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Mothers, daughters bond through philanthropy

by: SUBMITTED - Patty Ottaway and her daughter, Gillian Watts, are raring to go down the Clackamas River at the 2012 SOLV River Clean Up. This is their third year as members of the Sunnyside chapter of the National Charity League. If an organization that promotes bonds between mothers and daughters while volunteering in the community seems like an impossible dream, think again.

Such an organization exists in Happy Valley, and organizers are hoping to recruit new members in 2013.

The National Charity League Inc. — Sunnyside chapter is part of the national organization, and it serves mothers and their daughters in grades seven through 12 in the North Clackamas area.

The National Charity League focuses on leadership training and volunteering in the community, and girls in grades seven through 10 and their mothers can join now, said Patty Ottaway, the vice president of membership for the Sunnyside chapter of National Charity League. The organization does not accept girls in grades 11 or 12, as they would just not be able to be part of the organization long enough, she added.

The teens take turns being officers and they all learn to run a meeting, Ottaway said, noting that they learn leadership and public speaking skills, in addition to putting in hours of volunteering in the community.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Ali Bettinger, Dewaina Scafidi, Veronica Scafidi and Meg Bettinger get ready to dish up meals at an event for Feed the Hungry in Milwaukie.The Happy Valley chapter of the National Charity League was started by Annemie Williams; she was a member with her daughters in 2004 in Las Vegas, and then joined the Lake Oswego chapter in 2006.

“We started to get the word out and formed the Sunnyside chapter in 2008,” she said.

Three of her daughters went through the program and are now in college, and continue to volunteer their time; the National Charity League made volunteering part of their lives, Williams said.

One thing that surprised her about the National Charity League has been her own personal growth.

“I’ve grown as a leader, and my daughters got to watch me stretch and see me accomplish something,” she added.

Having an impact

The philanthropic side of the organization is an enormous part of what the girls and their mothers do, and the Sunnyside chapter has a list of between 15 to 20 charities in the community. Moms and their daughters “donated over 3,000 hours last year,” Williams said.

The best part of the organization for her was the opportunity to spend meaningful time with her daughters, volunteering side-by-side as peers.

“Being involved in the community, making a difference, gave us a lot of opportunities to have conversations,” Williams added.

Sharon Shuman was on the original founding board for the Sunnyside chapter, and has been a member with her daughter for five years.

“One of the biggest things is that our daughters get to see us in a completely different way, doing philanthropy. And it is amazing to see the look that comes into our daughters’ eyes, when they see people less fortunate, and realize the impact they are having by helping them,” she said.

Shuman and her daughter volunteered this summer at the Clackamas Clothes Closet, part of the Family Support Center on Southeast King Road in Milwaukie. They helped families shop for clothes and gave them school supplies and backpacks.

Last year, her daughter also took part in a Christmas party organized for children of National Guard deployed troops, and was so moved by it, Shuman said.

Ottaway and her 14-year-old daughter Gillian Watts are starting on their third year of membership in the Sunnyside chapter, and in September they volunteered together at the Down the River Clean Up on the Clackamas River.

“My favorite part is after we do philanthropy; on the ride home we talk about it. After the cleanup, Gillian said, ‘We did a lot of work and we did it together,’” Ottaway said.

She added that she was proud of her daughter and her friend Claire Gillies, who gave up part of their day off on Veterans Day to chat with younger girls in the organization about what it is like being a freshman in high school.

What do the teens like best about the National Charity League?

“I like helping the community,” Gillian said, noting that she has worked with dogs and cats at the Oregon Humane Society, and helped set up food boxes at the Oregon Food Bank.

Moms and daughters have such busy schedules, she added, so being part of the league is “a lot of fun and a great way to spend time with my mom.”

“My mom and I always talk about what we’ve done and it is for a good cause,” Claire said, adding that she encourages mothers and daughters to join, because of the bonding experience and the fun times spent making a difference in the community.

Membership drive

Ottaway is starting work on a membership drive for the Sunnyside chapter of the league, noting two informational meetings will take place in January, but mothers and daughters in grades seven through 10 can visit the website or call her at any time.

“We are all constantly doing something, and it is really great to volunteer together,” she said.

Shuman said she has a speech where she emphasizes the mother-daughter bonding experience.

“This appeals to moms. As our daughters get older, we see less and less of them, and this is an opportunity for us to spend time together helping the community where we live,” she said.

Williams said that she is so grateful that she discovered the National Charity League, and has enjoyed spending time with other mothers and daughters with the same values.

“It is hard to go out on your own and volunteer, but NCL has liaisons set up, and with the activities in our chapter, it is so easy,” she said. “This is a national organization with an awesome website. It is a valuable organization; it is important and it is worth doing.”




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