Nancy Hilliard Welcome summer — and extended hands

As summer becomes official, Islanders throng to our walking-biking trails. Not only do more dog-walkers surface, but hired sitters manage “leash bouquets” attached to assorted pups. Skateboarders join in, free from the classroom and often with cell phones attached to their ears.

We shudder as some bikers with renewed zest whiz by us from behind with no bells, whistles or shouts to forewarn us. It’s inevitable that someone will be mowed down by the speed racers. Is the answer rear-view mirrors for pedestrians or back signs that read “sound before passing?”

Island Wayfarers: Several MIHS students took the podium on June 16 as City Council adopted a temporary-use agreement with the United Methodist Church to house up to 100 homeless people on its parking lot, Aug. 1 to Nov. 1. “Homelessness is not a person, it’s a situation,” said Morgan Schoenecker, who lives across from where Tent City 4 will be located. The senior said she had visited two other Tent Cities and regards this one as “a phenomenal opportunity for Mercer Island, greater than the fears expressed here tonight.” No wonder that Morgan recently won the Tyler Cox Award as inspirational senior at MIHS, noted Mayor Jim Pearman.

Homeless people already are part of our mix, according to MI Youth and Family Services, which reports that they use our local food pantry. They possibly “couch surf,” live in their vehicles or outside in good weather. Currently, the pantry is low and in need of more donations, says Derek Franklin, its manager. It serves an average of 10 persons per week and its overall use is up 36 percent from this time last year. Thirty percent of its clients are unemployed, 30 percent have low incomes, 23 percent are people with disabilities, 10 percent are senior citizens — and 7 percent are homeless.

Especially needed are non-perishable food items with protein, such as soup or chili with meat, protein drinks, nut spreads and beans-rice meals. Also accepted are grocery gift cards and toiletries. Drop them off at the old brick building at Luther Burbank; it’s best to call ahead (275-7611) and coordinate with Cheryl Hudson Manriquez. The food pantry will be available to Tent City 4 residents; however, the organization has indicated that it does not plan to access it. For more details on how to apply for assistance or supply needs, contact Franklin at or Manriquez.

Summer volunteer programs for 275 MI teens are underway through Aug. 18. Volunteer Outreach in Communities Everywhere (VOICE) for high school youth and Summer Volunteer Program (SVP) for middle schoolers will help make meals for homeless people in Seattle. They also will improve walking trails, create art, help with music festivals in the area and more. VOICE volunteers complete at least eight projects; SVP volunteers serve on six. Although there’s no room for more registrants, Michelle Morse, MIYFS, has information on other year-round volunteer opportunities, 275-7755.

Tea Treasures is a cozy little shop that opened in the Avellino Building next to Baskin & Robbins in May. Elizabeth Borges, proprietor, has sold boxed tea and tea-to-go since opening; but, beginning in July, she will serve tea at tables in her shop. You may even buy tea sets for dolls or pungent herbal and spiced infusions. She expects to have developed a “full tea house” with a stage for poetry readings and such by the end of the year. Drop in to learn the differences between English, Russian, Moroccan, Japanese and French tea traditions, or check her wares at She gives lessons on Sundays about the art of tea time along with choice recipes; and she caters.

Mariners are on ice, but Ichiroll’s hot! Joana Chong and her Safeco Field enterprise called “Ichiroll,” after Mariner center-fielder Ichiro Suzuki, made the June 8 travel section of the N.Y. Times for her “spicy tuna roll, fresh and meaty and seasoned with wasabi that has a kick as big as Juan Marichal’s. It’s served with hot and cold sake, miso soup and boxes of edamame and chocolate-dipped Pocky.” The Reporter wrote about Chong shortly after she opened her Rice ‘N’ Roll restaurant. She is an Island resident who trained as a nurse in Korea before stopping work to raise three boys.

Cross pollination: Cati Rodriguez, MI exchange student from Chile living with host parents, Melinda and Paul Booth, returns home in July. Next incoming exchange student at MIHS will be Can Altuglu, a boy from Bodrum, Turkey. Host families are needed. Lillian Bailey, MI’s exchange student who has been in Chile, also returns in July. High schoolers interested in an outbound exchange next year may contact John Naye, 236-0815.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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