Want to make a difference this holiday season?

On this giving Tuesday, we have great ways to give back!

  1. In honor of Hands On Nashville’s 30th anniversary, donate $30 today! We also have these limited-edition, commemorative set available for $30
  2. Start a fundraiser on FB or Instagram. Set a goal of raising $300 for Hands On Nashville.
  3. Commit to volunteering by signing up today! We’ll list some great holiday opportunities here, but our calendar extends out into next year if this time of year is hectic.  

Click here to see how to set up your own Facebook fundraiser!

Thank you for all your support. We are so grateful for the Nashville community and your huge collective heart for service! 

Hope for the Holidays

By Sophia Bobrowsky, AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville 

Once recovery began following the March 2021 flooding, Hands On Nashville and our disaster partners set a goal — rebuilding 30 homes within a year of the flood. On Nov. 5, we celebrated another milestone toward that goal by completing our latest home rebuild, just in time for the holidays!  

It wouldn’t have been possible without The Inspiritus team, HON volunteers, the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT), and service members from the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) who came together to aid the hundreds of families affected by the flooding. My name is Sophia Bobrowsky, the AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the recovery teams on this home, and was able to visit on the final day of construction.  

Here’s what I saw. 

Walking up to the Inspiritus construction site for the last time, I was greeted by Robert Zavala, the contractor who has overseen the home construction for the past three months. He’s contracted through Inspiritus, a nonprofit that offers disaster relief and long-term recovery solutions to people in need.  

An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member assists in renovating a flood-damaged home.

I stood in the kitchen of the newly remodeled home in awe as NCCC members  steadily cleaned around me. A dozen or so members were busy wiping dust from the trim, and putting the final screws in kitchen cabinets.  

Robert chuckled at my excitement, and was quick to credit all the volunteers for their hard work.  

“NCCC is absolutely wonderful, I love them to death,” Robert said. “They come with a big crew and get everything knocked out very fast. It’s nice to have a crew you can train, and that works together for a longer period of time.” 

Robert explained NCCC didn’t come with formal training, but like volunteers who sign up for Inspiritus projects, they’re excited to learn, and always give 100 percent. Together, volunteer teams rebuilt this home from the ground up — the walls were gutted, the flooring torn out, and the HVAC system had to be completely cleaned and repaired.  

Of the projects, the flooring took the longest, Robert said. From ripping up the flooring to repairing the subfloor and then laying new tile — it’s a tedious process that takes time to be done right.  

Robert is the only Inspiritus construction manager in Tennessee, and he assists in matching volunteers with projects that are safe , sources and purchases materials for home repairs, and trains the volunteers completing the work.  

A NCCC member paints the trim of a home damaged by the March 2021 flooding.

Following my talk with Robert, I continued to explore the house and see what my fellow AmeriCorps members were working on. I spoke with Marisa Switzman, a Team Lead with Americorps NCCC. 

NCCC is different than the traditional Americorps program I am currently participating in, as this cohort travels the country for 10 months, spending no more than a few weeks in each city they visit. NCCC members meet community needs in the areas of energy conservation, infrastructure improvement, natural and other disaster services, and urban and rural development. 

Marisa said she said she really enjoys the hands-on experience of NCCC, and learning so many different life and teambuilding skills. 

“It’s been super rewarding to give back to the community and to specific people like this homeowner,” Marisa said. “That’s why we joined NCCC because it’s all about that:, giving back. The most challenging part is making mistakes — but that’s part of the learning process, and Robert has shown us mistakes are really easy to fix.” 

Zach King, also an NCCC member, was serving alongside Marisa, and agreed about the construction skills. This is the first construction project he’s attempted during his term, and said so far each site has presented a different set of challenges.  

“In terms of the whole year — Mammoth Cave was the most physically demanding, but NOLA was emotionally demanding,” Zach said.  

A group of NCCC members post for a photo while working on site in Nashville.

His cohort spent the first month of their term rebuilding hiking trails at Mammoth Cave, Ky., and the following few weeks offering relief to survivors of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans. For the next few weeks Zach and his team will stay in Davidson County continuing to support disaster relief efforts in South Nashville.  

