Category Archives: Community Partner Spotlight

Partner Spotlight: Tennessee Resettlement Aid 

Tennessee Resettlement Aid (TRA) is an organization that began out of compassion. In 2021, founder Katie Finn found herself in the Nashville airport baggage claim area watching refugees arrive with very few belongings begin their lives in Middle Tennessee. She began brainstorming solutions and quickly joined together with Saleem Tahiri and Julie Pine to begin the Tennessee Resettlement Aid.  

TRA is dedicated to meeting the needs of Afghan refugees as they adjust to a new country and new lifestyle. When refugees first arrive in Nashville they are given a federal stipend to spend on clothing, food, and any other needs individuals may have. However, this is not enough to sustain families in the long run, which is where the Tennessee Resettlement Aid steps in.

The organization provides immediate aid to families by giving them food, clothes, English as Secondary Language (ESL) classes, medical and immigration advocacy, transportation, and more. Since its founding, the need for the TRA has only grown to respond to an already overwhelmed resettlement infrastructure. More than 500 Afghan allies have arrived in Nashville, with many more expected in the coming months.

To date, TRA has provided 37 Wi-Fi installations in family homes, 60 bicycles, home goods for 95 families, and 12 washers and dryers installed in refugee’s homes.  

Each week, TRA and its volunteers provide culturally appropriate meals to more than 400 families 

We’re so grateful to welcome the TRA as a Hands On Nashville partner and hope our volunteers can continue to support their ongoing efforts! Click here to learn more

The Tennessee Resettlement Aid was founded in 2021 to offer additional services to Afghan refugees entering Tennessee.

 
Organization: Tennessee Resettlement Aid 

Impact area: Immigrant and Refugee Services 

Mission: Tennessee Resettlement Aid provides direct assistance to our Afghan allies and their families to bridge the gaps in the present refugee resettlement system. They give newly arrived people food, clothing, and household items that are appropriate for their culture, as well as make it easier for them to access other services through partner organizations.  

Contact Information: Email info@tennesseeresettlementaid.org 

Donations & Volunteer opportunities: tennesseeresettlementaid.org 

Partner Spotlight: National Museum of African American Music

In honor of Black History Month we’re excited to spotlight The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), which opened in downtown Nashville in September 2020.

NMAAM is the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced and/or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop.

Using artifacts, objects, memorabilia, clothing and state-of-the-art technology, each of the museum galleries is designed to share a different narrative and a unique perspective on African American music and history.

The museum tells the story of how a distinct group of people used their artistry to impact and change the world. We are honored to partner with the museum, and to help meet their needs through volunteerism.

The National Museum of African American Music is the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced and/or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop. [NMAAAM Photo]

Mission: To educate the world, preserve the legacy, and celebrate the central role African Americans play in creating the American soundtrack.

Hours: The Museum is open 9 am. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Monday, 9AM-5PM.

  • The Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
  • Amplify, the Museum’s gift shop, is open 7 days a week, 10AM-5PM.

Tickets: Tours begin daily at 9 a.m. and occur every half hour.

  • A few notes about your visit to NMAAM: 
  • NMAAM uses timed tickets for tours (self-guided).
  • Estimated tour time is 90 minutes but guests may take as much time as they like to enjoy the galleries
  • When you receive your ticket confirmation, you will be prompted to print your ticket(s) or bring your e-ticket(s) on your phone the day of your visit which we strongly encourage you to do. If you do not bring your printed ticket(s) or e-ticket(s) you will have to come to the NMAAM ticket desk the day of your visit to pick-up your tickets which will delay your ability to begin your tour as scheduled.

Locals can visit free: Through the Nashville Public Library’s Community Passports program, two adults from Davidson County can receive free admission to NMAAM for one visit over a 7-day period. Library card holders can “check out” a passport online, and be placed on the waiting list for when they become available. Learn more here!

