Getting to know the 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort — Part 5

We are so excited to welcome this year’s AmeriCorps cohort — 23 civic-minded individuals who are committed to spending the next year at area nonprofits working hard to make Nashville a better place to live. Here’s a little bit of insight into these amazing individuals who are helping Nashville nonprofits serve the community in a variety of ways.

Meredith Cohen
Emergency Response Coordinator
Community Resource Center

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I was motivated by a desire to help a community get through the current pandemic and any cascading crises. I also wanted to explore the field of emergency response and disaster management!

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A:
I am most excited to meet members of the community and learn about resource distribution!

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you
?
A: I used to volunteer at an animal shelter and ended up adopting an outrageous number of cats!

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Jump rope, ultimate Frisbee, and spending time outside!


Quinn Garrett
Mobile Distribution and Volunteer Leader
PENCIL

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I saw it as a great opportunity to serve and better my community.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A:
Meet new people in the Nashville nonprofit scene.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you
?
A: Once ate an entire Taco Bell taco 12-pack in one sitting.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Kayaking with my pals!

Rachel Flores
Economic and Racial Justice Community Coordinator
Workers’ Dignity

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I was excited by the opportunity to work closely with Workers’ Dignity, an organization that I greatly admire, while also getting to know my fellow AmeriCorps members.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am excited to get involved with Workers’ Dignity’s construction campaign.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I learned how to ride a unicycle in high school, and still own one. I can still ride it but not for very long.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Hiking, reading, cooking, and crafting.

Getting to know the 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort — Part 4

We are so excited to welcome this year’s AmeriCorps cohort — 23 civic-minded individuals who are committed to spending the next year at area nonprofits working hard to make Nashville a better place to live. Here’s a little bit of insight into these amazing individuals who are helping Nashville nonprofits serve the community in a variety of ways.

Elizabeth Serrano
Environmental Outreach and Communication Coordinator
Harpeth Conservancy

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: It felt like the perfect opportunity to give back while simultaneously developing professionally.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A:
I am most excited to help others find a passion for the environment!

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you
?
A: I can nap anywhere, anytime.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I love spending time with friends, running, making Spotify playlists, collaging, and eating yummy food!

Mikelle Benfield
Environmental Outreach and Communication Coordinator
Harpeth Conservancy

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: Being able to work with local communities on environmental education and stewardship.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: Applying my nonprofit experience to the community in Nashville and being able to really develop those skills in a new setting.


Q: What is a silly/random fact about you
?
A: I played roller hockey growing up.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I enjoy playing the piano.

Kelsea Comb
Homeless Community Shower Bus Coordinator
Shower the People

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: Service is one of your guiding principles and up until this point in my life service has also been mine, whether working at the Office of Disability Services, Urban Ministries, or in Ecuador with Ubeci. When I see myself, I always see myself doing something that helps and elevates others.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?

A: I am most excited to meet the individuals in the population I am working with. I know how much this work means, so I am excited to see the growth I believe will occur from the beginning of my service to the end.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you
?
A: I am fascinated with deep blue holes and scuba diving!

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I like to read, listen to audiobooks, and write Spoken Word.


Heidi Hayne
Volunteer and Partner Engagement Leader
Nashville Diaper Connection

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: Serving my community has always been a large part of my life. For the past two summers in my hometown of New Orleans, I worked as an intern at Eden House, a nonprofit that houses and brokers wrap-around services for female victims of human trafficking. My experience here, along with my community service experience at Sewanee, inspired me to continue working toward bettering my community through collective action. AmeriCorps offered an exciting opportunity for me to use my educational background in art, religion, and environmental studies and my strong leadership and service experiences both to begin my career and build and better my newly adopted home of Nashville.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I have loved serving at the Nashville Diaper Connection. Everyday, I learn something new and have really found it interesting how diaper need is linked to a variety of other necessities among poverty-stricken families and individuals in the Nashville area. It has been great to work towards ending diaper need with our volunteers and partner agencies to ensure that every baby in the Nashville area is clean, dry, and healthy.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you
?
A: I have given communion to Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I love going on walks in all of the parks and gardens around Nashville. I am part of of a dinner club and book club and love painting and photography.


