Category Archives: Community Partner Spotlight

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?’”

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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.