‘Pursue Purpose’: A culture of giving back at Change Healthcare

American workers have spoken: It’s the job perks — like company culture, paid time off, and chances to serve the community — that employees are finding increasingly valuable.

But Jonny Woo doesn’t need a study to tell him that. Woo, a Regional Volunteer Chair at Change Healthcare, has completed around 10 corporate service projects since joining the company two years ago.

“I actually think giving back makes me a higher performer,” Woo says. “It’s a really good way for me to get my work done and it’s a good way for me to meet people in the company.”

This year, Woo led a team for the Nashville Heart Walk. He recruited participants, put up flyers, and solicited donations. The team raised more than $150,000 for the Nashville Chapter of the American Heart Association.

“What’s so great about AHA is that all those funds are going back directly into the community to support research and healthcare for those that have been affected by cardiovascular disease in Nashville,” says Ashley Bostic, Change Healthcare’s Director of Culture and Community Giving.

Bostic echoes Woo’s excitement about Change Healthcare’s commitment to a culture of service and giving. She says a guiding light to community giving at Change Healthcare is one of their core values, Pursue Purpose. As the value states, Change Healthcare is here to make healthcare work better. The opportunity to help improve a person’s life propels them forward.

“Focusing on improving a person’s life in any way, shape, or form in our communities is really the foundation of our community-giving programs,” Bostic says. That means encouraging employees to use their paid volunteer hours to support local nonprofits, she says, but it also means giving Change Healthcare employees space to share their passions and concerns with their colleagues and build awareness-raising campaigns around those concerns.

“You’re helping improve others’ lives and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to do that,” Bostic says. Since July of this year, Change Healthcare’s employees have logged more than 5,000 volunteer hours nationwide.

Volunteers from Change Healthcare worked with Hands On Nashville in 2018 to code and organize medical supplies for Project Cure; stain tables and benches for an outdoor classroom at Rosebank Elementary; pack snacks and hygiene kits for those served by the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center; and tend the garden at FASHA Urban Farm.  Most recently, Change Healthcare volunteers sorted gift bags for the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

“Our teams are more connected following those volunteer events,” Bostic says.

If your company is interested in partnering with Hands On Nashville to help support the community, let us know!

Advertisements

Resolve to Serve Stories: Hope Lodge

Tangerine Zielinski is dressed in pink — bright pink. 

Bright pink wide-brimmed hat with lace. Bright pink glasses with pink lenses. Bright pink patterned tunic. She stands in dazzling contrast to the drizzly, gray October day outside. 

“By dressing up, it seems to brighten up people’s days one way or another somehow,” she says. 

Zielinski is a 14-year volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Nashville Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge, located just outside downtown, provides a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers while they are in town receiving treatment. The Hope Lodge provides lodging, transportation, and activities for its guests free of charge. Volunteer groups provide meals throughout the month. 

Zielinski got started as a volunteer at the Hope Lodge when the facility opened in 2004. She says her own battle with lymphoma of the intestines in 2001 led her to want to volunteer with cancer patients.  

“Cancer … awakened me to the value of life,” she says. “Having been through cancer, I know how rough it can be. I know what it can do to you and your body. I know some of the emotional sides to it.” 

Zielinski says it’s important to make guests feel as relaxed as possible while they’re staying at the Hope Lodge. As a shuttle driver, she takes guests to and from appointments at hospitals, treatment centers, and imaging centers. When there’s time, she says, she will take them to the grocery store. 

When a guest gets into her shuttle, Zielinski will often ask what kind of music they’d like to hear. She keeps nearly 3,000 songs on her phone. 

“To get their minds off of cancer for but even a few minutes is, for me, very gratifying,” she says. “It makes my heart sing when I hear them hum in the backseat or sing along with a song.” 

Michele Ryan, senior manager of the Hope Lodge, says that volunteer shuttle drivers are a crucial part of making a Hope Lodge guest’s stay more comfortable, as many of them come from out of town and are unfamiliar with how to get around Nashville. 

“After a long day of treatment,” Ryan says, “no one wants to tackle traffic. They just want a comfortable and safe ride back.” 

Zielinski says that throughout her 14 years as a Hope Lodge volunteer, what has really sustained her is knowing that she’s having an impact in the lives of people going through the most difficult challenge of their lives. 

“Just to see the gratefulness that comes from the guests that come through the Hope Lodge is what really keeps me coming back,” she says.   

The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge program mission is to provide a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. Browse all volunteer opportunities with the Hope Lodge here 

hope lodge volunteers
photos provided by Hope Lodge

 

The geeks have landed!

GeekCause, which matches Nashville’s most talented techies with community partners in need of their services, has a new home at Hands On Nashville! GeekCause provides a low-cost platform for agencies to solve tech-based challenges through the support of skilled volunteers. 

