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. 

 

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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. 

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

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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.

 

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.”

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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.

Resolve to Serve Stories: YMCA of Middle Tennessee

“Many mentors show up wanting to make an impact on a child’s life,” said Larry, a volunteer for YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Reach and Rise Program. “My role is to share positive encouragement as a mentee finds his own direction.”

During most of his professional career, Larry called the shots. After retiring from nearly 20 years in an executive position, he became a volunteer youth mentor in the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Reach and Rise Program. Larry quickly took a backseat approach, giving his mentee the space to articulate needs and drive their connection.

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Larry, mentor at YMCA’s Reach & Rise Program 

Cassanora Lampley, Reach and Rise Program Director at the YMCA, said this dynamic is common among mentor-mentee relationships. “Mentors enter the program expecting that youth will benefit from their influence, but our adult participants truly learn and grow,” she said. Mentors like Larry meet with their mentees once per week for a year, with additional activities taking place in group settings. Together, the pairs work to progress toward mentees’ physical, academic, emotional, and/or spiritual goals.

In one partnership, Larry’s mentee entered the program when his mother hoped to introduce positive male role models into his life. Their age difference was significant – Larry in his 60s, his mentee in his teens – but the two recognized common interests, such as a love of playing musical instruments, which began to set the tone for their outings.

Larry represents a portion of the Reach and Rise Program’s core volunteers: retired professionals who seek meaningful ways to spend their time. Young professionals looking to give back are also centric to the program.

Volunteering for Reach and Rise is a long-term engagement, and approximately 80 percent of participants connect to the opportunity through Hands On Nashville. “If it weren’t for our partnership with HON, we likely wouldn’t have the consistent volunteer engagement that drives our work,” said Lampley. Due to such engagement, the program helps youth gain perspective and support for pressures and challenges in their lives, while providing motivation for mentees to reach their greatest potential.

The YMCA strives to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. In that Christian principles are caring and inclusive, the Y respects various expressions of religion and serves people from all faith traditions and perspectives. Browse all volunteer opportunities with the YMCA.

2018 Strobel Volunteer Award nominees and Nashville in Harmony began the ceremony with a celebration of service.

Hands On Nashville Announces 2018 Strobel Volunteer Award Recipients

April 25, 2018 – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism at Hands On Nashville’s 32nd Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Advance Financial Foundation.

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Cheri Ferrari – Capacity-building Volunteer Award
  • Operation Song – Civic Volunteer Group Award
  • Media Star Promotions – Corporate Volunteerism Award
  • Leeana Edwards – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages five to 20)
  • Sean Druffel – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 21 to 49)
  • Anthony J. Viglietti – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 50+)

More than 600 volunteers and community members attended the luncheon and ceremony at Music City Center. The annual event recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community, and celebrates the life of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian with an outstanding dedication to service.

2018 Strobel Volunteer Award nominees and Nashville in Harmony began the ceremony with a celebration of service.
2018 Strobel Volunteer Award nominees and Nashville in Harmony began the ceremony with a celebration of service.

Nashville in Harmony opened the awards ceremony with a choir performance in recognition of the award nominees and finalists. Great-granddaughter of Mary Catherine Strobel, Veronica Pierce, shared an invocation prior to the meal; Charles Strobel, son of Mary Catherine Strobel and founding director of Room In The Inn, closed the ceremony with remarks about his mother’s legacy and the value of service.

“Hands On Nashville’s inspiration for the Strobel Volunteer Awards is to tell the stories of volunteers like Mary Catherine Strobel,” said Lori Shinton, President and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “We are honored to create a space to recognize their work, their impact, and be reminded of the many opportunities we all have to support each other as volunteers.”

Community members submitted 126 nominations for the 2018 Strobel Volunteer Awards.

Charles Strobel, son of Mary Catherine Strobel and founding director of Room in the Inn
Charles Strobel, son of Mary Catherine Strobel and founding director of Room in the Inn, shared closing remarks at the ceremony.

“In our nation and our community, there are major needs and ordinary needs. Most of them go without asking. One of the most distinguishing marks about Mama is that she anticipated the needs of so many, and so do the volunteers we honor today,” said Charles Strobel, son of Mary Catherine Strobel and founding director of Room in the Inn. “It’s our family’s great joy to be part of this tribute.”

Following is a list of award recipients for each category and a brief description of the volunteer work for which they are recognized.

David Fox, Managing Partner at MP&F Public Relations; Cheri Ferrari; Lori Shinton, President and CEO of Hands On Nashville
David Fox, Managing Partner at MP&F Public Relations; Cheri Ferrari; Lori Shinton, President and CEO of Hands On Nashville

Cheri Ferrari received the 2018 Capacity-building Volunteer Award for her work with The Nashville Food Project. The award honors individuals who provide significant operational or administrative support to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization.

