A new home has been found for the Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard clinic, which provides Islanders with reproductive health and family services on a sliding fee scale.
Earlier this month, the Friends of Family Planning, a community group which supports the clinic, purchased a condominium at 517 State Road Condominiums in Vineyard Haven. Renovations are under way and the clinic is expected to be operating in its new premises April 11.
The clinic has been in operation since 1978 and, since 1988, has offered exams conducted exclusively by female practitioners. A nonprofit organization, it is the Island’s only family planning clinic. The clinic first opened in a small office on Cromwell Lane in Vineyard Haven. Ten years later, they moved to their present location on State Road.
That clinic has two levels and two exam rooms, and patients can wait in comfortable loveseats, but the location is not handicapped-accessible and the operation has outgrown the building. “This space is now too small,” said director Patricia Begley. “We really needed to expand it.”
After the move, Mrs. Begley will have her own office. Her staff will have an office and a kitchen area. The facility will be handicapped-accessible, will provide an additional counseling room, and will have exam rooms equipped with sinks. “The service will only be better,” Mrs. Begley said this week. “People will have more privacy.”
And, after renting space for the 30 years it has been in operation, the clinic will own their office. “If you own the space, then you have more control over your space,” Mrs. Begley said. “It feels like we can do a little more strategic planning.”
Mrs. Begley attributed the success of finding the location to the Friends of Family Planning, who for the past three years have paid the rent for the clinic as well as paying employee salaries, advertising and office upkeep. They also purchase the condoms distributed free at the clinic and foot the bill to send staff to conferences to renew their nursing licences. The Friends rely on only one fundraiser each year, the Friends of Family Planning Art Show and Sale in May, to supplement the state and federal grants, donations and fees the clinic uses to operate.
For the past 10 years, the board has had one additional item on their agenda: finding a new home. “This board is a very active board,” Mrs. Begley said. “They took the project on.” They closed the deal in early March.
To offset the costs of purchasing and renovating the space, the Friends are planning an even bigger and better art show this year and are putting the call out to all new artists, especially those working in three-dimensional art forms. “We want to fill not just the walls, but the middle of the floor as well,” said Miryam Gerson, Friends vice president and a former Family Planning employee.
Interested artists should call Ms. Gerson at 508-693-6712 or Liza Coogan at 508-693-3790. Applications are due by April 11.
The Friends are on the lookout for more than just artistic talent, however. They also are making an early plea for art lovers and community members to mark the date of the sale on their calenders. “We could really use their support this year,” Ms. Gerson said.
The show will run Memorial Day weekend from May 23 to May 25 at the agricultural hall in West Tisbury, with an opening gala on May 22.