About 600 Islanders attended the annual Mercer Island Youth and Services (MIYFS) Foundation Breakfast Wednesday morning to celebrate “15 years of giving from the heart.”
The Feb. 8 breakfast was the “biggest fundraiser in MIYFS history,” raising $345,000 — a 56 percent increase over 2015’s total and nearly $100,000 over the group’s goal. The initial tally doesn’t include the donations made by MIYFS business partners yesterday.
MIYFS organizes the event to show the community the impact of its donations, providing personal stories of Islanders that have used the services provided by the organization, which is run by the city of Mercer Island.
MIYFS receives funding from many sources, including the Mercer Island Thrift Shop (55 percent), the city’s General Fund (20 percent) and the Foundation (6.4 percent).
As the “safety net” for Mercer Island, MIYFS provides many services, including mental health counseling, diversion and early intervention programs, senior services, family and emergency assistance, school-based mental health counselors at all six of the Island’s public schools, youth leadership and community service programs and Communities that Care, which was the topic of keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Haggerty’s address at the breakfast.
Haggerty, the director of the Social Development Research Group in the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, is a principal investigator on a variety of substance abuse prevention studies. One of the goals of MIYFS’ Healthy Youth Initiative is to prevent the harms associated with underage alcohol and drug use, enhancing mental health.
As the city faces funding challenges, MIYFS Foundation board member Jody Kris said the department requires more from private donors than ever before, and that the community’s generosity is needed just to keep the current level of service.
“[YFS] is here for all Islanders… but needs to be properly staffed and funded,” Kris said.
She urged attendees to think about their contributions not as donations, but as investments in the community, noting that MIYFS “will be here for you and your family if you need it.”
This year’s breakfast chair was Sue Wagner, and the Master of Ceremonies was KUOW’s Bill Radke. At the event, MIYFS Foundation board president Pam Hinnen presented the Mercer Island Lions Club with the Community Philanthropy Award.
Those not able to make it to the breakfast could still support MIYFS today by shopping at 13 local businesses on Feb. 8.
Learn more at www.miyfs.org.