Strobel Finalists 2023: Capacity-building Volunteer

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Capacity-building Volunteer category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 at the button below!

Charu Balamurugan 
Volunteers with Dismas House

Charu Balamurugan is a volunteer at Dismas House, a residential reentry program for men leaving Tennessee state prisons and county jails. The men who arrive at the organization have experienced trauma, either due to their incarceration or from their lives prior to incarceration. Using her talents, Charu built a curriculum for a Music and Wellness Program that guides residents through the creative process in order to promote healing. The impressive program she created accommodates participants’ varying levels of musical and technological experience and structures the class so that residents with no musical ability would be able to not only participate but succeed.  

“It gives our residents the opportunity to create something truly unique that they can share with others. Residents are always beaming in the class and are proud to show off their finished song,” Charu’s nominator said about the Music Program. 

In addition to her work on the course, Charu has made great administrative contributions to Dismas House. She has helped to streamline its documentation process, creating an easy-to-use system for checking program attendance for individual residents. Through trial and error, she has refined the previous documentation system by doing the difficult and tedious task of identifying where data has been duplicated in the system and correct it. This has saved case manager’s precious time that could be better spent with residents. In conjunction with this, Charu also helped develop a handout for residents to help ensure that they stay on track for graduation from the program. 

“Charu is always supportive to our residents, has an amazing attitude every day, and has truly gone above and beyond in her service to Dismas,” Charu’s nominator said. 

Ingrid Campbell 
Volunteers with McNeilly Center for Children

Ingrid Campbell is an integral part of the team at McNeilly Center for Children. Since becoming a board member, she has taken the organization to new heights. Not only does she attend every single event, but her commitment and enthusiasm have inspired others to get involved with the clients the Center serves. Whether she is dropping off a pair of shoes, helping coordinate tree plantings, reading with children or lighting a fire under the community for McNeilly, she consistently holds steady and true. 

With Ingrid’s guidance, McNeilly Center for Children has been able to partner with several organizations throughout the community to increase involvement and double its fundraising. Ingrid connected McNeilly with Patchwork Nashville to provide 200 meals to families per week and worked with Root Nashville to plant 75 new trees on the organization’s campus. She helped McNeilly reach new levels of excellence, introducing new partnerships that doubled fundraising and helped bring diversity to the board. The organization is also in the process of becoming recognized as a historical site with Ingrid’s help. “Ingrid is the most humble, hardworking and dedicated person I have ever met,” Ingrid’s nominator said. “She is passionate about her community, is clear on her goals, and is consistent. She uses her platform to help elevate every person in her community. She makes me believe that the work I do matters to those we serve and the community at large.”  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

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