You’re invited to a Merriman-sponsored Earth Day planting event!

When: April 20th and April 27th, 2013, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: McCormick Park in Duvall, WA

I am pleased to announce that Merriman employees and their families will be partnering with Sound Salmon Solutions to plant trees along the Snoqualmie River to help restore salmon habitat!

On April 20th and 27th, we will be working side by side with Sound Salmon Solutions staff and volunteers to restore salmon habitat at McCormick Park along the banks of the Snoqualmie River in downtown Duvall, WA.  Over 1,600 new trees need to be planted! These new trees will provide shade, erosion control, and essential food and habitat for the insects that rearing juvenile salmon need during multiple stages of their lives

If you are interested in making a positive impact on the future of salmon populations and our community, please come join us!  This is a unique site where volunteers will have the opportunity to see exactly how big of a positive impact their efforts will have on salmon recovery in as little as 5 years!

Please join us by emailing Dave@Merriman.com or signing up directly with Sound Salmon Solutions!

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Volunteering with Friends of the Cedar River Watershed

I consider myself very fortunate to work at Merriman for many reasons, two of them being our dedication to community involvement and our commitment to being a “green” organization. Merriman employees are given 100 hours per year to volunteer at other non-profit organizations during regular business hours. As someone who is passionate about watershed restoration and education, I have chosen to use my volunteer hours assisting Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.

Friends of the Cedar River Watershed has been a private, non-profit organization since 1996. Their mission is to engage people to enhance and sustain watersheds through restoration, education, and stewardship.

The Cedar River and Lake Washington Watershed is the land area in which rainwater drains to Lake Washington and out through the Hiram Chittenden Locks in Ballard. The watershed includes the Cedar River and its tributaries, May Creek, Coal Creek, Mercer Island, Mercer Slough, Kelsey Creek, Fairweather Creek, Yarrow Creek, Juanita Creek, Forbes Creek, Lyon Creek, McAleer Creek, Thornton Creek, Ravenna Creek, and Lake Washington. The river itself is about 45 miles long, originating in the Cascade Range near Abeil Peak, flowing generally west and northwest, emptying into the southern end of Lake Washington. The watershed is home to more than 83 species of fish and wildlife, including 14 species of concern, such as sockeye salmon, and the endangered Chinook salmon – it is considered to be one of the best remaining salmon habitats in King County.

So why exactly am I interested in helping Friends of the Cedar River Watershed carry out their mission? I was taught how to fly fish about 10 years ago and it quickly became a passion of mine. The best part of fishing, in my opinion, is not landing the biggest fish but simply being on the water. My fondest fishing memory is being on the banks of the Madison River in the Madison Valley of Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, and watching the sun set while listening to the fish munch on the latest hatch of insects. It is a day I’ll never forget and something I hope my future children and grandchildren will be able to experience.

Being able to live sustainably in places such as the Madison Valley, at home right here in Seattle, and everywhere in-between is very important for our future generations. The Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed area is home to 22% of the population in the state of Washington. There are over 30 cities in the watershed and each of these cities is connected to the health of another and the greater whole. Think of it this way, if you live in the Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed, everything you pour down the drain or onto the ground eventually gets to the river, making its way to one of the tributaries, and ultimately ending up in the Puget Sound. The connection between the people, the river, the lake, the sound, and the land is profound.

How can you help? Friends of the Cedar River Watershed offers a variety of events, programs, and services that you can learn more about on their website. They are always looking for volunteers and are currently looking for board members. I hope to see you there!

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Volunteering at Seattle Children’s Hospital

I volunteer once a week for Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Child Life Department. Part of my job as a volunteer is to visit inpatient children in their hospital rooms. The volunteer shift can include anything from holding a baby while the parent is away, playing Legos or coloring with a child, to reading and playing games with teenagers. If the child/teen is feeling well enough, we can bring them to the playroom where there are a variety of activities available for them.

Volunteering with Children’s hospital has really opened my eyes to how brave these children are. They are in a new place with new people coming in and out of their rooms, and sometimes their parents have to go to work so they are alone in their rooms for a good part of the day. Recently I was with a little girl who was very happy to have someone come to her room with coloring books, crafts, and a movie. For two hours we colored, made snowman crafts, and giggled at the silly Sponge Bob movie. Being able to give back and volunteer at Seattle Children’s hospital means so much to me. Every week I get to visit a different patient with a different circumstance and the fact that I have the privilege to bring some happiness into a sick child’s day by bringing them a toy, a game, a book, or just sitting and talking with them is one of the most rewarding feelings.

