Philanthropy A to Z
Philanthropy A to Z
Showcasing Cape Cod’s nonprofit organizations from A to Z.
- A – A Baby Center
- B – Big Brothers Big Sisters
- C – Cape Cod Daring Dolphin Rescue
- D – Dogs: MSPCA
- E – Environments: Mass Audubon Society & Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries
- F – Family Pantry of Cape Cod
- G – Gosnold
- H – Habitat for Humanity
- I – Island Housing Trust
- J – Jazz, Jams & Jokes
- K – Katelynn’s Closet
- L – Lyme Awareness
- M – Main Streets
- N – Neighborhood Falmouth
- O – Osterville Village Library
- P – Professionals: Cape Cod Young Professionals
- Q – Quadricentennial Commemoration
- R – Resilience
- S – Seaside Le Mans
- T – Troops: Cape Cod Cares for the Troops
- U – United Way
- V – Volunteer: AmeriCorps
- W – WE CAN
- X – Xs and Os: Flower Angels
- Y – YMCA
- Z – Zion Union Heritage Museum
A – A Baby Center
Text by Allyson Plessner
“When a baby is happy, the whole family is happy. And, when they’re miserable? Well, the whole family is pretty miserable too,” laughs Robin Hayward, director of A Baby Center. Founded 20 years ago, A Baby Center used to operate out of a closet where a group of people of faith who saw a real need in their community would collect diapers, wipes and other infant necessities to distribute to struggling families. In that first month, the group expected to help maybe 500 babies a year. Today, A Baby Center, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit program of the Cape Cod Council of Churches, serves around 500 babies a month out of their location in Hyannis.
“Our mission is to partner with other local organizations to make sure that the needs for families with babies are met. We hope that by relieving the stress of purchasing baby necessities, we can help build happier, healthier families in the community who have the opportunity to bond with and care for their children without worrying about making difficult decisions like whether to buy food or diapers for the week,” says Hayward. Qualifying families can visit A Baby Center once every 30 days for supplies like diapers, wipes, and food. The center also provides each child with four to five premade outfits along with a book and small toy, and has apparatuses like strollers and highchairs available as well. The Center refers to WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) guidelines to determine if a family is financially eligible for A Baby Center’s services, but as Hayward explains, “We don’t say no to people in need. There are many different ways that people can qualify.”
Before the recent coronavirus pandemic, families in need would visit A Baby Center for an initial “intake” appointment, where the staff would determine the family’s needs and begin to build a relationship with them. With new restrictions in place, A Baby Center is currently operating as a walk-up service center. “That’s what people need right now,” says Hayward, explaining that families in need of extended services can still call to speak with someone at the center.
“Families that were already in crisis were hit hard by the pandemic,” continues Hayward. “Before, we would give a family one-week’s worth of diapers at a time. Now, we’ve doubled the amount of diapers, wipes and formula that we hand out.” In fact, A Baby Center has stocked up on so many supplies for those in need that they outgrew their storage area. There’s now an entire hangar at the Hyannis airport filled with boxes of diapers, thanks to the generosity of Cape Air.
“I love meeting new people and creating new partnerships throughout our community,” says Hayward about her role at A Baby Center. “Our partnership with Cape Cod Healthcare allows me to give families car seats; our relationship with Cape Air lets me give out enough diapers to get people through the pandemic. To see a family that’s been struggling leave our center with a smile on their face is so rewarding.”
To learn more about A Baby Center, visit ababycenter.org. And, visit shop.capecodlife.com, their website or your local gift shop to purchase a Marieluise Hutchinson Christmas card or ceramic tile and support A Baby Center’s holiday fundraiser.
B – Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Text by Christina Galt
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cape and Islands was founded in 1974 and has been serving the community of Cape Cod for 45 years. As a youth mentoring agency, they match children in the community with a caring local adult volunteer, who will act as their mentor.
At present, the organization runs three programs: their community-based program, site-based program and their campus-based program. The community-based program, their “traditional program”, sees “Bigs and Littles” get together two to three times a month, go out into the community and participate in activities that are free or low cost. Their site-based program, developed over the past five years, allows Big Brothers Big Sisters to partner with local elementary schools in high need areas, while also working with local employers who’s employees take their lunch break to be a mentor to a Little once a week during the school year. The last program that they run is their campus-based program, where they partner with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, pairing 55 children from Bourne and Wareham with a cadet Big Brother or Big Sister.
Before entering into the program as a Big, adult volunteers must first undergo background checks and an in-person interview with a staff member at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Currently, these interviews are virtual due to COVID-19. The imbalance of male to female volunteers is one that Big Brothers Big Sisters is often trying to level in the hopes of providing more male role models for young boys. “Boys are referred to us at a rate four times greater than girls,” explains Regional Director J.R. Mell. “In contrast, for every male volunteer, four female volunteers sign up.”
In addition to volunteers, the organization also relies on the support of donors. This year, like so many nonprofits, Big Brothers Big Sisters had to cancel many of their fundraising events. However, the organization continues to support youth across the region, pairing about 400 children throughout the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard with a Big Brother or Big Sister.
C – Cape Cod Daring Dolphin Rescue
Text by Elizabeth Shaw
While it’s sharks and seals who make the headlines here on the Cape, there are surprising populations of dolphins, whales and other sea mammals that populate the waters of the National Seashore and Cape Cod Bay. Unfortunately, due to tricky tides and other factors, these animals have a difficult time navigating these waters and strand themselves on Cape Cod beaches. Luckily, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research (MMRR) team is doing everything they can to help, and to figure out the causes of such stranding events.
Stranding Coordinator Misty Niemeyer says there is no such thing as an average day for her and the team at the IFAW, “It’s incredibly unpredictable. We’re always prepared for anything to happen.” The agency is authorized to handle all mammal stranding responses, helping whales, dolphins, seals and porpoises, working from Cape Cod Bay up to Plymouth and down to the Rhode Island boarder. While the main goal is to get the stranded animals back into the wild water, the team does so much more. Some rescues need a little more care and attention, with transfer to a rehabilitation facility being required before release, while other calls are due to deceased animals on the beach. These types of strandings present opportunities to study the animal, their species and cause of death, whether it was natural or the result of human interaction, such as entanglement or a vessel strike. The team uses their time with the animals to research and investigate the causes of stranding, as well as other environmental factors and trends, that they can’t study as easily when the animals are out in the wild. Combining the research from live and dead stranding responses, IFAW is able to put together the pieces of the puzzle to see the larger picture. “Marine mammals are very difficult to study, given the environment they live in,” Niemeyer explains. “So stranded animals give insight into what’s going on with the health of the populations, and they’re great sentinels for ocean health.”
