By Natalie Hurd
Last August, Hands On Nashville welcomed a new class of AmeriCorps members to serve on our environmental, youth and education, and corporate teams. With the team nearing the end of the service year, they’re sharing their experiences, lessons learned and favorite memories.
As an AmeriCorps member, Breanna Rack helped direct corporate projects and create partnerships between businesses and community organizations. Now, as her AmeriCorps term comes to an end, she’s embracing a new role – as manager of HON’s corporate partner program.
Is there a community project in the past six months that particularly resonated with you? Why?
Our project with Jackson National Life Insurance at Maplewood High School built capacity for two student-led community initiatives: Project LIT Community and the Garden Club. Project LIT Community installs mini-libraries in barbershops, restaurants and community centers, focusing on neighborhoods that don’t have easy access to a public library. Volunteers built 27 libraries for Project LIT Community and sorted more than 10,000 donated books. Volunteers also created a pumpkin patch for the school garden for students to seed and have pumpkins ready to sell this fall.
What about the most rewarding?
Seeing tangible outcomes at the end of every volunteer project. I’ve always enjoyed working with people, and I love working with enthusiastic volunteers who want to make a difference and see that change at the end of the day.
This spring, at a school in south Nashville, we created a rain garden outside a classroom that constantly gets flooded. Knowing that the work we do makes a tangible difference and improves the lives and work of people in the organizations we serve makes each day rewarding.
Can you share some advice for someone who is considering AmeriCorps or nonprofit work?
Nonprofits demand a really diverse skill set, which can be challenging at first but rewarding in the long run. AmeriCorps is a great way to learn a lot of skills in a short amount of time, and hone in on what strengths you bring to an organization. AmeriCorps members also get to see the direct impact of our work on a daily basis.
What is your favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Nashville?
I’m a big brunch-er, so any brunch spot or coffee shop is my favorite place to be on a Sunday, followed by a walk in one of our local parks!
What’s something you didn’t expect about living in Nashville?
I was pleasantly surprised to see the cultural diversity. I moved here from Orlando, which is a very diverse city, and I was nervous about how I would find that community here as well. I enjoy getting to explore the neighborhoods and see what they have to offer because they are all so different and have such unique personalities.
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