In Thanksgiving of Nashville’s Volunteer Spirit

This week always has a certain feel to it – life’s busy pace seems to slow down just a bit, autumn really seems to settle in amongst the fallen leaves, and families and friends prepare to gather around tables to share a meal together. There’s just something about this holiday that seems to allow space for quiet reflection, even amidst the grocery shopping, the travel, and the menu preparation. And so – in between making plans to run in the Boulevard Bolt Thursday morning and our travel schedules – here’s our reflection on what makes us proud to be Nashvillians.

Middle Tennesseans have embraced a spirit and culture of volunteerism over the past two years that is quite literally changing lives every day. We can share the numbers with you until we’re blue in the face (Nashville leapfrogged 19 places in the latest national ranking of volunteer service – from 37 to 18 among 51 of the nation’s largest cities), and we can point to the number of people who volunteered in 2010 to help with Nashville’s flood response and then kept volunteering in the community beyond flood response. But the every-day stories of people helping people are what remind us of how truly remarkable our community is. Here are a few:

Children served by Bethlehem Centers showcasing the tasty produce grown in the Center's garden. The garden was built by volunteers, and volunteers continue to work with the children to maintain it (and enjoy the fruits of their labor).
Volunteers creating rain gardens at a Metro School, in partnership with HON and Impact Nashville. Rain gardens make a big difference in our city's rainwater system by reducing runoff - this helps our rivers stay clean and healthy.
Twice a month, volunteers play goalball with the blind and visually impaired athletes of TN Association of Blind Athletes.
The high school students serving as HON Youth Volunteer Corps interns work each month to engage children from low-income families in fun service learning activities.
Volunteers make big improvements in Metro Nashville Public Schools each September as part of Hands On Nashville Day. A record number of volunteers participated in HON Day 2011.
Each week, volunteers work to make efficiency improvements in low-income homes in North and East Nashville, so homeowners can be more comfortable during weather extremes and save on their energy bills. This is a group of Ford employees with the homeowner they helped. So far this year, 33 homes have been improved thanks to the volunteers who have participated in HON's Home Energy Savings Program.
Just last week, volunteers from DaVita Kidney Care spent an entire day helping to renovate East Nashville Cooperative Ministry. The renovation will help the organization better serve the elderly, poor, disabled, unemployed, and disadvantaged with emergency food assistance and empower community wellbeing through food security.

So, as we prepare for our Thanksgiving activities, we want to acknowledge our deep appreciation and thanks for the culture and spirit of volunteerism and service that makes Music City such an incredibly giving community.

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