In the last three years, the IFAW has seen record numbers of strandings. The average number per year is 262 and last year alone, the organization handled 477 strandings. Niemeyer says 2020 is shaping up to have less strandings than last year, though still much higher than average, all while dealing with the pandemic and modified procedures. She also notes that changes in stranding patterns have occurred, making them even less predictable than before. But the work doesn’t stop after an animal is rescued. Niemeyer and her team are consistently maintaining equipment, training volunteers and working through data collected during rescues, all while anticipating a call, whether for a dead whale, a stranded seal or a pod of 45 dolphins stranded in Wellfleet (which was a call the team received in August of 2020). “It’s so much more than going out and rescuing or examining an animal, there’s a lot more to it to make sure we’re doing it correctly and getting the information needed out there,” she says.
Cape Cod Bay is in the top three places where dolphin strandings occur across the world, with a quarter of all U.S live dolphin strandings happening here, due to complicated topography and drastic tides. The I in IFAW does stand for International, and Niemeyer and the team work closely with other organizations across the world to study and learn as much as they can from stranded animals. Niemeyer says they wouldn’t be able to help these animals if it weren’t for local community partners and volunteers, including town harbormasters and departments of resources, as well as other Cape based wildlife agencies.
Niemeyer says the most important thing anyone who comes across a stranded animal can do is call the team’s hotline, 508-743-9548. Visit ifaw.org/stranding to learn more about what to do if you encounter a stranded animal.
D – Dogs: MSPCA
Text by Christina Galt
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), founded in 1868, was one of the first independent, humane nonprofits in the country. Their goal is to enhance the lives and treatment of all animals by rescuing, rehabilitating, protecting and advocating across Massachusetts and beyond. The MSPCA first came to the Cape in 1935 and opened the Cape Cod Animal Shelter in Centerville: MSPCA-Angell; recently they expanded with a new Cape Cod Adoption Center in 2018.
The MSPCA of Cape Cod’s Humane Education Programs offers unique ways to engage the local community. Tales for Tails is the sweetest way to get your children involved; this program allows children ages six to 12 to read to the shelter animals who need companionship. Not only are you allowing your children to foster a love for reading and animals, you are also giving them a sense of responsibility. “Little Bookworms” Story Time and Cape Cod Children’s Museum Summer Program for Homeless Animals are also great programs for children and families.
MSPCA-Angell’s Hyannis Outreach Program offers a variety of resources for animals and owners on Cape Cod such as low-cost spaying and neutering services for cats and dogs. They also provide free pet food, pet care supplies, a behavior hotline, personalized behavior consultants, transportation to vet appointments and pop-up neighborhood vaccination clinics.
If you’re looking to get involved at the MSPCA of Cape Cod you can become a volunteer, foster an animal, become a monthly donor or even sponsor a cage. Make sure to check out the website or call the adoption center to find out about any future fundraising events!
To learn more about the MSPCA’s Cape Cod Adoption Center, their adoptable animals and donations call 508-775-0940 or visit mspca.org. The MSPCA Cape Cod Adoption Center is located at 1557 Falmouth Road in Centerville.
E – Environments: Mass Audubon Society & Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries
Text by Sarah Tietje-Mietz
The iconic landscape of Cape Cod is a reason so many hold this region dear. Thankfully, Mass Audubon and Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries are ensuring that the distinct environments, and the flora and fauna found within, will be preserved and conserved for generations to come.
Established 124 years ago “to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and for wildlife,” Mass Audubon safeguards over 38,000 acres throughout the state, including six sanctuary sites open to the public on the Cape, two on Nantucket and one on Martha’s Vineyard. These protected environments are conduits for creating the lasting relationships that help ensure their protection. Ian Ives, sanctuary director at Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable, says that “Once you fall in love with nature, then you feel the responsibility to care for it. And, so much of what Mass Audubon does is about connecting people with nature.”
Mass Audubon creates these connections through robust public programming, partnerships with local schools and organizations, and even establishing a licensed nature preschool at Long Pasture that runs fall to spring. Trail systems through the sanctuaries provide visitors a front-row experience to the unique Cape Cod ecosystems. Lush marshes, sandy beaches and woodlands are filled with opportunities to catch glimpses of dragonflies, turtles, birds and more. If boots-on-the-ground and get-your-hands-dirty volunteering is for you, Mass Audubon is always looking for help with various activities including summer visitor services docents, ecological management like native plant gardening, wildlife surveys and a host of property-related help.
For Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries, the connection with Mass Audubon goes deeper than their shared focus on conservation. It was Mass Audubon that assisted Salt Pond Founder, Ermine Watkins Lovell, in establishing the Salt Pond committee within Mass Audubon in 1960. Once Lovell established a separate nonprofit, the lands previously overseen by the committee went to Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries. Focused on the Falmouth area, they own and oversee multiple properties, around 250 acres in total. From the wave-battered crag of the Knob in Woods Hole to the pastoral trails winding through historic Bourne Farm in West Falmouth, Salt Pond has dedicated their efforts to “preserving and maintaining open space in Falmouth” since incorporating as a nonprofit in 1962.
Katharine M. Taylor, Salt Pond’s executive director who has been with the organization since 1997, credits their spaces with providing the ideal environments for kids to disconnect from the digital and connect with the spectacular natural world around them. With just two full-time and two part-time staff members, including land stewards, Taylor says that they are always looking for dedicated volunteers to lead nature walks, join the board, fundraise and assist with hallmark events like pumpkin day at Bourne Farm.
Looking towards the future, Mass Audubon and Salt Pond see the work they do for the Cape Cod communities expanding. At Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, a brand-new discovery center will be opening for public use next April, while the Knob will be undertaking repairs to the protective outer rock revetment. Both projects are essential enhancements for the sites, and are made possible through the generosity of donors, with fundraising efforts still ongoing.
F – Family Pantry of Cape Cod
Text by Elizabeth Shaw
The Family Pantry of Cape Cod has been providing food security to those in need on the Cape since 1989. What started as a food drive on the Fourth of July that year has turned into the Cape’s largest food pantry. Programs include the full food pantry, a mobile meal distribution service, the Second Glance Thrift Shop and a satellite pantry out of Cape Cod Community College. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all food distribution is being done curbside, keeping with social distancing guidelines.
The Pantry aims to provide food for everyone and anyone in need and, over the course of their 30-year history, have expanded their programs to help as many people as possible. The Pantry is a “choice pantry”, meaning that clients can pick whatever food they’d like, rather than receiving pre-bagged food. Thanks to their partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, as well as their production garden built in 2011, the Pantry is able to provide nutritious food with a large selection of fresh produce, meats and other foods, as well as canned and packaged items.