Monica Weiss-Sharp, HON’s GeekCause project manager, took some time to answer questions about the program.  

What’s your background and how did you get involved in GeekCause? 

monica mugFor the past five years, I was the Practice Manager at a veterinary hospital in Franklin. I oversaw all areas of daily functioning (patient care, customer service, staff support), and helped guide the practice through tremendous growth, from two to six full-time veterinarians. At the practice, I had the opportunity to learn about and troubleshoot all sorts of tech solutions, from digital X-ray systems to practice-management software.

For four of my five years at the veterinary practice, I was also pursuing a master’s in social work with a focus on Organizational Leadership. During the final year of my degree program, I had the opportunity to intern with Hands On Nashville. I worked on many different projects, including some initial research and planning around how to bolster skills-based volunteerism.

My strengths definitely lie in the realm of guiding ideas toward becoming a concrete realities, and I’m looking forward to applying those strengths to support the successful completion of GeekCause projects. 

How does GeekCause work? 

GeekCause connects talented tech volunteers with nonprofits who need their support. Then I serve as a guide for both throughout the process. It is super easy both for volunteers to sign up and complete their skills profile and for nonprofit organizations to submit projects to us. From there, I review the project to make sure it’s a good fit for a volunteer to work on, and make a match with a volunteer whose skills line up with the project’s needs. I remain connected with the project from kickoff to close-out to help ensure success. In the end, the nonprofit gains a new capability and the volunteer has the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped strengthen their community.

Continue reading The geeks have landed!

Altria’s volunteer leader talks about the company’s culture of service

 For Mark Czuba and many of his colleagues, giving back is part of the job description at Altria. 

Czuba, a business unit leader at the company, has led groups of Altria’s HON Day volunteers for several years. Czuba said he enjoys watching his colleagues take on different and sometimes surprising roles during volunteer projects. 

“A lot of people who don’t normally get to be in a leadership role, you’ll get to see them step up … and say, ‘Hey, here’s what we should do,’” Czuba said. He recalled watching one of his quieter co-workers, who rarely did much socializing on the clock, jump right in to a volunteer project along with the team. 

Czuba said that Altria, the presenting sponsor for Hands On Nashville Day 2018, strives to foster a culture of service.   

“The giving aspect is huge at Altria,” he said. The company, where Czuba has worked for 15 years, encourages employees to donate to charities by offering matching funds. And volunteers from Altria support HON and other local nonprofits during their service events — big and small — throughout the year.  

Even though Czuba and many of his colleagues work nights, Czuba said, it’s important to them to make time for service. That often involves clocking out from an overnight shift and going straight to a volunteer project early in the morning. 

“It’s challenging for some of them,” Czuba said, “but they want to put time in.” 

Thank you to all the volunteers from Altria who came out for HON Day 2018! We are so grateful for your support and partnership. 

 

Horses and Healing: The Story of Hillenglade

In September, Hands On Nashville partnered with the Home Depot Foundation and Points of Light to implement facility upgrades and improvements for Hope and Healing at Hillenglade. More than 220 volunteers tackled projects that included building children’s playhouses, screening in porches, building office and recreational spaces, landscaping, building benches and picnic tables, and more. The work done will allow Hillenglade to offer year-round programming and increase the number of veterans its services can reach. To view more pictures of the project, click here

 

Jennifer O’Neil has always loved horses.

“God was in a good mood when he made a horse,” said the 70-year-old actress, model, and director, who has spent much of her life training and showing horses. “They’re so amazing and sensitive for such a giant animal.”

Jennifer O'Neill

In 2009, O’Neill bought Hillenglade, a 7-acre farm in north Nashville, and founded Hope and Healing at Hillenglade. HHH is an equine-assisted program that helps veterans and their families reconnect to heal the emotional wounds sustained during combat.

“What happens in the magic of equine therapy is, it’s all about creating relationship, communication, responsibility, and partnering with that animal,” O’Neill said. She said that horses mirror the emotions they see in people. To gain a horse’s trust, a person must put forth a calm confidence in a way that sets the horse at ease — that it’s not about dominating the animal.

“Depending on what you’re carrying when you come in there — be it anger, or rage, or shyness, or a lack of ability to communicate — they’ll size that up,” O’Neill said. She said it’s a powerful moment when someone who is working through their own anger or fear has a breakthrough with a horse.

Since 2010, HHH has served more than 4,000 military and first-responders and their families.

“The whole family unit often bears the brunt of the warriors’ experiences,” O’Neill said, recalling her own experiences in a family affected by post-combat PTSD.

O’Neill’s father served as a pilot during World War II. His plane was shot down and he was held in a German prison camp for two and a half years. He suffered lingering effects from the plane crash and aftermath that O’Neill believes would have been diagnosed as PTSD if the disorder, which wasn’t officially recognized until 1980, had been understood at the time.

