Last summer in August the Beach Club held a history night. In Mimi Carroll’s introduction, we learned that George Semler had done the computer work for the slide show. I remembered George’s name from my youth here, but couldn’t place him. It was time to become reacquainted, I decided.

Organizing the computer for the slide show was easy work for George, who was employed as an engineer for IBM for 23 years. George first came to the Vineyard when he was five, staying at his grandmother’s house in Oak Bluffs. He and wife Monica purchased their own home on State Road in Vineyard Haven in 1986. In 2001 they bought their current home in Meadowview Farms, where they now live fulltime in retirement.

Monica was a psychiatric nurse for 30 years in a New York state clinic. In addition to her RN, she has a master’s degree in family therapy. “Therapy is first and foremost a relationship, Rick. You first seek to gain a client’s trust. Once that is established, you help them sort out life’s struggles. You teach them to form healthy relationships. No one can go through life successfully alone. We all need someone to support us.”

“Can you literally change a person’s personality?”

“Not the core of who they are. If a person is a jerk, that’s really hard to change, but you can help them alter objectionable behaviors.

“There are definite limits to what therapy can do. Schizophrenia results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. There’s not much therapy can do to treat it, but the situation is more hopeful with depression.

“I saw a lot of depressed patients. Medicine gets them started. It helps them regain energy, and reduces negative thinking. In some cases, it actually reorders brain chemistry. Therapy can help with negative thinking. In addition, depression is often caused by a life crisis—divorce, death in a family, the loss of a job. Therapy can help a person work through the crisis, which makes the recurrence of the depression far less likely.

“Over the course of my career, I was continually amazed at the amount of trauma some people have suffered through. I felt honored to be able to support them in some way by providing therapy.”

Support seems to be a part of Monica’s DNA. She grew up on a farm in Peru, N.Y., in a family of 14 siblings. As the second oldest, she spent her youth cooking and changing diapers. All 14 of them graduated from college and are now pursuing successful careers in a wide variety of fields. That’s an impressive achievement!

“If Monica’s parents haven’t seen it, it hasn’t happened,” George reported with a smile. He loves to return to the family farm now run by two of Monica’s brothers for family reunions. “It’s a fun, raucous group. They are so supportive of one another. It’s a family based on love and hard work.” We are fortunate to have the Semlers giving back in our community.

One final note: Craig Dripps has asked me to announce that the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is looking for an assistant lighthouse keeper for the Edgartown light. It’s a paid position, noon to 3 p.m. daily through labor day. If interested, call Craig at 693-8866 for details.

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