Rotary makes impact on housing, food security and education

Local chapter will award second student scholarship.

Through their immense support and volunteerism, Mercer Island Rotarians are making an impact on housing and food security on the local and global levels.

On Feb. 2, club members will be sharing information about those issues and their experiences of lending a critical hand to organizations in that realm over the years and in the present day. The all-ages open house will take place from 5-7 p.m. at Realogics|Sotheby’s Office at 7605 SE 27th St. Suite 102 on the Island. Light bites and beverages will be served.

Rotary’s agenda is filled with community service assistance at the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) food pantry and local thrift shop, and for the Harvest Against Hunger and No Islander Goes Hungry (NIGH) initiatives. Rotarians also prepare meals for guests at Seattle’s Operation Nightwatch and help build tiny houses for the homeless in Seattle through the Low Income Housing Institute initiative.

Rotarian Debbi Gillotti said the club’s foundation provides grant funding to the food pantry and supported MIYFS through Harvest Against Hunger during the last holiday season. A Harvest Against Hunger representative will attend the Rotary recruitment event to discuss the club’s support of its mission of connecting farmers, truckers, volunteers and communities to reduce hunger and food waste.

At the upcoming event, Gillotti said the club would ideally like to “bring people in who haven’t been involved with Rotary and might have an interest in those areas, so we can see if they’d like to become members.”

On March 3, Rotary will unveil an education-centered event that will delve into the club’s student scholarship, Mercer Island High School (MIHS) students of the month honors and restarting elementary school tutoring.


In showcasing Rotary’s robust commitment to education, the club has opened the application window for the second yearly installment of its $10,000 scholarship for a graduating Island senior. Applications are due by March 22 and the scholarship will be awarded to a deserving senior — for their accredited continuing education or career training — on April 26.

The four-pronged scholarship criteria is: service above self; academic achievement; character reference; and academic need.

Wally Boos, Rotary member and chair of the scholarship committee, explained the genesis of the scholarship and students reaching their dreams: “We wanted it to be significant. We wanted to have more of an impact for, initially, a student, $10,000. The hope is that we can grow this, whether it’s more students or whether it’s a renewable scholarship.”

Community members contributed the $10,000 to the scholarship, and the inaugural recipient was MIHS 2022 graduate Vaiva Raisys.

Raisys received the award because of her history of community service, stellar grades and an understanding of representing Rotary — whose mission includes community outreach and service — said Boos in a previous Reporter article.

“It’s one small step, but we think it’s a right first step,” Boos added about beginning the scholarship. “We were honored to be a part of that journey for her (Raisys).”

Thus far, Rotary has received the initial seed money to award the scholarship for the first five years. Boos said the club is hoping to get the business community involved with the scholarship as it continues to grow each year and generate a positive reaction throughout the Island.

For more information on Rotary’s recruitment event and the scholarship, visit: