Patricia Moore is easy to talk with. The hard part is finding room in her packed schedule.

Universally known as Paddy, the longtime Island senior care advocate is a board member and prime mover of the Navigator Homes skilled nursing and workforce housing development in Edgartown, which this month received approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and is now seeking permits from the town.

“We have a big meeting with the department of public health to go over design issues,” Ms. Moore told the Gazette by phone this week, her pen scratching in the background as she quickly updated a document for her assistant.

Ms. Moore also serves on the board of Healthy Aging MV, which she founded in 2013 as a task force to improve the lives of the Vineyard’s rapidly aging population, and volunteers with the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, among other pursuits.

And at 88 — her birthday was Nov. 23 — Ms. Moore has her own health to attend to, complete with time-consuming trips for medical appointments off-Island.

“You have to make some decisions as to your priorities. I’m very much aware of time and the importance of taking intentional actions,” she said.

On Dec. 3, Ms. Moore will accept the Spirit of the Vineyard award from Vineyard Village At Home, which established the annual honor in 1998 to recognize Island volunteers.

“I treasure it, because... the people who won it before me are sort of my tribe,” Ms. Moore said.

“I was brought up with the admonition: ‘If not now, when? If not you, who?’ and the charge to leave the world better than we found it,” she said.

Paddy Moore has long been a senior care advocate for Islanders. — Ray Ewing

Spirit of the Vineyard honorees in recent years have included Brian Athearn of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, Susie Wallo of the Red Stocking Fund and Vineyard Haven resident Jean Llewellyn, whose volunteer work has spanned Island causes including literacy, conservation and housing.

“They’re not boasters. They get things done ... in a way that builds community,” Ms. Moore said.

The Dec. 3 award ceremony, which is open to the public, takes place at the First Congregational Church from 4 to 6 p.m.

Ms. Moore’s half-century-plus connection with the Vineyard began when she was a single mother in New Jersey and encountered her second husband Ben Moore, an architect and member of the Hart family of Harthaven in Oak Bluffs, at a personal-growth workshop.

“We met on August 19, 1969,” she said. “I moved to Boston, with two children and a dog and a cat and what he claimed was 27 boxes of books, on Thanksgiving — which was not a thing my generation did at the time.”

The blended family, with children on both sides and assorted pets in tow, moved to the Vineyard full-time a few years later.

“We decided in 1974 to try it for a year, and we never left,” said Ms. Moore, who still lives in the sunny West Tisbury home designed by her late husband.

“He was the Vineyard’s fourth architect,” recalled Ms. Moore, whose own career was in medical mediation.

Mr. Moore was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, she said, and died in 2018 without entering institutional care.

“We ended up keeping him home. I’m so glad we did,” she said.

But it wasn’t an easy path, added Ms. Moore, whose husband’s illness spurred her to explore other options for Islanders needing geriatric and end-of-life care. One of her discoveries was the Green House model for nursing home developments, of which Navigator Homes will be the Vineyard’s first.

Lobbying the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to consider the Green House model, which provides workforce housing on the same campus with patient residences, was an uphill battle until Denise Schepici was hired as hospital president and CEO in 2018, Ms. Moore said.

“I had tried numerous times before that to get them interested,” she said.

With Ms. Schepici’s and the MVH board’s support, the hospital issued a request for proposals — won by Navigator Homes — and purchased the land from the Norton family in 2021. As the project continues to work its way through local government, Ms. Moore sees more challenges ahead for an Island that’s getting older all the time.

“We are one of the quickest-aging communities in the state, and actually in the country,” she said.

“[Senior citizens] are well above 30 per cent in every town,” Ms. Moore said, adding that the number of Islanders 85 and older is also on the rise despite the lack of many services.

“We don’t have the structure, even in health care,” she said.

“We don’t have it in social supports, and we certainly don’t have it in mental health,” added Ms. Moore, citing a 2013 Rural Scholars report on the Island’s capacity to provide mental health and in-home services to the elderly.

“It’s very much of a mixed bag,” she said.

The Healthy Aging Task Force got underway the same year, after Ms. Moore convened a group of people to review the Rural Scholars’ study and recommendations. Now a nonprofit helmed by executive director Cindra Trish, Healthy Aging was founded for three purposes, Ms. Moore said.

“It’s a planning organization, it’s an advocacy organization and it’s a consensus and community building organization. I’m firmly convinced those are the three necessary co-ingredients for the kinds of leadership that are needed to make things happen across this Island,” she said. Age itself can’t be denied, Ms. Moore said, but it doesn’t have to bring an end to activism.

“What matters is the depth of your energy and commitment,” she said.