Mom’s slide into dementia began when the church thrift shop in Ft. Lauderdale closed. She loved going there to volunteer, to meet people, to add numbers in her head, and to go home at the end of her hours feeling useful.
Sadly, my California location prevented me from seeing more closely the connection between Mom’s now-shrunken world and her decline.
All the more reason I truly appreciate the Assistance League, the oldest non-profit, non-political, non-sectarian institution in the West. Founded in 1919 by Anne Banning, AL chapters have sprung up around the state.
I can attest, first hand, to the vitality and spirit of some grand women who live in my neighborhood. Look what they just accomplished:
The Assistance League of Capistrano Valley just completed Operation School Bell, its annual fall event for children from both middle schools and elementary schools in the Capistrano Unified School District. Prior to the event, the counselors at each school send a list of needy children. These students are then invited on their specific night. This year, the AL of Capistrano Valley provided school clothes for 979 students from 27 schools.
They partnered with Target in San Clemente and held the event for seven nights. Each evening at least 20 volunteer members either checked in students, helped students select clothes, scanned prices, or helped check out at designated cash registers. Through generous donations from their Thrift Shop in San Clemente and their Christmas Home Tour, this local group spent over $66,250 for clothes for these children.
The women I know who belong are older than I am, active, smart, articulate, and fun. A number live alone but their resilient spirits shine.
Service is a power tonic for the resiliency of head, heart, hands and soul.