Blog Category: Portraits (Page 1)

Women Helping Women: Women-Owned Businesses We Lifted Up In 2021

As a woman-owned business, we’ve always made it a point to collaborate with and support other women-owned businesses. In 2021 we had the pleasure of working with several community-minded females to not only help market their business visually but to promote the mission behind their work. 

At Randi Baird Photography (RBP), we’re not just behind the scenes snapping photos for websites and advertisements, we’re having strategic conversations with our clients about the most effective way to tell their story from behind the lens, in a way that is most authentic and impactful to their business. They say content is king, and photography is just that, but collaborating and effective marketing of that content is queen. 

The queen bee is the mover and shaker; she gets things done, and we’ve been lucky to accomplish some great things alongside these fabulous female-owned businesses this year. 

BUG & RABBIT:  This lifestyle clothing brand was launched by friends and founders Emily Redmond and Kristin Loranger, who have been tethered to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket for generations. Like many of us, they fell in love with the islands for their breathtaking beaches, unparalleled beauty, rich New England history, and the memories made there with family and friends. They believe in sharing what brings you joy and spreading good where you can. Emily and Kristin have created designs that not only show love for these iconic destinations but share good by giving back. 

BUG&RABBIT pledges to donate a percentage of their annual profits to organizations that help to preserve and protect these beloved islands, as well as look for ways to support their local businesses and communities. B&R also pledges to source sustainable and responsibly made materials in an effort to be kinder to the environment. 

What we did: RBP helped develop a visual style to illustrate their Vineyard Line of clothing by complementing the apparel against the natural blue colors of our surrounding Edgartown waters. We organized a photo shoot with three models on a breezy sunny afternoon and hopped aboard Catboat Charters to capture R&B’s designs in an authentic Vineyard setting. Back on land, we selected two more backdrops that effectively evoke the nautical setting that originally inspired their clothing. Once back in the studio we developed a stylized “look” for R & B that will serve as a consistent visual theme throughout their marketing, to help further develop their brand. 

SylvieBags: I’ve known Sylvie Farrington, owner of Sylvie Bags, for the last 25 years, as a friend and a neighbor. We both started Island CoHousing, a collaborative living community on Martha’s Vineyard, with our families over 20 years ago. 

Sylvie designs gorgeous handbags, pillows, and other textiles from up-cycled rare barkcloth and fabrics from the 1930s to the 1960s, using a traditional sewing technique. The durable barkcloth is made from densely woven cotton fibers and makes for unique, sustainable products. Items are one-of-a-kind from authentic mid-century textiles and beautifully made with a high focus on detail. 

The best parts? Consumers can feel good about their purchase knowing SylvieBags are leather-free, animal-friendly, and vegan, and since they use existing vintage fabric they minimize the impact on Mother Earth. Another fabulous perk (that really speaks to the feminist in me) is that by buying a SylvieBags accessory you are helping preserve the ancient art of sewing passed down through generations and championing independent women sewing from home to balance work and family and earning fair compensation.

What we did: RBP scouted several photo locations for Sylvie, ultimately selecting those locations that would allow her bold and vibrant designs to make the most impact. We used the down-Island towns of Martha’s Vineyard including Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, and Edgartown, and utilized their downtowns, restaurants, farm stands, shorelines, and gardens. By selecting a wide range of settings we helped tell the story of the versatility and wearability of Sylvie’s products, creating lifestyle photographs to both their timeless vintage elegance and modern contemporary design. 

Shored Up Digital: Led by Angela Prout and Marnely Murray Shored Up Digital provides small businesses on Martha’s Vineyard with digital marketing services including social media management, website design, and email marketing–to make sure brands’ digital presences are all ‘shored up.’ With an exceptional level of enthusiasm, dedication, and a collaborative approach, Shored Up Digital is an effective solution for Island clients that want to better connect with their audience online. Beyond digital marketing, Angela and Marnely strive to promote community among local businesses and actively work to promote Island businesses beyond our Vineyard waters. 

