Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Paying it Forward

by Lisa Hughey

As most of you have figured out, this subject is very near and dear to my heart. The act of doing something for someone you don’t even know seems to be the ultimate gift. There’s no expectation of gratitude or reciprocation. The whole point of charity is to open your heart and receive the gift of satisfaction. And know that somewhere, you have made a difference.

My daughter and I are members of National Charity League. A fantastic organization whose mission is twofold, encouraging mothers and daughters to spend time together while involved in philanthropy in their local community.

I had never heard of NCL until my daughter was about ten. Some friends joined and started telling me about all the great experiences they had while serving the community. It sounded right up my alley, so when my daughter was old enough, we joined.

There is definitely a sorority aspect to the organization. There are rules, and minimum hours, and meetings all of which are designed for the participants to get the most out of the organization. We are in our third year and have done some pretty cool things.

We worked the Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society 24 hour walk-a-thon to raise money for cancer research.

Relay teams walk around the clock, most teams have a specific person that they walk to remember (or to celebrate their survival). The cancer survivors wear specially-colored t-shirts and walk right along with everyone else. It was one of the most memorable four hours we have spent together, ever.

Last year we contributed 50 hours of community service together (100 total) and then my daughter worked another 15 hours. I’m pretty proud of that.

We’ve sorted food at the food bank, tagged donations at the local hospice thrift store, sorted and packed books bound for the Phillippines, watched golf holes for a hole in one to support an organization that offers transitional housing for homeless families, made blankets for babies at the crisis center, stuffed stockings for kids in our county whose only gifts might be those stockings, Adopted a Family at the holidays, cared for cats at the county animal shelter, helped developmentally challenged and disabled kids play baseball, worked as Santa’s aide at the local museum, wrote cards to the troops, donated toiletries for female soldiers serving overseas. I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten.

It’s been an amazing few years and I never would have been involved in so many different things if not for this organization. It turns out some people don’t think much of NCL. I was really surprised to find that out. They poo-poo the organization without truly understanding. They assume that we are only out for community service to put on my daughter’s college resume or that we don’t really work.

What I’ve found couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve gotten to connect with mothers and daughters who have a passion for making a difference. Most of the women put in many, many hours to enrich the experience for all of us. And I am beyond proud to a part of such a great organization and thrilled that I’m passing on my love of service to my daughter.


ps. One other thing that we did was buy and pack boxes of food to be distributed in case of a natural disaster or an emergency.

If you google emergency food boxes you might be able to find something similar in your own community.


Rachael Herron said...

That sounds awesome, and I can't believe how much you've done! And what a thing to give your daughter. This is so YOU. Yay.

Juliet Blackwell said...

I love this, Lisa, especially that you and your daughter work together. How perfect.

L.G.C. Smith said...

I'd never heard of NCL until you started, and it sounds great. How old do the daughters have to be to join?

Unknown said...

Rachael and Juliet--the mother daughter connection was why we decided to do this. Teen years are challenging enough and I wanted to have a place that we could come together that wouldn't be about us. It turns out she loves it just as much as I do. :)

Lynn-you apply in 6th grade (you have to be sponsored) and then your volunteer year begins in May of 6th grade and goes until your senior year in high school.

Sophie Littlefield said...

what a wonderful list of experiences for you guys to share! and she will grow up knowing this is a part of life that she should always make time for.

Veronica Wolff said...

What an amazing organization--so inspiring!! I'll definitely look into this when my daughter is old enough...what a wonderful thing to do together.

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