Family Service

June 2018 View more

For Kim Viehmann, the best part about being a member of the local chapter of the National Charity League (NCL) is the opportunities it has given her to bond with her teenage daughter, Rachel. At a time in a girl’s life when it may no longer be cool to hang out with her mom, their relationship has strengthened as they have joined together to help others.

Holding back tears, the mother of three says “the best part is spending time with my daughter. It can be hard to do as girls get so busy at that age, but we have sacred time in the car driving to places where we have a shared experience just between the two of us.”

Viehmann, who is ending her year as president of the Greater Naperville Chapter, joined the NCL five years ago. What attracted her to it initially was the fact that it’s a service organization for mothers and daughters aged between seventh and 12th grade. The local chapter is made up of 250 members serving 21 organizations, including Little Friends, Project Help, Habitat for Humanity and Gigi’s Playhouse.

Rachel, now 17, was leaving Girl Scouts, and Viehmann decided she wanted to do some voluntary work alongside her. Her husband Matt was already involved with their sons Jacob, an Eagle Scout, and John, a Star Scout.

“When I was in high school in Dallas,  Texas, our motto was ‘serviam,’ Latin for ‘I will serve,’” Viehmann explains. “I learned about serving the community through that and I wanted my daughter to know what it’s like to give back. At 13, she was going into the age where I wasn’t cool anymore. This was something we could do together that was a wholesome experience.”

The duo’s first project was volunteering at Hesed House. “It started to click for her. She knew she was doing something good,” Viehmann says.

The NCL girls form a class of 24, where everyone has a role. The tick tockers, as they are known, learn leadership skills and take part in cultural experiences as well as community service projects. Their mothers, who are called patronesses, have their own group, but the two come together to serve and have fun.

The Naperville-area chapter, which was formed in 2012, is the first in Illinois, although as it increases in popularity a second may open. Membership is restricted so that everyone can fully participate. There are more than 60,000 NCL members across the country.

“It’s a huge thing for mothers who see the long-term value for girls,” Viehmann says. “It helps develops leadership skills and teaches them how to make new friends outside of school. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for them, but when they look back, they see what they have learned and how they have made a difference to people.”

Veihmann says she’s also learned a lot during her year as president.

“Members must understand their purpose so they can move in the same direction. If you can do that, you are unlimited in what you can accomplish,” she says. “I was worried about the responsibility at first, because I am leading such a large group and there are philanthropies who rely on us to provide manpower for them. But it’s been a wonderful experience and I learned I am more capable than I thought.”

Veihmann, who worked in marketing before raising her children, says her dream was to use her marketing skills for good. “I feel good about being able to do that,” she says.

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