“So far my term has been super good — in NOLA everyone was super thankful, and the people were very vocal about that. In Mammoth [Cave] our work was lasting as the trails will be used by hikers for a while. However, here it’s massive for this homeowner to have a house to get into by Thanksgiving,” Zach said. “That’s incredible, and a really cool goal to have someone in their house by the holidays.” 

We are extremely grateful to VOAD and CFMT for providing the funding to HON and our partnering organizations to assist in flood-relief efforts. To read more about their impact, click here.

NCCC is a federally-funded program that Hands On Nashville applied for and was granted following the March flooding. For more information about NCCC, click here. To volunteer for a disaster relief project, click here 

Volunteers assist in repairing a flood damaged home in Nashville.

Flood survivors need volunteers like you to help on their path to recovery

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Connect with survivors who may still need support: Small groups of volunteers will canvass flood-affected neighborhoods on Nov. 12. We especially need Spanish speakers to ensure we can connect with as many families as possible! 

2. Rebuild homes with Inspiritus: Volunteers will help residents rebuild homes impacted by the flood. Activities range from painting, flooding, installing drywall and insulation. Training is provided with on-site leadership.

3. Use your skills or form a group to help with the rebuilding effort: As recovery and rebuilding continues we need skilled construction volunteers as well as groups of volunteers who can help with demolition, construction, and community outreach.





Volunteer during Fall Break!

With the leaves beginning to change and the smell of fall in the air — it’s time for this year’s fall roundup! Opportunities range between Oct. 8 – 17 and are great for college students home for Fall Break, or a parent looking for wholesome (and free!) ways to spend time with their kiddos.

Reminder: Many of our nonprofit partners have opportunities available all year long. Click the title of each opportunity to learn more and sign up. You can also find opportunities to volunteer all year long by visiting our calendar!

Pick up litter and keep Shelby Park beautiful
Friends of Shelby Park
Minimum age: 18, or 6 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 9

Join the Friends of Shelby Park and your neighbors for a park-wide sweep of Shelby Park. Volunteers will be picking up trash to keep the park beautiful and keep litter out of our streams and rivers.

Share a meal with residents at Dismas House
Dismas House of Nashville
Minimum age: 18, 12 with an adult
When: Monday through Thursday, Oct. 11-14

Prepare dinner as a family (or order something in) and dine with the residents of Dismas House! Volunteers can prepare a meal in the Dismas state-of-the-art kitchen, or attend a Thursday night meal and help prepare dinner with the group.

Help prune and prep Nashville’s first permaculture park space
Grow Enrichment
Minimum age: 18, or 8 with an adult
When: Oct. 11  

Spend time as a family learning more about Nashville’s first permaculture
park. This park explores urban farming and woodlands to maximize food
production and utilizing space. Volunteers will help spread wood chips, mulch,
and transplant trees.

Sort and pack items for relief and hygiene kits
The Community Resource Center
Minimum age: 15, or 8 with an adult
When: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 

Set up production stations, sort materials (like soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste) and compile kits for distribution. These kits are then given to people in need all over the community, from tornado survivors to those currently experiencing homelessness.

Prepare and distribute food bags to guests in need
The Branch of Nashville
Minimum age: 15, or 8 with an adult
When: Mondays through Saturdays

Volunteers and their families will be assisting with guest intake and preparing and distributing food bags for guests, while the little ones can help clean and assemble empty carts.

Help improve the farm at Mill Ridge Park
Friends of Mill Ridge
Minimum age: 18
When: Fridays, Oct. 8 – Oct. 15

Volunteers will help construct improvements to the farmyard and farmhouse, which involves planting, mulching, and pruning trees; removing invasive plants and weeds; debris and trash removal; farmhouse repairs; fence work, and more.

Prepare dinner as a family to share with local hospital guests
Hospital Hospitality House – Nashville
Minimum age: 18, or 10 with an adult
When: Tuesday and Thursday, Oct. 12 and 14

Prepare dinner at home with your family, then bring the meal to the Hospitality House to share with its guests. Dinner guests consist of patients and caregivers that stay at Hospitality House while seeking medical treatment in Nashville. Meals should feed approximately 30 people.

