Serving Strengthens Mother and Son Bond
Sept. 22 – 23, through the rain and mud, approximately 75 moms and 100 sons who are members of Young Men’s Service League – Lovejoy Chapter (YMSL), worked two hour shifts at Cornerstone Ranch to complete their annual Ultimate Gift project.
“Young Men’s Service League is a mother-son organization dedicated to serving their local communities and enhancing mother-son relationships. The young men and their mothers participate in a four year program of philanthropy, education and leadership.” (ymslnational.org)
Cornerstone Ranch is a group home for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. It is located on 42 acres just outside of McKinney. “We are a home where adults with special needs can indeed experience abundant life. Residents do not spend their day in front of the television. Instead, they serve, exercise, worship, and work as productive and useful members of the community.” (cornerstone-ranch.com)
The Lovejoy chapter of YMSL was formed in 2014. Over the four years, the group has more than doubled their membership. This year there are 97 moms and 117 sons in the chapter.
Pattie Calhoun, Philanthropy Elect, explained that an Ultimate Gift project is one that can be started and completed in a set period of time such as a day or a weekend. A few projects were completed this year at Cornerstone Ranch including creating a gravel road to the work barn, removing unused path stones from a path and creating an aesthetically pleasing safety shoulder on a highly traveled sidewalk. In previous years, they redid the 10,000 square foot garden in which Cornerstone Ranch residents grow vegetables to sell at farmers market. They also cleaned the entire property which included the land and inside and outside the house.
Cornerstone Residential Director, Doug Schulte said, “YSML is willing to do volunteer projects that residents can’t do or are not interested in doing. They have done some serious manual labor work in our garden and other physically challenging projects. Also, many of the boys and their mothers have forged relationships with our residents. As a result we have attended Lovejoy sporting events and been welcomed with open arms.”
Four members of YMSL Lovejoy described their experiences with YMSL and specifically the work they have done at Cornerstone Ranch.
Michael DiFiore is a senior; he joined when he was a freshman. He said that he and his mom were looking for a way to do community service work together. He thinks it is fun to work on projects with his mom. Regarding this Ultimate Gift project and those from previous years, he said it feels good to complete something you work a long time on. He said moms and sons who are willing to work hard and serve will enjoy YMSL.
Owen Abramson is a junior; he joined when he was a freshman. He said he and him mom joined because YMSL provided bonding opportunities. His younger brother is also a member. He has been surprised at the amount of participation of students from different grades (YMSL members must be in 9th – 12th grade). After completing projects at Cornerstone Ranch, he feels satisfied that he has worked on something without monetary reward. He feels that people who would like to help those less fortunate would enjoy being a part of YMSL.
Sam Clay is a sophomore; he joined YMSL when he was a freshman because it offered an opportunity to serve. He said it has surprised him how much he has enjoyed serving and that he doesn’t see it as a task. He said, “Serving allows me to be more Christ-like.”
Collins Archer is a freshman, he joined this year. He has been surprised by how many people work together on these projects. His older brother is also a member. He said when you join YMSL you feel better about yourself.
Calhoun has twin sons who are sophomores. This is their second year to be in YMSL. She said the relationship between the philanthropy and YMSL members is symbiotic. She added, “We step outside of our comfort zone and serve different groups in our community.” She has enjoyed forming relationships with different philanthropies and meeting moms she wouldn’t have met had it not been for YMSL.
The challenges the weather provided during this project allowed members to showcase grit, which is their motto this year. Amiee Krisher, Ultimate Gift coordinator said, “I’m so impressed that so many members came out and worked in the rain and mud.”