Every year, the community and the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) Foundation come together to celebrate and reflect at an annual fundraising breakfast, which will be held this year at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 13 at the Community and Event Center.
MIYFS is a department of the city of Mercer Island, and the sole full service provider for social and human services on the Island. It fosters well-being across the lifespan of Island residents, from students to seniors, and provides affordable family counseling, drug and alcohol prevention programs, family assistance, a city-owned thrift store and more.
The city is facing funding challenges that threaten some of the most beloved MIYFS programs, from the geriatric specialist to the school-based mental health counselors. Some community groups have stepped in to close the gap, but many have been helping consistently for years.
The Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA) donates about $8,000 to MIYFS every year to provide preschool scholarships to families in need, along with fundraising for improvements to Mercer Island parks.
MIPA will be honored with the 2019 MIYFS Foundation Community Philanthropy Award at the upcoming breakfast.
“It’s a really great honor for an organization that’s been on the Island so long,” said MIPA C0-President Traci Granbois. “It’s a reflection on how much MIPA cares about our community, especially the 0-5 set.”
MIYFS noted that MIPA’s relentless hard work “has had lasting effects on generations of Mercer Island preschoolers.” Every year, MIPA sets a fundraising target for MIYFS, and has donated more than $127,000 since 1981.
“Most of it is earmarked for scholarships so that every child who wants to go to preschool may do so,” Granbois said.
Founded in 1937, the MIPA guiding principles remain true: a strong commitment to the education and well-being of children from birth through kindergarten on Mercer Island and the surrounding communities. MIPA was also the first Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of preschool parents in Washington State.
Over the years, MIPA has been a key part of community life on the Island. It has a longstanding partnership with the city of Mercer Island, especially its parks and recreation department. MIPA members donated time and talent to create the Mercer Island Children’s Park in 1962 (fondly known as the “dragon park”), with the addition of the beloved dragon in 1966. MIPA partnered with the city in 2009 to install the new toddlers’ play area and swings at Luther Burbank Park, and also helped raise funds for new playgrounds in Mercerdale Park and Luther Burbank.
MIPA also partners with other community organizations and businesses. It started hosting intergenerational events with retirement communities Aljoya and Covenant Shores, Granbois said. MIPA also fosters community and funds its preschool scholarships by holding several events each year designed exclusively for families of preschool-aged children, including a Summer Concert at Mercerdale Park, Toy Swap, Preschool Fair and the beloved Circus.