The Young Men’s Service League opened a new local chapter about six months ago with a founding membership of over 100, including many Menlo Park and Atherton moms and sons. The national non-profit organization’s mission is to initiate and encourage young men and their mothers to pursue philanthropic involvement in their community and to provide an opportunity to enhance mother/son relationships. The new Redwood chapter offers a four-year program for high school boys with a focus on education, leadership and philanthropy:
- Education: Monthly meetings with community guest speakers cover a range of topics including practical skills, social skills, civic responsibility, life choices, and health & nutrition.
- Leadership: Each boy holds an organizational position and learns valuable leadership lessons about public speaking, organization, persuasive oral and written communication, decision-making, planning, and time management.
- ￼Philanthropy: Sons and mothers volunteers in various ways with the 13 current partner organizations: 2nd Mile, American Cancer Society, Bike Exchange, Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, Lytton Gardens Senior Center, Ravenswood Education Foundation, Save the Bay, Shelter Network / InnVision, Special Olympics, Veggielution Community Farm, Operation: Care and Comfort, and Village Harvest.
“I am very excited to start the Redwood chapter, and it’s extremely gratifying to see the overwhelming interest as evidenced by our founding members,” said Paige Singh, YMSL Redwood President. “I think YMSL is unique in many ways — the boys have their own Board of Directors, there is a 4-year education plan, and we’re helping the community at a very local level.”
Atherton resident Andrea Ralston and son Nick, who attends Sacred Heart Prep, (pictured together above) are one of the founding duos. “A friend of mine told me about YMSL,” said Andrea. “I liked the idea of having focused time with Nick.”
For his part, Nick enjoys doing the service projects more than the meetings. “There are a wide variety of things you can sign up to help with and I like that,” he said. “Some of the projects I can choose to do on my own but we’ve been doing things together, which makes it fun.”
When they helped spiff up Roosevelt School in Redwood City, they were pleasantly surprised to be joined by 1,000 other people, some from YMSL and others from different volunteer organizations. “Everywhere we looked something was going on — landscaping, repairs, painting inside and out. It was great to be part of such a big effort,” said Andrea.
The YMSL Redwood Chapter is just beginning a membership drive for the Class of 2017 mothers and son (current 8th graders). Target membership for each class is 25 mothers/sons. For incoming (next year) 10th and 11th graders, new members will only be added if a class drops below 25 boys.
To join YMSL you need to have a current YMSL member sponsor you, but the Redwood Chapter can help pair you with a sponsor if you don’t know anyone currently in YMSL. There will be a prospective member information meeting this month, and registration packets are due on March 6, 2013. To find out more information, or to be paired with a YMSL sponsor, please contact Dawn Voss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Irene Searles