YFS essential to Island | Island Forum

More than 23,000 people call Mercer Island home. And for 39 years, Mercer Island Youth and Family Services has helped Mercer Islanders take care of their own.

Given the demographic profile and some stereotypes, it may be surprising to many that Mercer Island has a need for a social services organization like Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. In fact, Mercer Island, like every community in my district and across the state, has residents who may need support from a food bank, appreciate donated holiday gifts and meals,  can’t afford the backpack full of required school supplies, or need affordable pre-school and summer camp programs. Mercer Island, like every community, has students who are struggling with family concerns, anger, alcohol and drug issues, friendships, grief and stress; individuals, couples and families who need counseling services; and seniors who need a little support to live independently in their homes.

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services is the organization that helps Mercer Islanders take care of their own — cutting across demographic and socioeconomic lines — to provide programs and services that help all Islanders thrive. The programs are comprehensive and targeted specifically at the Island community.

MIYFS assistance programs provide a safety net for Island residents experiencing a crisis including short-term assistance for essential expenses including rent, utilities or child care, and a food bank that supports hundreds of Island families annually.

MIYFS support programs are focused on improving the health and well-being of all Island residents and include a mental health counselor housed in every MISD school, a substance abuse specialist at IMS and MIHS, family counseling on a sliding fee scale, and in-home visits for Island seniors.

MIYFS Development Programs empower Islanders to grow, enrich and strengthen their community through volunteer opportunities at the Mercer Island Thrift Shop, youth philanthropic service programs, and community-based drug and alcohol abuse awareness programs.

I think of Mercer Island Youth and Family Services as a great example of how a public/private partnership can really work to the benefit of the community. The Thrift Shop provides the majority of funding, the nonprofit MIYFS Foundation delivers donations from the community, and the local government provides some minimal infrastructure and support.

I encourage you to support Mercer Island Youth and Family Services during their annual Giving from the Heart Campaign throughout February — in whatever way you can: whether you attend the fundraising breakfast, shop and dine at local stores donating 20 percent of their revenue on Feb. 13, answer the call to support your school counselor.

Working together with Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, we care for those who are vulnerable in this community. I am proud to represent you in Olympia and know that Mercer Island joins communities across the state by valuing all families with prevention efforts, assistance and crisis intervention.

Marcie Maxwell is a member of the state House of Representatives for District 41.


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