600 attend annual MIYFS breakfast

MIYFS still looking to reach fundraising goal for maintaining service levels.

The community gathered last week for breakfast food and to support a great cause. Though the breakfast food is gone, the fundraising is not over yet.

On Feb. 12 the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) Foundation held its annual breakfast fundraising event benefiting MIYFS programs at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center. With 600 people registered, the event was sold out.

Pam Hinnen, annual breakfast co-chair and MIYFS Foundation board member, said this was the first time they’ve had to close registration. She said there was a big outpouring of support and table captains were great at recruiting guests. She commended event sponsors for doing great work this year — both new sponsors and increased sponsorships from sponsors who have been generous over the years.

“The event was a really, really big success,” she said. The theme for the occasion was “Hope.”

Overall, $415,000 had been raised as of Feb. 13. While the money goes a long way, MIYFS has yet to reach its fundraising goal.

Hinnen said the fundraising committee had upped its goal to $450,000 this year, to achieve maintenance level services. With the MIYFS Department no longer receiving city funding, she said fundraising is crucial to continue operations.

“We are very appreciative of all of the support that’s come in to date, but we haven’t quite reached that. It does not get us all the way there,” she said. “But with other fundraising initiatives throughout the year, and the community being hugely supportive of the services we provide, I’m sure we’ll get there.”

While the city does provide facilities and support, Hinnen said, “the department really relies on the community for services as they stand.”

The MIYFS services as they stand include the six mental health counselors in schools, emergency assistance services, mental health programs, family support, and drug and alcohol education and care. Overall, the group’s mission is to support the wellbeing of all community members.

Hinnen said the best part of the breakfast event for her personally was the community aspect.

“It was palpable in the room, the energy people had and the emotions,” she said.

She said her co-chair Christina Hendelman wrote a song all about Mercer Island that everyone sang together to the tune of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. She said it was wonderful and crowd rallying.

During the event a video was shown — an animation with a voiceover that touches on the impact and services of MIYFS. There also was a scripted performance by Mercer Island High School drama and Youth Theatre Northwest that Hinnen said was “very powerful” and “resonated.”

“The overall sense of community is what was really powerful,” Hinnen said.

The annual breakfast is the main in-person benefit event of the year for MIYFS, but there are also several fundraising initiatives throughout the year.

Beyond maintaining services, Hinnen said there are also many ways MIYFS could grow in the community and there are many ideas they would love to be able to fund them but they can’t.

More information about contributing to MIYFS is available online at miyfs.org.