Excellence in Volunteer Engagement awarded to 7 Nashville nonprofits

Nashville, Tenn. – October 24, 2017 – Dismas House of NashvilleFannie Battle Day Home for Children, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, Inc., Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee, Nashville Humane Association, Nashville Wine Auction and Project C.U.R.E. were recognized today for Excellence in Volunteer Engagement (EVE) certification at the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM). Through EVE, a partnership between CNM, Hands On Nashville (HON) and the Mayor’s Office, Middle Tennessee nonprofits with outstanding volunteer management programs are recognized and celebrated.

“EVE not only recognizes the nonprofits and volunteers doing incredible work in our city, but also the strong, productive relationships that grow from putting excellent management strategies in place,” said Tari Hughes, president and CEO of CNM.

EVE certification is awarded twice annually to nonprofits that adhere to volunteer management best practices, including conducting volunteer orientations and including a volunteer program component in the organization’s strategic plan. A nonprofit’s certification lasts two years and is then eligible for renewal. In total, 61 organizations are currently EVE certified.

“Nonprofits rely on volunteers for day-to-day support, as well as long-term capacity building,” said HON President and CEO Lori Shinton. “Our EVE-certified partners expertly engage volunteers to support their respective missions while empowering individuals to build stronger communities.

The next round of EVE applications will be accepted in the spring via http://www.hon.org/EVE. Any nonprofit agency in Davidson County may apply.

View the full list of EVE-certified nonprofits.

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Why Nashville Public Library’s volunteers keep coming back

There’s no limit to what dedicated volunteers can accomplish in a day. Some projects require a longer time commitment, however – days, weeks or even months. The Nashville Public Library (NPL) knows this divide well, as 90 percent of its volunteer opportunities require long-term support.

NPL recognizes an annual “Volunteer of the Year” to help thank dedicated community members for their work. Long-term volunteer Julia Jones was awarded the title in 2017.

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Julia Jones, NPL Volunteer of the Year 2017

Jones’ nomination highlights both her commitment to service and her valued role at the library:

“At the core of everything Julia does is her kindness, devotion, sensitivity, free-spiritedness, and a wonderful sense of humor. She warmly welcomes each and every guest at story time and other children’s events, addressing the children and their parents by name and showing genuine interest in them. She sings, she dances, she laughs, and in so doing, encourages the children and their caregivers to sing and dance and laugh. She encourages participants to explore the collection, recommends materials, and helps them locate those items in the library. She walks them to the door, helps them carry personal belongings, and makes patrons feel they are part of a big, Donelson family.”

– Kathryn Shaw, Donelson Branch Library Volunteer Leader

NPL lists all long-term volunteer opportunities on hon.org, and many volunteers and staff members recruit friends and family through word of mouth, adding to the sense of community among those who support the library.

“We feel such a sense of gratitude for people coming together in the community to help the library. It’s really humbling,” said Amy Pierce, volunteer services supervisor at Nashville Public Library. With long-term volunteer support, the library can offer unique services, such as the Talking Library – a program with two staffers and more than 70 volunteers, through which vision-impaired patrons can listen to volunteers read newspapers, books and more.

Volunteers must provide background checks before working at NPL, and using the library system requires training. Initially, library staff implemented the 50-hour rule to help conserve resources. However, long-term volunteering creates a sense of support and fulfillment over time.

“We work with volunteers and staff to find times that work, and allow volunteers to continue on a schedule,” said Amy Pierce, volunteer services supervisor at Nashville Public Library. “We require all volunteers to commit 50 hours of service. Often, they hit a rhythm and keep going. Many volunteers have been with us for years; last year, a volunteer hit more than 10,000 hours.”

What could your organization accomplish with a fleet of long-term volunteers?

Post your long-term opportunities on hon.org and find out today.

Harpeth Presbyterian Church Comes Together to Support Nashville Youth

“Rewarding.” That’s the word Brent Grunfeld, longtime supporter of the youth group at Harpeth Presbyterian Church (Harpeth Pres.), used to describe the church’s involvement with ReCYCLE for Kids 2017.

Harpeth Pres. is a small but mighty congregation in Brentwood, TN. After going on a mission trip to Mobile, Alabama last year, the youth group wanted to make a difference closer to home. While in Alabama, youth group members learned that people experiencing homelessness needed bikes to get around the city – and they were pleased to find out that local organizations exist to meet that need. Coming home, the group wondered if Nashville had resources in place to connect community members with bikes.

