Over the weekend, a post appeared on the Mercer Island community site, Nextdoor.com, with the topic “Are Islanders Friendly?” The post quickly produced many responses, especially in reference to the “Seattle Freeze.”
If you are unfamiliar with the expression, it describes the perceived challenge of making friends in Seattle. This isn’t the first time the “Seattle Freeze” has been discussed on Nextdoor.com, and many people agreed that the freeze extends to the island as well.
Different reasons have been given for the “freeze,” i.e. many people have grown up here and already have a social network; professional lifestyles that require longer work hours and less time for socializing; and Seattle’s Nordic roots. A few stories of plain unfriendliness and rude encounters have been exchanged too.
In my six years of living on Mercer Island, I’m grateful that my unfriendly encounters have been few, but it wasn’t easy being new either. Now, I can hardly go to the grocery store without bumping into a couple people I know, and I am friends and friendly with more people here than in all the other places I’ve lived combined – and I’ve lived in quite a few places!
Having kids makes things easier, but the real reason for my experience is that I joined the Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA). I became a dedicated volunteer, and I bonded with the people I met through our mutual commitment to MIPA’s mission (and our desire to escape for a few evening hours and enjoy a glass of wine together).
While I highly recommend that anyone with babies and preschool-aged kids join MIPA, there are many organizations on Mercer Island to join and become more connected to the community. The Mercer Island Women’s Club’s motto is “friendship starts here,” or if you’re interested in networking, the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce or Mercer Island Rotary Club might be a great fit for you.
Are you part of an organization or club? What do you like about it? Feel free to share in the comments.
Best Organizations to Join on Mercer Island
Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce
About: The Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce supports the growth, development, and advancement of the businesses of Mercer Island while promoting the Island as a special place to live, work and play.
Member info: A member-funded, nonprofit group of business and professional people, the Chamber holds membership luncheon meetings on the first Thursday of the month featuring speakers on topics of local and regional interest.
Mercer Island Preschool Association
About: Established in 1937, Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA) is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization devoted to improving the education and well being of children, ages birth to Kindergarten on Mercer Island, as well as in the greater Seattle area and Eastside communities. MIPA offers local families many highly regarded and well-attended family events, concerts, lectures, socials and playgroups. MIPA is a PTA affiliate and 501(c)(3) organization.
Member info: MIPA has a variety of membership options and members are mostly families of children ages 0 to 5. MIPA hosts monthly membership meetings, which often include social time and educational speakers.
Mercer Island Rotary Club
About: The Rotary Club of Mercer Island was chartered in December 1963 to meet the needs of Mercer Island residents, business and community leaders who wanted a Rotary relationship. The Club organizes the annual Mercer Island Rotary Half Marathon, which encourages runners and walkers to put their feet forward to help support Colon Cancer Awareness and Prevention, and to support the Mercer Island Rotary Foundation with its contributions to local, regional and international charitable organizations.
Member info: The club has grown over the years to more than 150 members who meet at noon every Tuesday, at the Mercer Island Community & Events Center. A number of our founding members are still active today.
Mercer Island School District – Parent Teacher Associations (PTA/PTSAs)
About: Each of Mercer Island School District’s PTAs support and enrich children’s academic and social education experience through PTA programs, social events, and fundraisers. PTAs also keep parents informed through regular e-newsletters.
Member info: Information about joining each individual school’s PTAs is available on the websites below.
Mercer Island Women’s Club
About: The Mercer Island Women’s Club is a social and philanthropic organization that welcomes all women who are current residents of Mercer Island, Washington. Whether you are new to Mercer Island or a long-time resident, we invite you to participate. We are a club of women who are diverse in every way yet find common interests and bonds with lasting friendships.
Member info: Over 350 enthusiastic women of all ages enjoy a variety of activities tailored to the interests of the current membership. Whether you are single or married, have free time during the day or in the evening, there are activities for you.
Stroum Jewish Community Center
About: The SJCC is a hub of Jewish life and culture on Mercer Island and welcoming to all. Adults can join a sports league or a book club and attend events in the Kesher Garden or the newly remodeled state-of-the-art auditorium. Seniors can learn to play bridge, join fitness classes, and attend our popular Jewish Touch Series.
Member info: The SJCC offers a variety of membership options including a Cultural Arts membership.
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.” ~Aristotle