Each year, Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) awards the Flash Family Inspirational Award (FFIA) to honor a Mercer Island adult, aged 55 or older, who exemplifies the spirit of good sportsmanship and/or community leadership, and who possesses an optimistic attitude and friendly demeanor while acting as a role model to others.
The 2019 FFIA honored Island resident and former mayor Elliot Newman.
The recipient is selected by a committee that consists of Mercer Island seniors, staff members of parks and recreation and MIYFS. The award includes a cash prize between $100-300, name engraved on a trophy plaque located at the Community Center at Mercer View, and yearlong possession of FFIA award trophy.
Newman graduated from Penn State in 1963 with a degree in meteorology and later from MIT with a Master of Science degree in atmospheric physics, focused on air pollution. Upon moving to Washington in the 1980s, his initial work locally involved educating Mercer Island residents about the air pollution that would be generated by the expansion of Interstate 90 and ultimately informed improved roadway design.
Newman first served on the city’s Planning Commission in 1986-87, then on the city council from 1988-1995, including two terms as mayor. During that time, he helped lead efforts to raise eco-awareness in order to reduce the Island’s carbon footprint and later served on the city’s sustainability task force.
Newman also helped re-establish senior representation on the MIYFS advisory board to evaluate YFS and parks and recreation services to ensure they reflected the needs of seniors, and to help identify services that had been overlooked. He also served on the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board for 10 years — six years as chair. In addition to his Island activities, Newman has served with many off-Island organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and UW’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
MIYFS director Cindy Goodwin said selecting Newman was “a no-brainer.”
“He’s been a mover and shaker in the community for years,” she said. “He’s contributed so much to the community… He’s one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known.”
Newman received the award at the Jan. 7 city council meeting. Goodwin said she had never seen so many people attend a FFIA award before.
“It was standing room only,” she said. “So many people love him. We had so many people come up and thank us for selecting him.”