Breaking bread for a cause

Nancy Hilliard
Around the Island

"Do not depend on the hope of results ... In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.” - Thomas Merton

Those high school kids are at it again. Yes, caring for others!

MIHS Interact Club is preparing a Vietnamese Luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 9, to benefit the Dong Ha School for Handicapped Children and the DaNang Street Orphanage in Vietnam. Drop in from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church or e-mail to reserve your seat. Adam Bowen, an Interact member, says the fundraiser idea began with the MIHS Vietnam Humanitarian Trip, which has taken place for the last 10 years. Students saw the need for the kids’ computers, library, vocational equipment, a bathroom and even more. This is their way of responding.

Others are too.

Children’s Institute for Learning Differences of Mercer Island extends an open invitation to its “Child at Heart” fundraising luncheon at noon on Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Trina Westerlund, the school’s director, says the proceeds go to “creating an environment in which every child succeeds.” For 30 years, her school — on the North Mercer campus — has helped families and children with learning disabilities, anxiety and disconnects to regain order, self-respect, inclusion and functioning. As many as 50 kids from ages 3 to 18 fill the halls, yet several hundred must be turned away each year for lack of resources.

“Giving From the Heart” benefit breakfast for Mercer Island Youth and Family Services promises “a lively, fast-paced and dynamic event with inspirational testimonials,” says Roger Kjos, its planner. Proceeds support counseling, prevention and intervention, court diversion, family assistance, employment, volunteer and leadership development, and other social services for Islanders. Table captains are now calling their troops to come to the community center from 7:30-9 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13.

If it’s Tuesday, “Friends of the Needy” — men and women from St. Monica Catholic Church — will be stirring things up in the church kitchen for more than 100 guys at the First Avenue Service Center and St. Martin de Porres shelter (which serves 212 homeless men every night). The Friends load up the van at 5:15 p.m. and return by 7:30 p.m., empty yet full, said Leo Werlech and Jim Dykeman, stalwart drivers since the program began 23 years ago.

Low-hanging fruit: Mercer Island’s David Bobanick got a phone call from a farmer in Louisiana a couple of weeks ago. The farmer’s family had received one of the hygiene kits provided for them by Rotary First Harvest after the ravaging hurricane two years ago. “I have this unpicked Satsuma orange grove,” he told Dave, and wondered if he wanted to come harvest it for charity. So Bobanick got on a plane and rallied the New Orleans Rotarians, who then picked and filled truckloads and hauled them to local food banks. The oranges were distributed from food banks within days. “Even more resulted from this reciprocation,” he added. “Now 300 orchards are to be picked, and a Rotary First Harvest has begun there.”

Anyone for a Girl Scout cookie, Campfire mint, UNICEF African chocolate bar made by non-slave labor? Food is the vehicle all right.

Mystery dancer: The exotic Amira, the belly dancer, helps you “explore your creative potential and feel beautiful no matter your age or size,” as you learn belly dancing at the community center on Tuesday evenings. Only $12 for a drop-in session. Who would guess that by day, Amira is the city’s communication coordinator, Joy Johnston!

Presidential Primary: Feb. 19 is our chance to weigh-in. Voters never before registered in Washington state have until Feb. 4 to register to vote in this primary. Democrats on the ballot are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barach Obama and Bill Richardson. Republicans are Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Allen Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. Don’t confuse this with our regular Aug. 19 primary to narrow state and local choices.


Belated happy birthdays, Jan. 21, to Martin Luther King, Jr., in whose name much community service ensued Monday — and to our very own Paul Allen. Imagine sharing stars.

Trading places: Abigail Edwards, vice president and manager of the Factoria Bank of America branch, and Jamey Rogers, manager of the Mercer Island BOA branch, swapped jobs this week. Welcome, Abby, when you go in to get your Utah state quarters.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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