What we did: In the spring of 2020 RBP provided Shored Up Digital with photography for their publication the Martha’s Vineyard Dining Sourcebook the first-ever all-inclusive digital printed guide of all of the restaurants and dining destinations on Martha’s Vineyard. When COVID hit Angela and Marnely recognized the challenges it presented to our local businesses, especially restaurants, and in partnership with Sourcebook Productions they developed the book using innovative Flowcode technology.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product and I’m honored to have my photography showcased within the pages of this book. This guide was a gift to our restaurant community, with no restaurant paying to be included, and as a local foodie and champion of food equity, I knew it was the right fit for my photography. Throughout the book, my photographs tell the story of the farms and fields that support our restaurants and contribute to the equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard.

In addition to the Dining Sourcebook RBP recently partnered with Shored Up Digital to provide photography for six New England-based travel and lifestyle content creators including Shorelines Illustrated, Yankee Magazine, Kristy New EnglandAnnah Todd, Belle of the Ball, and One CrafDIY Girl. These fun and fabulous ladies visited the island to soak up all of the festivities during Christmas in Edgartown this month. 

Beyond shopping Main Street, decorating holiday wreaths, and sipping hot chocolate, Shored Up Digital wanted to ensure that the group had exposure to the rich agricultural roots of Martha’s Vineyard. They organized a private tour with Simon Athearn of Morning Glory Farm. As Simon shared the history of his family farm and the innovative and sustainable practices they pride themselves on, I captured the bloggers and influencers across different locations on the farm, providing valuable content for their audience to better understand the wide range of appeal Martha’s Vineyard has to offer. 

Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest: This year marked the inaugural Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest (MVOF) a mission-based festival that aims to drive long-term local, regional, and national awareness of Martha’s Vineyard and Massachusetts-farmed oyster and native fish profiles. A portion of the MVOF proceeds went to the Martha’s Vineyard Shell Recovery Partnership which reduces and recycles shell waste on the Island, provides a local source of the shell for shellfish restoration, and improves shellfish production, which in turn improves local water quality.

MVOF was originally scheduled for 2020 and like most things, was forced to cancel, so the anticipation was twice as exciting, and for good reason. The festival director Nevette Previd and I go way back, and she’s an absolute pro at producing Island events. I first started working with Nevette when we both worked to help organize the annual Living Local Festival, an event that allowed attendees to get up close and personal with community organizations committed to food equity and sustainability on Martha’s Vineyard. Additionally, we worked together on Nevette’s Farm. Field. Sea. popup culinary adventures, unique and intimate dinners that showed off the bounty of chef talent and local food. I’ve always loved Nevette’s approach to education and her dedication to promoting local food. 

What we did: For Oyster Fest RBP worked closely with Nevette to thoroughly understand her audience and marketing strategy, taking the time to grasp exactly how she intended to use our images to tell the story of the first festival and shape the narrative to promote future events. 

Over the course of the two-day festival, we documented talks, tastings, demos, and attendee interactions, on-site at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and from above with the use of our drone. From way up high we photographed the fun aboard the historic Shenandoah tall ship (courtesy of the educational nonprofit FUEL) for a dockside event with East Boston Oysters. There we effectively photographed the energy of the event and the purveyors, with the intention of showcasing their products properly. Our final images recall the beauty of the picture-perfect Vineyard days, the reverence of the presenters and producers, and the salty and delicious moments that were savored along the way.

Giving thanks and giving back to the community that allows us to do what we love

One of the most incredible things about living on Martha’s Vineyard is the sense of community we share with our neighbors, friends, summer residents, and even first-time visitors. The Island is full of passionate individuals and dedicated organizations committed to making Martha’s Vineyard a compassionate and charitable place. Over the last thirty years, we have been able to deepen our connections to the people that surround us, enabling us to use our work to help further the missions of local non-profits and drive meaningful change.

Especially in light of the pandemic we’ve become even more appreciative of our Island home and the resilient men and women that have been serving our community in crisis. As photographers we can provide real value for local organizations by highlighting what they do, effectively creating more awareness for their mission while capturing their tireless efforts along the way. Whether it’s providing images that make it into their newsletter, website, or annual report, our photography offers these groups high-quality assets that represent the importance of their work. It’s the least we can do for those that do so much. 