Dalia McCoy
Garden Programs Coordinator
The Nashville Food Project

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I have always been passionate about service and working alongside nonprofits. After graduating during a global pandemic, I knew I wanted my “next step” to be doing work that created a positive impact, and AmeriCorps offers an opportunity to do this!

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I have never worked with an organization whose focus is food justice — I am so excited to learn more about this issue and work to alleviate food insecurity in the Nashville community.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I have traveled to six of the seven continents!

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I love cooking and baking! I also love music — I sing and play a little piano!

Getting to know the 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort — Part 3

We are so excited to welcome this year’s AmeriCorps cohort — 23 civic-minded individuals who are committed to spending the next year at area nonprofits working hard to make Nashville a better place to live. Here’s a little bit of insight into these amazing individuals who are helping Nashville nonprofits serve the community in a variety of ways.

Ashley Leon
First 3! Coordinator
The Family Center

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I wanted to serve with AmeriCorps to improve the lives of others and offer my time to help disadvantaged communities. I was interested in an organization that would allow me to give back to the community while partaking in leadership development, which is what drew me to AmeriCorps.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A:  I am most excited to collaborate with the Family Center staff to improve the health and wellbeing of young children and expand parents’ early childhood knowledge through the First 3! Parent Seminar.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I am a major foodie; I love trying different food options.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?
A: I spend my time watching movies, painting, and dancing when I’m not serving or volunteering.


C. McNutt
Urban Tree Education Coordinator
Nashville Tree Foundation

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: It’s truly a unique experience that allows one to connect with the community and develop professional skills while working side by side with a multitude of nonprofits.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: Getting my hands in the soil and planting trees to help restore the tree canopy after the devastating tornado and powerful storms blew through Nashville.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: My biggest childhood fear was butterflies. I was convinced if it got too close to them I’d either hurt or kill them on accident, so I’d run away every time they came near me.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?
A: When I’m not serving or volunteering, I’m probably out on a hiking trail, at a park slacklining, or rolling down some hills on my longboard.

Hannah Mathis
Creative Sustainability Volunteer Engagement Leader
Turnip Green Creative Reuse

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I wanted to learn more about working in a nonprofit, and to dedicate my time to helping others.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: Gaining experience working in a nonprofit setting and meeting awesome people.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I am obsessed with mushrooms — house decor, clothing, drawings of them, reading about them, and observing them in nature!

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?
A: Hiking, biking, taking photos, drawing, going to concerts, listening to true crime podcasts, and cooking.


Maddy Johnson
Community Trees Outreach Coordinator
Nashville Tree Foundation

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: It is a great opportunity to make a positive impact in the surrounding community and gain hands-on experience in my field.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am excited to meet new people and learn about the Nashville Tree Foundation’s work and projects.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I know how to juggle! Limes and clementines are the easiest.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?
A: Making art, biking, playing guitar, or cooking.

Rachel Geiger
Community Education Coordinator
Turnip Green Creative Reuse

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I had previously been working with a for-profit company and got a chance to reevaluate my path when COVID hit. I realized I hadn’t been happy in what I was doing and decided to look into positions with the nonprofit sector. AmeriCorps gave me the chance to reorient my life to align with my values.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am most excited to make a difference in the lives of the kids served by the education program at Turnip Green.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I’m currently on day 131 of my Duolingo streak!

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?
A: You can often find me trying to make new vegetarian recipes, singing the songs stuck in my head, reading yet another biography, or swimming in the lake.



Getting to know the 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort — Part 2

We are so excited to welcome this year’s AmeriCorps cohort — 23 civic-minded individuals who are committed to spending the next year at area nonprofits working hard to make Nashville a better place to live. Here’s a little bit of insight into these amazing individuals who are helping Nashville nonprofits serve the community in a variety of ways.


Joe Chapman
Cumberland River Compact
Clean Streams Coordinator

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I think taking a year to give back to the community and planet is such an important opportunity. I’m honored to be able to do so.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I’m excited to build my professional skills and work outdoors! I’m also excited to meet some inspiring people!

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I play the ukulele.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I love to camp, hike, skateboard, play board games, and listen to music!


