It’s been an incredible year for the Hands On Nashville VolunTEEN Program, thanks to the youth volunteers who have hammered, dug, collected, sorted, planted, taught, harvested, built, and cooked their way through a year of service that has left the Middle Tennessee community a better place. Here are a few numbers to put it all in perspective:
- 2,352 youth participated in service opportunities in 2011
- 10,128 hours of service completed
- 726 of the volunteers served as mentors to at-risk youth via Backfield in Motion; HON-managed programs related to the arts, health, and food security at Bethlehem Centers, Safe Haven Family Shelter, Fannie Battle Day Home, Friends Life, Edgehill Center, Renewal House, McIver Center, Salvation Army, and St. Luke’s.
- 1,122 youth volunteers participated in HON’s sustainable food program, working at multiple urban garden locations at the above-mentioned nonprofits.
Wow. We are in awe, and we know the Nashville community is, too.
HON launched a youth urban gardening initiative this year, and one of the gardens where lots of growing took place (of vegetables AND minds) was Bethlehem Centers. The impressive garden was established in March by HON youth volunteers, and has become a focal point of Nashville urban garden tours and media stories. One of our favorite moments of the growing season was when HON volunteers and Bethlehem Centers youth discovered with delight what Brussels sprouts look like growing on the stalk. Almost all of us have been surprised when we learned how a certain kind of food looks before it lands on our plate (um, do you remember discovering that pickles are actually CUCUMBERS? – yes, most of us have had that moment of shock and awe).
One parent put it very well in an e-mail to us, after picking up her son from one of our youth gardening workshops this summer:
When I picked up my son today, I expected to hear exhausted moans… Instead, I got an excited lecture on the process of creating garden beds, and the remarkable biochemistry of mushrooms, and kale-the-miracle-plant. The heat and the blisters took a back-seat to the learning and the satisfaction of doing some good. Thanks for the opportunity! He’ll be back tomorrow am.
Thank YOU, parents, for supporting your children in volunteerism. And an extra special thanks to HON youth volunteers for making this year so memorable and for “Being the Change.” We can’t wait to tackle more amazing projects with you in 2012! (P.S. – A great way to find out what’s going on with the VolunTEEN Program is by following the HON VolunTEEN Facebook page).