Letters to the Editor

Letter | Youth & Family Services offers vital services with your support

Many Islanders recognize Mercer Island Youth and Family Services as the organization that puts counselors in our schools or runs the thrift store. For others, MIYFS might conjure up thoughts of youth volunteer programs, the food bank, or its drug and alcohol prevention programs.

Before I joined the MIYFS Foundation Board, I had a narrow understanding of the mission and broad services provided by MIYFS. I didn’t fully appreciate the real need for basic human services that exists on our Island. I realized other Islanders may need to learn about the importance of this extraordinary organization.

Here are some facts. In 2010, the use of Mercer Island Food Bank increased 40 percent to almost 1,000 visits by Mercer Island families in need. Close to 200 families obtained counseling for reduced fees at the MIYFS Luther Burbank counseling center. MIYFS saw a 25 percent increase in family and emergency assistance services last year alone. Over 650 seniors and their families received specialized geriatric support and assistance. The trend will continue in 2011.

Despite our beautiful surroundings, excellent schools and comfortable lifestyle, we should not overlook the countless families and neighbors on the Island who need help. Many Mercer Islanders face real-life challenges daily — from mental health and domestic violence, to drug and alcohol abuse. We have troubled teens and seniors in distress. Fortunately, we have a vital social services organization that provides badly needed help to those less fortunate. We are truly lucky to have MIYFS: a centralized, human-services department of our city government. It works hand-in-hand with our police, fire and legal departments — as well as our schools — to support all of Mercer Island. MIYFS helps those most at-risk in our community.

This year, more than ever, MIYFS needs our help. MIYFS faces budget cutbacks despite a dramatic increase in demand for services. The organization’s mental health counseling, family and emergency assistance, and senior outreach and advocacy programs are all beyond capacity.

The Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Foundation will host its annual “Giving from the Heart” fundraising breakfast on Wednesday, Feb. 9. We hope to see the biggest turnout ever. Unlike prior years, the campaign will continue throughout the day of the breakfast. Ten Mercer Island businesses have stepped up and committed to donate 25 percent of their revenues that day to the cause — turning a “Giving from the Heart Breakfast” into a “Giving from the Heart Day.”

Please join all of us on Feb. 9 at the breakfast and by shopping at participating businesses the remainder of the day. We are blessed to have such a wonderful organization in our community. More information can be found at www.miyfs.org or by calling (206) 275-7611.

Thank you.

James P. Murphy

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