Heritage Farmstead Museum preserves Plano’s past, but thanks to Young Men’s Service League’s Wildcat Chapter, the local landmark will also have a bright future. Over the weekend of September 30, 2017, the chapter’s members, comprised of young men and their moms, came together to donate more than 400 hours of service to the museum.
While many charities benefit from individual service hours from YMSL members throughout the year, the annual Ultimate Gift project is a major service initiative taken on over one weekend to make a big impact with a single cause. “We love doing Ultimate Gift each year because the entire chapter comes together,” said Dr. Lisa Kotas, the chapter’s chairwoman for the project. “It’s a way for the boys to learn that volunteering can be fun, and that working hard and working together can really make an impact.”
Kathy Strobel, Director of Development for Heritage Farmstead Museum, said one of the reasons she was excited to work with YMSL was that most of the young men in the chapter had visited the farmstead on field trips in elementary school and this gave them a chance to give back. “Plus,” she said, “they get to become preservationists of our city’s history.”
Projects over the weekend included priming and painting the fence surrounding the farmstead’s four-and-a-half-acre perimeter, building chicken nesting boxes, reorganizing storage areas and cleaning vintage farm equipment. “The wrought iron fence painting was our biggest task,” said Kotas. “It’s very visible and will make a big impact. Everyone who drives by will see the improvement.”
For Strobel, working with YMSL on the Ultimate Gift has been rewarding on multiple levels. “My son and I were members of the Cardinal Chapter of YMSL. I cherish the ways it opened doors to communication with him in high school. Now, YMSL is giving back to the place I love to work, so it’s touched my life in two ways.”
In addition to service hours, chapter members donated gift cards to help fund the purchase of supplies and tools needed by the farmstead. The chapter also had several professionally printed parking signs made to help prevent museum visitor parking on nearby residential streets. “It’s all helping us be a better neighbor,” said Strobel. “The entire project was a tremendous act of good will. It warms my heart.”
Young Men’s Service League is a non-profit organization that started in Plano, TX in 2001. Founders Pam and Julie Rosener started the group as a chance to spend meaningful time with their high-school-aged sons and to spend time serving their community. The national organization currently has more than 70 chapters nationwide. YMSL’s mission is to assist, serve, and support those who are in our community, develop leadership skills, among our membership, and promote mother-son relationships.
About the Wildcat Chapter:
The Wildcat Chapter was founded in 2009. Young men in the chapter typically attend feeder schools in the Plano Senior High attendance zones, though some members attend private schools or are home schooled. Membership is determined by the mother and they join in their son’s freshman year, and there are typically 100 mom members divided evenly among the classes, freshmen to seniors.
In addition to serving philanthropy hours, the young men attend their own meetings to learn about leadership and civic responsibility, budgeting, college and career planning, and other life skills.
Last year, the Wildcat chapter volunteered more than 3,800 hours and donated 500 wish list items to those in need in Plano and surrounding communities.