As O’Neill has overseen the evolution of Hillenglade, she’s been driven by a desire to build an atmosphere of respite and peace for those who have sacrificed so much.

“I feel firmly that we in the private sector have to stand up and honor and help our veterans and our warriors and our heroes and their families in any way we can,” O’Neill said.

A Benefit for Hope and Healing at Hillenglade 

What: A fundraiser for HHH, featuring The Righteous Brothers, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Nate Sallie

When: Saturday, Nov. 3, beginning at 5:45 p.m.

Where: Franklin Theatre

Tickets: http://www.hillenglade.org

 

 

 

Resolve to Serve Stories: Doing Good

For nonprofits, the quest to get professional, effective brand messages out to the community takes time and resources that are sometimes hard to come by. That’s where Doing Good comes in.

Doing Good, founded in 2014 by Megan McInnis, pairs media-savvy volunteers with nonprofits in need of communications tools and resources. The organization is powered by volunteers with experience in marketing, public relations, and other skilled fields.

“Long-term volunteers are incredibly valued at Doing Good,” said McInnis, who serves as the organization’s president. “We try to match our volunteers with how Doing Good can benefit them.”

One volunteer, Charley Arrigo, joined Doing Good as a social media volunteer. Arrigo was also working as a courier and trying to figure out his career. He developed into Doing Good’s “Twitter Guru,” McInnis said, and organically increased the organization’s following to more than 1,200 from 200.

Arrigo had such a positive experience as a Doing Good volunteer that he decided to pursue a career in social media and marketing. He has since moved to Washington, D.C., where he landed a full-time job in marketing.

McInnis said that some volunteers, like Arrigo, come to Doing Good seeking résumé-building experience, while others are more interested in finding out about the variety of nonprofits in Middle Tennessee.

“Some want to use their talents for good, some simply want to give back, and others want to meet like-minded people,” McInnis said.

Some creative long-term roles at Doing Good include graphic designer, marketing committee member, video producer, public relations consultant, and grant writer.

“Doing Good spends time up front with each volunteer to talk about what they are looking for and how Doing Good can help,” McInnis said. When the volunteer is better matched up front, she said, the volunteer, nonprofit, and community benefit.

 

Marketing PR Conference for Nonprofits

Doing Good is hosting a marketing and PR conference for nonprofits.

When: Oct. 11 from 1-5 p.m.

Where: TBD

To register: Sign up here or email director@doinggood.tv for details

Doing Good’s mission is to educate and engage communities by promoting and celebrating “Doing Good” through volunteerism. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Doing Good here. 

Photos courtesy of Doing Good.

HONDay 2018 brings together nearly 1,000 volunteers for school improvement projects

DSC04416
Dr. Kimberly Fowler, principal at Hickman Elementary School, addresses the group of volunteers as Hands On Nashville Day 2018 kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Nearly 1,000 volunteers came together on Saturday, Sept. 22, for the 27th 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 school gardens, painted hallways and gymnasiums, and more.

“The volunteers out here today are showing how much they support MNPS students and families,” said Dr. Kimberly Fowler, principal of Hickman Elementary School. “Their efforts are about more than a coat of paint or a wheelbarrow of mulch. They’re spending their time to show just how important our schools and our children are to the whole community.”

Continue reading HONDay 2018 brings together nearly 1,000 volunteers for school improvement projects

Resolve to Serve Stories: Insight Counseling Centers

At Insight Counseling Centers, VIPs are more than just celebrities (though they’re still very important people). Volunteer Intake Practitioners (VIPs) serve as the front line for Insight. They field callers’ questions, conduct intake interviews, and match new clients with the right mental health professionals.

Formerly known as the Pastoral Counseling Centers of Tennessee, Insight Counseling Centers offers spiritually integrative counseling services for individuals, couples, and families. The organization also offers training and mental health awareness education.

Victoria Driver, one of Insight Counseling Centers' first VIPs
Victoria Driver, one of Insight Counseling Centers’ first VIPs

As one of the first volunteers in the Intake Department, VIP Victoria Driver began taking potential clients’ phone calls. Victoria learned Insight’s electronic medical records software in order to enter client information and make appointments, and then offered to help Insight’s Financial Coordinator, Brydget Carrillo, with additional tasks. Driver developed an integral front-of-house role to include indispensable behind-the-scenes service.

“We rely on her, and she does not disappoint,” Carrillo said of Driver. “Whenever I volunteer, Victoria is the person I want to emulate.”

While volunteers support Insight, Insight supports its volunteers. Many VIPs hope to someday become counselors themselves, and Insight gives them practical experience in a unique and progressive agency. Volunteers also often connect with Insight’s mission because their family members, or they themselves, have healed through counseling. At Insight, they’re able to give back the life-changing and life-saving service they received.

