Some mothers and daughters challenge the traditional methods of spending quality time together by making six-year commitments to serving others in the community.
The main mission of the National Charity League, which started in California in 1925, is to foster mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development and cultural experiences, said District Specialist Sharla Calloway.
“I think I have a better relationship with both my daughters because of this,” Kay Stueve, of Buckhead, said. “It’s something not about shopping or makeup or boys. We have a relationship built on serving others.”
The national organization spread in 1996 from its roots in California to Texas and Georgia, with the Roswell-Alpharetta chapter, said Calloway, who is also a past president of the Roswell-Alpharetta chapter.
Women of “The “Roaring Twenties” had more of a chance to speak up about what they wanted and what they wanted for their daughters, Calloway said.
“I think it had a lot to do with the fact that there were society and debutant balls, and some women in California who were part of that scene in the ‘20s wanted their daughters exposed to doing more good in the world,” Calloway said. “The original chapters were all about creating opportunities and a philanthropic thrust for their daughters.”
Kay Stueve and the elder of her two daughters, Rebecca Stueve, were invited by a sponsor to join their local Texas chapter in 2007, when Rebecca was going into the seventh grade. Younger daughter Kathleen joked that she got pulled in even before she was old enough to join officially.
“I was in third grade, involved with a lot of at home activities,” Kathleen Stueve said. “I was just a tag-along. I needed somewhere to be and something to do, and mom said, ‘Oh you can just go with your sister.’ But now I’m an active member of the organization.”
Kathleen Stueve estimates her family averages 200 hours a year at 17 different philanthropies.
When the Stueve family moved from Texas to Georgia, they worried their work with NCL might end, but an “expansion chapter” started in Buckhead in 2002, Stueve said. She is now involved with creating an expansion chapter in Macon, which would add to the existing eight chapters in Georgia.
Calloway said each chapter could form its own identity in the national structure, so the Buckhead chapter does things a bit differently than the Dunwoody chapter.
“Not everyone who applies or is sponsored gets in,” Calloway said. “We keep it small so the leadership is meaningful, and we do ask people to commit for six years.”
Whitney Frank joined the Dunwoody chapter of NCL in 2009, when her eldest daughter was going into seventh grade. “To be eligible to join, you must have a daughter going into seventh grade,” she said.
Frank said that though she didn’t fully know what they were getting into at the time, she looked forward to serving needs in their community while spending time with her daughters. Her involvement at the girls’ school led naturally to her finding a sponsor for NCL work.
“It’s not for everybody because it is a time commitment, and our daughters have so many opportunities to do things,” Kay Stueve said, “but, yes, you see a mother-daughter and you see friends who are like-minded and think this would be a great opportunity, so you write a letter of recommendation.”
When they moved to Buckhead, Stueve and her daughters focused on charity work rather than lament the friends they missed in Texas.
“Moving when Rebecca was in eighth grade was hard, but NCL gave us the opportunity to spend time together instead of focusing on our woes and missed friends,” Kay Stueve said.
Calloway said that NCL membership benefits mothers and daughter in more ways than just the time they get to spend bonding.
“Through cultural experiences in the community, the National Charity League exposes mothers and daughters to different areas of the arts,” Calloway said.
The Stueve family concentrates most of its time with the CFY organization, which distributes computers to children during workshops.
In the Frank family, mother Whitney and daughters Addie and Olivia, help 12 philanthropic organizations in the area, which includes Sandy Springs and North Fulton. “We prepare food for and then serve the homeless and working poor [at the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church’s ‘Feed and Seed’ program held every other week],” Frank said.
In addition to serving at the Community Assistance Center, Frank and her daughters have delivered Meals on Wheels and provided snacks for clients of Senior Services of North Fulton.
“We have ushered at theater productions for Christian Youth Theater and we have packaged food for Stop Hunger Now,” Frank added. “My girls have also spent multiple summers as volunteer camp counselors for Dunwoody Nature Center and Spruill Art Center.”
They have also sorted donations and ‘shopped’ for foster families at Foster Care Support Foundation, spent time cheering up elderly residents at Mt. Vernon Towers and been responsible for the Survivors Tent at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Frank said.
“The impact has been multilayered,” Frank said. “My girls have not only been exposed to the needs of the community around us, but they have learned to be leaders, they have learned to be team players, they have learned to be compassionate and generous, and they have seen the difference a helping hand can make.
“ My girls are now 18 and 16 and I know that NCL has made a difference in how they see the world and I am so grateful to be a part of this organization.”