Liam Ulasevich
Cumberland River Compact
Urban Forestry Coordinator

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I had completed service as a Peace Corps volunteer and enjoyed the work thoroughly. Also this position fit right in line with my interests and goals.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am excited to spread the joy of trees and learn more about this city’s tree culture.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I once gave a speech to 700 people dressed as a Teletubby.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I love hiking, drawing, eating, and solo dance parties.


Makinsy Fitzgerald
Cumberland River Compact
Engagement and Outreach Coordinator

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I wanted to connect with my community and make it a better place for all.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am most excited about working with like-minded individuals that have a passion for service.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I went to more than 25 concerts in 2019.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Going to concerts, listening to podcasts, thrifting, and hiking!


Morgan Florsheim
Cumberland River Compact
Environmental Education Coordinator

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: I was drawn to serving with AmeriCorps because I wanted to do meaningful work and to be given a higher level of responsibility than your average entry-level job. I also feel like I have been privileged in my access to education and I want to pass that on to others through environmental education work.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am really excited to get to do some curriculum development and to engage young people in environmental work. I had some amazing mentors in that field when I was younger and I would love to be able to serve in a mentorship role for other young folks.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you that you?
A: I didn’t eat a burger until I was 20 years old.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I love to run, hike, bike, canoe, and generally spend time outside. I also really enjoy reading and writing and watching bad reality TV shows.


Tyrah Cobb-Davis
Cumberland River Compact
Urban Forestry Coordinator

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: Honestly, I was drawn to the AmeriCorps program after learning more about NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). I liked that program in particular because of the opportunity to travel and see new places. I ultimately chose to serve with the HON AmeriCorps Program because I think that being in the same place for a while has a greater impact on the organization and I was really drawn to the location and being part of a larger cohort. I think that service opportunities provide unique opportunities to gain professional work and general life experiences! I am excited to see what this year has in store.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am most excited about meeting new people and experiencing a new place! The position is also pretty interesting. I have recently taking a liking to trees and am looking forward to spending the year as an Urban Forestry Coordinator. In general, I am excited to leave my home state of Maryland for a bit to see what Nashville has in store.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: Ice cream is my all time favorite and I oftentimes eat it for dinner. It is a must for me to find a new spot when I visit new places. 🙂

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I enjoy the outdoors, reading, bingeing TV shows, and finding new ice cream shops and local restaurants.

Getting to know the 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort — Part 1

We are so excited to welcome this year’s AmeriCorps cohort — 23 civic-minded individuals who are committed to spending the next year at area nonprofits working hard to make Nashville a better place to live. Here’s a little bit of insight into these amazing individuals who are helping Nashville nonprofits serve the community in a variety of ways.

Ademola Ogunnaike
Hands On Nashville
Digital Strategy Leader

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: The ability to give back to my new community.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am excited to bring a new perspective to the team and help the team further expand its digital presence.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you that you are comfortable sharing with others?
A: I live in Tennessee, and I still haven’t gone kayaking. Also, country music is just alright.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: I’m usually out and about shooting films with my crew on set.


A.T. Branch
Hands On Nashville
Volunteer Engagement Leader

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: To work a job with flexibility that gives me a sense of purpose.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: Give back to my city and network in my community.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I was born on Free Slurpee Day and it kills me that Nashville doesn’t have a 7- Eleven.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Making music, auditioning for acting gigs, traveling (pre-COVID).

Kannon West
Hands On Nashville
Volunteer Project Leader

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: The desire to help my community in times of need and to be able to leave a lasting impact on an individual.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: Become more involved in the community!

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: My dream job would either be an astronaut or indie singer!

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Reading, catching up on current events, trying new coffees, sometimes running.

Matt Anderson
Hands On Nashville
Disaster Response Coordinator 

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: Continue serving my community after disasters strike.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: Coordinate with different organizations and community groups to really get the feel of the city and culture.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: Werewolves are my irrational fear. Not a clue why. Halloween is a stressful time because of this.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Cycling, hiking, camping, running, starting Aikido.

MC Sammons
Hands On Nashville
Community Partner Engagement Leader 

Q: What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?
A: The opportunity to spend the next year doing something meaningful in my community.

Q: What are you most excited to do in your new service position?
A: I am excited to engage with all of the different partner agencies.

Q: What is a silly/random fact about you?
A: I run an Instagram account for my dog.
(Follow Winston at @one.eyed.winston!)

