The pandemic has posed challenges to volunteering for the Mountain View-Los Altos Service League of Boys, but the members have persevered and expanded their organization despite it.
MVLA SLOBs focuses on philanthropy, strengthening the parent-son relationship while giving back to the community through charity work and mentorship.
The organization usually has five in-person meetings per year, but the pandemic changed that. Members now meet over Zoom. Despite being virtual, more than 160 people have joined each meeting, according to Alexandra Fairey, co-president of the parent executive board and mom of SLOBs co-president Gavin Fairey, who graduated from Los Altos High School in June.
“We were a little bit worried that during COVID, there might be a fall-off (in membership),” Alexandra said. “In fact, we gained 67 new members without having a prospective member meeting.”
At the Zoom webinars, the executive board has organized a wide range of activities for members to engage in, including a series of guest speakers, such as representatives from the Children’s Health Awareness Council and Feeding Local Heroes; Raj Mathai, the evening news anchor for NBC Bay Area; and a Los Altos High graduate.
Members of SLOBs have used their pandemic time working at home on business skills for life after high school, creating LinkedIn accounts and building a professional network, according to Alexandra. They also have been able to organize some at-home volunteer efforts, with more than 2,450 volunteer hours logged since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
“We had them put together kits that were then donated to homeless shelters, including things like hand sanitizer, Kleenex, temporary disposable thermometers and a note card with information on COVID requirements and limitations,” Alexandra said. “We tried to kind of tailor it to the most urgent needs during COVID.”
The organization also assisted victims of the Northern California wildfires.
“When the wildfires occurred last September, we helped them package resources for the evacuation centers and then delivered donated items, clothes, food or first aid stuff,” Alexandra said. “And that all took place locally. Based on the need, we can adapt very quickly and easily.”
Working to create a sense of community within SLOBs despite holding meetings virtually, Gavin and fellow co-president Brandon Gottlieb organized small-group meetings with different grade levels.
“Each board member held a Zoom meeting just for the grade,” said parent board co-president Michelle Gottlieb, mother of Brandon. “We just threw it to our boys, the presidents, to organize these meetings so that the boys can do something fun together. We try to empower our student board members to create a sense of community so that they can feel comfortable volunteering together and get to know all the boys in their own grade.”
Members said the organization expects to continue growing once next year’s executive board – including student presidents Will Hartley and
Keshav Singh, and parent presidents Lee Hartley and Monisha Singh – takes over.
SLOBs’ registration period for 2021-2022 is now open.
To register and for more information, visit mvlaslobs.org.