others when she accepted the honor.

“The people that worked here long before me made a great vessel for this community,” Ms. Bergeron said. “We have the vessel to allow people to do magical things for this community, and that’s what we do. It’s what we do for people, it’s who we are, and they make it really easy to look good.”

Ms. Bergeron thanked the PA Club community for holding her up after the death of her son. — Steve Myrick

In a touching moment, she noted that she is the 18th recipient of the Spirit of the Vineyard award. The number has special meaning to her. It was the number her son Eric MacLean wore while playing varsity hockey for Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Mr. MacLean was killed in a car accident in 2001.

“I see 18 everywhere, all the time,” Ms. Bergeron said. “This community, when my son died, it held me up, it made me walk, it gave me everything I needed to get through it. I could work from now until I cannot even move and never repay what this community has done for me.”

The Spirit of the Vineyard Award was sponsored by Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard until this year, when Vineyard Village at Home accepted the responsibility. Vineyard Village at home is a service organization that relies on volunteers to provide household, health, social, and professional services for older Vineyard residents who want to remain in their homes, rather than move to an assisted living or medical facility.