Happy National Volunteer Week!

It’s National Volunteer Week! And while Hands On Nashville celebrates volunteers every day of the year, we want to mark this occasion by sharing a very special and sincere THANK YOU with the volunteers who have given so much of themselves to help their neighbors.

“We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love.  Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.  Volunteers provide all three.  Service — the act of looking out for one another — is part of who we are as a Nation.  Our commitment to service reflects our understanding that we can best meet our challenges when we join together.  This week, we recognize the enduring contributions of our Nation’s volunteers and encourage more Americans to join their ranks.”

Read more from the Presidential Proclamation on National Volunteer Week 2021 here.

And visit hon.org to find a volunteer project!

    

Thank you for loving Nashville.

Last Saturday we said there was a need and volunteers showed up. Because of you, many residents in South Nashville are a step closer to recovering from recent flooding that devastated so many neighborhoods. Thank you!

On April 3, 350 volunteers cleaned up at around 90 houses. They hauled supplies with their pickup trucks and helped other volunteers find parking and get checked in. They translated languages to help keep the communication flowing. They also handed out more than 400 boxes of food, 420 flood buckets, and 100 hygiene kits to families in need.

And thank you to the many partners that helped put the day of service together: the Nashville Office of Emergency Management, American Red Cross, Conexión Américas, WeGo, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Community Resource Center, Nashville Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Metro Parks and Recreation, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

There’s still LOTS more work to be done in South Nashville, and we need your help. Find a project here:

Nashville VOAD Members Partnering for Large Community Cleanup from Weekend Flooding Saturday, April 3

NASHVILLE, TN – April 2, 2021 – Nashville Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is a collaboration of nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations from across the city that step in to help Davidson County recover when disaster strikes.

In response to the near record flooding from this past weekend, Nashville VOAD members will be working together in South Nashville to help clean up storm damage and provide much needed resources and supplies to the community between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, April 3rd. More than 7 inches of rain fell between March 27-28, causing flash flooding that resulted in multiple deaths, devastated neighborhoods, and displaced residents – the second worst flood event in Nashville history.

With plans to canvas and assist over 800 flood-damaged homes on Saturday, the Nashville VOAD wants to bring awareness, and help, to those affected.

“We know that this year has been filled with disaster after disaster to our community, but Nashville has always stood up to help our neighbors. It is now time to stand up for the people of South Nashville and help restore their hope, their lives and their homes. We are calling on all of our neighbors here in Nashville to join us to make sure that happens,” states Lori Shinton, Chair of Nashville VOAD and CEO of Hands On Nashville.

Volunteer spots are still available for the event, and anyone can sign up at HON.org.

Several Nashville VOAD members will be participating in the event on Saturday:

Hands On Nashville will coordinate hundreds of volunteers who will spread out into the community to canvass neighborhoods to determine needs, clean up debris, and conduct drywall demolition in affected homes.

Community Resource Center (CRC) is providing all the materials for the community clean up event.  From muck buckets to hygiene kits and tools for cleanout, the CRC has been the leader on the front lines providing materials in the Nashville area for disaster clean up and relief support.

American Red Cross will provide snacks and drinks for the volunteers, as well as clean-up kits for survivors.

The Salvation Army will provide a hot lunch for survivors.

Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee will provide 500 food boxes for survivors.

Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands will be providing legal information for canvassing around hiring contractors, renters’ rights, recovering important documents and filing insurance claims. 

Catholic Charities and Conexión Américas will be providing Spanish translators to accompany volunteers into the community as they work with residents.

Individuals needing assistance recovering from the storm can go to https://nashvilleresponds.com/assistance/ and fill out the form. For individuals requiring help to request assistance or those who do not have access to a computer, a Crisis Line has been activated and language translation services are available. Calls can be made 24 hours a day at 615-244-7444. A case worker will follow-up within 24 to 48 hours of your call or form submission.

