A time to bond

Mother-daughter National Charity League gives pairs opportunity to volunteer together
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Three years ago, on her birthday, Jenny Gilbert had to wake up at 5 a.m. to go volunteer — not exactly what a teenager typically wants to do to celebrate.

But Jenny, now 17, actually wanted to volunteer. She was going to stock the water station at a local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Jenny had made a commitment, and she planned to follow through. An added bonus: Her mom, Linda Gilbert, was volunteering, too.

The Granite Bay residents are members of the National Charity League Granite Bay Chapter, a mother-daughter organization that promotes philanthropy, cultural experiences and leadership among young women.

The Gilberts joined six years ago, and graduated, along with 24 other mother-daughter pairs, from the program in March.

“(The National Charity League) is a mixture of a bonding experience, growing up for both of us and growing together,” Jenny Gilbert said.

Her mom had read an article about the league in the View some eight years ago, and thought it sounded like a fun opportunity. Girls apply in the sixth grade, and start the program in seventh grade. The club is limited to 25 pairs total — sometimes they don’t get that many applicants, and sometimes they get many more. Names are randomly drawn out of a hat to determine who will join the class each year.

The league encourages leadership, and meetings are held parliamentary style, with each girl responsible for a position such as president, vice president or liaison with a charity. Jenny Gilbert is a parliamentarian this year, which means she helps keep meetings under control.

“Girls get chatty,” she explained.

Jenny Gilbert said participating in the league has given her the chance to cultivate friendships with teens she might not otherwise get to know. The experience has also opened her eyes to a future career in the medical field.

The Granite Bay High School senior volunteers four hours a week as an intern in the Sutter Roseville Junior Auxiliary. She works with nurses in pediatrics and has also been trained in postpartum.

“I’m perpetually the volunteer asking questions about the medical field … Seeing it from the inside out is really enlightening,” she said.

Jenny Gilbert completed 100 hours of volunteering both last year and this year. While it’s not uncommon for girls to volunteer so many hours, the league only requires 10 to 15 hours annually. The Gilberts spent 25 hours volunteering together each year.

Over the past six years, the Gilberts have done such activities as helping organize a food donation for animals at the Folsom Zoo and leading arts and crafts with children at the Granite Bay Library. They’ve served food at St. Vincent DePaul and directed traffic at local charity runs. They’ve cheered on athletes at the Special Olympics.

“Most moms get into it for the volunteering,” Linda Gilbert said. “People have good intentions, but when left on your own, things come up and you probably wouldn’t go out on your own to find places that need volunteers.”

For Veterans Day in 2012, all the National Charity League chapters focused on veterans as the organization’s first nationwide initiative. Locally, the girls and their moms collected baked goods and clothes, and made cards, which they delivered to the Sacramento VA Medical Center.

As girls get older, they grow to appreciate the volunteering aspect and the time with their mothers more and more, Linda Gilbert said.

“It’s nice because when girls are in high school, they don’t want to hang out with (their moms),” she said. “But this forces them to hang out with us, and it creates a lot of opportunities to do things together.”