Help deep clean and organize the reuse center
Turnip Green Creative Reuse
Minimum age: 18
When: Monday, Oct. 11

Organize, clean, sort, and find fun ways to display donations at Turnip Green’s Reuse Center! Deep cleans are held on Mondays when the center is closed to the public. This is a great way to keep shoppers safe, and keep the store organized and tidy!

Direct guests and offer assistance at the Fall Craft Fair
Tennessee Craft
Minimum age: 18
When:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Oct. 8 – 10

Volunteers are needed to direct vendors to their booth locations, bring in artwork and tents, keep traffic flowing, and assist fairgoers as they come to explore.

Tend to the community garden and prepare for the next planting season
Friends of Shelby Park
Minimum age: 18, or 12 with an adult
When: Oct. 16

Spend time as a family in nature helping the Friends of Shelby Park prep the community garden! Volunteers will help plant herbs, weed, and tend to existing plants. This is a great opportunity to teach young minds more about gardening!

It’s National Preparedness Month. Do you have a plan?

As we’ve learned from the March 2020 tornado, COVID-19 pandemic, March 2021 flooding, and hurricane warning earlier this month — disasters can strike unexpectedly.

There’s no better time than the present to prepare to protect, and keep you and your family safe during a disaster.

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. This year the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using its public service campaign, Ready, to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to promote preparedness through public involvement.

This year, Ready is promoting four key ways to be prepared:

(1)  Stay informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses

(2)  make a family emergency plan and

(3)  build an emergency supply kit, and

(4)  get involved in your community by taking action to prepare for emergencies.

There’s some easy, low cost ways to prepare for a disaster:

Start today by signing up for alerts, safe-guarding important documents, and taking other low cost and no cost preparedness actions to lessen the impact of disasters and emergencies for you and your family.

It’s also important to teach your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved.

There’s also many ways you can get involved before an emergency or a disaster occurs, by joining a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program and getting trained on basic disaster response skills, taking FEMA disaster response classes such as You Are the Help Until Help Arrives, donating money to a reputable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD), and volunteer to respond to disasters and help your fellow Americans.

For a full list of how you can get involved, click here.

Don’t forget to share your preparedness prep with us! We would love if you shared your kits, how you’re making a plan, or any other helpful information others should know with us by tagging us on social media @HONashville, and using the Ready hashtags, #BeReady and #PrepareToProtect!

Honor. Serve. Unite.

The September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance (9/11 Day), is a chance to help others in tribute to those killed and injured on September 11, 2001, first responders, and the countless others who serve to defend the nation’s freedom at home and around the globe.

We’re honored to be an Americorps host site that builds nonprofit capacity across Middle Tennessee as members receive skills training, professional development, and networking opportunities throughout their yearlong term.

This #911Day we’re encouraging our members, family, friends, and followers to serve in a remarkable spirit of unity, honor, and compassion.

We would love to share your stories of service. Please feel free to tag us on social media at @HONashville and use the #911Day hashtag.

Remember, even a small act of service is a giant act of patriotism. 

How to help flooding survivors in Humphreys County

With a record-breaking flood devastating parts of Middle Tennessee, we know it’s our instinct to rush in to help. BUT, the situation in Humphreys County remains dangerous, and all volunteers are being asked to join a recovery group or organization for detailed instructions on how to be the most helpful. Please see the resource list below on how you can help.

Donation Information:

NOTE: All donations must be NEW. No used items are being accepted at this time!

The Community Resource Center is collecting most-needed items, recruiting volunteers, accepting items from their Amazon wish list, and collecting monetary donations. Visit their website at crcnashville.org.

For the CRC’s Waverly Flood Support Drop Off locations, click here.

Mother to Mother, Inc. has posted a list of donations they’re collecting. Items range from diapers to formula to towels and baby hygiene products. Click here for the full list and where to donate.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has activated its Tennessee Emergency Response Fund. Grants from these funds will be made available to nonprofits supporting relief and restoration in areas of Middle Tennessee affected by the severe storms and floods.

