May 02, 2023

Community Partner Spotlight: Mercer Island Presbyterian Church

Honoring over a decade of partnership

“I love the Sunday in July when staff from Friends of the Children–Seattle come to Mercer Island Presbyterian Church (MIPC) to speak about the great work they are doing,” said Susan Williamson, a church member. Every summer since 2011, MIPC has hosted a backpack drive to ensure that each of the youth at Friends–Seattle—and even some of their siblings—can start the school year with all the materials they need. As the Friends of the Children network celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, we want to honor MIPC for their contributions to the Seattle chapter through the years.

“It is a huge honor to support [Friends’] unwavering dedication to meeting the needs of the kids in their care, demonstrating their importance, value as people and potential in impacting the world,” said Lindsay Murphy, one of the pastors at MIPC. Friends–Seattle’s mission resonated with MIPC’s commitment to serving kids in their local community. “We discovered Friends through a colleague familiar with the needs of students in the Seattle area. He told us that he believed Friends was working and why,” recalls Glo Ceteznik, another MIPC member who has been instrumental in the ongoing success of this partnership. “Pairing a student with a mentor from K-12 is not inexpensive, but its success is validated by data, including the number of students who remain in school and graduate.

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Friends-Seattle program youth show off their new backpacks from MIPC's backpack drive

Our professional mentors work closely alongside their youth to help them develop their own interests, set and pursue goals, and cultivate a sense of belonging. Having the right supplies is an important step for youth to be able to achieve those objectives at school. “[MIPC] has been an integral part of us being able to send our youth back to school prepared and confident,” said Sophia Moreno, a Friends–Seattle professional mentor and Program Project Lead. “It has been such a blessing to be able to distribute backpacks and check things off our youth's school supply list with their years of support.”

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Friends-Seattle staff load new backpacks to bring back to the office for youth

As the Friends–Seattle chapter has grown, so has MIPC’s support, which has included financial and in-kind contributions as well as volunteer power. In recent years, they have provided graduation gifts to our middle schoolers, high schoolers and graduating seniors. The backpack drive remains the highlight of the year; the MIPC congregation and Friends–Seattle staff fill dozens of backpacks full of school supplies down a lively assembly line. “It is a great work party for all ages and so rewarding to load up vehicles with the fruits of our labor for Friends to transport back to the students and families they serve,” said Williamson.

The partnership is a source of joy for all involved. “This relationship has shown...how long-term relationships and [the dedication of] donors have a positive impact on our organization,” said Sheena Fanuncial, Teen Program Director at Friends–Seattle. We are so grateful to MIPC for the impact they have made over the past decade and will continue to make on our youth and the greater Seattle community.

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“It has been such a blessing to be able to distribute backpacks and check things off our youth's school supply list with [MIPC's] years of support.”

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