Assistance League® takes Florida by storm, National Conference a huge success

Marianne and Heather
Heather Laughman, president Assistance League of Chicagoland West, and Marianne Cortopassi, member National Marketing Communications Committee, attended the National Assistance League Conference in Orlando, FL on September 3 to 7. The theme was Imagine, Inspire, Innovate.

 Marilyn Panter, President, AL St. Louis

Charlene Liesveld, President AL Omaha
 Diane Dwyer, AL Huntington Beach,

For more on conference, read the article below, written for the National Assistance League website by Marianne Cortopassi.

Hundreds of Assistance League members from around the country converged in Orlando September 3-7 for an opportunity to inspire innovative approaches to community volunteerism through networking, educational sessions and motivational presentations by keynote speakers.

But the 52nd annual National Conference was not business as usual.

While Assistance League has a long tradition of doing good in the communities it serves, the national organization garnered front page and television news coverage in Central Florida by providing clothing to 900 students in need, and arranging to do so in a state without a single Assistance League chapter.

Thirteen National Board officers, including President Nancy Reberger, clothed 150 children at Fallas National Stores on September 3, and then announced that an additional 750 children would receive merchandise vouchers.

As amazing as this generosity seemed to the local population, Assistance League's signature Operation School Bell® program has clothed nearly four million children since 1958 and continues to serve over 330,000 children on an annual basis.

At a celebration luncheon, School District of Osceola County Superintendent Melba Luciano thanked Assistance League for collaborating with Fallas National Stores for the donation of two uniforms each, shoes and other necessities for elementary students at three district schools, where 70 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and some are homeless.

The only thing we ask is that the community comes to help us," said Luciano. "That is our district goal. For you to come to us, and ask can we come help, we are so appreciative."

Another conference highlight was the preview screening of a powerful national impact video that positions Assistance League as a leading provider of philanthropic programs administered exclusively by volunteers to target specific individual and community needs.

The video was funded through a generous grant from Newman's Own, one of the sponsors of National Make A Difference Day, in recognition of Assistance League's success as one of the ten national honorees.

Individual chapters also participated in the inaugural Chapter Showcase, a colorful and expressive exhibition that lined the hotel's common areas and detailed success stories from Albuquerque to Ventura County and several dozen cities in between.

President Reberger applauded the efforts of all 120 chapters at the annual meeting.

"The philanthropic programs you manage and how they make a positive difference in your communities is the heart and soul of our organization," Reberger said. "They are why we exist. It is inspirational to hear about the programs and to hear members share their heartwarming experiences."

Attendees agree that networking is a wonderful part of National Conference. As a member from the St. Louis chapter explained, "Networking is an outgrowth of the presentations. We hear new ideas, then start talking to the people who implement them."