Here’s a look at some of the great work being done by our local non-profits and the ways Randi Baird Photography has given back in support of their selfless acts.

 

Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center

Who they are: Misty Meadows offers inclusive equine-assisted enrichment programs for people of all ages and abilities. They provide a nurturing environment where horses and humans work together to build relationships and overcome adversity. Their programs are a unique blend of teaching based on building mental, emotional, and physical connections with horses using non-verbal communication. Through observation, unmounted groundwork, and riding horses, their teachings go beyond handling horses to encourage critical thinking, empathy, and boundaries. 

What we’ve done for them: We’ve long been inspired by the work that they do with animals, the confidence they build with their students, and the healing properties of the relationships they cultivate. Randi first came to learn about Misty Meadow while photographing their programs, staff, and herd for their website images in 2016. She continued her professional relationship with the organization over the last several years, then began volunteering and joined the Board of Directors in 2020.

Island Grown Initiative

 

Who they are: Island Grown Initiative’s (IGI) mission is to build a regenerative and equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard that engages, informs, and integrates the community. As a founding member of IGI and former Board President, Randi has been active with the organization since its inception in 2006.  

Amid the pandemic IGI worked harder than ever to increase local food production, reduce and redirect food waste, and expand access to healthy food for all islanders, ensuring all who needed it had access to food during COVID. They continued to operate their mobile market, and they provided thousands of packed lunches every week for school-age children through their free Community Lunch Program.

When school returned, so did IGI, and this year they taught approximately 2,500 children in small groups as part of their education initiatives, as well as ramping up their adult food production and farming workshops. Earlier this year IGI merged with the Island Food Pantry, effectively combining efforts to create a comprehensive community food equity hub to better serve families facing food insecurity, and distributing more than 350,000 pounds of food so far this year. Additionally, Island Grown has already gleaned another 43,000 pounds of produce and provided 32,000 prepared meals for public health outlets, social workers, the Food Pantry, and others to reach homebound elders and those without transportation.

What we’ve done for them: Over the years we’ve provided photography services for the organization’s wide variety of events and programs, including their gleaning program, Food Hub production, Mobile Poultry Processor, and others. Our photography has helped them best illustrate the extent of their work and it has been used across their website, blog, social media, and press. 

*Additionally, to further combat food insecurity RBP donated 10% of our proceeds from 2020 to the Island Food Pantry.

Island Housing Trust

Who they are: The Island Housing Trust (IHT) is a non-profit organization that supports a diverse and vital community on Martha’s Vineyard by creating and sustaining permanently affordable housing solutions, both rental and ownership. Over the past decade, they have sold and rented 132 homes and apartments, providing hope and opportunity to hundreds of low, moderate, and middle-income Island families seeking a dignified solution to their affordable housing needs.


This year IHT showed no signs of slowing down and relentlessly continued their urgent work to end housing insecurity, even amid a pandemic. They completed three large-scale building projects which provided housing for dozens of year-round Island residents while maintaining their mission to design and build simple, durable, healthy, energy-efficient homes that are affordable to purchase, own, and preserve for generations. Additionally, IHT adapted its operations by hosting its first virtual fundraising event (while exceeding its fundraising goals!) and conducted its first remote homeownership lottery via a video conference.

What we’ve done for them: Since its inception, we have regularly provided staff and Board headshots as well as architectural photography to tell the story of IHT’s mission, and the homeowners and tenants that benefit from their work. Our photography has captured final builds, in-process shots, and groundbreakings to help further promote their services to potential donors and recipients while bringing more awareness to the general public.

Vineyard Havens

Who they are: Vineyard Havens is an organization that hosts families of adult and pediatric cancer patients in houses on Martha’s Vineyard for vacations of up to a week. Inspired by her own son’s fight against Wilms tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer, Jeanne DeSanto launched Vineyard Havens in 2019. 