ReCYCLE For Kids: a volunteer-powered initiative that collects, restores and connects bicycles with youth in underserved neighborhoods. Between 2012 and 2017, ReCYCLE engaged 1,600 volunteers and connected nearly 1,000 youth with bicycles.

harpeth2A portion of bikes collected by Harpeth Pres.

After meeting with Hands On Nashville about ReCYCLE For Kids, Harpeth Pres. members had no idea how much their involvement would grow. What started as a youth-group project to donate and collect bikes turned into a congregationwide effort to make the biggest impact possible. Initially, the church donated 54 bikes, but they didn’t want to stop there.

“Our entire congregation came together and got behind supporting the program,” said Grunfeld. “It was amazing, the camaraderie and fellowship; we had eight-to-10 year olds and seniors going out of the way to help us figure out how to donate bikes. It created an environment that hadn’t really existed before.”

This newfound dedication led Harpeth Pres. to collect more than 110 bikes – accounting for nearly half of bikes delivered to community members at the ReCYCLE For Kids 2017 giveaway event.

harpeth 3Congregation members learning the ropes at a bike refurbishment project

The church’s enthusiasm was also apparent at its bike refurbishment project, which took place at Oasis Bike Workshop. “To have 32 people show up for refurbishment – they took over the Oasis Bike Workshop,” said Grunfeld. “Church members didn’t know what to expect. The next thing you knew, you had people who didn’t know anything about bikes fixing tires and brakes. The excitement was amazing when we left.”

Between the refurbishment and giveaway, nearly 50 people volunteered for ReCYCLE – not including the numerous people who helped in other various capacities.

After donating and collecting dozens of bikes, participating in a refurbishment and volunteering at the giveaway, Harpeth Pres. is already talking about keeping the momentum going. They look forward to working with other churches and increasing community member involvement in similar service projects.

To the entire congregation: ReCYCLE 2017 would not have been rewarding for us without your eagerness, excitement and support. From our team to yours, we are grateful.

Read about this year’s ReCYCLE For Kids bike giveaway.

 

HON Day 2017: Altria Volunteers and the Value of Showing Up

At 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, HON Day volunteers started arriving at Metro Nashville Public School site. For many, the day was just beginning. However, a handful of employee volunteers from Altria had started their “days” the previous night. The volunteers had worked from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Instead of heading home, the group reported to Cora Howe School to lend a hand.

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Preparing to expand the school garden.

Altria has been a dedicated HON Day sponsor since 2012, serving as presenting sponsor for the past two years. The company’s participation in HON Day 2017 is a testament to the power of private organizations connecting with their communities – and the value of showing up and making a difference. With Altria’s 2017 support, more than 1,000 volunteers had the resources needed to make a difference at 15 MNPS schools. On top of that, Altria volunteers always show up with positive attitudes, roll up their sleeves and turn project resources into results.

This year, the Altria volunteer team brought massive energy, laughter and hard work to Cora Howe, despite the long hours and hot Nashville sun. Led by community partners Cumberland River Compact and Nashville Tree Foundation, volunteers helped build a rain garden and plant trees on school grounds.

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One of seven new trees at Cora Howe School.

“HON Day builds camaraderie within our team, and it’s so great to be helping schools,” said Altria’s Jennifer Simpkins. 2017 marked Simpkins’ second HON Day, and she was one of the volunteers who reported for duty after working through the night.

James Harvey and Robert Klein, training leader and plant manager at Altria (respectively), also shared why they’ve supported HON Days past and present. “When it comes down to it, we’re blessed and fortunate,” said Harvey. “Whenever we can give back – that’s the right thing to do. As a business and as a person, it matters.”

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Starting work on the new rain garden.

To the entire Altria team: thank you for your commitment to HON Day as not only the presenting sponsor, but a team of community members ready to pitch in and work for a shared cause.

View photos from Hands On Nashville Day 2017.

Hands On Nashville Day Mobilizes More Than 1,000 Volunteers at Metro Nashville Public Schools

NASHVILLE – September 23, 2017 – This morning, more than 1,000 volunteers came together for the 26th Annual Hands On Nashville Day, a citywide day of service supporting Metro Nashville Public Schools. At 15 schools, volunteers created inspirational murals, landscaped playgrounds, and painted hallways, gymnasiums and more.