Second Glance Thrift Shop’s new Donation Center, located at the rear of the store’s building, is accepting gently used men’s and women’s clothing, as well as jewelry, artwork, small appliances, and house and kitchen wares on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8-10 am. The Healthy Meals in Motion Mobile Food Pantry program partners with the Councils on Aging in Dennis, Brewster, Chatham, Eastham and Provincetown to provide healthy, nutritious meals to senior citizens through a monthly food distribution. They have also partnered with the Barnstable County Public Health Nurses to create a program for the general public centered around the impact of healthy eating and nutrition on diabetes and hypertension.
For more information and to find out how to help, visit thefamilypantry.com.
G – Gosnold
Text by Christina Galt
Gosnold was founded on Cape Cod in 1972 and has since grown to become an award-winning, nationally accredited nonprofit leader in the prevention, recovery and treatment of substance use disorders. The organization offers a full continuum of care at multiple facilities, beginning with Gosnold Treatment Center in Falmouth, which provides medically-monitored detoxification. Trained staff work closely with patients to treat their individual needs, while offering counseling, education and more to ensure their patients are on the right path to recovery.
Gosnold also has three residential programs. Its first residential housing facility, Emerson House, opened in 1974. Today, Emerson House is an extended care facility for women located in historic West Falmouth, just a mile from the beach. Emerson House also has a separate facility for pregnant or postpartum women on the property called the Emerson House Cottage where new mothers can have their babies with them while being supported by peers and staff, allowing them to focus on their own recovery.
The Miller House is Gosnold’s residential program for men that offers extended care and clinical services, and Gosnold at Cataumet provides inpatient rehabilitation services for men and women with substance use disorders. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, the team offers personalized care for each patient in a safe and comfortable environment. Gosnold also has sober living locations across the Cape, which offer a supportive living environment for those who may need further support on the road to recovery.
All Gosnold facilities are safe, operational and still accepting new patients in the wake of COVID-19. They are taking all necessary steps to protect their patients and staff from the spread of disease and are currently offering Virtual Partial Hospitalization Programs to patients in Massachusetts.
For more information about Gosnold and their programs please call 800-444-1554 or visit gosnold.org.
H – Habitat for Humanity
Text by Brenna Collins
Since 1988, Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod has been building the foundation for new opportunities one home at a time. With endless success stories and over 150 homes built, Habitat’s work surely strengthens our local community, and their effort is the catalyst that lets people continue to call Cape Cod their home for years to come.
“I personally am drawn to the mission of building affordable homes. I have lived on Cape Cod for 35 years and seen less and less available young families. I don’t want it to turn into a place only the wealthy can afford; the Cape is such a beautiful place to raise a family. This never feels like work, no matter how busy we are. There’s something so exciting about making a difference,” Executive Director Wendy Cullinan says.
Habitat’s work is very much ongoing, with seven homes in the building process in Brewster and others underway in Wellfleet, Mashpee, and Orleans. Over the years, Habitat has built homes in all 15 towns on the Cape. “We currently have a 14-home site in Brewster. Seven homes are finished, and the rest will be completed in the next month or two. You drive up there and see the first finished homes, and it’s so inspiring because it’s so well-kept. There’s a sense of family; there’s so much pride in ownership. When we get up into the circle where we’re finishing the remaining homes, it’s pretty amazing. These are everyday people on Cape Cod that deserve to live here,” Cullinan shares.
Each home is built with care and the intention of affordability. Habitat builds to LEED standards and is a leader in building “green” on the Cape. “Our homes are equipped with solar panels, air to air non-combustion heat pumps to cool and heat the home, and we get HERS ratings of below net zero,” Cullinan describes. Building to last for these families is a top-priority, and the same effort is put into ensuring the homes are environmentally friendly for a greener future.
Once property is secured from the town, numerous applications are submitted, and those who qualify are pooled and selected at random. Each build can take between 10 and 12 months, and the homeowners are required to put in 250 hours building alongside volunteers.
ReStore, Habitat’s retail branch, takes household items and building supplies as donations and sells them to the public. Either of their two locations in Falmouth and South Yarmouth are worth visiting.
As the summer season picked back up, so did Habitat, slowly bringing staff back to their South Yarmouth office and opening both ReStore locations with extra precautions. Back on building sites, the volunteers are working with extra health precautions as well. “We found a way to make things work because our volunteers really want to keep building, and there is work to be done,” Cullinan notes. Though currently closed to volunteer sign ups, ReStore is still taking donations. Next year, their plans continue expanding, with six homes slotted to begin building in Harwich, and 10 in Falmouth.
In order to keep young people here, there must be affordable, comfortable places for them to live. Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod sees this shortage firsthand and continues to provide the solution. As Cullinan believes, “there should be a way for everyone to stay here.”
For more information, head to habitatcapecod.org.
I – Island Housing Trust
Text by Elizabeth Kastelein
“Crisis has a way of sharpening focus and bringing into stark relief the things that matter,” says Philippe Jordi, Executive Director of Island Housing Trust. Island Housing Trust (IHT), a nonprofit community land trust located on Martha’s Vineyard, aims to support a diverse community by offering affordable housing for rent and ownership across the six towns on the Island.
Martha’s Vineyard has a significant affordable housing problem. In fact, Harvard’s State of the Nation’s Housing report reveals that Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most cost-burdened areas in the state of Massachusetts. While average weekly wages are 29% below the state average, rents are consistently 30% over the state median and home prices are 54% above the median.
Within the past 15 years, Island Housing Trust has sold and rented 102 homes and apartments to low and moderate income families on Martha’s Vineyard. IHT not only leads new construction projects towards this end, but also repurposes existing buildings to create pocket neighborhoods. IHT’s building strategy prioritizes green practices that conserve energy and make homes affordable to heat, cool, and generally maintain. By the end of 2020, they hope to create 100 new affordable homes to offer to this vibrant community.
“We work to conserve land because people and land are both worth preserving,” remarks Jordi, expressing IHT’s community-oriented mission. “Our homeowners and renters illustrate their resilience with their determination to remain on-island, building purposeful lives for their families and community. They do meaningful work and volunteer; they own businesses; they fish, and farm and educate their kids; they pay mortgages, property taxes, rent and utilities.”
Jordi’s professional experience as a community planner and developer has led him to serve in various locations around the globe from West Africa to the Pacific Northwest to finally, Martha’s Vineyard. He emphasizes the importance of preserving the meaning of “place” in his work, which is a goal that IHT cultivates through their people-oriented approach. “I love working with passionate and creative people to solve complex and seemingly intractable problems that have the impact of changing people’s lives,” says Jordi.
According to Jordi, housing stability and security are more important than ever. As David Sprague, an IHT Workforce Housing Partner, remarks, “Every community needs people…if we don’t do something to fund housing, we’re all going to be seasonal and our community will go away.”