Vacations can heal and no one deserves to rest and relax more than a family in hard times. That’s why Vineyard Havens gives the gift of an all-expenses-paid vacation so families facing the stress and struggles of cancer are able to unwind and reconnect while appreciating the peace, beauty, and tranquility of Martha’s Vineyard. The organization is partnered with the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which recommends families for the program based on their child’s treatment schedule. 

What we’ve done for them: RBP has offered family portrait sessions to the visiting families, giving them an unforgettable experience and leaving them with timeless mementos they can cherish forever. 

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS)

Who they are: MV Community Services responds to the needs of the Martha’s Vineyard community, impacting children, teens, seniors, parents, and all who call the Island home. MVCS is made up of clinicians and social workers, psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, teachers, and volunteers. For over 50 years, MVCS has offered affordable childcare, accessible mental health care, disability support services, domestic and sexual violence support and so much more. 

What we’ve done for them: RBP donated two days of in-studio family portrait sessions to dozens of recipients of MV Community Services programs, giving them a fun family activity and everlasting memento.

As another way to continue to show our appreciation to our Island community, RBP initiated a Client’s Choice donation program where we donate 10% of our 2021 proceeds to those Martha’s Vineyard non-profits our clients have selected. 

We at RBP wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season! If your means allow, please consider donating to one of our Martha’s Vineyard based non-profits. We hope you are able to share joyous moments with those closest to you and reflect on all there is to be grateful for his season!

Reflecting on Summer, and Giving Thanks

It’s hard to believe it’s already October and we’re closing in on the end of the season. As we wind down here on Martha’s Vineyard, we reflect and give thanks.

The 2021 season proved to be different than we expected, but in the end, it was one of the most successful seasons in RBP history. Thanks to my clients, collaborators, and community for not only making it a lucrative one, but a most meaningful one.

To Our Resilient Brides and Grooms, You Deserve Everything.

With COVID forcing many of last year’s weddings to reschedule to 2021, our calendar was packed with even more nuptials. We admire our wedding clients who raised above the stress and hosted some of the most intimate and beautiful events we’ve witnessed.

Microweddings were all the rage, and what they lacked in size and scale they made up for in uniqueness and personalization. Smaller ceremonies meant a lot of extra time with us and the happy couple, while we explored the Island and they basked in that newlywed glow.

To those perseverant couples that were finally able to tie the knot in 2021, we admire your adaptability and commitment to the greatest gift of all, love. We felt even more connected to our couples this year and we wish them a lifetime of happiness! If you can pull off a COVID wedding you’re destined to overcome more of life’s challenges together!

We’re Already Saving The Dates for More Weddings in 2022 and 2023

With so many weddings rescheduled we’re booking further in advance than ever before. This season we met dozens of new couples through engagement photoshoots and secret proposal portraits and we can’t wait to see them in front of our lens again on the big day.

We’re booking up but we always appreciate referrals from our clients!

Family Portraits We’re Even More Fun

There was something about the family dynamics this season that made our family portrait sessions even more special. Perhaps it was the deeper bonds families have been able to form over the last year in a half together. Maybe it was a deeper appreciation of their time on Martha’s Vineyard, but whatever it was, it was in the air and we were soaking it up.

There was so much authenticity, movement, laughter, and love. It was pure joy to witness families being completely present and in tune with one another, it’s a simply magical perk of our job.

Collaborations Within Our Community Filled Our Souls this Season

On Martha’s Vineyard it always goes back to community, and some of our favorite projects of the season were those that allowed us to collaborate with our neighbors and friends and give back to the Island that has given us so much.

Below, Lucy Morrison, of the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank, posed for our story in Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. The Coalition’s goal is to create a housing bank supported by a reliable funding stream that allows for the construction of more affordable housing units for more Island residents. The lack of affordable housing continues to be one of the Island’s most pressing issues and we encourage you to learn more about this important initiative and what you can do to help.

Below is one of my shots that was featured in Bluedot Living, a new magazine published by the Martha’s Vineyard Times, and the first sustainable living magazine on Martha’s Vineyard. As the challenges of climate change continue to confront us at a rapid pace, and the vulnerability of our Island home increases. Bluedot Living presents impactful editorial and strategic solutions on the issues we face, and I am proud to contribute to this important project.

