During my middle and high school years, from 12 to 18 years old, my mother and I were members of a mother/daughter charity organization. National Charity League, formed over fifty years ago, is one of the United States most distinctive and well-respected mother-daughter membership organizations. NCL has more than 175 Chapters with more than 48,000 actively engaged members. Annually, NCL members volunteer approximately one million hands-on hours in local communities, and as many or more supporting their own non-profit Chapter corporation.
NCL mother and daughter members from coast to coast volunteered a cumulative total of 1,056,721 hands-on hours directly with not-for-profit philanthropic organizations in their communities from 2010-2011. In our time with this group we participated in many different activities from making quilts for premature infants to bagging beans for food for less fortunate families.
In our normal day to day activities we had little to no time to spend together, I was going one way, she the other. This organization not only allowed us to help others, but it helped us to spend more time together, whether at teas or picking up poop at the SPCA ‘wag n’ walk’ fundraiser.
My most memorable and favorite activity was part of an SPCA function, an owl release. This function gives the chance to release a rehabilitated owl back into the wild. Owls are bid on and the winner then gets to release the bird back to the wild. One year, a bid went to $10,000USD but the winner didn’t want to get on stage. The four girls working this function from the organization, including myself, were asked to go up to the podium and choose a number between one and ten. I chose my favorite number, giving me the closest number to the one the donor was thinking. I was then taken aside to be shown how to hold and release the owl. When the handler placed that majestic creature in my hands and its powerful wings stretched, I could feel its desire to be free again.
That day, I didn’t completely realize the impact the release of that one bird would have on the rest of my life. I can look back on it now and see that it was the first time I was able to handle a wild animal and understand the joy of being able to give it back to the habitat it was born into.