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Friends of Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard supports compassionate, inclusive, life spectrum sexual health care for all people in our community, all services of the Health Imperatives Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic, and individuals and local organizations that do the same.  
Since 1985 Friends of Family Planning has worked diligently to raise funds to secure the services of the Martha’s Vineyard Family Planning Clinic, Health Imperatives, in our community. The majority of Health Imperative patients struggle to feed their families, find adequate housing and affordable health care. All are seeking secure sexual and reproductive health services. Our fundraising efforts over the years have allowed us to purchase permanent space for the clinic at a very low cost to Health Imperatives, purchase important equipment to benefit clinician evaluations and treatments, and to promote the awareness of the clinic’s services throughout the island community. Today, 2023, the federally funded Health Imperatives clinics are in jeopardy as the government has cut and threatens to cut even more funds to title X providers. Women and  LGBTQA+ people are being disproportionately discriminated against in many states and their governments. We are so fortunate to be in Massachusetts, yet the threats continue to expand their reach.  And so, Friends of Family Planning continues with an even greater importance to protect the stability of our island’s only reproductive health center. As a result of the inspirational, grassroots work of the original members, the continuing dedication of new board members over the years, and the generous support of our numerous donors, Friends of Family Planning is alive and well today supporting the important work of our Martha’s Vineyard Family Planning Clinic, Health Imperatives.


Meet the passionate individuals guiding the mission of Friends of Family Planning of Martha's Vineyard and learn more about their dedication to serving our community.


In the summer of 1985 two separate groups of people joined together to form Friends of Family Planning (FOFP). Sally Cox and Isabel West called on personal friends of theirs to work together to make the services of Family Planning more well known to the island community. Several members of the Unitarian Church were also interested in providing support to a local agency in need. The two groups met together and agreed to combine efforts to support the family planning clinic, which was located at that time on Cromwell Lane, VH. We wanted to help Patty Begley (Director of the family planning clinic) in any way we could, so that first summer we volunteered in the office answering the phone, ran errands, solicited money and paid for ads in the MV Gazette and MV Times.


In December, we adopted our first set of bylaws and elected, formally, our first board of 22 directors. Thanks to Wehncke and Treasurer Al Mentzel, we applied for and were granted non-profit status.


The financial picture for family planning clinics continued to present problems into 1990. With the ever-present threat from the group operating the clinic to close the MV site, citing decreasing State and Federal money, we decided to increase our ability to solicit funds by having specific fund raising events. The first was an Art Show creatively arranged by Liza Coogan and Michael Wild.


This year was the beginning of the Teen, Pregnancy Coalition, FOFP made available money for Miryam Gerson to begin the process of building the coalition.


The Dukes County Health Council was established by the Dukes County Commissioners to continue the work of the Health Care Access Committee. Family Planning staff attends all meetings and represents women and reproductive health concerns. Friends of Family Planning provided some seed money to start the Council.


The STD Clinic is incorporated into the regular family planning clinic schedule but continues to be underwritten by FOFP. FOFP also funds the Brazilian outreach worker. MVRHS rejects family planning’s presence in the school due to concerns about parental consent needed for advice and/or testing.


After slowly but steadily setting aside a nest egg to purchase a home for the clinic, and after much searching, we finally found a condo on State Road in Vineyard Haven that suited our needs. We renovated the space and moved in on April 11, 2008. We held an open house in November to welcome the community into our new space. This was also the year that the clinic began doing rapid HIV testing and offering Gardasil vaccinations against Human Papilloma Virus.


We were very excited this year to receive a $1000 grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Permanent Endowment Fund to bring Friends into the 21st century through the creation of our own website.


We paid off the mortgage on the clinic! Our proposal in collaboration with the Dukes County Health Council for Rural Scholars project accepted for October 2017. The clinic was severely damaged by a hot water heater flood from upstairs neighbor – FOFP paid for and managed repairs and upgrades to clinic. Clinic relocated to the hospital for 3 months or so while work at 517 was completed.


Last Art Show! While the Art Shows provided wonderful support for many years, several other non-profits do them now and the family planning message was subsumed by the Show itself. FOFP plans to hold 4 smaller fundraisers per year instead of one major event. FOFP also hosted its first community forum at the Whaling Church in April: Lifting the Veil – Abortion Access on Martha’s Vineyard. We completed the Rural Scholars project — several of the findings indicate work FOFP can take on as new projects. As 10 year lease expired, FOFP negotiated a new 3-year lease with Health Imperatives with more generous terms for the clinic now that the mortgage is paid off. Awarded grant for “Get Real” sexual education training to the clinic for use at the High School. Bylaws and mission statement for FOFP were revised at the annual meeting to better reflect our current work, streamline the number of board members, adjust the organization’s annual meeting schedule, and revise the nominating process to make it more routine.


