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History of Friends of Family Planning on Martha’s Vineyard
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.