For more information, head to https://www.ihtmv.org.
J – Jazz, Jams & Jokes: Supporting Local Music Project
Text by Sarah Tietje-Mietz
For musicians, the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has served an especially acute blow, with live shows cancelled and music festivals on hold indefinitely. MVYRADIO, Martha’s Vineyard’s go-to station for its eclectic mix of music, believed the needs of musicians, cultural nonprofits and event-starved islanders could be met—it would just take a little innovation and some great collaboration.
“The radio station’s role has always been, ‘How can we connect organizations?’” says MVYRADIO Executive and Program Director PJ Finn. “How can we use our platform to help other nonprofits do what they need to do, or help the community get the message out, or take an action that needs to be taken?”
From these questions, a solution formed in the minds of MVYRADIO’s Community Outreach Director Laurel Redington and local musician Rose Guerin. Their brainstorm turned into a whirlwind as partnerships began forming with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF), the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard, Featherstone Center for the Arts and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum (MVM), and the Supporting Local Music Project was born.
The Vineyard’s robust music scene usually hits peak volume in the summer, so the Supporting Local Music Project’s mission was to bring back both the platforms and income that musicians were missing out on. Support for the project came from the community-focused bank, Cape Cod 5, and the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard.
The MVFF had set the outdoor event ball rolling with a retro drive-in experience for attendees, perfect for the social distancing required by the state. Adding live music to these already popular events was an intuitive next step. Musicians like the Dock Dance Band—who both YMCA MV Membership Coordinator Lindsay Webster and Guerin feel embody the spirit of summer on Martha’s Vineyard—would open some movie events, followed by a film projected on the exterior of the ice arena.
The campuses of Featherstone and MVM also served as idyllic backdrops for performances, which brought life, and a revenue lifeline, back to these organizations. Thanks to the music mingling with stories and laughter in the summer breeze, a sense of normalcy was returned, something both institutions say was well-needed after months of disruption.
The Venmo app took the place of hats and guitar cases for tipping the artists, but it was more than just money that this project provided; it brought the magic of live music back to the Vineyard. “Being a local musician myself, I can tell you that for almost every single performer, it has been such a relief to be back on stage,” says Guerin. “Music is more than just a job for us, it’s a calling.”
K – Katelynn’s Closet
Text by Brenna Collins
“When you look good, you feel good.” Katelynn’s Closet’s tagline holds true for the children they help clothe across Cape Cod. Back in 2009, a friend of Susan Johnson and Beth Davis was fostering a 4-year-old girl named Infiniti. She did not have any clothing, and the women reached out to their close friend Ann Bearse to see if she could donate anything. United with a mission, Johnson, Davis, and Bearse founded Katelynn’s Closet to help provide children, like Infiniti, with clothing, footwear, and other basics to foster self-esteem.
“Our friend called around and asked if I had any clothes that were around Infiniti’s size, and of course, I did, as so many of us have clothing our kids have outgrown. I was also fostering children at the time, and still do. That’s how Katelynn’s Closet originated. We saw the need. Originally, we thought we would start just for foster children, but we found the need here to be extreme, so we shifted to helping all of the needy children on the Cape,” co-founder Ann Bearse says. The trio has been working on this mission ever since, donating over 1,000 bundles of clothing to date.
The name honors Bearse’s daughter, Katelynn. “Katelynn was my daughter who passed away at 9 and-a-half years old. She loved fashion, and when she looked good, she felt good; so, that’s our tagline. We have the infinity symbol in our logo because of the foster child, Infiniti, who started it all,” Bearse shares.
Based in South Yarmouth, Katelynn’s Closet partners with social service agents who assess children’s needs. The agent places an order, picks it up, and delivers it to the family while keeping the child anonymous to the nonprofit. The organization offers volunteer opportunities to kids, classes, and groups. The kids volunteering would never know that the clothes may be going to someone in their own classroom.
“For sizes, we pick up where the baby center stops. We clothe children starting at size 4T and go up to size 18. We also do a ‘timeless teen bag’ with sweatshirts, sweatpants, and trendy clothing. We shop for whatever we don’t get donated. If the child is beyond our size selection, we provide an Old Navy gift card and the social service agent takes the child shopping,” Bearse relays.
Like so many nonprofits, the pandemic left an impact on Katelynn’s Closet. Things shut down just two weeks before their biggest fundraiser, which they are still in the process of rescheduling. Today, the group is figuring out how to best help kids navigate this new normal. After a slow August, typically their busiest month, they are anticipating a new influx of need. “If people aren’t in school, how can we connect them with our service? As times are changing, we have to be as open minded as possible to help these kids. We’re lucky that social workers are back to work, even if the kids aren’t in school full-time,” shares Bearse.
With demand higher than ever, Katelynn’s Closet is fully functioning and needs the community’s support. The organization has clothing donation bins outside of their South Yarmouth location and are always accepting monetary donations. For safety, all clothing is quarantined for three days before being sorted.
“The need is outrageously high here for a small community. We want these kids to feel valued by their community. We want them to feel good about themselves because that changes everything for them going forward,” Bearse reflects.
For more information, go to katelynns-closet.org.
L – Lyme Awareness
by Elizabeth Kastelein
According to the CDC, approximately 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease are reported every year. Unfortunately, not every case is reported, meaning the number of cases is potentially far greater than statistics represent. Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod (LACC) aims to raise awareness of this through education, prevention, and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses on the Cape and Islands. They provide Lyme patients with the latest research, treatment options, and resources available, as well as offering supportive services, such as treatment subsidies for those with financial hardships.
While it may not always be possible to prevent a tick bite, LACC educates the public on precautionary measures to help lessen the risk. The organization also provides helpful guidance for what to do when bitten by a tick, how to remove it safely, and what symptoms to watch for. Additionally, they provide resources to pet-owners on how to prevent, remove or treat a tick bite on a dog, cat, horse, or even a cow.
Since its founding in 2007, LACC has brought wide-spread awareness to the Cape and Islands. In 2015, the organization opened a wellness center, working with over 5,000 patients. LACC offers community members a chance to sponsor a patient as they receive treatment and live with Lyme, so that patients feel supported throughout treatment and their everyday lives.
For more information, visit http://www.lymeticks.org.
M – Main Streets
Text by Allyson Plessner
To grasp the spirit of an area, you often need not look further than its main street. The moniker is one that finds its way onto street signs across the country, and for good reason. A main street is a snapshot of a town—the eclectic tastes of a community in everything from fashion to food enmeshed together by bustling sidewalks and two lanes of traffic (or in some of the more charming locales, simply one). And if a town is especially vibrant, like so many on the Cape and Islands, then that main street becomes a hub of events, meetups between hometown friends, and other activities aimed at bringing a close-knit town all the more closer.
