The first time Chantale Duguay Patterson attended the Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard summer soirée, she was working as a nurse for another organization. She took in the crowded fundraiser and enthusiasm for supporting the Island’s primary end of life care provider.

“I came and saw this and said, I want to be a part of this,” she remembered.

Now, she is Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard’s only full-time nurse and its clinical director.

“I love this event,” Ms. Duguay Patterson said of the summer soirée, which took place Monday evening at the Farm Neck Golf Club. The annual fundraiser raised over $200,000, more than any other year.

Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard is one of a handful of Hospice organizations around the country that supports people with a terminal diagnosis and their loved ones at no charge, and demand is growing. According to the organization’s annual report, 103 patients were served in 2018, nearly double the number that were served in 2012.

Thomas Hallahan, executive director of Hospice of Martha's Vineyard. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Speaking to more than 300 guests, executive director Thomas Hallahan said as the need grows, the nonprofit will have to find more resources to continue to offer services for free. Funding comes from donations, grants and fundraising events, and from an endowment established by the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.

“We find ourselves at a crossroads with the way we can sustain our business model,” Mr. Hallahan said. “We are a population that is aged, and with that comes end of life.”

The organization is currently located in a condo space in the Tisbury Marketplace. Mr. Hallahan said he plans to launch a $10 million capital campaign within the next year to fund the construction or purchase of a new facility to better accommodate the demand.

The annual soirée included a silent auction, a brief live auction of two paintings by Island artists Margot Datz and Frank Raposa, and a hands up for Hospice program that raised more than $70,000.

Mr. Hallahan said he is often met with disbelief from prospective patients when he tells them they offer services free of charge.

“They go, ‘What? How do you do it?’ I say, bake sales. This is a really, really big bake sale.”

Mr. Hallahan thanked volunteers, chefs who donate bread and soups for families, and Louie and Beth Larsen who have donated fish for the fundraiser for years. He also honored Elaine Eugster, a longtime volunteer who died this year.

Chris Decker (far left) has volunteered with Hospice since 2004, sitting bedside with people in their last days. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“It is remarkable the way that our community not only supports us tonight but throughout the year,” Mr. Hallahan said.

Debbie Phillips of West Tisbury lost her husband Rob Berkley last year. Mr. Berkley was 59, dynamic and successful in his career when he was diagnosed with gastric cancer. Ms. Phillips spoke with gratitude about the services they received in his last months.

“Rob’s was a beautiful death,” Ms. Phillips said. She remembered the first time she and her husband called Hospice. “I was thinking, how incredible and remarkable is this, that my husband can actually be in charge of how he wants to die.”

She remembered the nursing and grief counseling she and her husband received, and the time a volunteer carried a heavy recliner into her home for her husband to use.

“We got to know Hospice, and they got to know us,” she said.

Chris Decker, who owns Tisbury Printer, has volunteered for Hospice since 2004. He stood outside the crowded tent as dinner was served. He said as a volunteer he primarily sits vigils with people in their last days.

“We do two-hour shifts,” he said. “It goes by in like five minutes.”

He said shifts are often late at night. During his time he talks to the dying person, sometimes holding their hand, and alerts a nurse if they seem to become agitated.

“It’s amazing because they don’t look old to me anymore,” he said.

Before dinner began, Hospice spiritual advisor Rabbi Lori Shaller gave a blessing of gratitude for community.

“May we enjoy the nourishment and sustenance of this astonishing company of caring and loving friends and family surrounding us,” she said.