Beyond the obvious rise in population, homes, and businesses, there are many ways to measure the continued growth of the Town of Flower Mound.
Take the expansion of the Young Men’s Service League (YMSL), for example. When the first local chapter of moms and their high school sons working together to help others outgrew its limits, another group was formed in 2016.
In a little more than one year, the Integrity group has grown to 75 boys attending Flower Mound and Marcus high schools, plus 80 moms, providing more than 2,350 hours of service.
This year, the group is conducting a food drive during the first half of October to benefit the North Texas Food Bank, as part of the organization’s annual Ultimate Gift program. In addition to philanthropic opportunities, YMSL seeks to create the next generation of leaders.
“One of the neat things about this organization is that every boy has a job,” said Amy McDaniel, chair of Integrity’s Ultimate Gift Committee. “Every boy in every grade has an assigned job each year; some are the highest of jobs– like president, vice-president, secretary.
“Every boy has a responsibility to be on a committee. It could be the philanthropy committee. They could be the Sergeant-at-Arms, which is the person who helps [conduct the meetings] to keep a record of Robert’s Rules of Order during the meeting.
“To me that’s great, because some young men are natural leaders and others are not, yet all get a role. They’re all accountable for being responsible. In my mind it gives them buy-in to the organization and safely lets them test the waters and take some risks to see what they have and what they can do.”
McDaniel and son Gavin learned about YMSL after she was involved with daughter Alli in the mother-daughter National Charity League (NCL).
YMSL was formed in 2001 by Plano sister-in-laws Pam and Julie Rosener, who also had been involved in NCL. Today there are 51 YMSL chapters in Texas and another 20 across California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma and Virginia.
YMSL is all about donating time, rather than money. Every fall, each YMSL chapter select an Ultimate Gift initiative to make a significant difference for one designated charity to kick-off the holiday season. The concept comes from a book of the same name by Jim Stovall.
“Very often with YMSL, the Ultimate Gift projects are very physical– like building a playground, building benches, weeding and fixing a yard of a really important location,” McDaniel said. “Last year we did all the gardening, all of the painting, all of the fencing at Kyle’s Place [the nonprofit Journey To Dream’s shelter for homeless youth] before it opened.”
This year, McDaniel wanted to try something different, through a food drive. While she knows it may not make a significant difference for the North Texas Food Bank, it will be pivotal in the education of her chapter’s families, since they may not know that one-in-six area people suffer from food insecurity.
“What I’m hoping is that it not only positively impacts North Texas Food Bank and food insecurity in North Texas, but it will put into the hearts and into the minds of all of our moms and all of our boys that food insecurity is a problem everywhere, no matter where they move,” McDaniel said. “When they grow up, there’s isn’t a community that doesn’t have a need for support when it comes to things like that.”
She hopes this service project will be an Ultimate Gift to the participants in the chapter, because it will make them realize a number of important things. Separate educational sessions with the moms and the sons were held by McDaniel to learn about two of NTFB major programs – the Food 4 Kids (Backpack Program) and School Pantry Program.
“It’s more than just collecting cans and stuffing bags,” she said. “Is that going to really change that much? Probably not. What we want to know is: ‘what will this knowledge change for you; how will it impact the way you live your life every day.’ There are a lot of ways we should change our behavior [by] realizing we are very blessed to live in the world we are in. They should be grateful for what they have. They shouldn’t take more on their plate than they can eat. They should think about throwing away a whole plate of pasta; all those types of things. But, if we change their behaviors even a little bit we’re making for a better society.”
Integrity’s food drive will feature two group gatherings: on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7 and 8, from 1 to 5 p.m., when food can be donated at the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 2800 Flower Mound Road; and, on Saturday, Oct. 14, when those donations will be taken to the NTFB, where Integrity members will work in the warehouse sorting food and placing items in backpacks.
Between those group activities, individual members may collect donations on their own to drop off either at the special events or at McDaniel’s house. While the focus will be on child-friendly foods, including canned fruits, vegetables, and meats and boxed cereals, other non-perishable items will be accepted.
Other organizations with which YSML Integrity currently partners are: the Salvation Army; Camp Thurman; Grace Grapevine; Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home; Austin Street Shelter; Journey to Dream; Kairos, Rocky Point; Boys and Girls Club of North Texas; Child Care Group; Hope Supply Company; Keep Flower Mound Beautiful; Special Olympics; and, the Flower Mound Senior Center.
For more information on the food drive, contact McDaniel at 214-394-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.