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

A: Some of my favorite things are going to garage sales, hanging out with my dogs, and cooking. Pre-pandemic I also loved going to shows and trying new restaurants.

Hands On Nashville Announces 2020 Strobel Volunteer Award Recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 17, 2020) – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 34th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Co. Recipients were unveiled during a multiday, virtual ceremony, which occurred Sept. 14–16.

The annual event recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community, and celebrates the life of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian who had 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.

“Mary Catherine Strobel was the living embodiment of generosity and service to others,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “In light of the recent events in our community – including the March tornado and pandemic currently impacting our country – it is more important now than ever to honor the amazing volunteers who do Mary Catherine’s legacy proud by giving back.”

Community members submitted 165 nominations for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards.

“This event celebrates the spirit of giving that is so crucial to improving our city,” said Aimee DeCamillo, chief commercial officer and president, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC, the presenting sponsor for the awards. “We are thrilled to take part in such a proud tradition and help recognize all of these volunteers for their incredible dedication, in the hopes that they may inspire the next generation of givers to take up the cause.”

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Sherri Mitchell-Snider – Capacity-building Volunteer Award
  • Chicktime – Civic Volunteer Group Award
  • Creative Artists Agency Nashville – Corporate Volunteerism Award
  • Emily Phan – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 5 to 20)
  • Adam Crookston – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 21 to 49)
  • Claudia Prange – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 50-plus)

###

About the 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.

Photos by Nathan Morgan Photography

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Civic Volunteer Group

This category of the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards recognizes representatives of civic, membership, faith-based or non-corporate groups that volunteer together for a specific cause or issue. 

This year’s finalists are:

Chicktime

Chicktime 

Volunteers at Youth Villages 

During their visits to the Youth Villages Wallace Group Home, Chicktime members spend their time getting to know the girls, providing emotional support, love, and life skills — paired with a little bit of fun.  

There are 10 young women at Wallace Group Home who have been separated from their families by the State of Tennessee and are awaiting reunification or a foster home placement. Each month, Chicktime volunteers visit the girls, and provide all of the supplies, food, and their “chick power” to brighten the girls’ day. Activites range from crafts and poetry, to karaoke nights and visits to local farms.  

“The Chicktime members are dedicated to not just serving foster youth, but they are dedicated to serving teens in the foster care system that have a history of abuse, neglect, and/or trauma, and that do not generally trust or respect adults,” said Julie Abbott, the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator with Youth Villages. “The members come back month after month to a revolving group of youth and continue to shower the girls with love, understanding, and patience.” 

Holly Stewart and Stephanie Mullenax, Co-founders of the Chicktime Nashville chapter, serve to lay the path for everyone who wants to make a difference in children’s lives by bringing women together to serve. 

“We enter these girls’ lives as caring members of the community focused on restoration and just doing what we can to bring a bright spot into their lives,” Stewart says.  

Friends Life Community

Friends Life Community 

Volunteers at FiftyForward 

Every Thursday and Friday, a smiling, energized group from Friends Life Community delivers meals, provides safety checks, and socializes with homebound senior adults through FiftyForward’s Fresh/Meals on Wheels program. 

Through their weekly service, Friends Life Community members are delivering more than food — they’re offering a friendly face, andbuilding a relationship with FiftyForward’s clients. 

Friends Life Community members are teenagers and adults with disabilities who participate in service-learning activities in order tobuild valuable employment skills and share their talents and time with local nonprofits.  

For 80-year-old Alberta, Friday is one of the most exciting days of the week.  

“The beautiful group that delivers my meals on Fridays is a joy in my life,” Alberta said. “I always give them a peppermint and let them know how much I look forward to them delivering my meal each Friday. I’ve even found myself getting up earlier to get dressed nicely so I can spend time talking with them!”  

The consistency and dependability shown by Friends Life Communitymembers gives Meals On Wheels participants an abundance ofjoy and encouragement, as well as show that they are not alone.  

Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy

Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy 

Volunteers at the American Liver Foundation-Mid South Division 

When at the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy (TNVCA) cadets learned what it meant to be a part of the Volunteer State through discipline, structure, education, and service.  

