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Randi Baird

Randi Baird

Through the Lens of Generosity: Giving Back on Martha’s Vineyard

As we embrace the season of giving, our connection to Martha’s Vineyard and its tight-knit community continues to deepen. Over the past three decades, our journey as photographers has become intertwined with many local nonprofits as we capture their dedication and impact. This year, for Giving Tuesday, we’re highlighting familiar nonprofits and embracing new partnerships, broadening our understanding and impact on the island. We have the pleasure of collaborating with many of these local nonprofits, working side by side to tell their stories and contribute to their guiding missions. 

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Randi Baird Photography offers discounted and in-kind photography services, and we extend our commitment by volunteering time with local organizations that resonate deeply with us. This dual engagement, both professionally and personally, allows us to cultivate stronger ties within the Martha’s Vineyard community, reinforcing our gratitude for the interconnectedness of our work and personal passions. This Giving Tuesday, we spotlight organizations close to our hearts, sharing the stories of those who inspire us and make a real difference in our community.

Island Grown Initiative

Who they are:

Island Grown Initiative (IGI) stands at the forefront of building a regenerative and equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard. With a focus on increasing local food production and distribution, reducing food waste, and expanding access to healthy food, IGI continues to make a substantial impact.

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2023 Achievements:

In the past year, IGI celebrated significant milestones and growth, securing a permanent home for the Food Pantry on Dukes County Avenue in Oak Bluffs. This new location enables more efficient food distribution and storage of healthy meals. During the successful inaugural year of their commercial kitchen, they provided 60,000 prepared meals to organizations such as Hospice, Island Elderly Housing, and the Food Pantry. The kitchen expansion also extended the Community Lunch Program, providing nutritious meals for an extended duration. IGI is also enhancing its operational capacity by constructing staff housing at their Farm, which is scheduled for completion next spring. 

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IGI’s unwavering commitment to the community is reflected in the numbers:

  • Serving a record 4,200 registered clients at the Island Food Pantry, responding to the challenges posed by rising housing, fuel, and food costs and the seasonal economy’s impact on Island families.
  • Preparing and distributing 60,000 healthy, nutrient-rich meals across the Island.
  • Distributing 15,000 community lunches for school-aged children during the summer, with plans to increase to 18,500 in 2024.
  • Cultivating 100,000 pounds of produce at the Island Grown Farm.
  • Gleaning over 60,000 pounds of food for distribution.
  • Educating over 2,500 children aged 2-18 about healthy food, fostering a connection to its growth, preparation, and significance in history and culture through lessons in 7 public schools and 10 preschools.

 

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Our Involvement:

As a founding member and former Board President of IGI, Randi has been actively engaged since its inception in 2006. Currently chairing the building committee for the organization’s next chapter, our photography services have illustrated the extent of IGI’s impactful work, featured across their website, blog, social media, and press.

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How You Can Support:

To sustain their impactful work, IGI is seeking support for crucial projects:

  • Funding for food purchases, with the Greater Boston Food Bank reducing supplies to the Vineyard, increasing the need for purchasing locally.
  • A $10,000 fundraising goal for a new farm equipment piece vital for maintaining regenerative agriculture practices that contribute to carbon drawdown and mitigating climate change.

 

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Consider donating to IGI to contribute to their ongoing efforts in building a sustainable food system for Martha’s Vineyard. Your support can also extend to volunteering, which fuels the organization’s mission. With a track record of 6,350 volunteer hours last year alone, your time can significantly impact the community through activities such as gleaning and food processing. 

Vineyard Havens

Who they are:

Vineyard Havens, founded in 2019 by Jeanne DeSanto, is a compassionate organization that provides respite to families facing the challenges of cancer. Hosting families of adult and pediatric cancer patients in homes on Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Havens offers all-expenses-paid vacations, allowing families to unwind, reconnect, and find solace in the tranquility of the island. 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.

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2023 Achievements:

In 2023, Vineyard Havens broadened its impact by serving 30 families, including patients as young as 5 and adults up to 75. This translated to over 200 adults and children benefiting from the healing power of a Vineyard Havens vacation this year!

Vineyard Havens introduced “Island Dreams,” allowing pediatric patients to choose a life-changing experience, such as a biplane ride, a sunset catamaran cruise, or a special meal prepared by a chef in the vacation house. The organization recognizes that peace and happiness during medical trauma are protective, and their goal is to build memories and foster resilience throughout the entire family system.