The first annual Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest set sail earlier this month and we were thrilled to capture this inaugural event. Originally slated for spring of 2020 but forced to reschedule due to COVID, this highly anticipated event featured thousands of oysters, a whole lot of wine, and education on the innovative work of our local oyster farmers and the incredible environmental contributions of those beloved bivalves.

Be sure to stay tuned for next year’s event!

Other delicious Martha’s Vineyard collaborations this season included photographing Yommi popsicles and Goldie’s Rotisserie, two companies committed to smart and thoughtful food.

Yommi makes superfood-infused frozen delights that taste as good as they look, and are made with ingredients our bodies love, like blueberry, honey, turmeric, cardamom, and ginger. They’re sold weekly at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market and their freezers can be found in a variety of Island businesses including Morning Glory Farm and Cronig’s Healthy Additions.

Goldie’s Rotisserie is another forward-thinking food purveyor we had the pleasure of photographing this season. Goldie’s serves fresh hot chicken, crispy rotisserie veggies, griddled sandwiches, killer hot dogs, salads, and desserts from their iconic food truck that has become wildly popular since they launched earlier this year.

We’d Be Remiss If We Failed to Mention Our Favorite Shoot of the Season!

We genuinely love spending time with our clients, and one of our most memorable shoots was with a young woman who wanted to gift herself a portrait session. As a twin this year marked the first birthday she would spend without her sister by her side and she wanted to commemorate her independence with a fun, flirty lifestyle shoot around Martha’s Vineyard. Her energy was palpable, her smile was bright (as seen above) and we loved her zest for life and contagious exuberance!

It was a good reminder that every day is a special occasion and a photo session is always a good idea, no matter what milestone you are celebrating.

So send us a message if you’d like to get in front of our camera soon, and remember holidays are fast approaching! Portrait sessions make for great holiday cards and gifts, and we’d love to see you.

2020: The Year of the Fearless Female

This year has presented a tremendous amount of challenges, but it has also created a number of opportunities, especially for those with enterprising spirits. From where we’re sitting we’ve noticed a majority of them have been females.

This year has been a historic one for women. It marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. We saw our first female vice-president-elect in Senator Kamala Harris, AND for the first time in US history, the president-elect has chosen an all-female senior communication team for the White House press staff. It’s some seriously exciting stuff.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the incredible work and adaptability of fellow fearless females has been inspirational and motivational. At Randi Baird Photography everyone from our bookkeeper to our marketing director, and many of our assistants over the last 20 years have been female, and it’s a tremendous point of pride for us. We work hard to continuously cultivate a supportive network of women to not only advance our business but to empower those that help us do it.

This year we’ve had the opportunity to work with several female-owned businesses that have flourished despite the pandemic. Women that have not been deterred by the challenges, but have risen to them. We’ve worked with ladies that have created new and exciting ventures, or have chosen to adapt and pivot their existing business model to better serve their customers during COVID. 

Here we’re showcasing a handful of those female-owned businesses we’ve had the opportunity to partner with this season.

Martha’s Vineyard Made: This new eCommerce destination was created by Rachel Baumrin of Austin Designs and is intended to be a one-stop-shop for users to purchase unique gifts and curated gift boxes made by Martha’s Vineyard creators and artisans. A concept years in the making, Martha’s Vineyard Made finally came to fruition earlier this fall. Due to the pandemic, local artisan’s markets were canceled, and opportunities for our talented friends and neighbors to sell their wares disappeared. 

As an artisan herself, Rachel knew the toll COVID would take on her colleagues, and took it upon herself to get Martha’s Vineyard Made up and running. Randi Baird Photography was hired to provide lifestyle and product images for the website, and we are honored to help display our Island’s beautiful locally made products. We know great photography is crucial to generating online sales and we’re proud to help further support the efforts of our local makers and creators. 

