It’s common for parents to want to foster generosity and empathy in their kids, and it goes beyond satisfying school requirements and competing for college admissions. We know that people who have a strong emotional intelligence are more able to navigate life’s ups and downs, and they’re more likely to succeed.
Parents turn to volunteering to give kids insight into others’ needs, and it can be effective. But kids are more likely to be “volun-told” than volunteer on their own. Frankly, if the child doesn’t see how an action like volunteering might benefit them, they tend not to do it.
Parents who volunteer can be great role models. And because most volunteer activities requires someone to be 12, 16, or even 18 years old – unless they volunteer with an adult – parents or another adult usually volunteer with them. Organizations like National Charity League and Young Men’s Service League make it easy and fun to do. Here’s what you need to know about these organizations and how you can get involved.
WHAT: A program for mothers and their high school-age sons, created in 2001 by two sisters in Plano. The focus is on not just community service but also helping mothers and sons spend time together and bond. Members learn leadership skills as well as life lessons through monthly programming. There are 13 chapters in the Austin area.
WHO: For young men in 9th-12th grade and their mothers
REQUIREMENTS: Both mothers and sons commit to becoming members and are expected to stay active in the chapter for four years. Members are required to volunteer at least 20 hours a year, and must take on a role within their chapter. Meetings are held once a month, with separate meetings held for sons and mothers. Speakers lead specific topics and members manage the meetings. Annual dues for a mother-son team can be about $150 with some additional, smaller fees for joining or the end-of-year banquet.
HOW: As a “sponsorship organization”, new members must be referred by a current member. (You can also contact the chapter directly.) Most members join in their son’s 8th-grade year. There are 13 chapters in the Austin area, from Round Rock in the north, to Dripping Springs in the southwest. Click here to find the chapter nearest you.
WHAT: A national mother-daughter volunteer league founded in 1925 with millions of members across the country. Mothers and daughter participate in volunteer activities together with the purpose of bonding and life lessons through service. In addition to volunteering, members participate in arts and cultural events throughout the year and learn leadership skills.
WHO: Mothers can become members with their daughters in 7th through 12th grade.
REQUIREMENTS: NCL is also a sponsorship organization, but you can always contact the chapter nearest you and inquire about a sponsor. There may be geographic requirements for membership as well. Chapters might also charge fees, which can vary from $25 on up.
HOW: To learn more about joining National Charity League, first locate your chapter. Many of them have informational meetings open to anyone, usually in the fall. While the program is available for young women between 7th – 12th grade, it’s suggested that they inquire about membership in the 6th grade. There are 11 chapters from Round Rock to Sunset Valley. Click here to find a chapter near you.