Behind all those cherished monthly street fairs or even ‘trash-free streets’ is often a nonprofit charged with maintaining the safety, cleanliness, and indeed, popularity, of a town’s precious Main Street. Take, for example, the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID). The BID works year-round behind the scenes to ensure continued improvement of Hyannis Main Street and the district as a whole. The BID is responsible for everything from Hyannis’ appointment as a cultural district to beloved annual events such as the Long Table, the Christmas Stroll, and the Summer Music Stroll. In fact, one might be surprised to know that there are over 1,000 BIDs—nonprofits funded by property owners across the district—in the U.S., but the Hyannis Main Street BID one of only seven in Massachusetts. Founded in 1999, it has been successful in providing a steady revenue stream to area businesses as well as maintaining a vital downtown community, the lifeblood of which is the main thoroughfare.
For those who have ever wondered at the almost seamless interconnectedness that tends to characterize the businesses along Falmouth Main Street, or at the well-produced holiday events that take place in Tisbury, well, there are nonprofits working behind the scenes in these locations as well. Similar to the Building Improvement District in Hyannis, these nonprofit associations are working toward the economic and cultural development of main streets in Falmouth and
Osterville as well as on Martha’s Vineyard in Tisbury—to name just a few examples. In Falmouth, there’s the Falmouth Village Association; in Osterville, the Osterville Village Association which oversees the Osterville Business and Professionals Association; and in Tisbury, the Tisbury Business Association.
At the forefront of these associations is often a mission to protect and support the commercial businesses that dot an area. As the Falmouth Village Association states, their objective is to work for the betterment of Falmouth Main Street in large part by providing “an atmosphere of vibrant commerce enhanced by commercial, social, and cultural events for all residents.” These associations become the collective voice of the many local businesses in government, and additionally, provide a forum for individual members to share their ideas, opportunities, and struggles. Beyond simply hosting events and social gatherings, main street associations build strong communities of businesses and residents alike, all in an effort to ensure the vitality and vibrancy of an area.
While many events looked different this year, main streets across the region still got creative to make sure that visitors and locals could safely enjoy the splendors of town hubs. From “Movies Under the Stars” on the lawn of the Falmouth Public Library to virtual pumpkin carving in Hyannis, the nonprofits that work so tirelessly to keep the Cape & Islands fun and clean all year long came through once again despite many challenges. In areas like Falmouth and Hyannis, parts of the main streets closed down so local restaurants could invite diners to eat outside.
Across the region, nonprofits work behind the scenes to provide vibrant main streets (and beyond). From cultural events to commercial businesses to providing an area with a strong voice in legislative matters, there’s likely a nonprofit to thank.
N – Neighborhood Falmouth
Text by Julie Craven Wagner
They say it takes a village. In the case of Neighborhood Falmouth, those words of wisdom are so much more than just a saying. The organization, whose mission is to enable seniors to stay in their homes safely and comfortably for as long as possible, was actually founded based upon the Village to Village Network (VtV) that started on Beacon Hill. Susan Loucks, executive director of Neighborhood Falmouth, says the needs on the Cape are uniquely different from other villages in more populated areas. “The needs of seniors in the city are often more about programming and social activities, whereas here, in a more rural setting, the needs are more for transportation and other practical activities.”
Most volunteers are themselves seniors, which provides an element of trust and camaraderie that distinguishes the organization from many other senior-service based groups. An ideal volunteer, Loucks says, is “A retiree who wishes something like this existed when their parents were aging or someone who hopes this kind of service will be available for them if they ever need it.”
During the pandemic, shopping trips to complete a shopping list have been a huge help for most of the seniors. Social isolation is also a major concern as the organization balances the needs for connection with the need for social distancing. Loucks says, “For those retirees who have checked off a portion of a bucket list and are looking to incorporate volunteerism into an active retirement lifestyle, this may be the perfect situation.”
To learn more, visit neighborhoodfalmouth.org.
O – Osterville Village Library
Text by Elizabeth Shaw
The idea of a library is a simple one: a place where people can check out books and other media. But what happens when those running the library go above and beyond for their beloved community? The Osterville Village Library shows us how it’s done.
Though the library has moved around since its inception in 1873, occupying quite a few homes, including its first location in Mrs. Thankful Ames’ dining room, The Osterville Village Library has been working as the backbone of the community out of its home on Wianno Ave. since 2012. Executive Director Cyndy Cotton says they’re especially thankful for the space now in the time of COVID. Like every other business, the library closed its doors in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop Cotton and her team in their pursuit of helping the community; in fact, it only motivated them more. “When COVID first hit, we put all the books we had in our bookstore out front and we gave them away on a daily basis,” says Cotton of the early days of the pandemic. “We ended up giving out 3,000 children’s books and games, as well as adult books. I thought it was just something I would do for a week.” Once the team had the time to assess the situation and make a plan, the library worked non-stop throughout the pandemic to do whatever they could to help the community. “Whatever we could do, we did. If we could be of help to someone, whether it was getting them books, getting information, getting them a library card so they could access materials or just listening to them, we were there,” says Cotton.
But they don’t limit themselves to traditional library services. “We have a 30-foot gazebo, and an event company donated a balloon arch, and someone donated a banner, so in June, we held graduations. Kids from grammar school to high school got to have their graduation. “Alexa” played Pomp & Circumstance. I had a microphone, and everyone submitted a little write-up about the kids, and we read them out as they walked through in their gowns,” says Cotton of bringing a little joy to the community. “We actually had an adoption ceremony as well. The child walked through with his old last name and graduated with his new last name and we played ‘We Are Family’.”
For Cotton, it was important to support the community in whatever way possible, and during this time, that meant creating more resources for mental health. When the library first closed, Cotton and her team spent the early days calling patrons to check in, and as the shut down continued, Cotton began looking for more ways to help. “We’ve done some YouTube interviews with mental health experts. Part of our motivation for re-opening when we did was to do everything in our capability to help those in the community who needed us. We set up printers and curbside pick-up very early on. We helped people with housing and getting rental assistance. I was here every day answering phones, helping people get cards, helping them download books.”
Whether rain, shine or global pandemic, the Osterville Village Library is here to help. From blood drives to beach trash clean-up to online learning databases, this is more than just a library. And Cotton couldn’t be prouder, “We say we’re the heart of the community that never skipped a beat.”
To learn more, visit http://www.ostervillefreelibrary.org.