East Sound Lane: Another local maker, Allie Bernstein McElligott, launched East Sound Lane this year, where she handcrafts natural skincare products on-Island. Allie first came to Randi Baird Photography as a wedding client. We photographed her wedding as well as her father and step-mom. When she launched East Sound Lane she contacted RBP to help with her product photography, and we were honored; nothing makes us happier than returning clients, it’s the ultimate compliment of our work. We were thrilled to hear about her new endeavor, and her minimal, plant-based approach to her ingredients, most of which are grown in her family’s garden, pesticide-free. 

Allie grew up spending summers on the Vineyard at her grandparents house, and inherited a passion for plants, flowers and simple skincare from her mother and grandmother. After a career as a newsroom producer, she decided to quit her job and go to culinary school. During that time, instead of cooking food, she adapted the physics and chemistry of cooking and baking to make her own skincare products.  After a few years as a chef, she decided to follow her passion for skincare and go to esthetician school. Once COVID hit her path was clear, and East Sound Lane was born. 

Martha’s Vineyard Escapes: For brides and grooms that wanted to get married in 2020, COVID obviously presented a number of challenges. Instead of rescheduling to 2021, and risking more unforeseen limitations, some couples decided to tie the knot anyway.  Many of them enlisted the help of Martha’s Vineyard Escapes, owned by the dynamic duo of Carol Bliss Furr and Donna Wilmarth. 

This year RBP worked with Carol, who has an innate talent for planning, organizing, and execution, plus years of managerial and leadership positions in business. When COVID hit Carol’s proven resourcefulness and versatility allowed her to continue to produce fabulous events that were still meaningful and especially unique. 

In one of our most memorable weddings of the summer, Carol pulled off a wedding for Trent and Rhonda with 225 (virtual!) guests at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs. We spent hours traveling to iconic locations with this genuine couple, celebrating their love all across Martha’s Vineyard. There might have been less fanfare and far fewer in-person spectators than usual, but there was still so much love and even more intimacy. Thanks to Carol’s core values and exquisite style we were able to share some slightly revised (but still very much magical!) affairs for her clients.

Donnelly and Company: Expanding a business in a new market is tough stuff, made even more complicated by a pandemic. But it didn’t deter Pauline Donnelly, a longtime Boston based real estate agent, from bringing her company to Martha’s Vineyard. Pauline is another fearless female we have had the pleasure of working with over the last several months and we respect her tenacity and extreme professionalism.

Like Randi Baird Photography, Pauline is all about creating a meaningful impact in her work and maintaining a positive culture. We provided headshots and architectural photography for Donnelly and Company and look forward to continuing our work with Pauline and her staff as she flourishes on-Island.

 

Alice Williams Interiors: Alice Williams makes it her mission to create beautiful living environments that fit and reflect each client, their style, and their home. She approaches each project as a full collaboration with her client’s tastes, needs, and resources while adding her personal touches and her discerning professional eye that her clients have come to trust her for. 

We can attest first hand to her collaborative approach. We first met Alice on an architectural photography shoot where we were hired to capture a historic Squibnocket Ridge oceanside home, aerial shots from the outside as well as the entire inside of the home, which had just completed a total interior renovation. Alice brought a carload of props to carefully style and consider each shot, and he worked seamlessly together as a true collaboration.

As Alice says “I believe interiors should be sensitive to the architecture of the house and its surrounding environment, while simultaneously being an expression of its inhabitant’s styles”  and we couldn’t agree more.

We look forward to working alongside these enterprising females in 2021 and remain hopeful for the new year. As 2020 comes to a close, remember to embrace new opportunities and remain grateful for this year’s silver linings.

Everyday Heroes, the resilient men and women serving our community in crisis

In a time when many are hunkered down at home, avoiding the public for each other’s benefit, there are few who brave risk and exposure every day to serve our communities–there are many of our residents, friends, and neighbors running into the fire, not away from it. By employing innovation and creativity, exhibiting strong leadership, adaptability, and relentless determination, these local heroes are stepping up to keep our communities afloat during this pandemic.

