Supporting the Mercer Island community and giving back to local organizations is second nature to Laurie and Victor Raisys — owners of Island Books.
This is why the Mercer Island City Council recognized the duo as the 2017 Citizen of the Year on June 19.
As third generation Islanders, Laurie and Victor bought Island Books in July 2015 after working at Microsoft and “have worked diligently to preserve the sense of community found at the bookstore and enhance this local legacy ever since,” according to a city press release.
The Raisys have sponsored special events like the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services’ Giving From The Heart Breakfast and Shopping Day, The Mercer Island Schools Foundation Breakfast, the Farmers Market, Summer Celebration and supported the local business community through the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, where Victor is a board member.
In addition to sponsoring events, they also host fundraisers in their store. Not only do they donate the space for the event, they contribute a percentage of the profits from that night to the fundraising group – groups such as school sports groups, band and arts programs and Island chorus groups.
In their little corner of the Island, the Raisys’ are “building a better community, simply by creating a gathering space” for senior and adult reading groups, author readings, children’s sing-alongs, book signings, new book release parties and Independent Bookstore Day, according to the press release.
“Laurie and Victor have preserved Island Books’ mark in the community and in the Puget Sound region as much more than just a place to buy books,” the release continues. “It is ‘a true community experience,’ and distinguishes itself from online booksellers with high levels of customer service and a professional, experienced, and knowledgeable staff of booksellers. It’s people like Laurie and Victor, and enduring legacies like Island Books, that help make Mercer Island the best place to live in Washington.”
The council began recognizing outstanding efforts of citizens in 1990 and has continued this tradition for more than 25 years.
Honorees are individuals or entities whose achievements may have gone unrecognized in some settings, but who have improved Island life through a broad base of community service, fundraising or other means.