P – Professionals: Cape Cod Young Professionals
Text by Elizabeth Kastelein
Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) was founded in 2005 to provide career development, connection and civic engagement opportunities for Cape Cod’s 45-and-under population. CCYP, which boasts over 1,000 members, continues to promote a flourishing network of people by connecting and engaging with Cape Cod’s young workforce.
CCYP hosts events such as networking functions to help equip young people with practical professional skills. But, due to the coronavirus, many of the traditional events that CCYP offers look different this year. The Back to Business Bash helps young professionals connect while supporting the local business community. This year, CCYP partnered with many local businesses and past Bash vendors to offer free food and drink items at locations across the Cape in a self-guided, COVID-safe version of the popular event. To provide support for the Cape’s young workforce community during the pandemic, CCYP created a new Laser-Focused Coaching service, designed to help members and non-members navigate career changes, unemployment and other challenges. The 30-minute sessions with a professionally trained coach are designed to address a single professional or personal issue through a collaborative process that guides an individual towards accomplishing a goal.
CCYP not only provides career development coaching and opportunities, but also resources for housing, childcare and more. Through CCYP, young professionals are able to feel a part of the wider community, while also working to accomplish career and personal goals.
To learn more, visit capecodyoungprofessionals.org.
Q – Quadricentennial Commemoration: Provincetown 400 & Plymouth 400
Text by Elizabeth Shaw
2020 was going to be a big year for many, especially Provincetown and Plymouth. 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing, first in Provincetown, then Plymouth. The year was to be filled with opening ceremonies, museum exhibits and historical reenactments. Although the coronavirus pandemic brought the year’s commemorative events to a halt, the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum (PMPM) is still working hard to commemorate this historic event.
PMPM is committed to giving an honest look at the first meeting between the Pilgrims and the Indigenous Wampanoags to the public. In fact, the nonprofits’ new exhibit, “Our Story: The Complicated Relationship of the Indigenous Wampanoag and the Mayflower Pilgrims,” is the world’s first permanent exhibit to tell the story of the Mayflower’s arrival from the perspective of the Wampanoag.
Their first ever virtual gala, held in October, raised money for the PMPM to help continue their goal of advancing learning, education and inclusion.
The nonprofit will continue to fulfill its mission and provide educational and informative programming to the region and beyond, through its Chamber Music for the Outer Cape virtual performance series, new exhibit, “Our Story,” juried art exhibition with the Provincetown Art Association & Museum (PAAM) and more.
The PMPM and PAAM 2020 juried art exhibition runs through November 15, 2020, and explores the themes central to the quadricentennial: liberty, justice and freedom of expression. The exhibition is located in the East Gallery of the Provincetown Museum.
The PMPM will close for the season on November 15, 2020, but make sure to check pilgrim-monument.org for more information and updates.
R – Resilience: Cape Cod Resilience Fund
Text by Allyson Plessner
Jutting out into the tempestuous waters of the Atlantic, the unique peninsular shape of the Cape means that it is often referred to as an arm. Admit it, you’ve popped a bicep once or twice and proudly pointed to your elbow to indicate a favorite Chatham beach or to your clenched fist to show your friends where to find Provincetown. But, if the Cape is the left arm of Massachusetts, then early spring saw it in need of more than a few trips to the gym as the pandemic sapped away the strength of many local businesses and residences. As a constant champion of the diverse mom and pops that dot the Cape and Islands, Love Live Local, a nonprofit run by Amanda Converse and Jen Villa dedicated to sustaining local small businesses, was quick to step up to the weight rack and provide a helping hand to our struggling region.
“When the stay-at-home order was issued back in March, we at Love Live Local knew it was going to be bad for our neighborhood businesses,” says Converse. “Most small businesses can’t close for a week, let alone a month or two or three. We knew we had to do something, and we knew the community wanted to help—beyond just getting takeout and shopping online.” With the help of the Hyannis Main Street BID and many local chambers, the Cape Cod Resilience Fund was launched in late April with the goal of investing in vulnerable small businesses.
The Cape Cod Resilience Fund issues one-time grants anywhere between $500 and $2,000 to what Love Live Local rightfully deems the cornerstones of the Cape community: small, independent businesses. To qualify, organizations need only be Cape-owned and operated. Preference is given to year-round brick and mortar locations with a community-centric spirit. For those with the means to support their friends and neighbors, the Resilience Fund offers the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to, or partner with, Love Live Local in maintaining the fund. And, fortunately, the Resilience Fund is here to stay even when the pandemic has run its course. “We believe the economic impacts of COVID will be felt for years, so we have committed to continuing to raise money through grassroots donations, fundraising partnerships and grant writing in order to ease the financial strain caused by the economic shutdown and continued economic slowdown,” explains Converse. “The Cape Cod Resilience Fund will continue well into the future to help businesses weather all sorts of storms (including actual storms!), and we’ll evolve the program to meet the needs of the local businesses in our region.”
This is Love Live Local’s inaugural year as a nonprofit organization, though they’ve been communicating the importance of small businesses within the Cape Cod community for years. Their nonprofit status allows Love Live Local to focus their attention more on advocacy work like the Resilience Fund, which raised $49,000 for their first round of grants in June. Those resources were distributed to 47 businesses, and for the second round, Converse says there are over 100 applicants, demonstrating the great financial need that 2020 has wrought on independently owned organizations across the region. As the Resilience Fund continues to demonstrate success in supporting the creative, vibrant entrepreneurial future of Cape Cod, Love Live Local is further investing their time and resources into the wedding vendor community throughout the region, which has taken a particular hit this year, by establishing a “Wedding Vendor Fund.” This subset of the Resilience Fund is aimed at providing a round of grants specifically to the local wedding industry, which has reported a loss of income of more than 75% in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
Love Live Local’s recent impact report shows that local restaurants and retailers reinvest over 50% of their income right back into their community. That is two to four times more than national corporations. With small businesses making up over 90% of the Cape Cod community, those investments are crucial to the local economy. “But, beyond the economic impact, our local businesses are staffed and owned by our neighbors and friends,” enthuses Converse. “That matters; they matter.”
As the acting left arm of the state, Cape Cod has an integral role to play in the health and resourcefulness of this particular part of New England. It’s a role that becomes particularly evident in the bustling months of summer, but the hard-working employees and business owners that keep this place alive don’t stop their work when the air turns brisk and the crowds flock south. It takes a village to, well, maintain a village, but those who love the Cape want more than that; they want to see the region flourish. The Cape Cod Resilience Fund allows people to invest directly into their community, and into the people and businesses that make it so profoundly special.
To learn more and support the Cape Cod Resilience Fund, head to lovelivelocal.com/resilience, and to stay up to date with the recently-launched Wedding Vendor Fund, visit lovelivelocal.com/weddingvendorfund.
