Local residents have been extremely generous to organizations providing relief to those in need during the coronavirus crisis. But it's also important to recognize that nonresident homeowners—summer folks—are also helping in a major way, even though they weren't exactly welcomed here when the when the current situation began to unfold.
Despite being admonished for leaving places like Boston, New York and New Jersey for their homes on the Cape, many summer residents have nonetheless provided considerable financial assistance to local nonprofits. A group of Chatham second home owners, frequent contributors to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod, put up a $125,000 matching challenge to pay for a second mobile food pantry vehicle for the agency. Contributions from residents both summer and year-round resulted in $343,000 being raised, according to Pantry Executive Director Christine Menard. That will allow the pantry to purchase two new trucks, expand the program to include Orleans (it now covers Chatham, Brewster, Dennis and Eastham) and have funds left to support it.
That's just one example. Chatham Wayside Inn owner David Oppenheim said he sent an email to a group of second home owners, some of whom he barely knew, suggesting that they could help the community by donating to several organizations, including Monomoy Community Services, WE CAN, Cape Cod Hospital and the Family Pantry. The result was more than $130,000 in donations. “Most summer people are enormously generous,” he said.
There are other examples, including many of the donors to the Chatham Coronavirus Impact Fund. What's clear is that summer residents understand, as much as year-round residents, what a special place this is, and for many it's also a safe place. That's probably why many came here at the start of the crisis. They also understand that they can help the people who live here year-round and are having a difficult time due to the shutdown. We hope they all followed the recommendation of local officials to quarantine for 14 days to ensure they are healthy. And we also hope that they can see beyond the understandable fear some may have had upon their arrival and continue to contribute to the community.