Volunteer opportunities: NMAAM offers long-term volunteer opportunities and date and time specific opportunities though the HON website. Click here to see their offerings!

Membership: A NMAAM membership offers special privileges throughout the entire year, including unlimited free admission, access to private exhibitions, discounts at our gift shop and much more! Members can receive customized experiences when viewing exhibitions that bring the American soundtrack to life. We’re devoted to providing members with intimate experiences that will leave them inspired beyond our walls. Additionally, your membership provides vital support for NMAAM’s rich programs, educational opportunities, and community partnerships. View membership options here!

How can you serve your community on MLK Day?

MLK Day is a holiday dedicated to the remembrance and celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Making time to volunteer for this Day of Service is a great way to engage with your community while honoring the legacy of Dr. King. Whether you plan on cleaning up a public space, mentoring a young person, or assisting those who are food insecure, what you do makes a world of difference.

Below we have rounded up a list of MLK Day service projects for the week of Jan. 17-24. To view a full list of HON’s January opportunities, click  here.

If you serve on MLK Day, we want to know! Share your stories on social media using the hashtags #MLKDay and #DayON. 

Collect books for donation with the Safe Haven Black Book Drive 
Safe Haven Family Shelter 
Minimum age: 15+
When: Ongoing until Jan. 31 

Want to support two causes at the same time? Safe Haven Family Shelter is collecting books that feature a civil rights leader and/or about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Volunteer by donating books to children experiencing homelessness and by supporting a Black-owned business!

Pick up debris at the West Nashville Encampment Clean Up 
Shower The People 
Minimum age: 16+
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24

Help Shower the People pick up litter and remove debris from the West Nashville/Brookemeade encampment shelter.  This is an important opportunity to help keep trash out of our local waterways and help our unhoused companions maintain a more suitable living space.

Read books with kids at the McNeilly Book Fair 
McNeilly Center for Children  
Minimum age: 10+
When: 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18

McNeilly Center for Children will need a few volunteers to assist staff during the book fair. Volunteers will help students pick books that interest them, and engage by reading and coloring together.

Remove invasive plants at Shelby Park
Friends of Shelby Park 
Minimum age: 14+
When: 1 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17

Help Friends of Shelby Park eliminate obtrusive plants that are harmful to the environment, human wealth, and/or the economy. Join other volunteers in investing energy and time while removing invasive plants. Snacks, water, and gloves will be provided. 

Maintain trains and keep visitors safe at the ‘Trains!’ exhibit
Adventure Science Center  
Minimum age: 14+
When: Jan. 13 – Jan. 31 

Bring joy to the community by helping the Adventure Science Center with their train exhibit! As a volunteer you will help staff clean and rotate engines, troubleshoot any faulty trains, and monitor the exhibit for safety and cleanliness. No experience necessary!

Beautify the McNeilly Center while learning more about Dr. King
McNeilly Center for Children
Minimum age: 5+
When: 9 a.m. – noon Monday, Jan. 17

Help get the center ready for spring by helping remove graffiti and other markings from the building, and getting the center’s flower planters ready for spring! This event will also include a discussion for volunteers about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s thoughts and teachings about education and childcare with McNeilly Executive Director, Alyssa Dituro. 

Deliver Food to Afghan Refugees
The Branch of Nashville
Minimum age: 12+
When: 5:30-6p.m. on Mondays

Volunteers are needed to pick up pre-made meals from the food bank and deliver them to Afghan families in the Nashville areas. The Branch is partnering with refugee resettlement agencies in Tennessee, and helping provide weekly food support to many of the 400 Afghan allies arriving in the area. 

Virtual Opportunities:

Tutor students through the accelerating scholars program
PENCIL 
Minimum age: 18+
When: Ongoing through Jan. 31

PENCIL is looking for volunteers to assist with reinforcing students’ learning capacities in various subject areas. Since the pandemic progress has slowed for many students, and with this transformative educational tool educators are hoping to get students back on track!