The mission of the TNVCA was to intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth and produce program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens of Tennessee. 

During the 2018 and 2019 Liver Life Walks for the American Liver Foundation (ALF), cadets proved to themselves and to their mentors that they were ready and willing to serve. 

Cadets helped with a variety of tasks, from setup and teardown to parking cars and refilling water stations. One thing most appreciated about these cadets was their willingness to help with a variety of tasks, even things other volunteers didn’t care to do.  

“They are always courteous and willing to do the work, which makde them a delight to have as a volunteer group,” said Teresa Davidson, the National Director of Engagement at ALF-Mid-South.  

Cadets at the TNVCA are not only helping with the Liver Life Walk but learning how to be a part of their community and serve other nonprofits in the future.  

Note: Unfortunately, due to funding restrictions in light of COVID-19, TNVCA has been permanently shuttered. Learn more here. 

Join Hands On Nashville for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards on Sept. 14, 15, and 16.

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Corporate Volunteerism

This category of the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards pays tribute to businesses that have robust employee volunteer programs with high levels of participation and impact. 

Here are this year’s finalists:

Creative Artists Agency

CAA — Creative Artists Agency Nashville 

Volunteers at Whitsitt Elementary School 

Throughout their time at Whitsitt Elementary School, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) volunteers were known for their dependability, kindness, and willingness to help. 

Prior to COVID-19, CAA was a staple at Whitsitt students’ first day of class. Among all the hustle and bustle, volunteers guided the students to their classes, and offered support wherever it was needed. This first day of school was where CAA’s support began, but far from where it ended.  

“CAA has made a huge impact at our school in the way they consistently and thoughtfully partner to provide the highest level of education to our students,” said Whitsitt Elementary Literacy Coach Heidi Wright. “They have been a staple in helping our community and school connect to further the development and achievement of our students.” 

Throughout the school year, CAA volunteers engaged with students as reading buddies and mentors. During three months of their initiative, students read more than 2,000 books. CAA also supported Whitsitt’s music program by donating multiple musical instruments for the classroom, and provided educational and fun field trips to their office annually.  

“Not only do they support the school, they support education in a profound way,” said Chris Echegaray, Community Achieves Site Manager. “They are socially conscious, and an organization that truly cares about moving the needle.” 

The Surgical Clinic

The Surgical Clinic 

Volunteers with the Amputee Blade Runners 

The Surgical Clinic (TSC) is a group of private practice surgeons whose specialties span across the board. One of their specialty divisions, the prosthetic institute, has partnered with nonprofit organization the Amputee Blade Runners (ABR) to create free running prosthetics for amputees.  

One of the founders of ABR, Aaron Fitzsimmons, is a prosthetist with The Surgical Clinic, and has grown TSC’s volunteer staff to 10 people; all willing to donate their time and energy to improving the lives of amputee athletes across the country. 

“It is not an uncommon thing for multiple TSC employees to stay at work until midnight, helping an athlete regain mobility,” said Joshua Southards, Executive Director of Amputee Blade Runners. “The Surgical Clinic prosthetic staff is the engine that makes the Amputee Blade Runners run.” 

Due to health insurance companies deeming running prosthetics “not medically necessary,” it is often impossible for families to afford them on their own. The Surgical Clinic provides prosthetic blades necessary for training and athletic performance. Many of their clients are adopted children from other countries who were given up by their biological families due to their congenital conditions. 

One of these athletes is Samuel Tyler, a 16-year-old who received his first pair of sports blade legs in 2015.  

Now, as Samuel walks into his local YMCA, he strides with confidence, knowing he will soon be jogging around the track and independently switching out his prosthetic blades when he is ready to use the exercise equipment. He is one of hundreds of people whose lives have been changed by The Surgical Clinic.  

Comcast of Nashville

Comcast of Nashville 

Volunteers at Two Rivers Middle School 

Now in its 18th year, Comcast Cares Day is one of the largest corporate commitments to volunteerism and service in America. Comcast of Nashville, the local branch of the national internet service company, has participated annually in the corporate-wide event, making a difference for local schools and the children they serve.  

