Martha’s Vineyard shrugs off being the center of political debate to focus on helping migrants

When about 50 migrants unexpectedly flew into Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, organizers mobilized around the same goal: how best to help their visitors.

When about 50 migrants unexpectedly flew into Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on Wednesday afternoon, community organizers said there was no time to think about the fact that their tiny island had suddenly been thrust into the center of a national political debate. 

Instead, within minutes, they had mobilized around the same goal: how to best help their visitors.

School buses were arranged to transport the group, space was reserved for them to eat at a cafeteria, and a church agreed to house them for the night, said Karen Tewhey, the director of institutional advancement for Harbor Homes Martha’s Vineyard, a nonprofit organization that assists island residents facing homelessness.

“They looked exhausted,” Tewhey said. “Someone had given the kids hula hoops, so there were maybe four children outside playing on the grass and running around and probably trying to stretch their legs after a plane ride.

“We did what we normally do with the homeless population down here, and that is pull together resources to meet people’s emergency needs,” she added. “That happened very fast. It was very impressive.”

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