About 600 Islanders attended the Mercer Island Youth and Services (MIYFS) Foundation Annual Breakfast Wednesday morning to celebrate “16 years of giving from the heart,” with a focus on healthy youth.
The Feb. 7 breakfast has raised $215,000 so far, which organizers said marks a 16 percent increase over last year’s “in the room” total. The initial tally doesn’t include the donations made by MIYFS business partners.
MIYFS is a department of the city of Mercer Island, and receives funding from many sources, including the Mercer Island Thrift Shop, the city’s General Fund and the foundation.
MIYFS is the sole full service provider for social and human services in the city, and is the “safety net” for Mercer Island. Some of its programs include 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.
Cindy Goodwin, MIYFS director, said that as the community and the region grow, her department hopes to flex to meet the needs of Islanders. Both MIYFS and the foundation have been strategically planning, evaluating their services and priorities of the community as the city faces financial challenges and an impending budget deficit.
MIYFS Foundation Board President Pam Hinnen said that MIYFS is a public-private partnership, and that in 2017, the community helped fund many MIYFS programs, including a second counselor at Islander Middle School, more resources for the summer volunteer program, increased staffing at the Thrift Shop and more year-round emergency assistance.
MIYFS organizes the annual breakfast not only to raise money, but also to show the community the impact of its donations. It’s a chance for Islanders who have used the services provided by the organization — and who have benefitted from the sense of community it fosters — to share their personal stories.
The speakers at this year’s breakfast were Fred Rundle, the assistant superintendent of the Mercer Island School District who spoke about the unique partnership between the district and the city to support students, and Hannah Stewart, a Mercer Island High School senior who recently recently received an award at the Washington State Prevention Summit for Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year.
Stewart said that she is passionate about prevention and promoting healthy norms, which aligns with one of the goals of the MIYFS Healthy Youth Initiative: to prevent the harms associated with underage alcohol and drug use, enhancing mental health.
The event also featured a video about the many ways counselors can help students, from navigating friendships to coping with stress, anxiety and depression. Rundle noted that Feb. 5-9 is National School Counseling Week.
This year’s breakfast chairs were Katharine Lamperti and Jenny McPherson. At the event, Hinnen presented Kara McCulloch of Orthodontic Associates of Mercer Island with the Community Philanthropy Award.
See www.miyfs.org for more.