Study Center Volunteer FAQs

  • What kind of work will I be doing?

  • You will be working alongside our staff to create simple and delicious meals for students. You can expect to be doing different kitchen tasks including baking and other food prep, as well as working with a team to wash dishes and to keep the dining hall clean and sanitary. We will work hard together to not only serve great food, but also have a lot of fun!

  • Working in the kitchen of on facilities can be a physically strenuous experience. We require our volunteers to be able to be on their feet for 6-8 hours at a time, and be able to lift at least 30 lbs without much difficulty. That being said, there are a variety of jobs for all types of workers and we will work to accommodate the many different skill levels and abilities. We just ask for people who are eager to help and willing to learn! Please email mvprograms@infocus.org to discuss whether or not the work would be a good fit.
  • Why is volunteering important?

  • We could not serve and care for students with excellence if not for our wonderful volunteers. It is absolutely essential, so thank you in advance!
  • Who will I be working alongside?

  • Besides the other kitchen volunteers, you will be working with our Food Services Staff: Brenda Cruz (Head Cook), the Assistant Cook, and three college-aged Vineyard Staff kitchen interns.
  • What will my schedule be?

  • Your schedule will be shift-oriented, usually around eight hours. You will be responsible for either a morning shift lasting from breakfast through the service of lunch (approx. 7am to 1pm) or an evening shift lasting from the end of lunch through the service of dinner and clean-up (approx. 1pm to 8pm). There will also be times of community and fun to engage with the programs and the island.
  • What are the best ways to get to the Vineyard?

  • There are several different ways to get to the Vineyard. The most common (and the only ferry that transports vehicles) is the Steamship Authority out of Woods Hole, MA. Martha's Vineyard also has a small airport and many find flying a quick and efficient alternative to the ferry. For more information about how to get to the Vineyard, please visit the travel section of our website. Please be sure to complete your travel form accurately on your registration to ensure that someone from FOCUS will be at the ferry or airport to pick you up. For day-of travel communications, please email mvprograms@infocus.org or call 508-693-1359. Ideally, we would like volunteers to arrive before 5:00 pm in order to get settled and join us for dinner the evening of their arrival. We ask that you make your departure plans for after 9:00 am. By default you will not be scheduled to serve in the kitchen on your arrival or departure day. Please do not make any travel arrangements until you have received registration confirmation by email.
  • Is there transportation provided while on the Vineyard?

  • Once you are on Martha’s Vineyard you will have limited access to a few vehicles owned by FOCUS. In accordance with FOCUS' Driving Policy, only cleared drivers are allowed to borrow these vehicles. To be cleared, drivers must be 21 years or older, have an MVR (Motor Vehicle Record) review performed on them prior to their arrival, and have a clean driving record as defined by FOCUS' Driving Policy.
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  • The reason you only have limited access is because sometimes all of the vehicles are needed to transport students. Sometimes volunteers opt to bring their personal cars over on the ferry to allow for more flexibility to tour the island during their off hours. If you wish to bring a personal car, there is space to park it in the FOCUS parking lot. You will need to make a ferry reservation well in advance. Once your volunteer dates have been finalized, please visit the Steamship Authority website for current rates and to make a ferry reservation.
  • Can I volunteer while my child is at a program?

  • We would love to have you here volunteering while your child is on a program. In our experience it is also very important to give them the space to fully engage in the program.
  • What is the housing for volunteers?

  • The housing for volunteers will typically be a 6-bedroom cottage on FOCUS' property. If you are volunteering as an individual there is a good chance that you will be sharing a room with another volunteer from your team due to limited space. We can accommodate married couples, but most rooms have two twin-sized beds.

  • Each cottage is equipped with a small working kitchen (refrigerator, stovetop, oven, and microwave) that we suggest using if you have dietary preferences and would like to eat something other than what is being served to the program for a meal. In addition, FOCUS has laundry services that volunteers are welcome to use, as long as it is not a heavy laundry day for the program.
  • What activities does the Vineyard offer?

  • The property sits on gorgeous Uncle Seth’s Pond, which is always accessible. Lambert’s Cove Beach is only a short walk or bike ride away as well. There are a number of shopping and dining options in the towns around the island that we would love for you to experience. Martha’s Vineyard also offers a vast array of outdoor hiking and biking trails.
  • Are there certain things I need to bring?

  • For work in the kitchen we recommend comfortable clothes and shoes. Shoes are required to be close-toed and if you have long hair, you need to be able to pull it back or bring a hat to wear while you are working.
  • Does the program cost anything for me to volunteer?

  • The only charge is a suggested donation of $50 to cover the cost of the background check that we have to perform on all volunteers that will be around our students, housing, food, etc. To donate, please click here and select the fund as "Study Center Programs".
  • Who do I contact about volunteering in the kitchen?

  • Please contact the Summer Programs Office on Martha's Vineyard at mvprograms@infocus.org or 508-693-1359 (June to August) with questions about signing up, transportation, or other inquiries.