Teach English to adult learners with Conexión Américas!
Conexiόn Amѐricas 
Minimum age: 18+
When: Ongoing through April 20

Conexiόn Amѐricas is enlisting volunteer teachers for the Spring 2022 term for adult English students. Volunteers will provide 1-hour lessons two nights a week for a 12-week term. Educating experience is suggested, but not required for this rewarding experience.  

Sponsor spotlight: Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group

When a tornado devastated parts of Nashville on March 3, 2020, leaders at the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group knew they wanted to do something big to help with the recovery effort. The company donated $120,000 — its largest ever one-time gift — to Hands On Nashville to support its mission to meet community needs through volunteerism. 

“We have been following along with Hands On Nashville’s efforts for years,” says John Gallagher, Vice President and Executive General Manager of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group. “And knowing that recovery from the devastating tornados would take months — if not years —we knew it would require lots of volunteer hours. Hands On Nashville seemed like the perfect fit for our donation.” 

The donation directly supports ongoing tornado-relief efforts, including paying for supplies and staff salaries spent on disaster-recovery activities. 

“The support from the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group is a game-changer for our tornado-relief efforts,” says HON President and CEO Lori Shinton. “Those funds are going directly to recruit and manage volunteers who are doing the important work of helping people put their lives back together after a major disaster.” 

For more than 25 years, Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group has had an active role supporting Middle Tennessee charities.  

From being the first corporation to enroll in Waves Office Recycling Program, to assisting those who lost their vehicles in the 2010 flood, to now supplying personal protective equipment to Williamson Medical Center – DWAG aims to be a company that cares about helping others.  

Gallagher says the company focuses much of its outreach and resources into two major programs, Hometown Heroes and Darrell Waltrip Automotive’s Drive Away Hunger Challenge

Hometown Heroes is a program honoring those who have shown a commitment to serving others and making a difference in their community. Community members nominate individuals, and each month a new hero is selected by DWAG, which makes a $500 donation to the charity of that hero’s choice.  

Volunteers of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group participate in a breast cancer awareness fundraiser.

“One thing we learned through our Hometown Heroes event is just how many amazing people are at work in our communities, and how they are making a difference in big ways,” Gallagher says.  

This spring DWAG had planned to celebrate their 100th hero, but, due to COVID-19, plans have been tentatively postponed until May 2021.  

The company created Drive Away Hunger in 2013 as a fundraising event partnering with Williamson County high schools and GraceWorks. Through Drive Away Hunger, hundreds of thousands of pounds of food have been collected and donated to food pantries throughout Williamson County. The initiative has since expanded to include the Franklin Special School District and Williamson County elementary and middle schools.  

“We are so proud of all we have done in the community, and thankful for our customers who make it all possible,” Gallagher said.  

The automotive group’s first dealership – Darrell Waltrip Honda – opened in 1986. Since then, they’ve opened three more dealerships across Middle Tennessee.  

For more information about Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group’s history of service, click here

Darrell Waltrip Automotive – Disaster Relief Donation To Hands On Nashville

Darrell Waltrip Cares logo

A day on, not a day off: Spend your MLK Day helping others

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20 marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Below we’ve rounded up a list of MLK Day service projects led by HON AmeriCorps members. (To view a full list of HON’s January opportunities, click here.)

If you serve on MLK Day, we want to know! Share your stories on social media using the hashtags #MLKDay and #DayON25.

Pick up litter to keep waterways clean
Richland Creek Watershed Alliance
Minimum age: 18, or 12 with an adult
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Collect your free, reusable #grabthelitter bag and volunteer with Richland Creek Watershed Alliance (RCWA) and pick up litter along the Richland Creek Greenway or in your local neighborhood. Learn how to prevent litter from washing into local streams, creeks, and rivers, and reuse your #grabthelitter bag to continue volunteering all year long.

