It started last summer when the grandchildren of Mildred and J. Curtis Joyner sold lemonade in front of their cottage near the Oak Bluffs Library. The kids did well with their sales and when their grandmother asked them what they were going to do with the proceeds, an interesting conversation took place.

Mildred, a retired professor of social work from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and Curtis, a federal judge, sawit as an opportunity to teach their grandkids a lesson in thanksgiving. Of course, the kids had many places on Circuit avenue that would welcome their spending, including the game room, the clam bar, ice cream and fudge shops and more. Grandmother suggested that they give the proceeds to the Vineyard Food Pantry as a symbol of gratitude for all the Vineyard gives to them and their family. The kids agreed and the food pantry won the prize.

But the kindness did not stop there. Mildred is part of a national group of social workers, 100 Social Work Voices, that convenes annually. She convinced the group to come to the Vineyard and spend time talking about how community-based organizations such as the food pantry can maximize their revenue in the summer months to help out their annual budgets. The program ran from June 11 to 14. Vineyard participants included the Rev. Cathlin Baker, Karen Tewhey, associate commissioner of homeless prevention for Dukes County, Esther Laiacona, former caseworker for county social services, Susan Mercier, program director for the Island-Wide Youth Collaborative, and Kayte Morris, program director for the Island Food Pantry.

Many suggestions came from the dialogue that focused on the disparities of food, health care services, housing and income on the Island. Mildred’s favorite was an idea to post a sign at the Steamship Authority terminals, along with a collection repository, that said: “If you enjoyed the Vineyard, kindly leave some change.”

The program was graced with the presence and insights of two pioneers in the field of social work: Dr. Elaine Pinderhughes, professor emerita of social work at Boston College, and Dean June Hopps, formerly of Boston College and now at the University of Georgia. But for many, the highlight of the conference was the gifted voice and thoughts of Steve Pemberton, a native of New Bedford. Mr. Pemberton’s miraculous life story of adoption and foster care to corporate executive, author, film producer and philanthropist touched all who were in his presence. Steve has recently established an exploratory committee to assist him as he decides to run for the United States Senate against incumbent Sen. Ed Markey. Mildred ( Mit) Joyner is already planning to bring her 100 Voices back to the Vineyard in 2020. We wish her the best.

Conan Harris is helping to design a special summer work experience in the hospitality industry here on the Vineyard with the Obama Foundation. Three young men eager for work experience from urban Boston will be here in August but need summer housing. If you have an extra bed and would like to help out, please contact

Our own Polar Bear Caroline Hunter has been invited by Polar Bear Adrianne Smith, the founder of Cannes Can: Diversity Collaborative, to lead a Polar Bear exercise circle in Cannes, France at the 66th annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The festival will be held June 14 to 23. The Polar Bears have gone global.

It’s not too early to be reminded that during the July Fourth holiday week Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech on the meaning of Independence Day will be read and hosted by both Abigail McGrath and the Federated Church. Stay tuned for details next week.

Paradise on earth is the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!