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Alumni of altruism: National Charity League Seaside Chapter graduates its first six-year class

Members of the National Charity League Seaside Chapter class of 2021
Members of the National Charity League Seaside Chapter class of 2021, the first group of the chapter to complete the organization’s six-year experience.
(Simone Camilleri)

The La Jolla-based National Charity League Seaside Chapter has graduated its first class to complete the NCL six-year experience, and its founders look to continue the organization’s traditions despite their daughters moving on.

The 22 girls and their mothers in the NCL Seaside class of 2021 have completed 8,231 volunteer hours in the community, following NCL’s 96-year-old model of fostering a stronger mother-daughter connection through community service.

La Jollans Leslie Sauer, April Winograd and Betsy Witt started the NCL Seaside chapter in 2015 after discovering that the other local NCL chapters, including the La Jolla-based San Diego chapter, were “overflowing with applicants,” Witt said.

Winograd said she, Sauer and Witt began inquiring about starting their own chapter and “found out that [NCL was] actually at the same time looking for someone to step up. … We started recruiting everybody we knew.”

“There was a real need for it in our community,” Witt said.

Seaside became the 203rd NCL chapter. There are now 286 chapters in 31 states.

Though NCL is organized for girls to start in seventh grade and complete a six-year term before graduating, NCL Seaside originally accepted seventh- to 10th-graders to grow its numbers, which Winograd said is allowed in some chapters.

The NCL Seaside Chapter celebrated its first graduating class with a mother-daughter senior recognition award ceremony.
The NCL Seaside Chapter recently celebrated its first graduating class with a mother-daughter senior recognition award ceremony at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel. From left are Jordan Breise, Ceci Jones, Olive Winograd, Mimi Jones and Taylor Guccini.
(Ruth Leivers)

The girls, called Ticktockers, and their mothers, called Patronesses, chose nonprofit organizations to partner with, performed philanthropic service hours and participated in leadership development and cultural experiences.

“Our chapter has really been very girl-focused, girl-driven,” Winograd said. “We let them make as many decisions as they can,” from which organizations to partner with for service hours to which committees and leadership roles to take on.

NCL Seaside often collaborates with the NCL San Diego chapter, which was “so helpful to us when we started,” Witt said. “Even though we’re both in La Jolla, we’ve been able to really work together. We have some philanthropies that cross over, so it’s fun for the girls to volunteer together and just to share ideas.”

The collaboration became more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, Witt said, as the chapters struggled to maintain their community service activities during restrictions and held their meetings online.

Pictured are some of the girls in the National Charity League Seaside chapter class of 2021.
Among the 22 girls in the National Charity League Seaside Chapter class of 2021 are (from left) Chloe Kim, Julia Babcock, Blythe Broido, Melina Rights and Callista Beros.
(Leslie Sauer)

Winograd’s daughter, Olive, 18, said some of her favorite NCL activities were “going to Feeding San Diego and Father Joe’s Villages when we would put on big events for the children who live there.”

Witt’s daughter, Megan, 19, said she has learned through her time in NCL that “volunteering can be fun. You have a good group of friends and you go to fun places and help people.”

One of the biggest benefits for Olive Winograd, a graduate of Mount Everest Academy, has been an improved relationship with her mother.

She said “just being a teenager, you don’t often get to hang out with your mom because you’re busy with your school and your friends, but this is the designated time for you to go do something with your mom.”

Betsy Witt agreed, saying it’s been “amazing” for her and Megan “to spend that special time together … that’s making an impact on the community.”

She said she and April Winograd “both feel very strongly about role-modeling [community service] for our daughters” with the hope that Megan and Olive will carry on that sense of philanthropy.

“Our true hope has been just to instill this not only in our daughters but others as well,” Betsy Witt said.

Olive Winograd plans to seek out community service opportunities when she begins attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia in the fall. “That’s going to be a great place to meet new people and give back to the place where I’m going to be staying for four years,” she said.

Megan Witt, a graduate of Cathedral Catholic High School, said “NCL has played a role in inspiring me, so I’m definitely going to go out and do more volunteering” when she attends the University of Montana Western.

Now that their daughters have graduated from NCL Seaside, April Winograd and Betsy Witt will stay on as Sustainers and “continue the friendship and volunteerism that we’ve done as a group together,” Winograd said.

“NCL Seaside is our baby,” Witt said. “It’s hard to let it go.”

For more information about the NCL Seaside Chapter, visit nationalcharityleague.org/chapter/seaside.