“Today’s volunteers aren’t just sprucing up schools,” said Dennis Neal, executive director of the Facility and Grounds Maintenance Department at Metro Nashville Public Schools. “They’re showing support for the MNPS students and families who learn and grow in these spaces every day.”

Hands On Nashville partnered with numerous community organizations and businesses in support of the day of service. A team of employee volunteers from Altria, the presenting sponsor, completed projects at Cora Howe School. Nashville Tree Foundation and Cumberland River Compact also contributed support.

“Hands On Nashville Day helps us give back to the community in which we live and work,” said Altria’s Mark Czuba. “It’s powerful to see what we can accomplish as a team, especially as we focus on a cause as important as our local schools.”

Metro Public Works partnered with the event for the second year as part of Mayor Megan Barry’s Fall Green & Clean initiative, sponsoring 100 tree plantings. Funding was provided through a Community Partner Grant from Lowe’s/Keep America Beautiful (KAB), a national nonprofit that inspires and educates people to improve and beautify community environments.

The Nashville Tree Foundation supported the event through the Green Shirt Volunteer program, which recognizes volunteers who have experience planting trees at NTF events or have related professional qualifications. Green Shirt Volunteers trained and supervised Hands On Nashville Day projects to ensure proper planting methods, and will do so for additional planting projects in the community.

“Hands On Nashville’s mission – to meet community needs through volunteerism – truly comes alive on this day,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “Our team has the unique position to see the impact volunteers contribute to our city every day, and events like Hands On Nashville Day highlight this impact for our entire community.”

Throughout Hands On Nashville’s 26 years, more than 26,000 volunteers have engaged in 75,000 hours of Hands On Nashville Day service, creating an economic impact valued at nearly $2 million, according to Independent Sector research.

To support Hands On Nashville’s work, please consider purchasing a commemorative HON Day 2017 t-shirt. $20 of the $26 t-shirt price goes directly to Hands On Nashville. Learn more at http://www.hon.org/honday.

For More Information:

Hands On Nashville – Jessica Moog, (615) 298-1108 (o); (908) 240-3444 (c); jessica@hon.org

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) meets community needs through volunteerism.

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Dedicated volunteers preparing to paint at Cora Howe School.
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The Nashville Tree Foundation led volunteers in planting trees on school properties.
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Lonnell Matthews, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement, pauses for the camera with one of HON Day’s youngest volunteers.

 

Sponsor Grid - HON Day 2017

Hi, Neighbor! Join us for Good Neighbor Day!

Hands On Nashville and the Neighborhoods Resource Center invite you to come and be recognized for the great work you do in our community as a volunteer.

Join us for Good Neighbor Day at the fifth annual Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 30 in Elizabeth Park.

  • Enjoy local artists performing great music, poetry, and storytelling;
  • Taste wonderful food from around the world; and
  • Engage in a wide range of fun activities for people of all ages.

The event is free with plenty of free parking. MTA riders will discover easy access using route 42 – St. Cecilia / Cumberland.

 

Volunteers: Stand up and be recognized! 

At 2 p.m., we’ll pause to recognize and thank the festival’s volunteers, and their role as some of the 10,000 volunteers serving our community through Hands On Nashville. Share your story about the work you do to make our community a better place to live. Help inspire others to volunteer and make a difference.

Volunteers are good neighbors

“The Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration is inspired by the qualities of every great neighbor,” said Jim Hawk, executive director at the Neighborhoods Resource Center and organizer of Good Neighbor Day. “Hands On Nashville Volunteers are good neighbors, too!

If you believe being a Good Neighbor is important part of life—and I believe most volunteers do—then you’ll be in the right place!”

Volunteer opportunities

Of course, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities if you want to help make Good Neighbor Day a great day.

The Celebration’s volunteer needs are listed below. You might expect some opportunities, such as greeting folks, taking photos, setting up and breaking down. Others might come as a surprise – for example, the Celebration is recruiting more than a dozen kazoo players to provide a soundtrack for the competitions and parades.

Browse the list, click your favorite to sign up, and help the Neighborhoods Resource Center make the Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration the city’s most welcoming event!

For more information about Good Neighbor Day at the fifth annual Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration, or ADA accommodation, visit the event’s website or call (615) 782-8212.

