Former employees of Chilmark Chocolates, which closed last year, are gathering Saturday for a celebratory pop-up sale on the grounds of the beloved candy shop on State Road. Taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the sale will include hard-to-find Chilmark Chocolates T-shirts and mugs.

Proceeds will benefit Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP), a community group whose members are Islanders with disabilities, their families and friends. Originally founded as the Martha’s Vineyard Special Parents Association in 1983, VIP has grown into a social and advocacy group promoting inclusivity, taking the name Vineyard Independence Partnership in 2007.

While there won’t be any Chappy Chews, Tulgeywoods or other edible treats at the event, there will be familiar faces, including former Chilmark Chocolates co-owners Mary Beth Grady and Allison Burger. The pop-up sale will feature artwork and crafts by VIP members, such as angel note cards drawn by former Chilmark Chocolates staffer Alexander Campbell and creations by jeweler and quilter Shelly Desmarais.

Saturday’s sale is also a potential hiring hall for former chocolate shop staffers, some of whom are still looking to find new employers.

Erin Doyle celebrates art and community. — Jeanna Shepard

“There was a slight mis-impression from some people that disabled people could only work at Chilmark Chocolates,” said J.P. Hitesman, one of three VIP members named jointly as Vineyard Vision Fellows earlier this year. Mr. Hitesman, along with Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School special education teacher and department chair Julie Schmidt and retired West Tisbury Library director Beth Kramer are leading the fellowship-backed VIP Island Connections Project, aimed at improving the quality of life for Islanders with disabilities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed up some of the trio’s work, but internet platforms have made it possible for an increasing number of online events, Mr. Hitesman said.

“We’re beefing up the online offerings for those in VIP and those who might be elsewhere, such as the Island Disability Coalition or the Island Autism Group,” he said.

The VIP drama club has moved from the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse to Zoom, and former Chilmark Chocolates staffer McCaull Reid presents an online cooking demonstration every other week.

Former Chilmark Chocolates co-owner, Mary Beth Grady, supports the VIPs. — Jeanna Shepard

“That fills a double need for those in VIP to have some social outreach and also learn some new skills,” Mr. Hitesman said. “We also modified what Chilmark Chocolates called the morning meeting, a 15- to 20-minute prelude to the work day that they had to touch base with what might be gong on in people’s individual lives. Now that’s become an online hangout on Zoom, once a week or every other week.”

Another part of VIP Island's Connections mission, Mr. Hitesman said, is to find employers for Island workers living with disabilities.

“We want to provide options for those who were employed at Chilmark Chocolates, and perhaps also work with new people we at VIP weren’t in touch with,” he said.

In the event of rain, Saturday’s sale will be postponed one week. The address is 19 State Road, Chilmark. Vineyard Independence Partnership is online at and on Facebook, and publishes a four-page monthly newsletter available by postal mail.