Comcast Cares Day is more than just a day – it is an illustration of the spirit of volunteerism that Comcast employees bring to life each day.  From using technology to create positive change, to mentoring youth, stocking food banks, and beautifying parks, Comcast NBCUniversal employees volunteer during this celebration and throughout the year to make a lasting impact. 

“Comcast firmly believes that corporations have a responsibility to give back to the communities where their employees and customers live and work and to partner with local governments, organizations, and nonprofits to make our communities stronger,” says Terry Vo, a Community Affairs Expert with Comcast. “We take this mission to heart every single day, and care very much about giving back to our communities to make a long-lasting impact.” 

At last year’s Comcast Cares Day, volunteers sorted more than 18,000 pounds of food and packaged nearly 15,000 diapers and 650 backpacks for Metro Nashville Public School students at Two Rivers Middle School. They’ve also opened nine computer labs in Middle Tennessee, painted and installed murals at Two Rivers, and completed landscape maintenance. These service events often involve 70-plus Comcast volunteers.  

“Our school’s hallways are more colorful than ever before. We reference one of the murals every week because it inspires our students,” said Hannah Tapp, a 7th grade teacher at Two Rivers Middle School. 

Join Hands On Nashville for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards on Sept. 14, 15, and 16.

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Capacity-building Volunteer

This category of the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards honors individuals who provide significant operational or administrative support to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization, or developed an innovative approach to significantly improve an existing program. 

Here are the 2020 finalists:

Susanne Post 

Susanne Post

Volunteers at YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee 

In 2017, Susanne Post partnered with the YWCA to launch Shear Haven, a training program for local stylists to be able detect signs of domestic abuse among clients. 

As a victim of abuse herself, Post knew she wanted to help other women facing the same issue, and as a hair stylist, she knew she was in a unique position to be trusted by victims. 

“Often the victim is isolated from their closest family and friends and simply needs to speak their truth to a listening ear and to know that there is support available,” Post says. 

Since then, Post has provided significant operational support to the YWCA and has expanded their domestic violence education reach into a specialized community not previously on their radar. This has allowed them to reach victims of abuse with whom they hadn’t previously connected. 

She was instrumental in passing domestic violence legislation for stylists through the Tennessee House of Representatives, and continues her advocacy work today. 

She hopes to continue broadening this training to reach stylists across Tennessee. 

Paige Atchley 

Paige Atchley

Volunteers at Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle TN 

As part of the advisory board for Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, Paige Atchley is a leader dedicated to service. 

She founded Club Blue, the young professional association that supports BGC. With her drive, Atchley hosted 12 fundraising and networking events last year, and recruited 49 new members who are now monthly donors. She has built this new group of advocates and kept them engaged by driving social media interaction and inspiring volunteer events within the club. 

The mission of Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee is to enable young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. It’s a mission Atchley strives to embody.  

One of her most successful fundraising events is Dash to a Great Future. Not only did Atchley design the event, but she spearheaded the entire marketing and communications strategy to ensure its success.  

Because of her hard work, BGC expects to raise more than $1,000 through this campaign in 2020.  

“I love serving Club Blue because it is full of people that care about kids and who they turn into as people,” Atchley says. “They are kind and welcoming, and these are the people that I want mentoring Boys & Girls Club kids so they can grow up to also be successful and giving.” 

Sherri Mitchell-Snider 

Sherri Mitchell-Snider

Volunteers at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt 

Sherri Mitchell-Snider volunteers her time as Co-Director of Flashes of Hope at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Flashes of Hope is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating powerful, uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. 

Mitchell-Snider builds capacity for Flashes of Hope by organizing, planning, and coordinating monthly Flashes of Hope photo shoots at the children’s hospital. She partners with local salons, makeup artists, and photographers to create a seamless photoshoot experience for the families, and often organizes up to a dozen family photos in a day.  

These photos are then given to the family as a memento of the day. They provide a happy hospital memory for them to treasure forever. 

 “I love helping to bring some joy into the lives of these very brave children who are going through so much, and to recognize how special and beautiful each and every one of them is,” Mitchell-Snider says.  

Katie Beard, a Child Life Specialist at the hospital, says Mitchell-Snider is in a unique position to offer compassionate care for these children because of her own life experience. Mitchell-Snider lost her 1-year-old daughter to Leukemia. Mitchell-Snider recalls wishing she had had the opportunity for a family photoshoot when her daughter was alive. It brings her joy to offer that service to families today. 

