This month’s Volunteer Spotlight is on the Westlake chapter of the Young Men’s Service League (YMSL), which volunteered with The Settlement Home in a variety of important ways recently. YMSL is a national organization with local chapters existing to serve the community and encourage moms and their high-school-aged sons to interact on philanthropy projects together. The Westlake chapter of the YMSL was founded in 2016 and serves more than 20 nonprofits in Austin.
Debbie Cannon, chair of the YMSL Westlake’s 2018 Ultimate Gift Project, said that she and her son first became involved with The Settlement Home when they signed up for a service project over the summer. “We came to The Settlement Home to paint the interior of a group home. It’s fun to work with other moms and have our sons volunteer with their peers. It’s been a blessing to work side by side on projects and get to know others. Volunteering together creates a special bond and knits our community closer together,” Debbie says.
Kristy Knippa and her son are also members of YMSL Westlake and have a personal connection to The Settlement Home. “My cousin lived at The Settlement Home in the 1990s when her life was turned upside down by challenging circumstances in her home life. Due to the highly qualified therapists and the love she was given, she was able to overcome amazing obstacles and put her life back together! She is now a wife and mom and has held the same job for 15 years as a computer programmer,” Kristy says. In addition, Kristy’s mother, Gwen Ford has been a longtime volunteer and Settlement Club member. Kristy says, “As her daughter, it has been so fun to come alongside her to events and help with sorting donations in the warehouse.”
YMSL Westlake generously chose The Settlement Home for their 2018 Ultimate Gift Project, an event YMSL chapters complete each year with the purpose of making a transformational impact in their community. “We are looking forward to our Ultimate Gift Project of weeding and mulching three of the playgrounds used by The Settlement Home’s residents. We are excited to make an impact on something that is highly utilized by the children and to help ensure a clean and safe environment for them. We are also building a dance floor in the gym, where we hope to make a big transformation. The moms and sons are going to clear out the space, lay down a sub floor and put in dance flooring and ballet bars that were donated by Sherrie Sellers, owner of Synergy Dance Studio,” Debbie says.
In addition to working on several campus improvement projects over the summer, YMSL Westlake also consistently volunteered in the warehouse by sorting donations for the upcoming Garage & Estate Sale. Debbie says, “There are so many benefits to volunteering at The Settlement Home. It’s so rewarding to know that our efforts will directly impact children who need to feel loved and worthy. It is an honor to know that we’ve made a difference in their lives.”