We are so pleased to announce that MIPA has been awarded Citizen of the Year by the Mercer Island City Council! The council presented the award yesterday evening at City Hall to a room full of MIPA members, current and past MIPA presidents, and lots of preschoolers! Congratulations to all MIPA members and volunteers (past and present) for your hard work and commitment to making Mercer Island a great place for our kids and families. We are thrilled to share this recognition with you!
Presentation by Mayor Bruce Bassett
In October of 2013, the City had the privilege of opening a very special playground which celebrates the importance of play, a playground which celebrates children of all physical abilities, a playground that encourages exploration and self-challenge. I speak of the newly renovated Luther Burbank playground, a unique and special place that was recently honored for ADA inclusiveness by the Washington Recreation and Park Association.
Yet this evening we’d like to focus not on the playground itself, but on the organization that deserves much of the credit for its design and funding—the Mercer Island Preschool Association.
In fact its work with the City on Luther Burbank is just one recent – and notable–example of this organization’s deep commitment to youth through a community partnership which has benefited the Island for over 80 years.
Typically referred to as “MIPA”, the Mercer Island Preschool Association was one of the first community groups to organize on the Island and has maintained an enduring focus on education and advocacy, community building and parks. Founded in the 1920’s , it has been referred to by our own Jane Meyer Brahm as “the matriarch of kid-centric organizations” – and it’s still going strong.
As a group of volunteers, its guiding principle is an unswerving commitment to the education and well-being of children from birth through Kindergarten. Working in conjunction with Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, MIPA provides funding for preschool scholarships for families in need. Partnering with the City and schools, MIPA supports emergency preparedness in the preschools. Annually MIPA recognizes an outstanding preschool teacher via its Exceptional Educator award.
Further to its community-building charter, MIPA sponsors many annual events including the Preschool Fair, Halloween Party and the much anticipated Toy Swap. And every dollar raised from each event is reinvested back into the community.
Next year MIPA and the community will be celebrating a remarkable milestone – the 50th anniversary of “Circus”, known to many “mature” Island residents as “Circus McGurkus.” This much beloved event is held in partnership with local and regional sponsors bringing on and off-Island families together for a great day of fun.
And of course there is MIPA’s incredible and enduring commitment to our parks and the power of play. In 1962 MIPA was a force behind the establishment of Deane’s Children’s Park; approximately 10 years ago, it again showed its support for the park, sponsoring much of the equipment renovation now known as the “castle.” In 2000, the “Train Park” at Mercerdale opened, thanks to the joint efforts of MIPA and the City’s Parks and Recreation Dept. The Adventure Playground at Deane’s was supported by MIPA in 2010. It has since won a state spotlight award and national recognition as one of just four such creative and inspirational playgrounds in the country. And of course most recently, MIPA provided design assistance and almost $100K in donations toward the renovation of the Luther Burbank playground.
In its 80+ years of existence MIPA has been a tremendous contributor to the sense of community we Islanders enjoy. It is an exceptional organization made up of exceptional people committed to making a difference. And so, on behalf the Mercer Island City Council, I am proud to name the Mercer Island Preschool Association as our Mercer Island Citizen of the year. This is an award well-deserved.