United Way of Humphreys County has also established a relief fund. Proceeds will help meet immediate and long term needs of residents affected by the flooding. One hundred percent of all donations will be used to help the flooding survivors.

The Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office posted about collecting items for those displaced at the National Guard Armory, located at 1421 US-70, Waverly, TN 37185. Items can also be donated to Compassion Church at their Student Building, 1452 Clydeton Road, Waverly, TN 37185.
NOTE: These items should be new or in like-new condition.

The American Red Cross is assisting with four shelters and has set up a disaster helpline at 1-800-985-5990. The organization has an online registry where survivors can register and send messages about their well-being. 

The Dickson Fire Department reported water rescues Saturday morning after about 10 inches of rain caused flash flooding. [Photo by the Dickson Fire Department]

Volunteer Information:

At this time volunteer efforts are being organized by the Waverly Department of Public Safety – Police & Fire. Those interested in helping with clean up or recovery are asked to call (931) 888-8011 or (931) 888-8012. Volunteers will be meeting at the staging area at the Dollar Tree, 515 W. Main St, Waverly, TN 37185.

The Community Resource Center has also begun compiling hygiene and relief kits to be distributed to those affected, and also need support unboxing and preparing donations to be transported to Humphreys County. Click the button below to sign up.

Compassion Church of Waverly is also utilizing volunteers. Those interested can text “flood” to (615)375-8333.

Flood Survivor Information:

If you have been impacted and need clean-up assistance please call the crisis clean up line at 615-338-7404. The phone will be answered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. This number is for all counties affected by the flooding.

The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is offering disaster relief to union members for those affected by the flooding on August 21.

The following are flooding shelters for those displaced. For more information, visit the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

  • Waverly Church of Christ, 438 West Main St., Waverly, TN 
  • YMCA of Dickson County, 225 Henslee Dr, Dickson TN 37055 
  • First Baptist Church, 300 E. Main St. Waverly TN 37185 
  • Fairfield Church of Christ, 1860 TN-100, Centerville, TN 37033 

It’s time to say goodbye to another Americorps cohort!

We are so proud of our 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort as they near the end of their term and begin their next adventure. This is a cohort that has problem solved like no other — they got out and met their communities, made all kinds of new friends, and have forever changed our organization for the better. The Hands On Nashville team and all our partnering host sites are so grateful for their hard work, amazing attitudes, and that they chose Nashville as their home for a year of service!  

The most rewarding part of my service year was how valued my team and supervisors made me feel. It allowed me to really flourish, both personally and professionally, and gave me the space to try new approaches to how things are done and see what worked and didn’t work to help make Nashville Diaper Connection a more effective non-profit.

— Heidi hayne, americorps volunteer and partner engagement leader at nashville diaper connection

While completing their term, AmeriCorps members said they discovered how to self motivate, their ability to take initiative, unknown writing skills, that they’re more adaptable than they thought, and mostly — that they get stuff done!

Reflecting on these members’ growth at the end of each is year is a rewarding moment, and while we’re sad to see them go, we’re so excited to see what else they achieve moving forward.

Americorps members receive their certificates of completion and thank you gifts at a closing reception in July.

Thank you to all our 2020-2021 host sites for taking such good care of our Americorps members!

Community Resource Center

Cumberland River Compact

The Family Center

Hands On Nashville

Harpeth Conservancy

Nashville Diaper Connection

Nashville Food Project

Nashville Tree Foundation

The Pencil Foundation

Shower The People

Turnip Green Creative Reuse

Workers’ Dignity — Dignidad Obrera

To learn more about the HON Americorps program, click here.

Jackson empowers its team to give back and strengthen the community

Since 2007, employees at Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Jackson®) have donated more than 290,000 volunteer hours to improving their communities. Their philanthropy program is engrained in their company’s values, and has continued to grow since the company’s inception nearly 60 years ago.

Jackson’s employee-engagement program, Jackson in Action, empowers team members to donate their skills and time through volunteer opportunities each month. Their volunteers are regulars with Hands On Nashville, whether it’s individually led projects or groups of volunteers assisting through our Corporate Partner Program.

A group of Jackson volunteers assist in a community painting project.

