The most local teenagers at the last Friday night probably didn't have a clue who Johnny Carson was, but that didn't stop Marshall Jamieson from putting on his best impersonation for the fundraising gathering to promote Christian values amongst Mercer Island youth.
Jamieson and his wife Emily head up the Mercer Island Young Life program, a Christian youth ministry that introduces teens to Jesus Christ and what it means to be Christian. Living about four houses away from host a "Friday Lunch Clubs" in their home for about 150 high school students.
To meet what Jamieson and Young Life sees as a growing need nationally for charitable works to those in need in the community, Jamieson has also enlisted the help ofabout 20 adult Young Life leaders to help them in their mission.
Residents on Mercer Island often look put together and "polished," he said. But just under the surface of that veneer, many residents are struggling to make ends meet and their home life is a "wreck".
"Kids are suffering," he said. "That's why we're here."
The Young Life event raised more than $47,000, doubling donations from last year's event. A group of enterprising MIHS Juniors — who were offering to cook and serve dinner twice in a live auction item to raise money — attracted two winning bids for $450 each. The silent auction brought in over $5000. There was even a "Young Life Tonight Show Band" made up of Risley Lesko (guitar), Chris Costa (bass) and Josh Omdal (drums).
Following the format of "The Tonight Show", MIHS Sophomore Brook Misselwitz starred as Jamieson's first "guest" and spoke about her faith and offered praise for her Young Life leader, Janelle Iversen. A recent University of Washington college graduate, Iversen provides sophomore girls with guidance, friendship and support — including attendance at Misselwitz's MIHS Volleyball games, among other extra-curricular events.
Speaker Bob Marshall, a.k.a. 'Ed McMahon', said donations to Young Life were investments in people who engage in relationships and offer a positive influence on local children.
"Your investment gets an infinte return."
Parent John Morse added that he's impressed with Young Life because they "seek out our kids" on their turf, instead of asking kids to come to a church building.
"Our kids choose to engage in a spiritual life on their own time," he said.