AmeriCorps Q&A: Stephen Decker, Refugee Cultural Orientation Specialist

Working with Hands On Nashville and Volunteer Tennessee, Catholic Charities of Tennessee welcomed two AmeriCorps members for the 2016-2017 term. As his term came to a close, we asked Steven Decker, refugee cultural orientation specialist, to share thoughts about what he’ll take away from a year of service.

Is there a community project or moment in the past year that particularly resonated with you? Why?

I always was trying to improve my cultural orientation class by working with community organizations and PSOs that could help me develop new materials for the class. My outreach to the Metro Nashville Police Department resulted in much more than I expected; not only did we get some great information and materials to pass on to clients, but with MNPD’s help, I was able to organize a field trip for clients. They met police officers in Nashville and learned more about the role of the police in American society. This was the kind of community building I came to AmeriCorps in order to do, and I was glad to see my outreach efforts bear fruit.

What has been the most challenging part of your term so far?

The political dimensions surrounding refugee resettlement in the U.S. right now make working in an agency like Catholic Charities awfully interesting, to say the least. With funding cuts and other related changes, we are down to a skeleton crew compared to the staff we had, but are still expected to deliver the same level of service to our clients within the same kind of timelines as before. Lucky for us, we have a great staff that has banded together to weather the storm. It’s a great team that continues – and will continue in the future, I’m sure – to perform ordinary, everyday miracles!

What about the most rewarding? 

There are two answers I could provide for this question. The first thing I’d mention is the chance to work with some remarkable people who have overcome terrible hardships, and yet could teach many of us a thing or two about compassion and respecting your fellow man. The second is helping others in the Nashville community and surrounding area better understanding the facts surrounding the refugee experience before and after resettlement. I have found the best way to fight prejudice borne of ignorance is to provide people with the means to break their own ignorance.

What do you like most about working with Catholic Charities?

This is one of the best staffs I have ever been a part of; it’s been a true privilege to work with and be counted among this group, and I have been blessed with plenty of “take-aways” or lessons I can apply to my future work from this experience.

What’s something you didn’t expect about living in Nashville?

T-R-A-F-F-I-C. You can say want you want about Nashville residents, but they sure do know how to clog up a road!

Learn more about Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

AmeriCorps Q&A: Breanna Rack, Corporate Partner Program AmeriCorps Member

By Natalie Hurd

Last August, Hands On Nashville welcomed a new class of AmeriCorps members to serve on our environmental, youth and education, and corporate teams. With the team nearing the end of the service year, they’re sharing their experiences, lessons learned and favorite memories.

As an AmeriCorps member, Breanna Rack helped direct corporate projects and create partnerships between businesses and community organizations. Now, as her AmeriCorps term comes to an end, she’s embracing a new role – as manager of HON’s corporate partner program.

Is there a community project in the past six months that particularly resonated with you? Why?

Our project with Jackson National Life Insurance at Maplewood High School built capacity for two student-led community initiatives: Project LIT Community and the Garden Club. Project LIT Community installs mini-libraries in barbershops, restaurants and community centers, focusing on neighborhoods that don’t have easy access to a public library. Volunteers built 27 libraries for Project LIT Community and sorted more than 10,000 donated books. Volunteers also created a pumpkin patch for the school garden for students to seed and have pumpkins ready to sell this fall.

What about the most rewarding?

Seeing tangible outcomes at the end of every volunteer project. I’ve always enjoyed working with people, and I love working with enthusiastic volunteers who want to make a difference and see that change at the end of the day.

This spring, at a school in south Nashville, we created a rain garden outside a classroom that constantly gets flooded. Knowing that the work we do makes a tangible difference and improves the lives and work of people in the organizations we serve makes each day rewarding.

Can you share some advice for someone who is considering AmeriCorps or nonprofit work?

Nonprofits demand a really diverse skill set, which can be challenging at first but rewarding in the long run. AmeriCorps is a great way to learn a lot of skills in a short amount of time, and hone in on what strengths you bring to an organization. AmeriCorps members also get to see the direct impact of our work on a daily basis.

What is your favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Nashville?

I’m a big brunch-er, so any brunch spot or coffee shop is my favorite place to be on a Sunday, followed by a walk in one of our local parks!

What’s something you didn’t expect about living in Nashville?

I was pleasantly surprised to see the cultural diversity. I moved here from Orlando, which is a very diverse city, and I was nervous about how I would find that community here as well. I enjoy getting to explore the neighborhoods and see what they have to offer because they are all so different and have such unique personalities.

