Two Teens And Their Mama: Volunteering With ALE

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Volunteering With ALE


 "To act as a friend at any and all times to men, women and children in need of care, guidance and assistance, spiritually, materially and physically." 

On Monday I wrote that doing volunteer work is a great path to happiness and psychological well being.  Lately, it's been key to helping me overcome my anxiety. But my introduction to Assistance League of Everett (ALE) came about for an entirely different reason: boredom.

I was about eight months into my job as a new mom, and as much as I loved staying home and taking care of C, I was going a little stir crazy.  I was used to working full time, none of my friends had kids yet, and I was craving interaction from someone who could answer back with actual words.

An acquaintance suggested donating my extra time at ALE, and twenty years later, I'm still here.  

National Assistance League was founded in 1919 by twelve friends in Southern California to provide food and clothing for local families adversely affected by World War I.  Since then the organization has grown to 120 chapters across the country.  Each chapter is independently operated and works on a variety of philanthropic projects.

ALE's main program is Operation School Bell, a cause that is near and dear to my heart. To date we have served over 75,000 children by providing new clothes, shoes and hygiene kits at our OSB "store".  Students are paired with a volunteer who helps them shop for several new outfits.  Most of these children have never had their own new clothes before, and often it's the first time they've had their own toothbrush.  There's nothing like seeing those excited faces as they haul their shopping bags back out to the school bus.



The majority of the funds used to purchase the items for the store comes from our Thrift Shop, which is also run and staffed by volunteers.



The greatest thing about ALE?  It relies 100% on volunteers - there isn't a single paid person in the group.  Almost impossible to find in a non-profit these days.

Since joining twenty years ago, I've had the opportunity to chair the teen auxiliary, been treasurer, helped raise funds to build a new thrift store, and clothed many kids.  I've met the most amazing people with some of the biggest hearts on the planet.

But really, I'm the winner.  I have been enriched by the people I've met, I've learned new skills that translate to my business, and every time I leave the building I have a smile on my face and joy in my soul.  What started out as a way to combat boredom quickly turned into the opportunity to make myself a better person by helping others.  A definite win/win for life.

17 comments:

  1. You are an inspiration, my friend. I need to step up the service in my life.

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    1. Thank you. More bored than inspiring though, probably!

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  2. Sounds like a great place to volunteer!

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  3. With you on the boredom front. Everyone had had their kids when my first was born and we were living in a new neighborhood. I knew no one. It was awful. It wasn't until I joined a parent participation preschool - which relies heavily on parent volunteers - that I really began to thrive. As my two grew I then became very involved with the elementary school and their swim club and other sports activities. Looking back, I feel I got so much more out of it than I put in. Don't regret the 1000s of hours of volunteering one little bit.

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    1. I've always felt that I got back so much more than I gave.

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  4. Good on you for volunteering! You're awesome!!

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  5. Lana this so uplifting, I adore how there are children given the opportunity to pick out new clothes who would otherwise never get them... how rewarding xox

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    1. Seeing their faces when they find out they get new clothes makes is the best of all.

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  6. What a difference you have made in the lives of so many children Lana - definitely something to be proud of. ALE does sound like a wonderful organization. When I get called asking for donations, my first question is always how much of the money donated actually goes to the cause the organization supports. Surprisingly low, in far too many cases!

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    1. That's one of my favorite parts - that there are no paid employees. More money to help people!

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  7. What a great organization! I'm going to have to see if we have one in SC! I love that it helps school children with all the necessities that we have always taken for granted. It's a wonderful way to spend your extra time Lana!

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    1. Thanks Rena. I'm sure there's a chapter nearby.

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  8. That's really awesome. I totally get it about the anxiety, but the boredom factor can be strong too. And look at this wonderful organization you have discovered!

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    1. I think my boredom was causing anxiety!

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