When Glendale volunteer Shelley Weitzel received a phone call from the nominating committee of the National Charity League in April, she assumed the members of the nonprofit organization wanted her to take back her previous post as vice president of philanthropy. But she soon found out that the committee had bigger plans in mind.
Weitzel said she was shocked when the nominating committee instead asked her if she would like to be president-elect of the entire Glendale chapter of the mother-daughter organization.
"I wasn't expecting that," the Glendale native said. "But I thought it would be a good experience to do something I never thought I would ever do. I was honored to be asked and look forward to working with some ladies this year and building philanthropy in the community."
After consulting with her husband, Mark, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glendale, Weitzel agreed to accept the position. She was formally installed as president May 13 at NCL's Meeting and Installation Dinner at the Oakmont Country Club.
Although Weitzel had spent time volunteering with her husband at the church, the 1991 USC alumnus did not get involved with the chapter until Carol Ann Burton, the senior member that Weitzel replaced as president, sponsored her in the program in 2007.
Weitzel originally became aware of the organization during her days at Hoover High School in Glendale when many of her friends performed community work through the program. But as a teen, Weitzel decided against joining.
She said she is fortunate that her daughter, Rebecca, isn't as stubborn as her mother was during her teens. The duo mutually agreed to join the program three years ago, and Weitzel said the league has been a great experience for both of them.
Rebecca is in year three of the six-year program. As a student, or Ticktocker, she just completed her term on the Ticktocker Council and is set to oversee the 10th-grade chapter-wide project: a Special Olympics event to be held in December.
Weitzel said she is thrilled that her daughter has been so involved with the program and credits Rebecca as another reason why she decided to take the job as league president.
"I wanted to be an example for my daughter," Weitzel said. "This program allows the girls to experience leadership in a safe environment. We've really enjoyed it, and we're really excited about this year."
As president, Weitzel plans to continue the work the National Charity League has performed throughout its history. Senior members, called patronesses, and Ticktockers have set up food drives for the Salvation Army, volunteered at thrift stores for the YWCA, tutored at various help centers, worked regionally for the Special Olympics and supported local retirement homes, among involvement in many other community programs.
Weitzel said it's now her job to help improve these community projects as well as foster the development of mother-daughter relationships within the organization.
"I'm hoping to continue to strengthen the work we've done so far," she said. "Each year, we continue to build on what we've been previously doing. I want to possibly expand to take on one more philanthropic focus of feeding of the homeless . . . But also the key point is to have fun and enjoy the time you spend with your daughter."
After volunteering for many years with the Episcopal Church and now dedicating so much of her time to the National Charity League, Weitzel said she continues to participate because she enjoys her fellow patronesses, and she still finds gratification in helping those in need.
"We do a blood drive every July," she said. "I had a donor come up to me and say 'thank you for holding this event. Thirteen strangers saved my dad's life with open-heart surgery. This is the only way I know how to give back.' It's moments like that where you see the gratitude for something that you don't think is a big deal that keeps me doing it."
Now the woman in charge, Weitzel will have the power to set up new programs that can reach even more people in the coming year.