Build a custom day of employee volunteerism for your team.

GEODIS and McMurray Middle School: Partners on HON Day and Beyond

Social responsibility is part of the culture at GEODIS. It’s not unusual to find the company’s Nashville office collecting donations of food, clothing and other supplies to benefit local schools – in particular, McMurray Middle School.

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 HON Day 2011

In 2011, a group of GEODIS employees spent Hands On Nashville Day volunteering at McMurray Middle School. From that day forward, a partnership grew between GEODIS and McMurray. They became PENCIL Partners, with GEODIS employees participating in “Principal for a Day” and other school events, and holding fundraisers to benefit the school. Around the holidays, GEODIS employees donate specific foods and household items to help serve McMurray families.

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A food and clothing drive at GEODIS

Shayla Holt, Transportation Planner at GEODIS, helps coordinate volunteer events as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility committee (SRC). When it comes to HON Day, “everyone’s always excited about doing something for the school,” she said. “Even with football games going on and other Saturday activities, people look forward to giving their time on HON Day. It encourages people to get involved in other service events, such as food sorting at Second Harvest.”

While GEODIS remains in contact with McMurray Middle School throughout the year, the team has returned to serve on Hands On Nashville Day. “We present it as a family event,” says Holt. “Employees bring their kids to volunteer and enjoy spending time together.”

Holt shared that it’s important for the SRC to be excited and passionate about service in order to motivate employees. While GEODIS makes sure to thank participants after volunteer events, many people simply enjoy knowing they’ve made a difference. “Last year, McMurray teachers volunteered alongside our team on HON Day. Our employees interacted with the principal and teachers, and understood how their work impacted the school,” she said.

This year, McMurray Middle School will be undergoing construction during HON Day. However, Shayla Holt will return to serve as site leader, and the GEODIS SRC is working with Hands On Nashville to find new volunteer opportunities – all while continuing to grow the partnership with McMurray.

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HON Day 2016

Thank you, GEODIS, for your commitment to the Nashville community!

 

Learn more about employee volunteerism with Hands On Nashville.

More Than 200 Nashville Kids Ride with ReCYCLE For Kids 2017

Hands On Nashville’s fifth annual initiative delivers bikes to youth in need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – July 31, 2017 – More than 200 local youth and 100 volunteers participated in Hands On Nashville’s ReCYCLE for Kids bike giveaway on July 29, 2017, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®). Since its inception in 2012, more than 1,200 youth have received bicycles through ReCYCLE.

The volunteer-powered initiative includes three phases: bike donations, refurbishments and today’s giveaway event. The giveaway took place at Coleman Park Community Center, connecting Nashvillians with new and like-new bicycles, new helmets, locks and interactive safety training.

The Oasis Center hosted ReCYCLE refurbishments for the fifth consecutive year. Volunteers fixed and replaced tires, adjusted cables and hubs, checked brake pads and shifters, replaced parts, and cleaned and polished bikes.

Support from local schools, faith-based organizations, businesses and Metro Parks and Recreation is fundamental to ReCYCLE for Kids’ success. Individuals from Montgomery Bell Academy, Harpeth Hall School and Harpeth Presbyterian Church hosted bike drives. Employees from event sponsors Change Healthcare, Cummins, Ted R. Sanders Moving & Warehouse, Inc. and Jackson participated in refurbishment efforts.

What the community is saying about ReCYCLE for Kids:

  • “Keeping kids active during the summer is a priority for Metro Parks,” said Stevon Neloms, superintendent of community programs for the Metro Parks and Recreation Department. “Our partnership with Hands On Nashville is a creative way to engage toward that goal and benefit kids who may not otherwise have access to bike resources.”
  • “Bikes are not only forms of transportation, they’re also a means of empowerment,” said Dan Furbish, founder and manager of the Oasis Bike Workshop. “Our doors are open to all who develop a passion for biking and its positive effects on Nashville.”
  • “Jackson is committed to enhancing children’s lives in our community,” said Susannah Berry, corporate social responsibility manager at Jackson. “Each year, ReCYCLE is a special opportunity for our team to come together and serve.”
  • “Service can take many forms,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “ReCYCLE For Kids offers volunteers the opportunity to engage in any way that resonates with them.”

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) works to meet community needs through volunteerism. For more information, visit HON.org or call (615) 298-1108.