The motto at Seattle Children’s Hospital is “Hope. Care. Cure.” These words are not just words; they have built a culture for the people that work at the hospital. There is an incredible vibe throughout the hospital that these doctors, nurses, volunteers, and employees are dedicated to bringing hope to the lives of these children and families. As we approach this holiday season, I am thankful for good health in the lives of those around me and send thoughts of hope and happiness to those who may have to spend their holidays in a hospital with their loved ones.

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Volunteering for the Washington Trails Association

On Thursday, June 21st, Washingtonians saw what seemed like the first rays of sunshine peak through the clouds. It was the perfect day to experience the beautiful terrain our wonderful state has to offer. Luck would have it that I had previously scheduled this as a volunteer day with the Washington Trails Association (WTA). “Volunteer day,” you ask? You heard me right. As Merriman employees, we are each granted 100 volunteer hours per year. It is a way for us to give back to the organization(s) that matter the most to us.

For me, the choice is obvious. The WTA gets you outside and gives you the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people. Most importantly it preserves the trails that have exposed millions of people to the Washington wilderness.

For this trip, our group met at a local Park and Ride and carpooled 40 minutes east to the Franklin Falls trailhead located in the central Cascades. Our projects for the day included first cutting up an old tree that fell on the trail last winter, and then rebuilding the trail entrance. The first project was tougher than I anticipated. The tree was four feet in diameter and we had to use an old fashion crosscut saw (think circa 1900 logging photo) to cut it up. Luckily we were 8 people strong and with a few rotations our crew managed to clear the trail.

The driving force behind our second project was a grant given to the WTA to make trails wheelchair accessible. This translated into using rock from a scree field to widen the entrance. We then put a layer of fine gravel on top to smooth it out.

By the end of the day we had accomplished what we set out to do. It was time to head back home and plan our next volunteer outing.

Whether it is a one day work party or a week long “volunteer vacation” it’s not all about work. The experience of meeting new people, relaxing in a beautiful location and connecting with the environment makes volunteer work with the WTA a truly unique experience.

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Meet Hannah!

Bringing in a new year always presents new opportunities and possibilities. As we began 2012 we brought in some new talent to the Merriman team – Hannah Mitchell. You may have already met or spoken with Hannah, as she is one of the great people who greet our clients and answer our busy phones. Hannah works in our Support Services team and has already embraced her new role, leaving a wake of greatness as she grows in her position.

Hannah comes to us with experience in planning events, as she owned her own wedding planning business for the past four years. She also brings a new level of creativity to her position given her lifetime of dance, both as a student and recently as a teacher for the past five years. Hannah taught all types of dance at a local studio and developed a dance program at the YMCA for kids and adults.

Born in Montana, Hannah moved to Washington State as an infant and grew up in the Snohomish/Monroe area. Hannah spent much of her school years performing and acting. Hannah married her husband, Todd, last August and they spent their honeymoon in Hawaii – which quickly became Hannah’s favorite vacation spot. Along with appreciating the beauty of Hawaii, she experienced the thrill of zip lining and also took a helicopter tour!

Here are a few more fun, random facts about Hannah:

  • Hannah is a fan of working out (who says that, really?) and is currently training for her first half marathon, the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll at the end of June.
  • She is the middle child, with one older and one younger sister.
  • Hannah loves to travel and has set a goal to get to Greece, Italy and Switzerland within the next couple of years.
  • Hannah’s two favorite parts she played while acting in high school were those of Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and Hellen Keller in The Miracle Worker.
  • Hannah recently tried surfing for the first time and really loved it!

We are very excited to have Hannah joining our fantastic support services team at Merriman!

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And the envelope please……

One of life’s happiest moments for any financial advisor who seeks the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation is the day a letter arrives in your mailbox, congratulating you on passing the very challenging ten-hour comprehensive CFP® exam.

After using all your free time for one to several years to study for this difficult exam, it’s a huge relief to know you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Soon, you’ll be able to use and display the CFP® credential proudly and forever.

This week, two of our financial advisors at Merriman, Mark Metcalf and Eric Jonson, received their “pass or fail” letters from the CFP® Board of Standards. Opening the envelopes to discover they had passed the exam was a very proud moment for the two of them, their families and for our entire company.

As the good news spread around the office, there were a whole lot of high fives, hugs, laughter, slaps on the back, sighs of relief and very big smiles. When I learned the news, I threw in my own loud “WOO HOO!!”

An advisory firm is only as good as its people. That’s why we are very proud that all ten of our advisors have successfully gone through the very challenging process of acquiring this credential. Throughout our advisory offices, you will see our CFP® diplomas displayed proudly.

Why do we care about this designation and why should you care? Click here to for more information about the CFP® designation.