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Mark Deutschmann, CEO of Village Real Estate; Bob Regan; Lori Shinton

Operation Song, which pairs musicians with veterans and active-duty military to write songs through partnership, received the 2018 Civic Volunteer Group Award. The category honors representatives of civic, membership, faith-based or non-corporate groups that volunteer together for a specific cause or issue.

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Ashley Bostic, Director of Culture and Community Giving at Change Healthcare; Media Star Promotions; Lori Shinton

Media Star Promotions received the 2018 Corporate Volunteerism Award in honor of its ongoing service to The Nashville Food Project. The award pays tribute to businesses that have robust employee volunteer programs with high levels of participation and impact.

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Stephen Francescon, Community Relations Manager at Piedmont Natural Gas; Leeana Edwards; Lori Shinton

The Direct Service Volunteer Awards recognize individuals who have contributed significant volunteer time, energy and/or resources to support an agency’s constituents. Leeana Edwards, a volunteer at Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Alvin C. York VA Medical Center, received the 2018 award for the category honoring nominees of ages five to 20.

Jennifer Simpkins, Factory Conformance Analyst at U.S. Smokeless Tobacco; Sean Druffel; Lori Shinton
Jennifer Simpkins, Factory Conformance Analyst at U.S. Smokeless Tobacco; Sean Druffel; Lori Shinton

Sean Druffel, longtime Habitat for Humanity ReStore volunteer, received the 2018 Direct Service Volunteer Award for ages 21 to 49.

Susannah Berry, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Jackson National Life Insurance; Anthony J. Viglietti; Lori Shinton
Susannah Berry, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Jackson National Life Insurance; Anthony J. Viglietti; Lori Shinton

Anthony J. Viglietti, a volunteer with Nashville Cherry Blossom Fesitval and Friends of Riverside Drive, received the 2018 Direct Service Volunteer Award for ages 50 plus. Viglietti led the effort to plant more than 1,000 Japanese cherry trees throughout Nashville’s streets and public spaces.

All photos are credit of Kerry Woo Photography.

For More Information

Please contact Jessica Moog at Hands On Nashville: (615) 298-1108 ext. 415; jessica@hon.org.

About the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards

The Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards are named in memory of the late Mary Catherine Strobel, known for her extensive and charitable efforts toward improving the lives of Middle Tennessee’s homeless, impoverished and less fortunate populations. The annual awards ceremony celebrates her service and recognizes those who continue her legacy. View all nominees for the 2018 awards.

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) builds capacity for individuals and agencies to meet needs through service. Its programs connect volunteers to opportunities supporting 100+ nonprofits, schools, and other civic organizations; help these partners reimagine volunteer potential; and bring awareness to the challenges facing the people and places in our community. For more information, visit HON.org or call (615) 298-1108.

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Resolve to Serve Stories: SCORE 

A teacher stands in front of you; a coach stands behind you; a mentor stands beside you.

Mentorship, and the above interpretation, was on Nick Taras’ mind as he prepared to retire. His more-than-40-year career in food distribution took him from cleaning floors at his grandfather’s business to running Nashville’s SYSCO branch. As he moved toward his next chapter, he sought to align his passion for food service with giving back to the community.

Teaming up with SCORE, which pairs business mentors with entrepreneurs and small businesses, Nick began “walking beside” his mentees on their journeys to business success. He watches their awareness and understanding develop while working collaboratively to move toward their goals.

“Certain mentees stand out to me for different reasons,” said Nick. “Not because they built monster companies, but because they built their awareness, understood the process and connected with customers. I’ve worked with immigrants launching businesses while speaking English as a second language, individuals trying to reinvent themselves with second or third careers, mentees who saved headaches and money by realizing a new business idea wasn’t the right fit, co-mentor partnerships – each opportunity has been unique.”

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SCORE hosts training and networking sessions for mentors.

“Nick has a natural way of relating to clients at all levels and helping them reach pragmatic business decisions,” said Lisa O’Dell, a senior Nashville SCORE mentor. “His can-do and upbeat attitude engages clients and helps keep them positive, even when working through the most difficult issues.”

Navigating the transition to retirement can be daunting. Volunteering can serve as an ideal bridge, allowing individuals to use and build professional skills while enjoying a flexible schedule and the satisfaction of helping others.

“Since I’ve gotten into the retirement world, it’s amazing how many of my friends who are thinking about retirement want to engage in conversation about it,” said Nick. “I was fortunate to have people in my life who provided examples I could learn from. This made for a great transition – after planning my exit strategy for two years, I had options ready to go.”

For those considering the transition to retirement, long-term volunteering opportunities can help individuals find their passion in service. By leveraging professional experience or building new skills while serving the community, volunteers build unmatched capacity for community organizations.

SCORE fosters vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. The Nashville chapter serves the 30 counties that comprise Middle Tennessee, providing workshops and one-on-one mentoring. 

Browse all long-term and skilled volunteer opportunities with HON partners.