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Our Involvement:

Our commitment to Vineyard Havens has been expressed through family portrait sessions offered to each visiting family. These sessions give families a memorable experience and leave them with timeless mementos to cherish.

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How You Can Support:

Vineyard Havens aims to make Island Dreams a reality for every child impacted by cancer, including those with a parent undergoing treatment. Each Island Dream costs $550, and the organization seeks to raise $8,000 to fulfill this goal.

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Consider donating to Vineyard Havens, where any contribution, large or small, can make a significant impact. A donation of $1,900 sponsors 100% of a deserving family’s vacation in a donated property. Your contributions can support specific needs, such as Round Trip Ferry Tickets, Professional Beach Photos, or a Family Stipend. Additionally, if you own a home on Martha’s Vineyard, consider becoming a Vineyard Havens family home donor by giving away an open rental week for free or at a discount. The organization welcomes more homes to meet the growing demand and provide much-needed havens for families in their time of need.

Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group

Who they are:

The Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, Inc. stands as a beacon of collaboration, working closely with the Shellfish Departments of all six towns on Martha’s Vineyard and a dedicated team of staff biologists. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, MVSG has been at the forefront for over 40 years, striving to preserve and expand the Island’s traditional shellfisheries.

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MVSG’s mission revolves around preserving and growing the Island’s shellfisheries through innovative aquaculture technology, habitat restoration projects, and maintaining excellent surface water quality. By growing native shellfish species, including quahogs, oysters, and bay scallops, in hatchery every summer, MVSG ensures a healthy shellfish population for both commercial and recreational purposes. The group is committed to ongoing efforts such as the shell recycling program for the oyster population, habitat restoration in The Great Ponds, and the eelgrass restoration project benefiting the bay scallop habitat.

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Recent Achievements:

Last year, MVSG achieved significant milestones, showcasing its dedication to the Island’s shellfish ecosystem. The team and volunteers reclaimed almost 2,000 eelgrass shoots, replanting them into nursery rafts in Lagoon Pond. Over 1,000 eelgrass seeds were planted in the hatchery, contributing to restoring this vital seagrass. The Shell Recovery Partnership collected 6,325 gallons of shell from local restaurants, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, and repurposed it for oyster habitat restoration in The Great Ponds. The revival of the Bivalve Ball, MVSG’s fundraiser, added a festive touch to their accomplishments, raising awareness and support for their crucial initiatives.

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Our Involvement:

Recently, we had the privilege of collaborating with MVSG for a feature on native oysters in the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. This article delves into the challenges and triumphs of Martha’s Vineyard’s native oysters, shedding light on their resilience and hopeful signs of recovery. 

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How You Can Support:

Consider contributing to MVSG’s mission by getting involved in their initiatives. Support their shell recycling program, volunteer for habitat restoration projects, or attend fundraising events like the Bivalve Ball. You can also donate online and play a vital role in ensuring the Island’s thriving and sustainable shellfish ecosystem.

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Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center: Connecting Hearts, Empowering Lives

Who they are:

Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center remains a beacon of inclusive equine-assisted enrichment programs, embracing individuals of all ages and abilities. Within their nurturing environment, horses and humans collaborate to forge relationships, surmount challenges, and discover unconditional acceptance, peace, and strength. Their distinctive programs focus on building mental, emotional, and physical connections through non-verbal communication, encompassing observation, unmounted groundwork, and riding experiences. This year, Misty Meadows has connected with an estimated 7,000 people through outreach and education activities, as well as direct service programs, with the support of an impressive roster of 170 active volunteers contributing an estimated 6,000 hours.

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2023 Achievements:

The impact of Misty Meadows has grown exponentially, collaborating with 36 island organizations—10 more than the previous year. Notably, they have enhanced accessibility by installing a mounting ramp and mechanical lift for individuals with mobility impairments. Their commitment to excellence was recognized nationally as Noble, the wise elder of their equine herd, was nominated as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Equine of the Year and emerged victorious. Connection and collaboration are at the core of Misty Meadows’ success.

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Our Involvement:

Our journey with Misty Meadows began in 2016, photographing their programs and the unique bond between staff, students, and the herd. Over the years, our commitment has deepened—we’ve volunteered to support their fundraising events, and Randi joined the Board of Directors in 2020. This year, our collaboration with Misty Meadows reached new heights through a spectacular fundraising event featuring Emily Blunt, Geraldine Brooks, and Christy Cashman.

