Serving the community brings a special kind of excitement to the hearts of many, especially when it’s alongside those you love.
That appeal is what drives many mothers and daughters to join the National Charity League, a volunteer organization created especially for mothers and their school-age daughters.
Although NCL chapters are active across the nation, their service at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center has proven especially beneficial. Darlene Conley, the director at Jones Park, said the participation of the Kings Trails, Kingwood, Livable Forest, and Lake Houston chapters of NCL has played an integral role in the success of many park events and programs.
“Their value is tremendous,” said Conley. “We would not be able to offer the same amount of great programming that we provide if not for their assistance.”
Maddie Dunleavy and her mother, Nora Dunleavy, have been members of the Kings Trails Chapter of NCL since 2014, when Maddie was a sixth grader. Volunteering together at Jones Park has been a special bonding experience for them and a way for them to spend time together in nature.
“I love volunteering at Jones Park because it was a place I loved to be when I was younger,” said Maddie, a senior at Kingwood High School. “I looked forward to going there, and it brought me so much joy. So it’s really nice to be able to give that same joy back to others through volunteering.”
Nora, who loves the outdoors, has truly enjoyed her experience volunteering with her daughter and watching her daughter’s love for nature and service grow.
“I’ve seen Maddie grow over the years, and her experience at Jones Park has helped her decide on an area of study,” Nora said of her daughter’s plans to go into marine biology. “Just being outside and in nature studying the plants and animals has really helped her to know what she wants to do.”
Throughout their years of service with NCL, the Dunleavys have served as camp counselors for Summer Nature Camp and participated in several of Jones Park’s featured events, including Old Fashioned Christmas, Homestead Heritage Day, and Tricks and Treats Among the Trees.
Maddie said those experiences will stay with her forever.
“This past summer, I volunteered as a counselor for Summer Nature Camp,” she said. “A younger girl in my group remembered me from being her camp counselor four years ago, the first year I was a counselor. It was great to see that I was able to make an impact on someone.”
Maddie will graduate from high school this year, which will make her an NCL alumna. But Nora will continue the tradition of serving at Jones Park with her son, Joseph Dunleavy, through the Young Men’s Service League, which provides philanthropic opportunities for mothers and their teenage sons.
Judith Lewis, the vice president of philanthropy for the NCL Lake Houston Chapter, said one of the primary goals of the organization is to provide new experiences for young women so they can explore a variety of careers, and Jones Park plays a huge role in achieving that goal.
“As mothers, we hope that when they are doing an activity, it will stay with them, and they’ll reflect on it,” she said. “To think about becoming a forest ranger or doing something environmental. That’s how Jones Park helps our girls become something that’s important to them.”
The mutual admiration Jones Park and NCL share only strengthens their bond.
“We know that when we volunteer at Jones Park, it’s appreciated, and they have shown to us that we are appreciated by the way we’re treated,” said Lewis.
Area NCL chapters will participate in upcoming events at Jones Park events, including NatureFest. The organization continues to look forward to serving the park and its many endeavors in the Precinct 4 area.
For more information on how mothers and daughters can join the National Charity League, please visit .
To volunteer at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature, visit https://www.hcp4.net/parks/jjp/volunteer or call 281-446-8588.