Building Leaders: National League of Young Men launches La Jolla chapter

The La Jolla chapter of National League of Young Men (NLYM), in addition to being one of the newest chapters for the service and leadership organization, is also San Diego’s first. Launched in October, NLYM pairs mothers and sons together to engage in community service, develop leadership skills, attend cultural events and undergo etiquette training.

It was founded to be a similar program to the National Charity League for young women.

NLYM La Jolla Historian Kimberly Gambling, a former Charity League member, said when she had sons, she hoped there would be something similar for them. Finding none, she asked friends with sons to explore the idea, and eventually found NLYM.

To qualify, boys must live or go to school in the 92037 ZIP code. Dues are $150 per year, and each participant is expected to be a member for all four years of high school.

Organized in classes that correlate with students’ grade level, there is currently only a freshman and sophomore class. During each “class,” age-appropriate skills are taught, such as how to conduct a meeting, time management, prioritizing commitments, drug and alcohol education and grooming tips.

In the senior class, organizing finances, establishing a bank account, managing credit cards, living away from home and more will be covered.

There is also a 10-hour minimum requirement for volunteering, and the young men must attend a cultural event.

“We want them to finish this program as socially responsible young men,” Gambling said. “We want them to be able to look people in the eye and shake their hands when they speak to someone, and work well with people.”

NYLM La Jolla president Wendy Dick added, “It’s something mothers and sons can experience together before the boys are all grown up.”

During the meetings, which the members must run, speakers often attend to lend insight into their fields. On the topic of how to dress, for example, a representative from Nordstrom’s department store would make a presentation.

For Carwyn Gambling, Kimberly’s son, running the meetings and being introduced to public speaking has already proved beneficial. “I have a better basis for what’s ahead (in life) and getting to practice public speaking in front of a friendly and supportive group is really helpful,” he said, adding that he hopes to have a future in environmental or homeless activism. Through NYLM’s community volunteer component, Carwyn said he looks forward to being introduced to non-profit organizations.

For Charlie Gal, son of Lisa Barnhouse-Gal, vice president of philanthropy, developing leadership skills is key. Charlie said he wanted to join because “it sounded like a great opportunity to learn how to be a leader and volunteer.” Jumping right in, he is the NLYM freshman class president this year. The meetings are conducted in accordance with Robert Rules of Order and provide a formal channel for the boys to practice their new skills.

Barnhouse-Gal said some of the youth programs the young men plan to partner with are Top Soccer (providing peer-training for athletes with disabilities) and Helen Bernardy Center for Medically Fragile Children (a facility for children who are too sick to live at home).

“When the young men come by and play with them, the kids get excited because it’s other kids their own age,” she said.

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