Assemble furniture for McGruder Family Resource Center
Hands On Nashville
Minimum age: 18
When: 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 20

Build lounge and rocking chairs, side tables, and storage units to help McGruder Family Resource Center spruce up their patio and computer lab areas. These items will allow for easy organization of supplies and offer families that frequent McGruder comfortable places to relax and work. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes and dress comfortably.

Plant a tree and beautify an assisted living center
Cumberland River Compact
Minimum age: 18 or 1 with an adult
When: 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 20

Get ready to get a little dirty and plant some trees with the Cumberland River Compact. Gloves, tools and snacks will be provided. Volunteers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes and bring reusable water bottles.

Round up and recycle with Oak Hill residents
Tennessee Environmental Council
Minimum age: 18 or 12 with an adult
When: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Help educate and assist residents of Oak Hill in recycling at The Tennessee Environmental Council’s recycle round up. Residents will learn about their community’s recycling policies and help residents sort their hard-to-recycle materials (like computers, clothes, and phones.) Volunteers will monitor the recycling and composting stations, and help participants unload recyclables from their vehicles.

Provide shade and filter pollution by planting trees
Nashville Tree Foundation
Minimum age: 16 or 6 with an adult
When: 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18

Trees are being planted at three different Metro Nashville Public School locations in East Nashville. (See the separate registration pages in the link above!) This event is an annual, family-friendly tree planting with the Nashville Tree Foundation. These trees make Nashville a greener community by creating an oxygen-rich environment, and reducing flooding by absorbing great amounts of ground water.

Donate needed items for young adults experiencing homelessness
Hands On Nashville
Minimum age: 18 or 1 with an adult
When: Ongoing though Jan. 17

It only takes a few minutes, but donating electronics, art supplies, personal care items, bottled water, and gift cards can have a big impact for those served by Nashville Launch Pad. Items can be donated at the Hands On Nashville office, 37 Peabody St., before Jan. 18. Read the full list of requested items here.

 

 

Celebrating AmeriCorps’ 25th Anniversary: Q&A with Hands On Nashville’s first AmeriCorps member

The AmeriCorps program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion, we checked in with Susannah Fotopulos, the first AmeriCorps member ever placed at Hands On Nashville. Fotopulos went on to found and direct Plant the Seed, a Nashville nonprofit that provides experiential education to children ages 4-14 through garden-based learning.

When were you an AmeriCorps member? Where did you serve and what role did you have?

In 2003 I served at Hands On Nashville as their inaugural Citizen Action AmeriCorps member. This was a specific type of indirect service position created in partnership with the HandsOn Network and designed to increase volunteer opportunities in HandsOn communities.

How did AmeriCorps prepare you to start Plant the Seed? 

My placement as the first AmeriCorps member at Hands On Nashville was during a time of rapid growth, which gave me an amazing chance to build a program from idea to delivery. It gave me a testing ground to conceive how to address a community need, deliver that program, and evaluate its effectiveness. My AmeriCorps service year was such an amazing way to grow my entrepreneurial spirit!

How does it feel to come full circle with AmeriCorps, having four members serve at your own nonprofit? 

It’s wild! I feel like having four AmeriCorps members is a cool indicator of our growth and a marker of scale and legitimacy in our ability to manage AmeriCorps members. I also see it as a way for Plant the Seed to live out our mission of being a learning organization by helping young adults develop the skills and next steps for their careers.

What’s something you are looking forward to teaching these members that you took from your own experience with AmeriCorps?  

I hope these new AmeriCorps members learn flexibility, gratitude, resilience, how to create something they can call their own, how to bring an open mind to new learning opportunities, and how to feel like they have made a legitimate difference to effect positive change in the world.

Resolve to Serve Stories: Nashville Clean Water Project

Walk around nearly any Nashville neighborhood, and you’ll see how the area earned its “It City” nickname. New construction and increased traffic are daily symptoms of a growing population. Unfortunately, increasing pollution levels in Middle Tennessee waterways are also a result.