We began a new feminine hygiene project to purchase tampons, pads, and other menstrual supplies for the Island Food Pantry and clinic to distribute to women who cannot otherwise afford these items. The board focused on providing organic, plastic-free products to support women’s health and the environment. We continued funding the Get Real Program at the High School which started in response to community input showing that increased sexual health education is needed on Martha’s Vineyard. The program equipped teen peer educators to enhance sexual and reproductive health education for MVRHS students. The goal was to increase adolescent utilization of the clinic’s services, including sexual and reproductive health education and counseling, by expanding our presence in the high school and creating trusting relationships with students. We expected that increased interactions between clinic staff and high school students would help strengthen rapport and increase students’ comfort level in reaching out to the clinic for reproductive health care. The program was very successful but ended with the administration’s desire to wait until they implemented a new health curriculum. Friends’ ability to rent to Health Imperatives for $500 per month saves them $4871.00 per month which is what the island’s 2019 commercial rental rate per square foot is. We are extremely proud of this. We increased our financial support of the clinicians who travel to the island to provide services. In our fiscal year 2019- 2020 we gave $7428 compared to $2200 for f/y 2018-2019. Many thanks to our donors who make this and all support of the clinic possible.


COVID came to the world. FOFP was fortunate to host their first Lip Sync Contest on March 7th which turned out to be the last in person event on island. We had 8 acts impersonating, singing, dancing and treating the packed PA crowd. What a great night for the community to learn about our important work while having such fun. The clinic turned to telehealth with limited in person service to those who required it. We continued our deliveries of Monthly Tide products to the food pantry and clinic clients. The Permanent Endowment Fund awarded a grant of $6000 which covered half of our budget for these. Cronig’s market continues to sell us these supplies with a generous discount, and we thank both of these island organizations for their partnership.


Health Imperatives requested that we purchase ultrasound equipment for $18,410.65 and training for their Nurse Practitioners to offer better support to their clients. They also partnered with Maine Family Planning which offered to make medical abortion available to island patients. This could not have happened without our purchase of these two items, and the generous direct donations from two community members. We are proud to have helped bring this important service to island clients. Betsy Edge, Director of the clinic, has brought the Get Real Program to the Charter school students and will share Monthly Tide, End Period Poverty supplies with them. We hosted our first on line auction which was a success with many interesting articles for bidding and generous bidders. We were able to afford extensive upgrades and renovations to the outside of our building’s roof and storage rooms. Fortunately, the clinic was able to provide vaccinations for their clients and anyone who came to the clinic. Anyone can come to the clinic for this. This year marked important upgrades to our building. Due to considerable water damage over the years, we added a new roof, gutters, and trim on the outside. Fortunately, we share the total cost of $40,794 with the other condo unit owners by percentage of total space, leaving our cost at $13, 577.


We received a $10000 grant from the MV Community Foundation which we used to purchase LEEP Equipment. (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, total cost, ($10,745.18) Dr. Tim Spurell, HI’s medical director, will come to the clinic once a month to support more complicated patients and offer this procedure to women with precancerous cervical cells at a very low cost. They also increased the grant by $3,895. to cover the expense of travel for HI’s clinical staff as they remain unable to hireNurse Practitioners and Medical Assistants who live on island. We formed a new partnership with Dignity Matters, a nonprofit in Framingham that raises money to purchase and distribute menstrual supplies to food pantries. They will partner with us starting in May and supply us with at least half of what the clinic and food pantry give out to their patrons. This will allow us to support other community projects we currently have and also create new ways to finance reproductive health care on MVI. Continuing with water damage issues, we have engaged John C. Anderson for mold remediation in the clinic office. One exam room is back in perfect health for $5,118 and we will continue to fund this work for the remaining 7 office spaces as our budget allows. The Monthly Tide, End Period Poverty project is ongoing and now with the Food Pantry being supported by Dignity Matters of Framingham, we supply the clinic only. This fiscal year, 9-2021 to 8-2022 shows expense to this important purchase as $7,584. Next Fiscal year may just show half this amount. Since 2018, when we created this project to supply both the clinic and Food Pantry with free environmentally sound supplies, we have spent a total of $23,884., and received gifts from the community of $4675. Of course we will continue this valuable support and we hope the community will join us!


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