The Island community came together on Friday, June 22 to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & The Islands at their annual Blooming Bids for Kids auction event. In addition to the usual auction items, this year the event centered around celebrating the life of Jake Baird, an Island student and BBBS alumni who passed away this winter. Jake shared an eight-year match with his big brother Bill Jacob.

“I’m sure many of you remember there were circles in high school that you hung around with.” said regional director JR Mell at the start of the evening. “But Jake didn’t have a circle. Jake was in everybody’s circle. He was a truly phenomenal young man that we lost far too soon.”

Connie Alexander, chair of the advisory board also welcomed guests as they entered the tent at the Field Gallery in West Tisbury.

Benefit event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands was held at the Field Gallery in West Tisbury. — Albert O. Fischer

“While you are enjoying the evening, and bidding on some of the one-of-a-kind auction items, please remember that every dollar raised at this auction goes directly to support the children at Big Brothers Big Sisters right here on Martha’s Vineyard,” Ms. Alexander said.

From Sunday brunch for two at the Harbor View Hotel, to a gardening essentials package from Phillip’s Hardware, there was no shortage of Island experiences and items. The live auction also included prizes such as painting lessons with local artist Margot Datz, or an all-inclusive trip to Canyon Ranch in Lenox.

“We have a lot of people who have donated in years past as well as a few new people” said regional development officer Barbara Cotton. “Artists, gardeners, landscapers, glassworkers...they’re all people that made this possible.”

Local artist Allen Whiting contributed his painting A Ram at Rest to the silent auction.

“I like to contribute to events like this,” Mr. Whiting said. “My daughter Beatrice also had a little, eight or nine years ago.” “She was wonderful young woman that loved animals,” added Lynne Whiting. “They did a lot of things together on our farm.”

Pictures of big brothers, sisters, and their respective littles adorned the tent, each frame showcasing a shared moment, from pairs carving pumpkins, to running across soccer fields.

Jake Baird's grandparents, Jill and Al Woollacott. — Albert O. Fischer

But the most evocative collection of photos stood at the head of the tent. Each snapshot captured a piece of Jake Baird’s life—flashing a peace sign on a fishing boat, posing in a tuxedo, or jumping off the Jaws Bridge.

Mr. Jacob spoke candidly about his time as a big brother to Jake, their mutual love for Island beaches, and his ever-present smile.

“That smile was in his eyes,” Mr. Jacob said. “His smile was warm, genuine and incredible.”

Mr. Jacob also shared stories of their adventures together, whether plodding along the beach in search of “lucky stones” or their rescue mission of an injured seagull that Jake later named Prince.

“Not after the artist, but after royalty,” Mr. Jacob explained with a laugh. Jake’s compassion for the bird, and everyone else around him was unwavering, especially when he talked about his family.

“He had great stories about his family. The confidence and the love was incredible,” Mr. Jacob said.

Through tears, Mr. Jacob thanked Big Brothers Big Sisters for the opportunity to serve as a big brother, a relationship that he said not only helps the littles learn and grow as individuals, but the bigs as well.

“I thank Big Brothers Big Sisters. They do an amazing service. They help kids and they help us bigs,” he said. “But if you’re thinking about getting a little I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the experience will be incredible. The bad news is there is a very slim chance that you will get a little like Jake or a family like Jake’s.”