Most teenage girls spend hours experimenting with makeup and hairstyles or else trekking from shop to shop in local malls, right? Would you believe that there are 34 girls in Salt Lake City who are taking time to help local charities and including their mothers in the process?
The National Charity League dates back to 1925 when a Los Angeles group of mothers and daughters founded the Charity League and worked to make layettes and to gather baskets of food for the needy. Many of them included their daughters in the activities and by 1938, the daughters branched off to form their own group, the Ticktockers.The group went national in 1947 as the first mother-daughter charity organization and became the National Charity League. The mothers were then known as "Patronesses," and it was decided to include social and cultural events as well as philanthropic activities.
Incorporation followed in 1958 and with the group based in Hollywood, Calif., there are now chapters in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico and Utah. California has 10 chapters.
The Salt Lake area/Ogden chapter has been active for more than 11 years. Joan Fisher, past president and a current national board member, joined nine years ago with her two daughters. "It forced me to find time for the worthwhile things. These endeavors with my daughters brought a whole new dimension into my life," Fisher said.
The good works fostered by NCL in Salt Lake City have included answering phones for KUED fund-raisers, painting faces at the Salt Lake Arts Festival and being a "hugger" at the Special Olympics - cheering on the winter game participants. The girls have been docents at the Museum of Natural History, have decorated Christmas trees for the Festival of Trees; they are candy stripers at the University of Utah Medical Center and have decorated and dressed 150 teddy bears to be given to the Children's Center. They gave one to each child who attends the center and also the center's group home. As an ongoing project, the girls visit the elderly at St. Joseph's Villa, often making gifts and presenting programs.
The national president of the league, Beth Eichal, was in Salt Lake recently to meet with local members and discuss future plans. Eichal said, "It's nice to be involved in this work when our country is encouraging the volunteer sector to reach out to the elderly, handicapped and poor." Explaining how a chapter decides how to help, Eichal said, "Our chapters research the local community to know how to best serve in this mother/daughter way and to find social and cultural events for the girls."
While in Salt Lake City, Eichal met with Alissa Oakes, a junior at Bountiful High School, and Tracie Helsten, a sophomore at Olympus High School. The girls were recently awarded the Bronze Congressional Award for voluntary service. Each girl completed 200 hours of volunteer work to win the award. Tracie received her award in Washington, D.C., from Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and Alissa received hers from Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah. Both girls are already working on the Silver Congressional Award.
But the NCL isn't all service - there are also cultural and social events during the year. There have been trips to the Utah Symphony and picnics in the snow while skiing. There is a senior presentation in the Capitol rotunda recognizing the girls for their year of service. The girls come down the steps on the arms of their fathers and complete the evening with a dinner/dance.
For all the benefit to the girls and the groups served by the NCL, perhaps the mothers gain the biggest rewards. Joan Fisher looked back on the activities she and her daughters participated in and said, "This was some of the most worthwhile and valuable time I spent with my girls."