As a visual storyteller my photographs have long served to communicate, educate, and inspire. With the pandemic gripping our world I wanted to show the faces of the men and women who are working tirelessly to serve our community. I have begun showcasing these Everyday Heroes, the resilient men, and women serving our community in crisis. I am compelled to capture them in their selfless moments of service, to share their stories and highlight their efforts, and to give a voice to these ‘Faces from the Front Line.’

From the delivery drivers hauling supplies to Martha’s Vineyard, our postal workers ensuring safe deliveries, the grocery store employees stocking the shelves, the school cafeteria workers and pantry volunteers providing meals for our vulnerable families, there is an overwhelming number of people who are serving as critical lifelines to our community. Our collective health and well being is dependent on the actions of these brave individuals who have been deployed to keep us up and running, and who remind us every day how critical it is for us to band together, especially in times of need. Their efforts speak volumes for their character and dedication, and their acts of compassion and generosity serve as a silver lining amid a crisis we will never forget.

Julie Fay, Executive Director Martha’s Vineyard Community Services
As Executive Director Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), the Island’s social service safety net, Julie is at the forefront of maintaining the safety and security of our community’s most vulnerable residents at this critical time. Along with her staff, Julie has created a volunteer coordination program to help match organizations looking for volunteers and volunteers looking to help their community during this difficult time. As of March 16, Julie had organized her patient clinic staff to allow them to work remotely, outfitting them with laptops to provide telehealth services so that they could transition from seeing clients in-person to clients over the phone. The agency contacted their entire caseload, calling clients daily to check-in and reinforce the agency’s support. Says Julie “I’m so proud of my staff and so grateful for the team spirit and the embrace of the challenges of this pandemic.” ⠀

Matt Dix, Island Grown Initiative Farm Director
Matt Dix, Island Grown Initiative (IGI) Farm Director, has long been committed to building a regenerative, equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard, and never before have his efforts mattered more. As our global food chains become weakened Matt and IGI are implementing several new processes, including utilizing a new tunnel to begin seedlings, taking a regenerative approach to what they’re growing inside the greenhouse, and ramping up food production earlier in the season than they have in previous years. According to Matt the silver lining in all this is that “it’s giving the Island growers incentive to ramp up food production to see if we can feed our community.”

Tara Lewis, Postmaster of West Tisbury
Mail delivery has always been essential to our Island community, but today Tara’s work, and those of all postal employees, has become more important than ever. “People need to get their medicine and salary checks. On this island, it is difficult to get goods because most of the stores are closed so people really depend on the mail for delivery.” Tara’s everyday efforts have been amplified by increased demands on the mail system along with added concerns about keeping her facility safe and clean while adhering to CDC and government guidelines. “I’m just happy to be getting people what they need.”

Warren Holmberg, Pharmacist and Owner at Leslie’s Drug
As Pharmacist and Owner at Leslie’s Drug, Warren Holmberg is serving a vital role. These days this Everyday Hero stays busy fulfilling prescriptions for the Island community, including the influx of seasonal residents and is adapting by preparing medicine for curbside pick up. Early on, the hospital invited Warren and all Island pharmacies to a conference call in order to establish safety guidelines and protocol should a COVID-19 patient need medication. After the phone call he was relieved and comforted by the hospital’s communication and thoughtful strategic plan. Warren will stay open as long as he can and is committed to serving his community. Clearly his passion for pharmacy runs deep, marked by his Bowl of Hygieia tattoo.

Jenny DeVivo, Head Chef, Cafeteria Director Up-Island Schools
We always knew Jenny was an Everyday Hero, and it’s more evident than ever. Jenny and her lunch lady crew at the West Tisbury School prepare over 1000 meals a week to Island children and families for curbside pick up, an increase from 500 meals when school was first canceled due to the virus. This powerhouse has always encouraged healthy and thoughtful eating, and now she’s providing that experience for the kids to enjoy at home. An ever optimist, Jenny believes that the silver linings in all of this is that we learn that we can make do with less and that we come to truly appreciate that food is love and giving is powerful. She says “I feed my soul by feeding others,” the Island has never appreciated her more. 

