The words “We Love Mercer Island,” hold true for Islanders, who may have seen some brightly colored signs with those words staked around town. Those green and purple hearts symbolize a love for the community and what residents can do to support each other.
The yard signs are part of the annual fall campaign encouraging donations for the Mercer Island Community Fund (MICF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that awards grants to nonprofit organizations and programs on Mercer Island.
“This is a call to all citizens on the Island. We hope you will step up to support this very real need. These nonprofits add so much to our community and by giving to MICF you can show your love for Mercer Island,” said Mary Ann Flynn, Mercer Island resident and MICF grants committee member.
The MICF was started in 1985 when the city celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding — the “Mercerversary.” Long-time community volunteer and Mercer Island resident Lola Deane wanted to create a system of sustainable funding for programs and projects that specifically benefit the Mercer Island community, which found it difficult to qualify for larger government and foundation grants.
Each year the MICF gives many grants to local organizations and projects totalling between $30,000 and $50,000. Run entirely by volunteers, 100 percent of the donations are given to programs and projects that support everyone on Mercer Island from children to the elderly in areas including the arts, community development, social services, education, health, history, the environment and recreation.
Some of the benefiting nonprofits and programs include Youth Theatre Northwest, Shakespeare in the Park, Athletes for Kids, the Island Crest Park Renovation project, Mercer Island Youth and Family Services camperships, Mercer Island Band Boosters, the Mercer Island Farmers Market, the Mercer Island Historical Society, and Mostly Music in the Park.
“The MICF provides Mercer Island families and individuals an opportunity to contribute to one organization that in turn benefits a wide variety of Island charitable cases,” Flynn said.
The MICF will have a booth on Nov. 24 at the Harvest Farmers Market. The green and purple signs will be all over the Island in common spaces, hoping to raise awareness.
MICF board treasurer Bets O’Connell said, “We wanted to just have something positive and community oriented.”
“We’d love to get more donations. All we do is raise money and give it away,” she added. “We support programs for all ages.”
All Island nonprofits and projects offering programs or events that benefit the Mercer Island community are encouraged to apply online for one of the grants. The deadline is Feb. 15.
To donate, learn more, or apply for a grant, go online to www.WeLoveMI.org.
“This is a nice thing that’s been around for a long time, but nobody really knows we’re here, so we’re trying to raise awareness,” O’Connell said. “We love Mercer Island. It’s a great place to raise your family. A great community of great people.”