MVP Helm Report: February 2021

Ahoy from the Bridge!

Wow, February was a busy month and there is so much to report. First, thanks to the support of donors, we have achieved the goal of the starting up a much needed sailing program. Also happy to report we have also experienced a burst of parents wanting to enroll their children into the MVP training programs. This past Saturday we had 15 students in attendance, with three of our best missing in action.

New Sailing Program: Long Point aka Happy Island is nearby and we swim and snorkel there often, so why not name the new sailing program after it? Therefore, with the purchase of our first sailing vessel Melody we named the sailing program the Happy Island Sailing Club (HISC). Plans are to eventually build up a fleet and envisioned are students racing over to the location on good weather days. Best part is donors become HISC members who will be invited to go sailing on planned 'thanks to you' outings. This lets students to show off their sailing skills and allows donors to see the results of their funding.

We chose the popular 'Flying Scot' (19') to be our first sailing vessel. It can be easily operated by 2 to 6 students and is shallow draft (center board, w/kick up rudder) for training in the Mangrove Lagoon. It can also be 'grown into' (fast with spinnaker raised) as learning advances. Next up, we'll purchase a smaller 'Optimist' class dingy that is designed for entry level students. Down the road, there is even the possibility of inviting members of the Flying Scot Sailing Association (very large group) down to sail the VI as an MVP fund raising effort.

Volunteers Needed: The word is getting out and the MVP is growing fast. Funding for paid staff hasn't happened yet, but must come in time. Meanwhile, if our readers have time to volunteer, we can use your help! There is repetitive inside office training (teaching names of boat parts, rigging fishing tackle, splicing line, tying knots, cooking, etc.) and there is outside training (swimming, rowing, boating safety, sailing training, etc.). If you don't know how to teach any of these subjects - we'll teach you! The promise is you'll feel rewarded as you watch the students learn. Plus, lunch is included!

Another 2021 Goal: Besides the ongoing search for funding, there is the need to look down the road towards program sustainability. Over the past 5 years the Marine Vocational Program, Inc. (MVP) has become an established 501 (c-3) non-profit - but because the program is offered free of charge, survival is donation by donation. We are seeking individuals who feel they can contribute as Board Members. Tasks faced are similar to the steps taken by those who established Antilles School and other private learning institutions years ago. We are in need of forward thinkers and doers who care about our youth and the future of the community. If you possess, financial, educational or marine/tourism/hospitality, grant writing, insurance knowledge - we invite you to contact us if there is an interest in serving. Also planned is an Advisory Committee who will have less responsibility, but who can provide professional input (boatbuilding, mechanical, marketing, fundraising, etc.) to aid board members.

Fund Raising Efforts: To date most of our income has come from business interest and private individuals (some through their support of the Community Foundation). There have also been the donations of boats and motors which were either utilized by the program or sold off for funding. The MVP's annual Tree Giveaway has become a popular event - but it earns just enough to pay for the supplies needed to grow the seedlings. Other support comes in the form of food donations and business discounts.

Soon come will be the MVP's parking lot sale of spicy W.I. Pate's on the first Saturday of every month. Students will be assigned to taking advance telephone orders, while others are preparing traditional treats (Johnny Cakes too!) for passing drivers. This will be done sanitary (gloves, hair control, mask, etc.) and tips will be shared for hard work. The community is expected to appreciate this student effort and while we won't get rich - the project will bring about MVP community visibility. By the way, we've done a test run during lunch and all gave their thumbs up!!

Straight Ahead! JL

See the attached and forthcoming will be a press release with photos of students sailing. Will Howe came upon 2 kayaks that were happily donated by his neighbor Peter.