“We work with organizations to help strengthen families and create economic opportunities in areas where we operate,” says Niya Moon, the manager of Corporate Philanthropy at Jackson. “Popular volunteer activities range from assisting with meal preparation and distribution to address food insecurity to teaching financial literacy principles and offering career exploration opportunities to youth.”

Jackson has partnered with HON as the Presenting Sponsor for the annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards for multiple years, a role they have graciously accepted to assist in honoring some of Middle Tennessee’s greatest volunteers.

“One of Jackson’s core values is to positively impact our community, and we believe our corporate culture and employees should contribute to the greater good of society,” Moon says. “We are honored to be among so many other businesses, foundations, groups, and individuals who give generously to make this community great.”

Like so many companies last year, Jackson was forced to limit its volunteer engagement when COVID-19 struck. But the company pivoted its resources, and began pursuing virtual opportunities to fundraise and conduct donation drives to support local organizations during the pandemic.

Jackson awarded grants to programs providing financial coaching and direct assistance to people facing unemployment and other economic hardship intensified by the pandemic. They also offered support to organizations that were forced to postpone or cancel significant fundraising events.

But Jackson’s generosity extends further than their fundraising. Mid-pandemic, when food insecurity was at its highest, Jackson partnered with the Nashville Food Project by opening their dining center kitchen and utilizing staff to prepare meals while following social distancing protocols. Together, they served 6,075 meals for underserved youth and seniors in the community.

Jackson volunteers cut and prepare flash cards for local schools.

“One thing I love about Nashville is how the community works together to help each other during a crisis,” Moon says. “There were so many inspiring stories of the nonprofit sector meeting critical needs of our community reeling after two concurrent disasters—a tornado and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Following the tornado, Jackson employees volunteered 181 hours and contributed $19,620 toward recovery efforts. As the pandemic continues, Jackson has continued to extend its kindness across the community to aid wherever possible.

For more information about Jackson and their commitment to service, click here.

About Jackson

Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®) is committed to helping clarify the complexity of retirement planning for its customers. Jackson’s range of annuity products, financial know-how, history of award-winning service, and streamlined experiences strive to reduce the confusion that complicates retirement plans. As part of their award-winning Corporate Philanthropy program, Jackson invests nearly $1.2 million annually in nonprofit and community causes in Middle Tennessee.

Hands On Nashville announces 2021 Strobel Volunteer Awards recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 1, 2021) – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company. Recipients were announced on HON’s website, social media channels, and featured on Lightning 100.

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. Winners are typically honored during a luncheon at the Music City Center; however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit opted to recognize recipients virtually.

“Last year presented challenges that could only be met by the unbreakable spirit of this community and its volunteers,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “We are so honored to celebrate that incredible spirit and some outstanding individuals through the Strobel Volunteer Awards.”

Community members submitted more than 160 nominations for the 2021 Strobel Volunteer Awards. The public was invited to vote for their favorite stories of service, and a panel of judges selected the recipients, who will receive $1,000 to give to the charity of their choice. Finalists will receive $250 to give to charity.

“Congratulations to all Strobel Awards recipients,” said Aimee DeCamillo, Chief Commercial Officer and President, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC. “This has truly been a shared celebration of service, and we are honored to join Hands On Nashville and others in our community to acknowledge the resilience of volunteers during one of the most challenging years for our city.”

HON introduced two new categories this year — Social Justice Impact Volunteer and Disaster Volunteer — to acknowledge the extraordinary volunteer work that took place in 2020.

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Direct Service — Youth Volunteer: Sydnee Floyd, Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives
  • Direct Service — Adult Volunteer: Teaka Jackson, Love Thy Neighbors
  • Direct Service — Older Adult Volunteer: Dennis Caffrey, Siloam Health
  • Group Volunteer Service Award: Bridge Builder’s Program, Inc.
  • Capacity-building Volunteer Award: Corrie Anderson, Community Resource Center
  • Social Justice Impact Award: Greta McClain, Silent No Longer
  • Disaster Relief Volunteer Award: Maria Amado, Community Resource Center

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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 2020 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 140-plus 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.