Enter the Nashville Clean Water Project (NCWP). In 2017, the organization launched the Adopt-A-Storm-Drain Program, which includes an online database that maps the city’s thousands of storm drains. Individuals, local businesses, housing associations and any other Nashvillians can adopt location-specific storm drains. By committing to checking drains for debris, litter, construction site runoff and pollution, adopters help clean water flow into local lakes, rivers and streams while improving the region’s environmental health.

“The importance of the project inspired me,” said Jana DeLuna, a volunteer who adopted more than 30 storm drains in her Donelson neighborhood. “We all want clean water to use in our homes and offices – and every citizen can play a role in environmental preservation. It is super easy to take a walk with a trash bag and clean while I walk. The drains are in a short distance of my home, and I check them in the mornings on my day off.”

 

 

Mark Thein, executive director of NCWP, shared that one of the program’s top intentions is to help spread awareness about water quality and environmental health. “Our goal has been to reach new advocates,” said Thien. “99 percent of adopters were not previously engaged in Nashville’s clean water cause.”

For example, in two neighborhoods, housing associations (HOAs) stepped up to adopt 100 percent of local storm drains. Drain adoptions give HOAs and employers a quick way to engage in social responsibility without committing an unsustainable amount of time.

NCWP volunteers are advancing the way environmental fieldwork takes place. By adopting a storm drain near your home or place of work, spreading the word with friends and neighbors, or encouraging your neighborhood or housing association to get involved, it’s easy to help build a cleaner, greener future in Middle Tennessee.

The Nashville Clean Water Project provides residents and corporations across Middle Tennessee a platform to demonstrate environmental dedication and service commitments. To continue the conversation or set up a meeting with an HOA or community organization, reach out to the NCWP today

Resolve to Serve Stories: Preston Taylor Ministries

Every day, Hands On Nashville’s community partners and volunteer community build stronger communities through service. HON celebrates these partners through Resolve to Serve Stories. We’re inspired by their work, their missions and their dedication – and invite you to get involved.

The night before Preston Taylor Ministries’ annual Nativity Store, staff members were putting in late hours to set up the space. Maggie Tucker, owner of the local children’s boutique Magpies, stopped by to drop off donations.

“She walked in and she could tell what was going on,” said Bethany Jones, Site Director Mt. Nebo and Volunteer Coordinator at Preston Taylor Ministries (PTM). “She took off her coat and asked: ‘What can I do?’”

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

At its core, Preston Taylor Ministries focuses on building relationships. Through tutoring, mentoring and events, the agency helps empower children and youth. For example, PTM’s Nativity Store serves more than 300 children per year. Parents are invited to shop from donations of clothes, toys and games, while children play with games and crafts in the space. Volunteers help engage children, maintain the store and wrap gifts.

The day before the Nativity Store, PTM hosted a separate holiday shopping event and gift-wrapping party for 90 youth. Magpies served as a 2017 event sponsor, and Tucker arrived as staff worked to transition the space. “She stayed for several hours to help set up,” said Jones. “She had great ideas and was encouraging to be around. What more could you want, when you have several people inexperienced in retail, and someone who owns a retail store walks in?”

Following her involvement with the Nativity Store, Maggie Tucker became a long-term volunteer with PTM’s Lunchmate Mentoring program. As Jones shared, PTM offers volunteer opportunities to fit any schedule, but mentors tend to stay involved with the agency for longer periods of time.

“We have a lot of volunteers who might, for example, know how to play chess, and begin leading a chess club at our after-school program,” said Jones. “Through the Lunchmate program, we’ve had kids who begin in the second grade, then graduate to our middle school and high school programs, and remain in touch with their mentors.”

Whether she’s working on the Nativity Store or showing up each week as a Lunchmate Mentor, volunteers like Maggie help PTM fulfill its mission in the community. Thank you, PTM staff and volunteers, for all you do!

