Opinion

Make a difference here | Island Forum

There are a number of reasons why people give to charitable organizations. Among those reasons are desires to make a difference and to belong to a community. Gifts to the Mercer Island Community Fund allow donors to satisfy both of these desires.

As part of Mercer Island’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of its incorporation, MICF celebrated its 25th anniversary. Started in 1985 as part of this city’s 25th anniversary of incorporation, MICF allows Islanders to participate in the development of a healthy community enjoyed by people on and off the Island. During the past 15 years alone, MICF has awarded grants totaling over $217,000. Among its many grants was one to the Mercer Island Farmers Market (a summer Sunday destination), and a number of grants to the Mercer Island Youth & Family Services to help that organization meet the Island’s human service needs.

What makes your gifts to MICF particularly meaningful is the number of lives that are touched and impacted. This past year, MICF awarded a grant to Youth Theatre Northwest so that YTN would have funds to cover the production costs of “The Big Bad Wolf,” which is a play by the late Greg Palmer, who was an Islander. Manuel Cawaling, who is the YTN executive director, stated, “MICF grants allow YTN to provide live theater experience for youth from ages 3 through 18. This past year there were 250 auditioned roles, and about 70 percent of those roles were filled by Island youth.” He also mentioned that “the YTN experience is unique because it focuses upon the development of the whole youth, encouraging creativity, improving communication skills and confidence-building. In addition, YTN helps strengthen family bonds by involving all members in this experience. Parents and siblings help in the box office, work the concessions or help in marketing.”

MICF also awarded a grant to the MI School District to help fund a dance program at the Island’s three elementary schools. Jesse Jaramillo, who is the Island Park Elementary School P.E. instructor and coordinator of the districtwide program, says that this program impacts over 1,700 Island students. The MICF grant, along with other sources, made it possible to hire instructors to help teach the students dancing concepts (space, force and time) and to mentor other P.E. teachers on these concepts. Mr. Jaramillo stated, “Children do better academically if they are provided with creative outlets and opportunities to engage in physical movement. They need the ability to express themselves with their bodies.”

As you can see, your past gifts to MICF have served the needs of many Islanders and have strengthened this community. During this month, a number of you will receive letters from MICF asking you to make a gift. If you do not get a letter, please consider making a tax-deductible donation of any amount to MICF online by going to the new MICF Web site: www.micommunityfund.net, or by sending a check to the following address:

Mercer Island Community Fund

P.O. Box 751

Mercer Island, WA 98040

Please join the MICF community this year. Make a gift and make a difference.

Benson D. Wong, MICF president

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