A Call for Help – And an Answer from MIYFS

February 2, 2015 | by Erin Sirianni

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A Guest Letter from Terry Pottmeyer, 2015 Honorary Co-Chair of Giving from the Heart Breakfast, along with Dean Quigley

The call came many years ago, in the late 80s, when my eldest child, now a father himself, was in elementary school. It was an acquaintance I’d met through PTA.

She called to ask for my help.

The wage earner for the family, her husband, had lost his job some time ago. The electric bill was unpaid, the mortgage in arrears, and the kids were hungry.

She was desperate, and she didn’t know what to do.

I was shocked by her call. This was the cheerful volunteer who worked a shift at Metrathon, who shelved books in the school library—I had absolutely no idea that her family was struggling or that her children were headed to school each day tired, scared, and hungry.

What I did know was that she needed much more than the few dollars our family might be able to spare to ‘tide them over’ for a week.

I referred her to Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS), telling her that I thought they might be able to help with the electric bill, food, maybe referrals to other resources? I hung up, worried for her family, and hoping I had been right, that MIYFS really could help.   You see, all I knew for sure about MIYFS back then was that they provided the counselor at our school.

It turned out that my hopes were well founded. She called me back in tears to tell me that MIYFS could help. She was relieved and grateful, and she thanked me again and again. I deflected her gratitude, embarrassed by her thanks — I’d just made a referral, MIYFS had done the rest.

As I hung up I found that I, too, was deeply grateful. The kids would be fed, the lights would stay on, and a knowledgeable professional would be there as the family recovered its footing. MIYFS, my community organization, had done what I could never have done as an individual — help a family in desperate circumstances take care of their kids and each other.

That day I became a whole-hearted supporter of our MIYFS programs.

MIYFS – Origins, our Community & You

MIYFS was founded in 1973. Recognizing that families and youth need help in raising healthy kids, King County made funding available to school district communities to launch Youth Service Bureaus.

Mercer Island pulled together a one-month study to consider the idea, appointing community leaders and experts on youth issues to make a recommendation to the City Council. This year’s breakfast co-chair, Dean Quigley, served on this committee. They recommended the immediate adoption of a ‘youth service bureau’, the council agreed and in March, 1973 MIYFS was launched.

What an important day and decision for Island families.

Over the decades, the needs of our youth and families have changed, and MIYFS has responded. Today, MIYFS provides support for youth, families, and elders, ensuring that the human needs of our community are met professionally, compassionately, and comprehensively.

MIYFS makes it possible for every individual in our community to work together to support each other through the ups and downs of life.

We’ll be celebrating this wonderful organization and its work at a community breakfast on February 11th. We’ll also be renewing our responsibility to ensuring its continued ability to meet the needs of Island residents by making our individual donations to support the work of MIYFS.

Together, we can accomplish what none of us can do alone – ensuring that our community’s youth and families and seniors have the support they need to thrive.

Come have breakfast with Dean and me – the food is good, the location convenient and the cause the very best—your community.

Dean Quigley served on the 1973 task force recommending the creation of a Youth Service Bureau on Mercer Island. Terry Pottmeyer served on the board of the MIYFS Foundation, helping to launch the first ‘Giving from the Heart’ breakfast event. They both have seats available at their tables and would love to share breakfast with you on February 11th.