Join Hands On Nashville for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards on Sept. 14, 15, and 16.

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Direct Service (ages 50+) category

This category in the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards recognizes individuals who have contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources to help an agency’s constituents. 

Ellen Wolfe and Copland 

Ellen Wolfe

Volunteers at Abe’s Garden 

When Ellen Wolfe walks into Abe’s Garden with her dog Copland, the residents of the memory-care facility are transported to another time in their lives. Suddenly they remember their own pets through the years — their names, their markings, their funny habits. Their day instantly gets brighter. 

“They never cease to amaze me with their stories of pets from their past and how gentle they are with Copland,” Wolfe says.  

Susan Burdorf, Volunteer Coordinator for Abe’s Garden, says a visit from Wolfe and Copland can be transformative for residents in that moment: Those who are quiet and reserved come to life around the dog, while others who may have been struggling with frustration feel more calm. 

“As dementia and memory loss progresses, little is remembered, but the sight of Copland brings out thoughts and reminders of dogs and other pets in their past,” Burdorf says. “This is so important for those who every day lose a little bit more of themselves.” 

James Doran 

Volunteers for Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands 

Dealing with the stress that accompanies legal proceedings is difficult enough, but for marginalized populations, the stress begins with the struggle to find competent representation that will bring about justice without breaking the bank. This is where James Doran of Waller Law steps in. 

Believing that a simple act can change the course of someone’s life, Doran has accepted more than 200 pro bono cases since 2013 through Legal Aid Society‘s (LAS) Volunteer Lawyers Program.  

LAS’s mission is to advance, defend, and enforce the legal rights of low-income and vulnerable people in order to secure for them the basic necessities of life. 

Doran guides clients through the judicial process, explains complex issues, and gives our community’s most vulnerable members access to the justice they deserve.  

Through his work, Doran provides safety to domestic violence victims, maintains income and benefits for those struggling to make ends meet, and much more. Doran continues to utilize his expertise and combine it with his passion for justice to ensure all voices are heard within the legal system.  

Claudia Prange 

Volunteers at Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee 

During a relaxation and imagery session with Claudia Prange, Gilda’s Club members – men, women, teens, and children who’ve been affected by cancer – are given a sense of community and hope and encouraged to feel at peace.  

Gilda’s Club is a cancer support center that focuses on five critical components: support groups, education, healthy lifestyle, social connectivity, and information. Prange leads sessions that encourage mind-body stress reduction. 

“Claudia’s sessions are so inclusive. She makes sure everyone has an opportunity to share their personal stories, feelings, and challenges,” says Gilda’s Club Program Manager Allison Yonker, LCSW. “Most importantly though, Claudia teaches a tool that people can use anywhere to better manage their circumstances – things like chemo, scans, and other anxiety-creating events.” 

For Gilda’s Club member Julianne, relaxation sessions helped her cope with and maintain a sense of mental well-being when both her husband and son were diagnosed with cancer.  

“In addition to the time spent meditating, I can use the techniques I learn from Claudia to feel at peace no matter where I am,” she says.  

Martha Johnson 

Martha Johnson

Volunteer at Williamson County CASA, Inc. 

When children are cast into the complex, chaotic, and uncertain environment of courtrooms and foster care, it is imperative to their well-being that they receive support. Williamson County CASA volunteer Martha Johnson meets this need by listening to their stories, speaking to courts on their behalf, and finding them a safe place to live. 

Williamson County CASA’s mission is to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children and ensure that each child finds a safe and permanent home.  

For the past 11 years, Johnson, as a court-appointed special advocate, has offered exceptional compassion and support to each child and individual in the child’s life. 

Johnson goes above and beyond in every case she’s involved in, from taking over a challenging case that another CASA volunteer had to back out of, to working on cases that move from foster care to adoption – no matter how long the process takes.  

“The joy of being able to help children who find their forever home after years of abuse is like no other,” Johnson says. “And I have such respect for families who, with such commitment and perseverance, open their homes and their hearts to children who often present challenges they weren’t really expecting.” 

Join Hands On Nashville for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards on Sept. 14, 15, and 16.