Preston Taylor Ministries (PTM) empowers children and youth to discover and live their God-inspired dreams, develop a love for learning, and build joy-filled friendships. Browse all opportunities to volunteer with PTM.

Excellence in Volunteer Engagement awarded to 7 Nashville nonprofits

Nashville, Tenn. – October 24, 2017 – Dismas House of NashvilleFannie Battle Day Home for Children, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, Inc., Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee, Nashville Humane Association, Nashville Wine Auction and Project C.U.R.E. were recognized today for Excellence in Volunteer Engagement (EVE) certification at the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM). Through EVE, a partnership between CNM, Hands On Nashville (HON) and the Mayor’s Office, Middle Tennessee nonprofits with outstanding volunteer management programs are recognized and celebrated.

“EVE not only recognizes the nonprofits and volunteers doing incredible work in our city, but also the strong, productive relationships that grow from putting excellent management strategies in place,” said Tari Hughes, president and CEO of CNM.

EVE certification is awarded twice annually to nonprofits that adhere to volunteer management best practices, including conducting volunteer orientations and including a volunteer program component in the organization’s strategic plan. A nonprofit’s certification lasts two years and is then eligible for renewal. In total, 61 organizations are currently EVE certified.

“Nonprofits rely on volunteers for day-to-day support, as well as long-term capacity building,” said HON President and CEO Lori Shinton. “Our EVE-certified partners expertly engage volunteers to support their respective missions while empowering individuals to build stronger communities.

The next round of EVE applications will be accepted in the spring via http://www.hon.org/EVE. Any nonprofit agency in Davidson County may apply.

View the full list of EVE-certified nonprofits.

Why Nashville Public Library’s volunteers keep coming back

There’s no limit to what dedicated volunteers can accomplish in a day. Some projects require a longer time commitment, however – days, weeks or even months. The Nashville Public Library (NPL) knows this divide well, as 90 percent of its volunteer opportunities require long-term support.

NPL recognizes an annual “Volunteer of the Year” to help thank dedicated community members for their work. Long-term volunteer Julia Jones was awarded the title in 2017.

Julia
Julia Jones, NPL Volunteer of the Year 2017

Jones’ nomination highlights both her commitment to service and her valued role at the library:

“At the core of everything Julia does is her kindness, devotion, sensitivity, free-spiritedness, and a wonderful sense of humor. She warmly welcomes each and every guest at story time and other children’s events, addressing the children and their parents by name and showing genuine interest in them. She sings, she dances, she laughs, and in so doing, encourages the children and their caregivers to sing and dance and laugh. She encourages participants to explore the collection, recommends materials, and helps them locate those items in the library. She walks them to the door, helps them carry personal belongings, and makes patrons feel they are part of a big, Donelson family.”

– Kathryn Shaw, Donelson Branch Library Volunteer Leader

NPL lists all long-term volunteer opportunities on hon.org, and many volunteers and staff members recruit friends and family through word of mouth, adding to the sense of community among those who support the library.

“We feel such a sense of gratitude for people coming together in the community to help the library. It’s really humbling,” said Amy Pierce, volunteer services supervisor at Nashville Public Library. With long-term volunteer support, the library can offer unique services, such as the Talking Library – a program with two staffers and more than 70 volunteers, through which vision-impaired patrons can listen to volunteers read newspapers, books and more.

Volunteers must provide background checks before working at NPL, and using the library system requires training. Initially, library staff implemented the 50-hour rule to help conserve resources. However, long-term volunteering creates a sense of support and fulfillment over time.

“We work with volunteers and staff to find times that work, and allow volunteers to continue on a schedule,” said Amy Pierce, volunteer services supervisor at Nashville Public Library. “We require all volunteers to commit 50 hours of service. Often, they hit a rhythm and keep going. Many volunteers have been with us for years; last year, a volunteer hit more than 10,000 hours.”

What could your organization accomplish with a fleet of long-term volunteers?

Post your long-term opportunities on hon.org and find out today.