By Monica Peterson
A charitable organization with a successful track record going back nearly a century is now changing lives and strengthening family relationships here at home.
The National Charity League, Inc. (NCL) traces its history to 1925, when it began in Los Angeles. When Ashley Jones and a bevy of dedicated volunteer moms launched the charitable group on the Eastern Shore in 2016, theirs became the first chapter in Alabama, and it’s now one of 270 nationwide.
Its goal is to foster mother-daughter relationships through community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences. The teen-aged participants are in grades 7 – 12 in 12 different schools along the Eastern Shore.
The girls are called Ticktockers, and the mothers are called Patronesses. There are 213 Ticktockers who volunteer their time to help out with 13 different philanthropies. Examples include making and delivering meals for the McKemie Place shelter, creating banners for the William F. Green State Veteran’s Home, and planting a garden at the Ronald McDonald House, but there is so much more. In fact, since the chapter’s inception, they have donated 24,376 hours of their time toward such charitable efforts.
In the process, these opportunities have helped these young women build confidence and benefit from many other rewards that you can only get through giving.
“NCL has cultivated my love of volunteering,” says Catherine Hawkins, president of the NCL’s class of 2021. “I have learned that nothing feels better than helping someone in need.”
She says NCL has also given her some ideas for service projects that she hopes to pursue when she heads off to Tulane University.
That’s the idea, of course, that these NCL participants will continue their spirit of giving through more volunteer efforts as they go through life. In the meantime, spending productive time with their mothers helps them to build stronger family bonds. After all, success in the program requires great communication and cooperation between them.
Another component is learning organization and structure. Each grade level has its own board and meets once a month. They set an agenda for the meetings and follow parliamentary procedure. There are educational programs with speakers talking on subjects ranging from nutrition and exercise to internet safety.
Hanna Miller, president of the Eastern Shore Chapter, notes that the pandemic and two hurricanes presented additional challenges this past year. Yet, moms and daughters used their computers for Zoom meetings, donned their masks, and showed up in the community in socially distanced ways: They participated in the American Heart Association Heart Walk. They presented a drive-by parade for the Exceptional Foundation. They created and donated dog toys to The Haven. The list goes on and on.
They also volunteered even more with Prodisee Pantry, packing and distributing food for those hit hard by COVID-related shutdowns and hurricanes. Volunteers showed up to help despite being without electricity at home, with many being unable to shower. As a result, Miller says, they came away with a greater awareness of meeting urgent needs during tough times in our community.
An NCL cultural tradition is the Annual Tea, which provides the girls and mothers an opportunity to organize a special event to celebrate the special friendship they share from working together to help others.
The Ticktockers’ final year culminates with Senior Recognition. The girls wear white dresses and graduate from their NCL program. The parents join for this celebration, honoring their daughters, but also launching them into a lifelong commitment to volunteerism.