Flood survivors requiring assistance with storm drain clearing, street side debris removal, or other city-related services can call 311 or go to https://hub.nashville.gov. Those impacted also can report damage with the Office of Emergency Management at  https://maps.nashville.gov/NERVE/

To find additional information on survivor resources, volunteer opportunities, and a list of items needed or to make a gift to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s  Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund to support the organizations assisting survivors, visit https://nashvilleresponds.com/flood-resources/.

About Nashville VOAD

The purpose of the Nashville VOAD is to strengthen area-wide disaster coordination and preparedness by sharing programs, policies, information, and engaging in joint planning, education, and training. During times of active disaster, it provides a single point of coordination for all organizations seeking to assist survivors in our community so that needs are met in the fastest most efficient manner possible.

Volunteers needed to respond to recent flash flooding

More than 7 inches of rain fell between March 27-28, driving flash flooding in many areas across Middle Tennessee. The floods resulted in several deaths as well as devastation of homes and businesses. Hands On Nashville is working with with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management to safely deploy volunteers to areas in need of help. Volunteer opportunities will be posted to the link below with the hashtag #NashvilleFlooding. We anticipate more projects will be posted over the coming the days and weeks. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates!

We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity this community shows in times of need. 

Resources for survivors

Strobel Volunteer Awards nominations open April 1!

We’re so excited to once again celebrate the amazing contributions of Middle Tennessee volunteers during the 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards. Nominations will be open April 1-16, 2021. 

Here are three things you need to know about this year’s awards, which are presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company

1. The awards are totally online this year and all finalists will be featured on hon.org for a month. There will be a fun public voting component to spread their amazing stories of service far and wide. 

2. Prize money! Each award recipient will receive a $1,000 gift card from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to give to the charity of their choice. Finalists will receive $250 CFMT gift cards to donate to the charity of their choice. 

3. New categories! We’ve updated the categories a little bit to reflect the challenges of 2020 and the dedicated volunteers who rose to meet them. The two new categories are:

  • Social Justice Impact Volunteer Award  
    Recognizes individuals whose volunteer work in 2020 was centered on dismantling or calling out systemic injustice and oppression and lifting up disenfranchised communities.  
  • Disaster Relief Volunteer Award  
    Recognizes individuals who made a significant contribution to helping Nashville recover from the tornado, pandemic, or bombing in 2020. 

Think of all the incredible people you know who go above and beyond to help others, and consider thanking them by nominating them for a Strobel Award!

Join the 2021-2022 HON AmeriCorps cohort

Applications are officially open for our upcoming cohort! The 2021-2022 Program Year runs from August 2021 to July 2022. AmeriCorps members spend a year at a local nonprofit, government department, or civic agency, where they build program capacity and receive skills and professional development training, an education award, a living stipend, and more. 

Nashville is powered by people of all ages, races, ethnicities, skin tones, sexes, genders, sexualities, religions, abilities, and socioeconomic statuses engaging in service together. This is a city where YOU matter and YOU make a difference. Join us as we tackle the community’s most pressing challenges through service by becoming a Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Program member.

Ready to get started? Click the buttons below!

11,689 vaccines in arms, all because of volunteers like you!

WOW. That’s about all we can say about the mass vaccination event on March 20. Hundreds of volunteers — including many medical professionals — helped vaccinate thousands at Nissan Stadium, Lee Chapel AME, and Music City Center on Saturday. It was an emotional day, but many volunteers said they would do it again in a heartbeat. In total, 11,689 people were vaccinated with the help of volunteers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Photographs by Madison Thorn, HON volunteer 

Six new GeekCause Starter Kits make it easy for nonprofits to tackle tech questions

Jason Shelton, HON’s Skilled Volunteerism Program Manager

This month Hands On Nashville’s GeekCause program launches its Starter Kit projects meant to help nonprofits get started assessing and maximizing their tech usage and skills. Jason Shelton, our Skilled Volunteerism Program Manager, answered some questions about the Starter Kits and how they can help any agency with any budget. 

