I had the good fortune recently to sit down with Iritza Perez, the office manager of Women Empowered to Make Healthy Choices. I was there to deliver our Tisbury Turkey donation check from the November 2013- January 2014 campaign, but, as often occurs when I meet the people behind Martha's Vineyard's non-profits, I felt like the one receiving a gift and inspiration.
Perez and I talked about many things, but one point she made stood out in my mind. Much of Women Empowered's work, she explained, is devoted to teaching Islanders--natives, washashores, and everything in between--how to manage their finances in a seasonal economy. With the cost of living disproportionately high, and with incomes drying up in the off-season, many Vineyarders find themselves strapped to get through the winter. For many coming from off-island, and even those born and raised here, managing money in a seasonal economy is a challenge they've never faced before or never been taught how to handle. Every community faces its hardships, but not every community faces this one; therefore, specialized training is essential. Women Empowered teaches important skills to help people escape the feast-or-famine cycle and build a solid economic future for themselves and their families.
As Perez talked about these unique challenges faced by Vineyarders, described her outreach efforts on behalf of Women Empowered, brainstormed ways that Tisbury Turkey could better serve small businesses and artisans, and provided enthusiastic encouragement to me personally, I gained more than just an appreciation of the specific challenges of this island community. I gained an even greater appreciation of the people that hold the Vineyard community together.
More than just the non-profit boards, benefactors, and workers, Martha's Vineyard is bound by individuals like Iritza Perez who simply care about their neighbors and their island. You are helping Perez and others Do The Vineyard Good with a few extra clicks when you shop. You are helping to keep the Vineyard community strong. And we think that's pretty great.