Not only has the sun been shining all this week in Seattle, it came out just in time to shine a spotlight on two of our talented advisors! Congratulations, Mark and Eric, on a job well done!

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Why I golf in the rain

At work on a Monday someone will ask “what did you do this weekend?”  My answer is usually “I golfed,” and their response is usually “in the rain?”

Putting aside my addiction to improving my golf handicap, the desire to surround myself with the beauty of nature provides me a calming perspective.  Often when I am in the fairway, I stop to look at the beauty that surrounds me.  Not in a passive sort of way, but to really take it all in. On some courses there are breathtaking views of The Puget Sound, gorgeous colors of foliage and wildlife.  Just last weekend, we encountered two deer walking across the fairway.  Visual reminders like the deer stick with me when I am making environmental choices.

In going about our daily lives – working, eating, commuting, and taking care of our home – we have an impact on our surroundings.  If you take a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty around you, you may be motivated to make small changes in your own life to decrease your carbon footprint and keep the beauty that is in nature.

Why do I golf in the rain?  Well, we live in Seattle. All this beautiful nature often happens in rain. In the elusive sun, clouds, or in the rain, the Pacific Northwest landscape is visually magnificent.

This Sunday is Earth Day, and I challenge you to celebrate this magnificence with a hike, walk, gardening, or a round of golf – any activity that will take you outside to enjoy the beauty of nature, even if it’s raining.

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Meet Aries!

As we closed out 2011, we added a couple of really great new hires to the Merriman team. Aries Lazaro came on board this past December as our new Assistant Controller as we bid adieu to Sandy Chudler, his predecessor who retired in February 2012. We wish Sandy many great ventures in her new life of leisure and we are truly excited to welcome Aries aboard!

Aries has five years of great experience as an Audit Supervisor for Clothier and Head. Although he enjoyed and valued his experience there, Aries was looking for a new opportunity to utilize his skills in a more expansive business capacity.

Born in Seattle, Aries grew up in the area and his parents still live in the house where he was raised. He graduated from Issaquah High School, then ventured north to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Most of Aries family is in the Philippines, and he and his wife Mary have made several trips to visit. Aries and Mary are also new parents to their four month old daughter, Caroline. Here are a few fun, random facts about Aries that he was willing (well, some he was a little reluctant!) to share:

  • Aries is a big sports fan and an active hiker, loves camping and anything he can do in the great outdoors.
  • He once pitched a no-hitter while in sixth grade little league baseball!
  • Aries and Mary love to travel. Besides the Philippines, they have visited Italy, Spain and France. With the addition of little Caroline, he is wondering when they will travel again…
  • For the first week of his life, his name was Troy, but his dad decided the name just did not fit, so they changed it to his astronomical sign, Aries.
  • Aries frequently got himself in trouble as a child by cutting his own hair. His mom would give him a haircut, and he wouldn’t like it, so he’d sneak out to the back yard with a pair of scissors and have at it. Needless to say, his mom wasn’t too thrilled. He has since realized that a professional salon is a much better choice. J

We are very excited to have Aries joining our fantastic finance team at Merriman!

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The house that Merriman is building (UPDATE)

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may remember that a group of Merriman employees have been using our volunteer hours with Habitat for Humanity at the Rainer Vista location. The house was scheduled for completion in December, but we finished greatly ahead of schedule and the ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Sunday, October 2nd!

Having now completed our first Habitat house as a team, there is much to reflect on.  Was the work strenuous and tiring?  Yes.  Did the notoriously fickle Washington weather make things uncomfortable?  Frequently.  Were we always sore at the end of the day?  Definitely.  But did our team leave the worksite every single day with smiles on our faces?  Absolutely.  Would we ever choose to use our volunteer hours with Habitat in the future?  In a heartbeat.  This relationship that we have built with Habitat as well as the new inhabitants of the four-plex we  and other volunteers worked side by side with for the whole year has been unfathomably rewarding as well as productive. (more…)

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Meet Dawn!

In continuing with our great hiring success in 2011, I have the pleasure of introducing our newest member to the Merriman team, Dawn McGeorge. Dawn joined us on April 27th and is the newest member of our support services team.  By now you have likely had the chance to speak with Dawn, as she is one of the fantastic people you initially interact with when calling our office. She is a truly great addition to our already wonderful support services team!

Dawn has several years of great experience serving clients and trying to help make their experience memorable and pleasant. Dawn just moved to the Seattle area from North Carolina where she was the manager of a well-known barbecue restaurant called The Pit. She takes great pride in making sure our clients know how much we love working with them. She looks forward to her daily interactions and loves to help each of our clients in any way possible.

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