Volunteers like Driver have helped extend Insight’s reach in Middle Tennessee. Since 1985, Insight has expanded to eight centers throughout the area and delivers 5,000 hours of counseling each year. Insight’s Advisory Council meets monthly to promote community outreach and to fundraise for the organization’s financial assistance program. In 2016, volunteers on the council contributed to a 46 percent increase to the financial assistance provided between 2015 and 2016.

 Insight Counseling Centers provides quality, spiritually integrative mental health counseling services for individuals, couples, and families; training for professionals; and mental health awareness education for communities in Middle Tennessee. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Insight here.

Photos courtesy of Insight Counseling Centers.

 

Resolve to Serve Stories: Project Return

Ever felt nervous before a job interview? Imagine going into a prospective employer’s office after weeks, months, or even years of isolation from the world.

Project Return supports people returning from incarceration and reintegrating into our community. As the agency’s 2017 Annual Report notes, “Employment is the paramount predictor of their good future, and wraparound support is imperative.” With this in mind, Project Return delivers a holistic job-readiness program. The program emphasizes many facets of employment success and features classes on financial literacy, body language during interviews, and best practices for discussing one’s conviction history with potential employers. The agency also hosts mock interviews.

Mock interviews have become one of the program’s most valuable services, and they’re powered by volunteers. Participants meet with their assigned volunteer interviewers, discuss potential job types, and practice the skills they’ve learned in class.

Many of these volunteers are full-time employees themselves. Project Return boasts an extensive corporate volunteer résumé, with companies like IQ Talent Partners and Eventbrite channeling their social responsibility programs through the agency. Corporate volunteers find that Project Return offers flexible schedules without a huge time commitment. Some volunteers even come in on their lunch breaks! Since December, volunteer participation has doubled.

Christine Meyer, Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Project Return, hypothesized that volunteer interest stems from the opportunities for proximity and connection: “The interesting thing about [Project Return] is that volunteers are really engaging with participants. One on one, they make an impact – they see the progress participants are making and share stories. John that you mock interviewed two weeks ago got a job and he’s really excited!”

As volunteer numbers continue to increase, so does Project Return’s outreach. Many volunteers return on a weekly basis, and new volunteers reach out to Project Return through HON each month. In 2017, Project Return provided its signature services to nearly 1,000 men and women who were starting their lives over after prison.

Project Return’s return on investment in its clients is high: the agency consistently achieves a less-than 15% re-incarceration rate (as compared to 47% statewide and 57% nationwide). As for employment outcomes, research shows that 60-75% of people coming out of prison will remain unemployed for the first 12 months of freedom; however, the employment rate at Project Return exceeds 80%.

Project Return provides services and connects people with resources needed to return successfully to work and community after incarceration. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Project Return here.

Photos courtesy of Project Return.

Resolve to Serve Stories: Begin Anew of Middle Tennessee

Only one in 300 children living in a low-income neighborhood owns an age-appropriate book. One.

While completing her undergraduate studies at Belmont, Casey Enright was moved by this statistic – and in response, she founded The Word Wagon, a nonprofit that promotes childhood literacy by providing reading opportunities and reading materials for children who lack access to books. To reach its target audience, The Word Wagon partners with Begin Anew, which serves men and women in Middle Tennessee living in poverty.

With a mobile library in tow, Casey reads to all of the  children while their parents attend Begin Anew’s adult education classes. The Word Wagon enhances Begin Anew’s Program by allowing each child to take home a bundle of books to read with his or her parents, allowing Begin Anew’s ESL students to bond with their children as they continue to learn the English language and practice reading at home.

As The Word Wagon and Begin Anew work together, both organizations find new ways to fulfill their missions through partnership. In October, at The Church at Woodbine’s Fall Fiesta, supported by Begin Anew, Casey set up the Word Wagon on a remarkably cold day. Her enthusiasm, despite the weather, engaged several new families in the community who came to the event, establishing meaningful community relationships while promoting literacy. Said Begin Anew Program Director Charlotte Hanson, “Casey’s work has a great impact on building connections between our ministry and the neighborhood.”

Casey Enright.jpg
Casey Enright, Founder and Executive Director of The Word Wagon

“Taking a leap of faith to launch The Word Wagon was the scariest “yes,” but the best “yes” I could have ever said!” said Casey. We couldn’t agree more – thank you for your service, Casey!

Begin Anew empowers individuals to overcome the obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources. The faith-based educational program and missional, life-changing community is composed of more than 250 champions (volunteers) and a ministry staff. Each volunteer dedicates their time and energy to offer mercy and care. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Begin Anew here.

Photos courtesy of The Word Wagon.