Q: What are GeekCause Starter Kits and how do they differ from other projects?  

A: We came up with the idea for GeekCause Starter Kits because so many of our nonprofit community partners have no idea where to start when it comes to improving their engagement with technology. We wanted to give our partners an easy way to engage with the program and our incredible GeekCause volunteers, on topics we know every partner needs to be thinking about at regular intervals.  

We think Starter Kit projects will lead partners to ask better questions, which in turn will lead to more specific projects that will make a huge difference in each organization’s capacity to fulfill their missions. Less time spent fighting with tech that doesn’t work for you means more time engaging in direct service! 

Q: Why are these six specific types of projects in the Starter Kit menu?  

A: The Starter Kit covers the basics that every organization needs to be thinking about every few years. As your organization grows and your needs change, you probably find that the technology platforms that used to work well for you are starting to fall short.  

  • Do you have a complete picture of the hardware and software your organization is using? And a plan to replace/upgrade your tech? An IT Assessment is key to not getting caught off guard when your tech inevitably becomes out of date.  
  • Nonprofits are often easy targets for hackers and spammers looking to sow chaos. Have you had a security review recently? How are you protecting your data – especially your donor’s data?  
  • Maybe your website that was pretty great five years ago is looking a little dated, or just isn’t up to standards when it comes to performance and accessibility.  
  • Perhaps you’re looking for ways to present data for grants and funders but the process for getting it together is simply taking too many hours of staff time.  
  • And where does that data come from? Excel sheets and notebook paper might have been just fine when your organization was starting out, but now you’re wondering if there’s a database solution that’s right for your needs (and your budget!).  
  • Social media is key to staying engaged with the communities we serve, and it’s changing all the time. A social media strategy review will help you keep up.  

Q: Say an organization is interested in the Database/CRM Review Starter Kit. What will that process look and feel like for the organization? 

A: All GeekCause projects start with a consultation call. The nonprofit partner fills out a simple form on the hon.org site, and indicates that they want to do a Database/CRM Review. We’ll set up a call to talk through your organization’s needs, get a clear snapshot of the scope of the project, and get to work finding a GeekCause volunteer who’s a good fit for the project.  

Once the volunteer is on board we set up a kickoff call, and the volunteer and the nonprofit make a plan for their work. Volunteers vary widely in their availability, so having a plan for engagement is key to meeting everyone’s expectations and timeline. The volunteer then does a thorough review of current data tracking processes, assesses areas for possible improvement, and does the necessary research to come back with suggestions for solutions that fit the organization’s needs and budget.  

If that process leads to another project (like maybe having volunteer help to implement a new database solution and migrate old data into the new system), then we can talk about setting that up as a new, custom implementation project.  

Q: What if an organization isn’t sure whether the Starter Kit projects are a good fit for them? 

A: Send me an email and we can explore that! Starter Kit projects are really just that — a place to start. But if you’re ready for something more we’re excited to talk with you about that, too. Just choose Custom Project on the Consultation Request form, and tell us a little more about what you have in mind. We’ll go from there! 

Spring Break volunteer opportunities for the whole family

It’s Spring Break! With temperatures finally getting warmer and the kids home for the week (or the past year, depending on your situation), you may be going a little stir crazy looking for ways to keep them engaged while also building memories as a family. Well, we’re here to help! Below are a few options for things to do together, ranging for kids as young as 5 years old to those who are young at heart. 

Here’s a quick and easy video that explains how to volunteer as a family! 


Wrap and pack diapers for new parents in need as a Diaper Bank Volunteer
Age minimum with an adult: 12  
Minimum age: 16+  

Nashville Diaper Connection is looking for volunteers to help count, wrap, and package diapers. The diapers will then be labeled and organized for distribution to the Diaper Connection’s community partners. Opportunities are offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. 

