Opinion

MIY&FS: Teens" commitment shows the way

Cheryl Frizzell

Island Forum

It is not often a parent is able to follow in the footsteps of one's child; it is usually the child following in the parent's footsteps. I was fortunate to follow my children in their commitment to Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) and our community.

Both of my children began their commitment to community many years ago through the VOICE program, a youth volunteer program of MIYFS. VOICE engages over 150 young people each summer, providing over 10,000 hours of community service to nonprofit programs in King County. My children supported the outdoor projects of Washington Trails Association, Mountains to Sound and especially our own MI Parks Department. Their commitment to maintaining trails, removing invasive species, and restoring wetlands was inspiring, enlightening and contagious. Though I chose not to wield a Pulaski or roll yards of uprooted ivy into balls, I did seek involvement in supporting Mercer Island's Youth and Family Services and am currently serving on the Foundation Board.

You too will soon have the opportunity to support our community. The MIYFS Foundation is seeking your financial support for all the outstanding programs offered by Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. Though the VOICE program hooked me, it is just one piece of a very comprehensive program of services.

MIYFS is here for our community supporting all ages, all of the time. The mission of MIYFS is to provide, coordinate and advocate for high quality, affordable human services for Mercer Island. Its vision is a healthy community for all its members. A few of the services offered are:

- MIYFS school-based counseling programs: MIYFS works in partnership with the Mercer Island School District to provide professional mental health counseling at each public school in the district. In 2004 there were over 2,300 student contacts with counselors. Counselors work with students, families and staff on issues such as peer relationships, managing stress, depression and anxiety, self-esteem, family concerns, and substance abuse.

- Arrested Youth Programs: Court diversion agreements are developed for arrested youth as an alternative to the formal juvenile court system. In 2004, 100% of the youth involved completed their diversion commitments.

- Individual and Family Counseling: Professional counseling is available to Islanders of all ages to help resolve problems and deal with life events. Low and moderate-income clients are served using a sliding fee scale.

- Senior Outreach and Advocacy: The Geriatric Specialist provides services to senior island adults and their families to help deal with late life transitions such as coordinating health care, connecting to social services, housing and transportation, caregivers support, and home help.

- Family Assistance and support: A variety of resources are provided to families in need including Food Pantry support, resource information and seasonal holiday assistance.

All of these programs and more, fill a critical need in our community and they all need your support. The city in approving the current budget has capped their support to MIYFS for the foreseeable future. Any increase in services or need will need to be made up through additional contributions from the independent arm of the MIYFS Foundation. Letters are being mailed next week asking you to make a donation to the foundation. We rely on your support to keep current programs in place and plan for the future.

We know there have been many local and national organizations asking for your help in this crisis-filled year. As you and your family determine where to spend your charitable dollars, please consider the place you call home, Mercer Island. The need at home doesn't stop when the winds blow thousands of miles away. With a donation to the MIYFS Foundation, you are directly supporting the MIYFS programs which support all members of our wonderful community.

Your generosity is greatly appreciated, thank you.

Cheryl Frizzell is currently serving as Treasurer of the MIYFS Foundation Board.

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