S – Seaside Le Mans
Text by Christina Galt
Seaside Le Mans is an annual community event underwritten by The Davenport Companies, featuring local business sponsors racing in Formula 1 style karts with the goal of raising funds for the Cape Cod community. The event held annually each September at Mashpee Commons is filled with a full day of racing, food, music and family fun that is free to attend. Twenty years ago, the Davenport Companies of South Yarmouth, a fourth-generation family-powered company, developed the idea for Seaside Le Mans following a company retreat at X1 Boston. Seaside Le Mans has become a unique experince and philanthropic endevor that provides a chance for local businesses to give back to the community in a new thrilling way.
The race itself features about twenty karts, driven by local business sponsors, that reach speeds up to fifty miles per hour only three inches off the ground. The teams of six drivers switch in and during the four-hour endurance race on a quarter mile track that is built by local volunteers. For a chance to compete, the driving sponsors from businesses across the region, make generous contributions to the five beneficiaries that have been selected through the Cape Cod Foundations. The beneficiaries are selected each year by The Davenport Companies’ Charitable Giving Committee and recieve 100% of all donations and sponsorships, as the company underwrites all costs associated with the event.
“The one really important aspect of Seaside Le Mans is that it’s a true team and community effort,” says event director Kelsey Ellis. Seaside Le Mans has grown into one of the biggest one-day fundrasing events here on the Cape and has generated 7.5 million dollars for more than fifty organizations over the past twenty years. Ellis explains, “The best part of Seaside Le Mans is seeing how the effects of the funding further the missions of our non-profit partners.” This year, the 20th Annual Seaside Le Mans was canceled due to COVID-19, but with the help of the local business community, Seaside Le Mans was able to raise $100,000 for the five 2020 beneficiaries!
Plans are currently in place for the 21st Annual Seaside Le Mans. To find out more about the race visit seasidelemans.org.
T – Troops: Cape Cod Cares for the Troops
Text by Christina Galt
What started out in 2005 as a project to honor our troops for founder Dylan DeSilva, has turned into a fully-fledged non-profit: Cape Cod Cares for the Troops. Today, they’ve sent over 34,000 care packages to our deployed troops and on average, they try to send about 20 to 25 care packages a week. Not only do they send care packages to our deployed men and women, they also send them to military dogs with a program they call Rocky’s Warriors. SPC Christopher Velasquez, told DeSilva and his family how he shared everything he had gotten in his care package with his dog Rocky. To honor Rocky’s memory, a National Tracking Champion who performed many tasks to fight terrorism and passed away in Afghanistan, Cape Cod Cares for the Troops created Rocky’s Warriors.
Most of the names for care packages come from the First Sergeants who will send them a list of their men and women who are not receiving any mail, “I’m always shocked to find out how many of them aren’t receiving mail and that’s why we keep going,” says DeSilva’s mother. The sad reality is that a lot of military families simply cannot afford to send their loved ones over seas a care package every month. Cape Cod Cares for the Troops tries to fund raise all year long, so they can pay the postage for care packages which can cost anywhere between $18 to $30 dollars for just one package. This year due to COVID-19 they haven’t been able to do any fundraising but are hoping to see more of the community sponsoring packages to the troops during the holiday season.
Over the years, they’ve evolved into helping the local community by supporting military families and veterans. In return, the community on Cape has always supported them when it comes to fundraising and doing whatever they can to help. At Christmas time on Cape, Cape Cod Cares for the Troops does a huge Christmas care package drive where they send 12 to 15 hundred in only one weekend. Their shipping alone for these care packages cost about $30,000! Right now, they need your help more than ever because this year they haven’t been able to hold any donation drives for supplies, so they have to go out and buy everything for every package, which is extremely costly. Even if you cannot afford to donate money or supplies, Cape Cod Cares for the Troops is always looking for cards, letters or drawings that the troops love to receive in their care packages!
For more information or to donate visit: capecod4thetroops.com.
U – United Way
Text by Julie Craven Wagner
The United Way is an organization that benefits from name recognition—watch any season of the NFL, and it is impossible to miss heart-warming stories of professional athletes. However, the Cape and Islands’ chapter of the Untied Way distinguishes itself on a number of levels. Mark Skala, president and CEO of the organization that finds itself at the intersection of many of the charitable organizations across the region, offers what contributes to those differences. “We are different on a number of fronts,” Skala states. “The way we convene and mobilize all of these nonprofits so that we can focus on creating community-based and community-led solutions allows us to focus on the core of our mission: education, health, housing and financial stability.”
Perhaps one of the most unique elements of the organization is its collaborative approach to maximizing the impact of limited resources. Several years ago a shift in awarding support and funding to a rarely changing list of nonprofits was replaced with a grant process that awards funds to programs that leverage collaborative strengths, thereby serving greater numbers of those in need with more services.
Skala proudly states that 98% of the funds collected stay locally, and during this challenging year, the generosity was overwhelming early in the spring as the message to support resulted in tangible help for those in need. “Our board had the foresight in 2019 to put a Community Response Fund in our budget,” he says. “No one knew that COVID was coming, but as a result we were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and effectively. In a very short window, we were able to raise more than $130,000 to address issues brought on by this pandemic.”
For more information, head to https://www.capeandislandsuw.org.
V – Volunteer: AmeriCorps
Text by Elizabeth Shaw
How often is the beauty of the Cape spoken about? Written about? Photographed? The unmatched natural splendor of the area brings in countless visitors every year, and thanks to the tireless work of AmeriCorps Cape Cod, that beauty will be here to stay. Barnstable County founded the program in 1999 to address the critical environmental needs of the area. AmeriCorps Cape Cod has partnered with organizations across the Cape to provide environmental services and education. Since its founding, the AmeriCorps has added disaster preparedness and response, as well as wildfire preparedness and response services to their repertoire. The organization also leads the community in annual events such as the Canal Clean Up Day, which sees volunteers collect hundreds of pounds of trash along the banks of the canal, as well as other opportunities during National Volunteer Week and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
For more information, make sure to visit americorpscapecod.org.
W – WE CAN
Text by Julie Craven Wagner
Two simple words; one powerful mission. On the threshold of their 20th year, the organization whose mission helps women in need of stability, due to life-altering events like divorce, job loss or other challenges, find pathways to self-sufficiency. The organization, based in Harwich, has only six employees, drawing its strength through a network of over 250 active volunteers who provide and deliver the wide variety of services the women need. Assistance like legal support, employment and educational counseling and fundamentals of finance are the kinds of resources the organization provide to women at a time when they may not have anywhere else to turn.