Elio Silva, owner of Vineyard Grocer, Island Entrepreneur
As the threat of the virus began to take hold Elio listened to the community, and recognized the newfound fear associated with grocery shopping. He quickly implemented an online ordering system and began offering delivery and curbside pick up, so people didn’t have to risk their health to get food. He started using masks in the store one week before the order went into effect and manages a food chain that brings food from off-Island 4-5 times a week. He is buying 40% more food than he did last year and he’s not slowing down. Elio believes “we never have a problem, we have an opportunity to create a solution. We might have a situation, but there is never a problem. There is an opportunity to create a solution.” 

John Goeckel, Vineyard Haven Police Department
Officer John Goeckel of the Tisbury Police Department is used to life on the frontline, but these days it looks a lot different. This Everyday Hero continues to serve and protect while limiting face to face interactions, embracing more phone communications,  and taking precautions at every turn. Despite the changes, Officer Goeckel is committed to duty and stressed that the police department is ready and willing to help the community, no matter what.

Kayte Morris, Executive Director of Island Food Pantry
Kayte is on the front lines of hunger relief on Martha’s Vineyard, and today she finds herself meeting unprecedented demand for the Pantry’s services. Visits to the Pantry have doubled since the beginning of March, and Kayte’s biggest challenge is keeping food on the shelves, up to 56,000 pounds of food a month, plus tackling the logistical challenges of transporting, storing, and distributing that amount of food. Kayte has seen a tremendous amount of community support for the Pantry, more than she ever could’ve imagined. “When nearly all of our volunteers had to step down (most of which are retired and older), a whole new crew of volunteers popped up and stepped in. New donors have come forward with levels of support we’ve never seen before.” 

Georgia Maroni, Administrator Coordinator for Island Grown Initiative, Waitress at Lookout Tavern
Due to the pandemic Georgia has been working at the Island Food Pantry for the last three weeks and has been coordinating deliveries for seniors and home-bound families. She’s set up deliveries for over 100 Islanders. This Everyday Hero has taken on the stress of the world, and our community, and is also worried about her own financial security, as she’s already lost at least a month’s pay at her restaurant job, which remains closed because of the virus. On the bright side, she is happy to see the restructuring of our food chain. Georgia believes “our food should get more localized. It’s what everyone was hoping would happen and I think this will stick with people for a long time.”

Juli Vanderhoop, Selectwomen for the town of Aquinnah and owner of Orange Peel Bakery
Juli has long served as an active member of our Island community, so it’s no surprise she’s risen to the occasion in this critical time of need. This Everyday Hero is used to feeding others through her bakery and cafe, but these days she’s running a makeshift bodega, providing a grocery service to 60 up-Island families. Back in March Juli was worried about her 89-year old mother getting food, and realized there were many others including elders who may not want or be able to go to the grocery store. Once she started providing food for her family, Juli was encouraged to take it one step further and provide for her larger community. She implemented an order-by-text system and places orders twice a week with her wholesale distributor. The community is so thankful and she’s so happy to be able to provide for them. As her neighbor said “don’t you fall Juli, because you are holding up this community.” 

Michael Barnes, delivery driver for Island Food Pantry
Three days a week Mike travels from Martha’s Vineyard to pick up food in New Bedford from the Greater Boston Food Bank, and delivers it to the Island Food Pantry, which distributes it to local families in need. This Everyday Hero started making the trips three years ago, which he initially did once a week, then twice a week, now three times a week. Before the pandemic, Mike would travel to New Bedford alone and workers there would assist him in loading food onto his truck. These days his wife and two sons join him on his ride to help reduce contact with others, and his healthy, strong family is taking the necessary steps to be safe. He’s amazed at the work his kids are doing and is grateful for their help.

Mercedes Fererra, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Food Service Director
Mercedes has been offering school lunch and breakfast since the shelter in place order took effect, and the demand for meals has steadily increased. Recently she implemented a new system to reduce contact, and families can pick up food twice a week instead of daily, and still receive the same amount of food. Orders are placed online and picked up on Mondays and Thursdays. This Everyday Hero is thankful for her suppliers including Island Food Products, Sysco, and ITC Distributors, and our community is thankful for her.