Chances are you’re in the circle. You might support an Island non-profit organization by giving money or participating in a fundraising event. Maybe you volunteer. 

But if you’ve taken a class at Featherstone, dropped your teen off at Alex’s place, listened to MVY radio, adopted a pet, been on a guided hike, visited the Museum, walked the African American Heritage Trail, hung out at the Feast of the Holy Ghost, or heck, just gone to the Fair every year, you’ve supported a nonprofit. 

And likely you know someone who’s benefitted, even if inadvertently, by your support of nonprofits. It could be a high school graduate with a scholarship, a friend who needed to find a way to rehab, or a child who got a chance to take sailing or tennis or horseback riding lessons. Or it could be you.

The opportunities for full-circle giving and receiving that our Island nonprofits offer are all around us.

With this in mind, the Vine has published its fifth annual directory of Martha’s Vineyard nonprofit organizations. The directory, titled Heart of the Vineyard, will be in every print copy of the February Vine, which is distributed to all Island mailboxes and in every copy of the February 9, 2018 Vineyard Gazette. It is also available online here.

We've also taken this opportunity to take a closer look at a dozen of these 120 nonprofit organizations (below). We hope you'll be inspired to volunteer or lend support to an organization that touches your heart. Without the help we give each other, we’d never get through the long winters, make our best livings in the summer, raise our kids here – or get off (or on) the Island when we need to. 

Martha's Vineyard Children’s Chorus 

Until the Martha’s Vineyard Children’s Chorus was founded in 2015, there was no Island-wide singing group for children. Founder and director Lisa Varno created the chorus to bring young singers together and also serve as a “feeder program” for the high school’s elite Minnesingers chorale. Herself the daughter and niece of Minnesingers, Ms. Varno does not impose auditions on her young vocalists: Any child who’s interested can join the Lyric Choir (grades 1-3) or the Concert Choir (grades 4-8), which rehearse weekly at the Edgartown School with public performances in May and December. Tuition is $50 per semester.


Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard

At the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown, adoptable pets are quick to find new homes. It’s not unusual for a dog arriving here to be matched right away with a waiting family that has already come in for a personal interview. There is no charge for surrendering a pet to the no-kill shelter, where a paid staff of two and about 12 dedicated volunteers tend to every aspect of the animals’ care and comfort. No longer affiliated with the MSPCA, which pulled out in 2009, the Animal Shelter raises funds locally and from grants to operate year-round.


Island Grown Initiative 

A year-round local food system, accessible to all: That’s the goal Island Grown Initiative has pursued for more than 10 years, through an expanding variety of services. The Island Grown Schools program has created thriving produce gardens at every public school, with curriculum to match. A vibrant gleaning network pairs Island growers with volunteers who harvest excess produce that’s donated throughout the community. The Farm Hub, formerly Thimble Farm, offers training and support for farmers and backyard growers alike. Island Grown has also taken the lead in the Vineyard’s emerging food equity movement, pioneering a mobile produce market serving low-income neighborhoods.


Polly Hill Arboretum

Open daily from sunrise to sunset, Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury offers visitors both the tranquility of a walk in the native woodlands and the excitement of learning about rare trees, shrubs and other plants. In summer, local artists create outdoor installations inspired by the natural surroundings. From the first seeds sown here by horticulturist Polly Hill in 1958, the Arboretum has grown to 60 acres, with stately groves amid old stone walls. Polly Hill also hosts frequent classes, workshops and lectures, maintains a searchable online Plant Selection Guide for Martha’s Vineyard and sells plants in summer at its Visitors Center. 



Whether it’s completing a GED, getting a truck driver’s license, earning college credits or mastering a new skill, Adult and Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV) provides more than 75 on-Island classes with local and visiting instructors each year. Through partnerships and collaborations with mainland institutions such as Cape Cod Community College, Fitchburg State University, Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, ACE MV offers a panorama of learning and professional development opportunities for Islanders. Local teachers, such as retired Swarthmore College professor of literature and author Phil Weinstein, add to the mix with non-credit classes.


Angel Flight Northeast

If you’re a cancer patient or recovering burn victim, trips from the Vineyard to treatment at city medical centers can be grueling, all-day affairs. For Islanders whose means don’t extend to flying back and forth, Angel Flight Northeast provides free air travel through a network of nearly 1,000 private pilots. These volunteers don’t just donate their time and aircraft: They also pay for fuel, landing fees and other operating expenses. Ground-based “Earth Angel” volunteers assist with transportation to and from the airports. Organizers say every dollar donated to Angel Flight generates about $5 worth of volunteer services.


Camp Jabberwocky

For 65 summers, Camp Jabberwocky has welcomed children and adults with disabilities of all kinds to an action-packed, joy-filled Martha’s Vineyard vacation. Horseback riding, windsurfing, drumming and putting on a musical are just some of the activities campers enjoy with the all-volunteer staff. With no age limit, campers return year after year, forming lifelong friendships. Tuition is on a pay-what-you-can basis, and a new capital campaign — Camp Jabberwocky’s first — aims to do away with it altogether. Jabberwocky is also expanding its services, with sessions for families and a first-ever off-season ski trip this March.


MV Cancer Support Group

You don’t have to be a “group person” to benefit from the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group, which meets Wednesdays at noon at the Hebrew Center in Vineyard Haven. The all-volunteer, donor-supported organization also maintains a website with extensive resources for cancer patients, their caregivers and their families. And founding board member Annemarie Donahue is always happy to talk one-on-one. Their website includes links and contact information for free or affordable local and off-Island services and financial assistance options, as well as a form for requesting financial support directly from the group’s board.


Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living

It’s estimated that by 2020, one in three Island residents will be age 65 or older. Starting at 55, Vineyarders are eligible for services through the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, which was established in 1973 as the Island Councils on Aging and renamed in 2009 to reflect a focus on quality of life. The center works in partnership with town Councils on Aging and also offers Island-wide programs such as the Memory Café — a weekly sing-along with local musicians for seniors experiencing memory loss — and a supportive day center for elders who are progressing through dementia.


Martha’s Vineyard Community Services

MV Community Services began in 1961 as a community-funded mental health center and has grown to be a comprehensive social service organization that addresses the needs of individuals, families, and the community through mulitiple programs and partnerships. Programs provide behavioral health counseling, urgent care, emergency services, substance use counseling, youth support, veterans support, domestic and sexual violence advocacy, disability services, employment services, as well as childcare, parenting and family education and activities, a Head Start program, and a Thrift Shop. With the help of an anonymous donor, MVCS, in collaboration with MV Hospital, last year introduced a pilot program offering Vineyard residents immediate access to detox services on the mainland.


Vineyard House

Vineyard House is a safe haven for Islanders in the early stages of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, Founded in 1997 with a single donated residence for men, Vineyard House now offers substance-free housing for up to 18 men in two houses and seven women in a third house on their campus in Vineyard Haven. Residents of Vineyard House may stay for six to 18 months while adjusting to sobriety. Vineyard House also provides meeting spaces for 12-step meetings. The annual Water Tasting by the Sea is a major fund-raiser for Vineyard House, which also accepts donations and volunteers.


The Chilmark Community Center

The Chilmark Community Center, located on South Road, is a true community social center, where there’s something for everyone, whether young or old, seasonal or year-round. In the summer, kids’ programs, tennis, films, music and special events draw the community in. In winter, potluck jams, films, speakers and more keep things lively. The center also hosts the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival, the MV Film Festival, and the Chilmark Road Race.