There are 197 nonprofits connected with Mercer Island; 11 of these pertain to children and youth, 10 to human services, 16 to arts and culture, and 28 to education.
Anyone connected with these charities and faith communities knows that the very existence of these organizations is directly dependent upon volunteers. This was shown so clearly by the front page article in the Mercer Island Reporter on Oct. 9. It is a fair guess that at least half the volunteers for our nonprofits come from off the Island, and this can be specifically shown for the 501(c)(3) that I run, the Pipe Organ Foundation, where a quarter of our volunteers come from the Seattle side, a quarter come from the Bellevue side, and half from Mercer Island. Further, the research I did earlier this year and reported to the City Council on Jan. 22 showed that the typical faith community here has up to half of its people coming from off the Island.
The above demonstrates that we are a community highly committed to charitable activities, that we believe in helping people whether they live on the Island or off, and that we care about arts, culture, religion and education. The above also demonstrates that this work of ours is highly dependent upon off-Island people.
So the question is; would these people be willing to pay to come and volunteer, and would they be willing to pay to come to church? Indeed, would you be willing to do either of these things?
When the toll was placed upon SR-520, traffic diminished by 30 percent and it has stayed down. The nonprofits on Mercer Island can expect a similar loss of volunteers from off the Island and a similar loss in contributions from off-Island people. Can your congregation or charity afford such a loss in either volunteerism or budget?
Given the above, how can any of us be less than completely opposed to tolling I-90? In less than five minutes, you can make a difference by clearly indicating your concern on a very simple form with the state Department of Transportation: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I90/CrossLakeWATolling/eiscomments.htm or simply send an email to email@example.com or write to Angela Angove, 999 Third Avenue Suite 2200, Seattle, WA, 98104. Do it now and certainly before the deadline of Nov. 6.