Community Fund: 20 years of supporting MI

The year was 1985 and it was the city's 25th anniversary. Our community celebrated with a party called ``Mercerversary.'' As part of the celebration there was a charity auction which provided seed money for a brand new Mercer Island organization: the Mercer Island Community Fund.

Twenty years have come and gone since that humble beginning. During those years, the Community Fund has provided grants to countless charitable organizations on Mercer Island to provide support for arts, education, drug prevention, recreation, public safety and more. Each grant has enhanced and supported the quality of life in our community.

These grants have been made possible through community donations and the efforts of the Community Fund's all-volunteer board. The principal, which grows each year, is invested with the Seattle Foundation and now exceeds $210,000. Several times a year the board meets to consider requests for support from Island organizations and provides grants to support a broad range of worthy causes.

But why does an affluent community like Mercer Island need a community fund?

For starters, it is often difficult for Mercer Island organizations to secure off-island funding because of the perception that we do not need financial support. Members of our own community sometimes share this belief. But despite this perception, many Island organizations do need funds to make good ideas a reality for all of our citizens. The Community Fund is a vital source for these organizations, helping out when funding isn't available elsewhere.

As residents we are confronted with multiple requests for financial support from Island organizations. The Community Fund is a way for families and individuals to contribute to one organization that in turn benefits a wide variety of Island causes -- simplifying the process of charitable giving while strengthening our community.

Here are just a few of the organizations that have received Community Fund grants:

? Ellsworth House

? Friends of the Library

? Mercer Island Emergency Management Committee

? Mercer Island Fire Department CPR Program

? Mercer Island High School's Career Day

? Mercer Island High School Marching Band

? Mercer Island Public Safety Dive Team

? Mercer Island Summer Celebration

? Mercer Island Youth and Family Services

? Mercer Island Special Olympics

? Mercer Island Strivers

? Mostly Music in the Park

? Safe Rides Program

? Sunnybeam School

? West Mercer PTA Playground

? Wooden O Theatre Productions

? Youth Theatre Northwest

These grants have been made possible through the generosity of the many Mercer Island citizens who have supported the Community Fund for the past 20 years with their charitable giving.

This week marks the start of our annual fund drive, a time to renew our commitment to our community. We need your help to continue to support the arts, education, public safety and countless other causes that make Mercer Island such a special place to live, work and play.

Please send your tax-deductible donation to the Mercer Island Community Fund, Post Office Box 751, Mercer Island, WA 98040. The Community Fund is also a recognized charity of the United Way, so you can designate your United Way contributions directly to the Mercer Island Community Fund.

We are all asked to support countless worthy causes and organizations -- thank you for supporting your Mercer Island community with a donation to the Community Fund.

Terry Pottmeyer is president of the Mercer Island Community Fund.

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