Addressing the service gap for young adults in Martha’s Vineyard will require a large-scale community effort, including mentorships, affordable rentals, and a strong network of mental health services.
That’s the conclusion of an ACE MV follow-up report on a study by rural researchers last fall that focused on opportunities for young adults in the vineyard. In this study, eight University of Massachusetts medical students interviewed Islanders between the ages of 16 and 20 who might be disconnected from the wider community. The study found that many adolescents and young adults at the end of life are at risk due to a lack of career and educational opportunities.
Because the study was just a snapshot, Holly Bellebuono, executive director of ACE MV, said her nonprofit decided to take the work deeper this year by bringing together the many stakeholders surveyed again. by rural scholars.
The result is the report Next Steps for Martha’s Vineyard: Recommendations to Expand Opportunities for Youth and Young Adults. It includes summaries of concerns expressed by 55-60 community members, including young adults and participants from the Boys and Girls Club, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, high school and charter school, Island Grown Initiative and Food Pantry.
The report will be made available to various sectors on the island: municipal governments, schools, commercial enterprises and non-profit organizations. Island residents can get involved through actions ranging from mentorship for professional development to providing affordable rental options for young adults looking for a place to live.
“The way we’re going to make our action effective is to keep it really local. . . We’re going to keep things island based and involve local people, families. Keeping it local should generate more interest,” Ms. Bellebuono said.
She noted that some of the work will build on existing programs and said creating a network of mentors and connecting adult professionals with young people is an area where ACE MV can play a role. important. The agency already has an active workforce internship program that it can build on to create a broader mentorship program.
“If we can be a force behind building personal relationships, that would be a good path for us. Relationships with caring adults are so influential,” Ms. Bellebuono said.
The Next Steps report appears on the ACE MV website.