Fun & Fashion
Mothers and daughters are Wild About Style and community service. Photos courtesy of Bludoor Studios
National Charity League Southlake is WILD ABOUT STYLE and Community Service
Clothes provided by Malouf's & Lilly Pulitzer
By Tracy L. Southers, APR
Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated, contentious and confusing for both parties. This can be especially true during the infamous teenage years when one is setting boundaries and the other is spreading her wings. An organization whose mission it is to not only strengthen the mother-daughter bond during the critical teenage years, but to do so through helping others, is National Charity League (NCL). Founded in 1925 in Los Angeles, NCL today has more than 175 chapters and nearly 50,000 members throughout the United States. Locally, there are NCL chapters in Southlake, Keller, Colleyville, Fort Worth and several in Dallas. What makes NCL truly unique is that it limits its membership to mothers and their daughters in grades 7-12.
Although well known for its community service roots, the organization's purpose goes much deeper to include leadership development, educational activities and cultural experiences. Through its core values, NCL inspires and equips young women to succeed as confident, well-rounded and socially aware contributors in their communities.
"I like to think of it as a glorified Girl Scout troop, but you get to do it with your mom," says Susan Pruitt, who joined NCL Southlake in 2008 with her daughter, Anna Grace, who is now in eleventh grade; her younger daughter, Kate, joined in 2010. "We hope that we are instilling a lifelong duty of volunteerism and giving back."
Joining NCL Southlake requires sponsorship by a current member and being a resident of Southlake. In addition, there is a significant time commitment that must be met each year, along with annual dues for both mother and daughter. For many local girls, joining NCL has become a rite of passage as they are entering seventh grade and their teenage years.
"Joining NCL during the seventh grade is beneficial because it takes the girls a couple of years to understand what this is all about. By the time they are juniors and seniors, they are really involved and taking leadership roles in the organization," explains Tina Springer, who joined the Southlake chapter in 2010 with her daughter, Hannah.
NCL is intended to make an impact on the community and the charities it serves, but the NCL experience can best be summarized by the girls themselves, known as Ticktockers.
"I have learned so much from NCL. I have learned the joy that comes from being able to give back to the community and that we are so blessed for everything that we have. I have also learned that as a team, we can accomplish anything and that even the smallest things can make the biggest impact in the lives of others," tells Mackenzie Miller, a senior.
Claire Creighton, president of the 2013 senior class, is already looking ahead to college, but will not forget what NCL has taught her.
"Through volunteering in NCL, I have gotten to experience the feeling you get from helping someone unselfishly. Seeing how you have helped someone is such a great feeling and I will take what I have learned with me to college to apply to other philanthropic activities."
NCL Serves Southlake and Beyond
NCL Southlake was established in 1996 and today boasts membership of 143 mothers and 177 daughters. Together, these mother-daughter duos performed nearly 8,700 volunteer hours in 2012 for a dozen different causes ranging from preparing lunch for local children, delivering meals to senior citizens, sorting items at charity resale shops, litter pick-up, participating in fundraising walks, and taking care of shelter animals. Although membership is restricted to Southlake residents, its volunteer activities extend beyond the city limits to other communities including Grapevine, Keller, Roanoke, North Richland Hills, Carrollton, and Dallas.
"There are so many organizations that could not function without volunteers. The girls get to see this firsthand and realize the importance of being a volunteer," Pruitt adds, noting each chapter is allowed to select the organizations it wants to serve.
In addition to fulfilling required volunteer hours, there are monthly meetings and a calendar full of classes designed to teach etiquette, safety, first-aid, time management, team building, community awareness and respect of others. A six-year plan for Ticktockers outlines specific activities and personal development skills by grade. Trips to museums, plays, and music and dance performances are also taken throughout the year to expand cultural horizons. Annual events include the Mother-Daughter Tea, Philanthropy day, Senior Presentation, and the Spring Tea & Awards Ceremony that recognizes Ticktockers in each grade level, as well as a mother-daughter award per grade level for the most philanthropy hours worked as team.
District Ticktocker Day, which was held January 27 in Frisco, occurs every three years and allows the girls to meet Ticktockers from throughout North Texas. This year's event brought 1,200 Ticktockers together, including 100 from Southlake, to hear a presentation about social media, be part of the filming for a NCL commercial, and make care boxes for families of service men.
“I’ve had the honor to serve as president of the Southlake Chapter for two years and it has been a rewarding experience to watch the development of the Ticktockers, from our youngest class of seventh graders to our current seniors," states Beverly Hottois. "This is a great chapter, with amazing Ticktockers and Patronesses who consistently go above and beyond in not only being good role models, but in the generosity of their time and talents in giving back to our community.”
Wild About Style Fashion Show and Benefit
NCL Southlake goes beyond volunteer service in giving back to the community. As one of only 12 fundraising chapters in the country, it also provides financial support to its philanthropies. For this purpose, Pruitt and Springer are more than just a Patroness (NCL term used for mothers); they are co-chairs of the chapter's 16th Annual "Wild About Style" Fashion Show and Benefit, which is its only fundraising event. The 2012 fashion show raised an impressive $51,000.
“The fashion show would not be what it is without the dedication of the many volunteers who are involved in the entire process. The Southlake Chapter is unique in that we are able to help our philanthropies, not only through volunteer hours but also monetarily, and we do it all while having fun!” comments Hottois.
With 40 committee chairs, a professional choreographer, and ten months of preparation, the show has become elaborate and a much anticipated event. Scheduled March 3 at the Westin DFW Airport, expected attendance is near 600 people. Although all Ticktockers are involved in the show's production, only the junior and senior members model clothes provided by area retailers. Duties are assigned by grade level and include dressing room management, filling goodie bags, registration, obtaining auction items, and ushers.
"The fashion show has evolved and we want all the mothers and daughters involved in some way," Pruitt says, noting it began as a social activity and became a fundraiser in 2000. "This event belongs to the entire chapter and the girls understand that we do it for the charities."
Springer, who is in charge of sponsorships, credits many local retailers for their donation of items and services, including Lemongrass Salon, which provides hairstyling, and makeup by Corinthian Wellness Spa. Retailers that are lending clothes to this year's show are Maloufs, Lilly Pulitzer, Cache, Charming Charlie, Francesca's, Girligirl Boutique, Impeccable Pig, Gap, Tyler's, Whatchamacallit, and Al's Formal Wear. In addition, girls modeling in the show go to local resale shops that support GRACE and Metroport Meals on Wheels and purchase outfits to wear during the opening act of the show.
"We want to provide volunteer hours, as well as financial support, which comes from our auction items and cash sponsorships, of which 100 percent go to the charity. Supporting our fashion show gives people the benefit of helping six charities, not just one," Springer points out.
The funds raised from the fashion show are disbursed to the selected philanthropies at the chapter's annual awards ceremony. Voted on by the membership, this year's recipients are: Metroport Meals on Wheels, Battered Women's Foundation, GRACE Feed Our Kids Program, Stepping Stones Foundation, Summer Santa, and Christmas is for Children.
"The fashion show is a way the girls can give back to the charities where they have given many volunteer hours that are so close to their hearts. One can truly see from the stage their love for these charities and the fun they have putting the show together. As one of the producers, it is such a blessing to work with such talented and devoted high school students," Pruitt adds.
The 16th Annual "Wild About Style" Fashion Show and Benefit will be held Sunday, March 3.
Tracy Southers, APR, is president of WordPlay, LLC, a public relations agency in Grapevine, Texas. The company’s services include consulting, copywriting, marketing communications, publicity, social media and special event planning. For more information, visit WordPlay Texas or call 817.756.1233.