Lisa Guyon, who has served as executive director for nearly two years, says, “We work with women individually to help them identify what service will help them stabilize their lives and navigate through a transition, and then we pair them with a volunteer who has an expertise in that area.” In a normal year, WE CAN serves approximately 2,700 women, from the bridges to Provincetown. Of course, 2020 has not been a normal year.
“Pre-COVID, we were offering services in 11 of the 15 Cape towns,” Guyon explains. “Ironically, the way we are using technology now to deliver services is helping us redefine what expansion and access looks like. We have learned we can still deliver value in one-to-one counseling, and in some ways, better serve women who would have had geographic or time barriers in the past, it is a much more open platform. And it has helped to confirm that when one-on-one is critical, like in mentoring, we need to prioritize how those services are best delivered.” Guyon says that the future will probably be a hybrid model of delivery for the variety of support the organization offers, and hopefully maximize the resources and impact.
The local business community has been invaluable to WE CAN’s success. “We literally couldn’t do our work without the support of the local community,” Guyon confirms. “From individual donors, to local businesses, to a variety of foundations and grant makers, everyone plays a role.” Guyon cites the organization’s strong fiscal ethos and the importance of running a nonprofit like a mission-driven business when she mentions a program called Community Builders which includes businesses who have made a three-year commitment, allowing WE CAN to budget appropriately. “In many instances, those businesses support us because they have seen the personal impact of our work first hand, either through someone in their company or someone close to them,” she shares.
To learn more, visit https://www.wecancenter.org.
X – X’s & O’s: Flower Angels
Text by Sarah Tietje-Mietz
In 2014, fifth-generation Cape Codder Suzanne Carter felt so deeply for the lonely residents of her mother’s nursing home that she was inspired to start her own nonprofit: Flower Angels USA.
Carter, along with her daughter Mara, began recycling donated arrangements into new bouquets, and bringing these bouquets of joy to those most in need of the reminder that they matter. When Carter looked to retire in 2020, Flower Angels merged with long-time supporter and local organization, Community Connections Inc. (CCI). Their work and mission “to further increase community inclusion for the elderly and people with disabilities,” is continued by delivering happiness to hundreds of patients, brightening their bedsides, and their days.
For Director of Community Relationships at CCI, Liz Rabideau, these deliveries are reminders of “love, hope…that there’s beauty in this world, despite what’s going on.”
When the pandemic put floral deliveries on hold, volunteers quickly began crafting “Caring Cards,” hand-written tokens of love delivered to residents to let them know they are never far from the Flower Angels’ hearts and minds. The dedication of these volunteers constantly impresses Rabideau, who says that despite the pandemic, their drive to deliver happiness never faltered.
Flower Angels is volunteer-driven and donation-funded. To help their angelic efforts, please visit communityconnectionsinc.org/flower-angels.
Y – YMCA
Text by Sarah Tietje-Mietz
Though well-known for their “gym and swim” facilities, the work done by the YMCA goes far beyond the reach of their fitness and health classes. The over 175-year old organization has had a lasting impact on Cape Cod and the Islands for decades, following the first U.S. location opening in Boston in 1851. The YMCA Cape Cod in West Barnstable has been serving the community since 1966, while the Gleason Family YMCA (Wareham) and the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard have been dedicated to improving the overall health of their regions since 2004 and 2010 respectively.
It’s the long-running personal connections that membership coordinator Lindsay Webster feels make the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard integral to the island. In her role, she has seen kids grow to teens and has greeted former high school teachers—even the physician who brought her into the world—from the front desk. The Vineyard Haven location boasts an ice arena, youth center, gym facility and swimming pool, all facilitating activities and fostering relationships that are vital on an island that becomes more isolated in winter months. “I’ve worked here for six years and my feeling has always been that we’re like the light in the darkness,” says Webster. Virtual learning and after-school programs support younger members, while a variety of services
and classes are available to their “Healthy Agers,” one of the fastest growing demographics on-island.
In West Barnstable, just off the Mid-Cape Highway, the YMCA Cape Cod has devoted over 50 years of service to the Cape Cod community. When the pandemic created a pressing need for childcare for front-line workers, this YMCA proactively flipped five existing early childhood education centers to become emergency childcare locations, meeting all the strident state requirements to do so. Each center, with extended days and hours, were drop-in ready for any parent or guardian in need.
Many programs for YMCA Cape Cod went virtual due to the pandemic. Fitness classes and afterschool programming were posted online, all starring beloved staff members, a feature President & CEO Stacie Peugh says made the transition from in-person to virtual less harsh. “These are critical relationships that children develop at all stages, where, if suddenly, that person is missing from their life, it’s like a loss,” says Peugh. “It’s all about the people in our organization who are members of the Y and who are employees of the Y; there’s this connectedness.”
The Gleason Family YMCA in Wareham serves the area just west of the Cape Cod Canal. The state-of-the-art facility boasts an indoor pool, rock wall, health and fitness studios and serves as the site for an area summer camp. Aside from more general YMCA offerings, the Gleason Family YMCA helps combat food scarcity issues in their region by helping provide dinners to seniors, partnering with United Way for a produce pick-up, an annual turkey dinner package and as an upcoming mobile market location through a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank—all made accessible to those in need when possible.
“The unique part about the Y is that it’s not always directed to the members—it’s really directed to the community,” says Debbie Fringuelli, Senior Executive Director at Gleason, “What we’re doing is always just a result of what’s needed in the community.”
The myriad of services offered by these YMCA’s are funded through individual and corporate contributions, as well as memberships (for which financial assistance is available), ensuring that each location can continue their vital work for the Cape and Island communities.
YMCA Cape Cod: ymcacapecod.org
Gleason Family YMCA: ymcasouthcoast.org
YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard: ymcamv.org
Z – Zion Union Heritage Museum
Text by Allyson Plessner
Cape Cod would not be the effervescent, thriving peninsula it is today without the influence of a diverse African American and Cape Verdean population. As is the case with much of the United States, the roles of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color) have been largely ignored in the history of prosperous industries over the centuries—for Cape Cod, that consists predominantly of cranberries and whaling. The Zion Union Heritage Museum in Hyannis commemorates the influential contributions of those peoples and celebrates their continuing journeys through education as well as the display and preservation of historic artifacts and documents. The museum also hosts regular art installations, programs, and events.
As a museum, Zion shares the history of the Cape’s ethnic populations, primarily those of African American descent, but as an institution the museum has a far greater role to play in the futures of these populations and in relaying the importance of diversity across the Cape & Islands. At the core of that is a vast, complex history across America, and it is places like the Zion Union Heritage Museum that help the population to understand and reckon with their past in a way that makes it an instrumental tool going forward, allowing residents to look toward a vibrant and, most importantly, diverse future.
To learn more and support the Zion Union Heritage Museum, visit zuhmi.org