Compile hygiene relief kits with the Community Resource Center 
Age minimum with an adult: 8+ 
Minimum age: 15+ 

Volunteers are essential to setting up production stations, sorting materials (like soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste) and compiling kits for distribution. These kits are then given to people in need all over the community, from tornado survivors to those currently experiencing homelessness. Opportunities are offered from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Write letters to seniors and people with disabilities to brighten their day 
Age minimum with an adult: 1+ 
Minimum age: 16+ 

Help bring some cheer to isolated seniors by creating drawings and writing letters to those in nursing homes and those who are in disabled living facilities. Families can create their drawings at home, and after “expressing interest” in this opportunity a volunteer leader will share how to mail them. For March the theme is “Spring and Easter.” 
This opportunity is virtual and can be completed at any time. 

A child writes letters for seniors and those in assisted living communities.
A young volunteer writes letters for the elderly and
those with disabilities with the Greater Nashville Regional Council.

Prepare a meal for families in the hospital with a loved one
Age minimum with an adult: 10 
Minimum age: 18+ 

The Hospital Hospitality House is looking for volunteers to graciously provide dinner to the patients and caregivers who are staying at the Hospitality House while receiving treatment in Nashville. These dinners provide comfort and a sense of community. This opportunity is offered with a flexible schedule. 

Plant trees at at Westmeade Elementary
Age minimum with an adult: 6+ 
Minimum age: 16+ 

Planting trees provides shade, helps filter air pollution, creates an oxygen rich environment, and reduces flooding by absorbing great amounts of groundwater. Together, families can learn how to plant and care for trees, while also joining forces to make Nashville a greener community! This opportunity is from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 20. 

Help remove weeds at Ellington Agriculture Center
Age minimum with an adult: 7+ 
Minimum age: 18+ 

Help remove invasive species of plants from Ellington Agricultural Center to prepare the ground for planting. Once the invasive plants have been cleared, white oak seedlings will be planted in their place! This opportunity is from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 20 

Unload donations with GraceWorks Ministries
Age minimum with an adult: 7+ 
Minimum age: 18+ 

Unload donations from people’s cars and assist in getting them sorted. GraceWorks Ministries  collects donations for its thrift store on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This opportunity is offered daily, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

For a full list of our opportunities, click here.

Want your organization to host an Ingram Scholar? Here’s how

After a successful pilot in early 2021, Hands On Nashville and Vanderbilt’s Ingram Scholars Program (ISP) will expand our partnership for the fall academic semester, connecting additional undergraduate Scholars with nonprofits and civic agencies across Davidson County. The ISP, founded in 1994, strives to facilitate service opportunities relating to each Scholar’s respective interests and to prepare Scholars for professional careers grounded in social progress.  

“We are beyond thrilled to join Hands On Nashville’s incredible network,” says Garrett Singer, ISP Service Coordinator. “The Ingram Scholars Program is known for its long-standing commitment to reciprocal and durable service. Our newly established partnership with HON will allow our Scholars to better meet the needs of Nashville’s nonprofit community, simultaneously deepening their commitment to social progress and accelerating their personal development.” 

Scholars pursue their chosen passion though a rigorous four-year curriculum that emphasizes durable, sustainable service initiatives. Each of Vanderbilt’s 40 Scholars is required to complete 16 hours of service per month during the academic year, for a total value of nearly $4,000 per community partner per year.  

Early in 2021, Scholars served remotely, but Singer says the program is looking to have remote and in-person options for Scholars this fall. 

Hands On Nashville and the ISP will host a virtual information session for interested nonprofits on Wednesday, March 31, at 1 p.m. to discuss: 

  • Curricular overview – What projects are Ingram Scholars equipped to participate in? 
  • Ensuring reciprocity – Coaching Scholar development in organizational capacity-building 
  • Finalizing opportunities – A timeline for the summer and fall 
  • Q&A 

If your organization is interested in learning more about hosting an Ingram Scholar later this year, please email A.T. Branch (at@hon.org) and copy Garrett Singer, ISP Service Coordinator (garrett.j.singer@vanderbilt.edu) for an invitation to the virtual information session!