by Melissa Chaiken | Section Editor
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of two amazing organizations that allow me to spend quality time with each of my children while teaching them about the importance of philanthropy.
My 16-year-old son and I belong to a local chapter of the Young Men’s Service League (YMSL). Two Plano mothers who had a vision for an organization in which moms and their high school aged sons could work together to assist those in need within their community started YMSL in 2001. YMSL is now a national organization with a Board of Directors that governs and promotes the expansion of YMSL chapters throughout the United States. The mission statement of YMSL is to “assist, serve, and support those who are in need in our community, develop leadership skills among our membership, and promote mother son relationships”. YMSL is a four-year program beginning in the boy’s 9th grade year.
My son and I are in our third year of membership in YMSL and have had the privilege to meet and work with people from all walks of life. We have enjoyed spending time cooking for and feeding the homeless, helping out at Special Olympics’ swimming and softball practices, building a fence for a play area at a family resource center, volunteering after school at the Boys and Girls Club, just to name a few of our experiences.
In addition to the philanthropic element of the organization, the boys’ have several meetings throughout the year where they learn how to run an official meeting according to rules of order. The meetings often include guests who speak to the boys on an array of topics such as managing personal finance, the risks of impaired driving, acquiring life skills such as how to change a tire, do laundry and prepare simple meals for themselves, and the dangers of using Performance Enhanced Drugs.
YMSL members have served over 100,000 community service hours since the organization was formed in 2001.
My 14-year-old daughter and I are also in our third year of membership of a local chapter of the National Charity League (NCL). NCL was established in 1925 in Los Angeles and incorporated in 1958. It has since been one of the nation’s most distinctive and well-respected mother-daughter organizations. This program has over 55,000 members –mothers and their daughters in grades 7 through 12 – in 23 states throughout the country. The mission of NCL is to “foster mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development and cultural experiences”.
Through our NCL experience my daughter and I have had the opportunity to make breakfast for families staying at Ronald McDonald house as well as volunteer at day camps for siblings of the patients’. We have also participated in Friday Night Friends, which is a program run by a local church that provides care for children with special needs so that their parents can get a much needed night out. One of our favorite charities is Shoes for Orphan Souls, which is a branch of Buckner International that provides new shoes to at-risk children in the United States, and orphans in 68 countries. We have spent hours in their warehouse sorting, banding and packing up shoes for these children and love stuffing a special note of encouragement in the shoes!
The NCL experience changes lives by inspiring and empowering women to succeed as confident, well-rounded and socially aware contributors in their communities. NCL members volunteer approximately one million hands-on hours each year in local communities.
As a parent it is rewarding to share these experiences with my teens. It is my hope that once they are no longer in my nest, they will continue the tradition of giving back to others that we have established during this time.