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How You Can Support:

Consider donating to Misty Meadows, as their transformative equine-assisted programs are subsidized at 82% of the actual cost. Your contributions play a vital role in sustaining their mission. Additionally, they welcome friendly, dedicated individuals to join their team of volunteers, with have various positions available and no prior horse experience required. Another simple way to support is shopping through AmazonSmile, where a portion of your purchases goes to Misty Meadows. Explore Misty’s AmazonSmile Wishlist to contribute to their essential equipment needs. Your support ensures their continued commitment to affordability and accessibility for all students and partners while responsibly caring for their herd and farm. 

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Island Housing Trust

Who they are:

The Island Housing Trust (IHT) is a beacon of hope and opportunity for Martha’s Vineyard, a non-profit organization committed to creating and sustaining permanently affordable housing solutions, catering to rental and ownership needs. Over the past 18 years, IHT has provided dignity and stability to hundreds of low, moderate, and middle-income Island families, having sold and rented 152 homes and apartments. 

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2023 Achievements:

The year began with over 60 island residents and their families moving into the new Kuehn’s Way neighborhood, featuring 20 rental apartments in Tisbury off State Road, completed at the end of 2022. 

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IHT also achieved a significant milestone by breaking ground on four new, permanently affordable year-round rental apartments in Aquinnah.

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These homes, built in collaboration with the Town of Aquinnah on town-owned land, are nestled behind the town hall on Carl Widiss Way. Each building on the Aquinnah town-owned site will house 2 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom apartments, offering private, tucked-away residences with direct access to town center amenities, including a newly installed playground, a planned community food forest, and a small gazebo for communal gatherings. This endeavor exemplifies IHT’s commitment to expanding affordable housing options while fostering community spaces.

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Our Involvement:

Since IHT’s inception, we have created content that illustrates their mission through staff and Board headshots and architectural photography. From final builds to ribbon cuttings, our photography has been instrumental in promoting IHT’s mission and creating awareness among potential donors and the general public.

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How You Can Support:

The road ahead for IHT is ambitious, aiming to create 150 additional year-round ownership and rental homes by the end of 2025, totaling a $60 million challenge. Efforts are underway in Oak Bluffs, where 60 rental apartments and a community center are in progress. Additionally, in Edgartown, IHT is building 40 rental and ownership homes and a community center close to the town center. Your support is crucial in achieving this goal and addressing nearly half of Martha’s Vineyard’s housing needs.

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Consider donating with a one-time or multi-year pledge, or look at their multiple investment options. Your investment in IHT, whether through financial support or volunteering, will play a vital role in sustaining affordable housing solutions and fostering a thriving and diverse community on Martha’s Vineyard.

MV Boys and Girls Club

Who They Are:

The Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club is a cornerstone of support for island youth, providing a safe and engaging space for all, with a particular focus on those who need it most. Approximately 45% of the island’s K-8 population and families rely on the club for healthy meals, recreational activities, and academic support. While the club plays a vital role in various community aspects, our work with them this year centered specifically on the essential healthy meals they provide to the community.

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2023 Achievements:

In 2023, the after-school program, led by Food Security Director Jenny DeVivo, continued to offer culinary classes that educate members on health, wellness, and proper nutrition. The club emphasizes food rescue, teaching the value of fighting food waste, and collaborates with local farms to diversify its menu. Jenny’s weekly food rescue adventures at Cronig’s Market ensure a variety of fresh and rescued produce for club members. Rescued food constitutes a significant portion of daily snacks and meals, fostering healthy eating habits among members. The innovative Blue Door Pantry, stocked with non-perishable items and hygiene products, supports families facing rising food prices and housing costs.

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Our Involvement:

Recently, we collaborated with the Boys & Girls Club to feature Food Security Director Jenny DeVivo in an article for Bluedot Living Magazine. The story explores the club’s efforts in food rescue, shedding light on the challenges and triumphs of sourcing and providing healthy meals for the community.

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How You Can Support:

Support the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club by donating! Stay informed about their projects and initiatives, spreading awareness about the importance of community support and sustainable food practices. You can also volunteer, and your involvement can impact the lives of island youth and their families.

 

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As we share the impactful stories of Martha’s Vineyard’s community organizations, we want to highlight another dimension of our commitment to giving back. In 2021, RBP launched our Families Choice program, where clients choose a non-profit they wish to support. Our program allows us to extend our support for island organizations by contributing 10% of our annual proceeds at the end of each year. By weaving this program into our business, we aim to underscore our dedication to tell these stories and actively participate in the betterment of Martha’s Vineyard.