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Son joins mom in volunteering efforts

Luke Tarby and Jacob Hes

A Princeton High School sophomore and his mom are learning what it’s like to give back to the community through an organization that promotes volunteering.

Luke and Stacy Tarby are members of the Young Men’s Service League, a non-profit organization with a mission to serve and support those in need, develop leadership skills and promote mother-son relationships.

Most recently, the YMSL conducted its annual philanthropy event, the “Ultimate Gift.” The Tarbys and the rest of the members of their chapter organized a fall festival for an assisted living facility. Activities included a full day of interviewing staff and residents, playing memory games, making crafts and letter writing and decorating.

“Ultimate Gift was a great experience for us,” said organizer Jana Grimone. “Having an activity that is meaningful prompts meaningful conversations and opportunities for life lessons.”

Volunteering together allows moms to watch as their sons develop into compassionate young men.

YMSL plays bingo

“The best aspect of volunteering together has been watching my son, Luke, work with special needs children,” Stacy said. “I have teared up several times watching him work with them while they are playing basketball, soccer and baseball and helping kids get into airplanes to take an adventure into the sky.”

The adventure through Challenge Air paired YMSL members with special needs children.

“Volunteering with Challenge Air has been the highlight so far,” Luke said. “Kids with special needs are able to go up in a small airplane and fly with a pilot. Helping these kids have their dream come true was awesome.”

The Challenge Air experience was meaningful to Luke’s mom, too.

“The projects aren’t always easy, but Luke stays patient with the kids and truly seems to love working with them,” Stacy said. “Volunteering with him and seeing his kind heart with those kids is something I will always cherish.”

The local YMSL chapter, YMSL United, is one of 94 across the country. Each member serves more than 20 hours of community service annually.

According to YMSL United President Carrie Alfieri, last year’s contribution totaled 2,685 hours in service to the community. She challenged members this year to volunteer more than 3,000 hours, and the organization is on track as members have already logged 1,957 hours since May 1.

Tarby and YMSL members play cards at assisted living facility.

The Tarbys joined YMSL because they wanted to make a difference.

“I like providing a service to those who need it,” Luke said. “I like knowing I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.”

According to Stacy, the volunteer organization creates the chance for moms to make a lasting impact on the world by inspiring their sons to serve and lead.

“YMSL is amazing,” Stacy said. “Not only does it provide opportunities for hours of mother-and-son time doing great things for the community, but it teaches leadership and life skills to the boys.”

YMSL is a four-year program that works with more than 1,000 philanthropies, including Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Wreaths Across America, Miracle League and the Salvation Army.

Stacy emphasized it’s not always about giving back to the community. The sons benefit as well.

“These skills, along with their hearts of service, will only help them be amazing men,” she said. “I would invite people to get involved if they are looking for ways to teach their sons about being leaders in our community. YMSL challenges our boys to be part of the solution of making our world a better place.”