Greater Good


Young Menâs Service League â Southlake Chapter

Article by Frank Geslani

Carolyn Timian could tell her son was uncomfortable. She and her ninth grader were headed to Plano for their first volunteer project with Young Menâs Service League (YMSL). âHeâs a young man of few words, but he was very clearâhe wasnât sure what Iâd gotten him into,â recalled Timian. The mother and son team met up with other teams to help a small community in Plano. They put in a full day of workâpainting, landscaping, putting on a carnival for local kids, preparing a celebratory dinner. âIt was incredible to see that we were something larger than our small selves here in Southlake,â said Timian. âI felt very sure at that moment that this was the right thing for my son and I.â Timian could tell that something had changed on the ride home. âHe was fairly quiet, but he did say it was pretty cool, and I could tell he was moved by it,â said Timian. A lot has changed since that first service project. Now in their last year of a four year commitment to YMSL, Timian serves as the Southlake chapter president, and her son has taken on the class president role.

âI can tell you now, there is no coercing. There are annual events that heâs actually looking forward to. I do feel thereâs been some real growth in his heart for service,â said Timian.

YMSL is a non-profit organization that encourages mothers and their high school-aged sons to pursue philanthropic endeavors in their community. It began with two mothers in Plano. Sisters-in-law Pam and Julie Rosener both had daughters who were active in service leagues geared to mothers and daughters, but the Roseners identified a need for a service organization exclusively for mothers and their sons.

The first YMSL meeting was held in 2001. Since the birth of that first Plano chapter, the organization has grown to nearly 40 chapters across the country, including a national chapter. The young men and their mothers have served over 100,000 community service hours since its founding. YMSL is not primarily a fundraising organization. âWeâre about serving in our communityâthe man hours and the volunteering. The types of volunteer positions that we look for are the ones where our members and young men will have a direct contact with that end user,â said Katrina Keith, the Southlake chapterâs vice president of philanthropy.

âTheyâre expanding their experiences,â Keith said. âWe all come from a pretty privileged area. I think it helps give the boys perspective on things. They see communities that are a little different from ours. It gives them a better appreciation of their schools, their parents, the things they have and the things they are able to do.â

The thought of committing yourself to community service may seem daunting at first. Mothers enter as the primary members along with their sons. They commit to four years of service starting in the young menâs freshman year of high school and serve a minimum of 75 hours of community service over those four years of high school. Most of those hours are served as a mother and son team. There is a minimum requirement of 20 hours for members and their sons each year, and that number is largely surpassed by most members.

There a number of ways they can give back. Among the growing list of philanthropies that the Southlake Chapter proudly serves are Captainâs Hope Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Cowtown Brushup, GRACE, Rise Adaptive Water Sports, Homeward Bound Animal Rescue, Meals on Wheels, and a many others. Some projects may be smaller in scale, like spending time with seniors at the local senior center or volunteering at pet adoption events. Others require a much larger group effort, like their upcoming partnership with the Miracle League that will take them to Dallas to help the distressed St. Philipâs School and Community Center. âWeâre serving, in any one year, between 18 and 22 philanthropic organizations,â Keith estimated. âIn just our Southlake chapter, we served over 4,000 community service hours last year.â

In their first year, members are asked to work for four different philanthropies. âThey really get a good feel for what touches them, where theyâre best utilized, because you want that to be a good experience for everyone. If itâs not, it doesnât seem genuine and authentic,â said Timian.