It’s here — our guide to where you can donate items this holiday season to help out many of our partner nonprofits! We’ve rounded up some of their most urgent needs at the link below. From books to gloves to hearing aids, no donation is too small.
GeekCause matches Nashville’s most talented techies with community partners in need of their services. From tech consultation to solution implementation, GeekCause provides a low-cost platform for agencies to solve tech-based challenges through the support of skilled volunteers. The HON team periodically shares fun GeekCause project highlights to help show how skilled volunteers are having an impact in the community.
Nashville Launch Pad, an LGBTQ-affirming shelter for young adults experiencing homelessness, came to GeekCause looking for an easy way for guests to make reservations online and to begin collecting data about their visitors’ needs.
After a consultation with the GeekCause team, the nonprofit was paired with Acklen Avenue, a local software development company with a heart for service.
“Acklen Avenue treated us as they would the highest of high-end clients,” says Nashville Launch Pad Executive Director Ty Brown. “No question was unimportant, no detail too small. Everyone was friendly and able to make an extremely complex process feel simple and even fun.”
After Launch Pad and Acklen connected, the volunteer team began by assessing the nonprofit’s needs, formulating a plan, and then set to work creating a solution. The app launched in December, and volunteers have continued to make adjustments to the app as needed.
“The experience with Launch Pad was extraordinary,” says Rony Vidaur, a software engineer at Acklen. “Working on the project felt good not only because it was something we were all interested in creating, but also because we knew the project was going to be open-source, meaning our work had the potential to reach an even greater number of people.”
The AA team showed a phenomenal level of commitment to the project, Brown said. Now, it takes only a few minutes to show volunteers and clients how to use the app, and to utilize the data to continue serving clients to the best of Launch Pad’s ability.
Could your nonprofit use some tech help? Does your tech-savvy work team want to give back to the community? Learn more about GeekCause here.
It’s (almost) back-to-school time! College service fairs are a great chance for your nonprofit to connect with students and share your volunteer and intern opportunities. Please email the contact listed for each school in order to register your agency.
August 14: Fisk Volunteer Fair
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Contact: Tashaye Woods (firstname.lastname@example.org)
August 28: Vanderbilt Service Organization Fair
Contact: Meagan Smith (email@example.com)
August 28: Tigers Day Out at Tennessee State University
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Contact: Shirley Nix-Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
September 3: Trevecca Volunteer Fair
Contact: Daniel Neiderhiser (email@example.com)
September 4: Lipscomb Volunteer Fair
9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Contact: Christin Schatzer (Christin.firstname.lastname@example.org)
September 12: Nashville State Resource Awareness and Volunteer Day
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Contact: Evelyn Hadley (email@example.com)
September 30: Belmont Community Connections Fair
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Contact: Tim Stewart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Does your Middle Tennessee college or university have a service fair you’d like us to include in this roundup? Let us know!
At Insight Counseling Centers, VIPs are more than just celebrities (though they’re still very important people). Volunteer Intake Practitioners (VIPs) serve as the front line for Insight. They field callers’ questions, conduct intake interviews, and match new clients with the right mental health professionals.
Formerly known as the Pastoral Counseling Centers of Tennessee, Insight Counseling Centers offers spiritually integrative counseling services for individuals, couples, and families. The organization also offers training and mental health awareness education.
As one of the first volunteers in the Intake Department, VIP Victoria Driver began taking potential clients’ phone calls. Victoria learned Insight’s electronic medical records software in order to enter client information and make appointments, and then offered to help Insight’s Financial Coordinator, Brydget Carrillo, with additional tasks. Driver developed an integral front-of-house role to include indispensable behind-the-scenes service.
“We rely on her, and she does not disappoint,” Carrillo said of Driver. “Whenever I volunteer, Victoria is the person I want to emulate.”
While volunteers support Insight, Insight supports its volunteers. Many VIPs hope to someday become counselors themselves, and Insight gives them practical experience in a unique and progressive agency. Volunteers also often connect with Insight’s mission because their family members, or they themselves, have healed through counseling. At Insight, they’re able to give back the life-changing and life-saving service they received.
Volunteers like Driver have helped extend Insight’s reach in Middle Tennessee. Since 1985, Insight has expanded to eight centers throughout the area and delivers 5,000 hours of counseling each year. Insight’s Advisory Council meets monthly to promote community outreach and to fundraise for the organization’s financial assistance program. In 2016, volunteers on the council contributed to a 46 percent increase to the financial assistance provided between 2015 and 2016.
Insight Counseling Centers provides quality, spiritually integrative mental health counseling services for individuals, couples, and families; training for professionals; and mental health awareness education for communities in Middle Tennessee. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Insight here.
Photos courtesy of Insight Counseling Centers.
Ever felt nervous before a job interview? Imagine going into a prospective employer’s office after weeks, months, or even years of isolation from the world.
Project Return supports people returning from incarceration and reintegrating into our community. As the agency’s 2017 Annual Report notes, “Employment is the paramount predictor of their good future, and wraparound support is imperative.” With this in mind, Project Return delivers a holistic job-readiness program. The program emphasizes many facets of employment success and features classes on financial literacy, body language during interviews, and best practices for discussing one’s conviction history with potential employers. The agency also hosts mock interviews.
Mock interviews have become one of the program’s most valuable services, and they’re powered by volunteers. Participants meet with their assigned volunteer interviewers, discuss potential job types, and practice the skills they’ve learned in class.
Many of these volunteers are full-time employees themselves. Project Return boasts an extensive corporate volunteer résumé, with companies like IQ Talent Partners and Eventbrite channeling their social responsibility programs through the agency. Corporate volunteers find that Project Return offers flexible schedules without a huge time commitment. Some volunteers even come in on their lunch breaks! Since December, volunteer participation has doubled.
Christine Meyer, Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Project Return, hypothesized that volunteer interest stems from the opportunities for proximity and connection: “The interesting thing about [Project Return] is that volunteers are really engaging with participants. One on one, they make an impact – they see the progress participants are making and share stories. John that you mock interviewed two weeks ago got a job and he’s really excited!”
As volunteer numbers continue to increase, so does Project Return’s outreach. Many volunteers return on a weekly basis, and new volunteers reach out to Project Return through HON each month. In 2017, Project Return provided its signature services to nearly 1,000 men and women who were starting their lives over after prison.
Project Return’s return on investment in its clients is high: the agency consistently achieves a less-than 15% re-incarceration rate (as compared to 47% statewide and 57% nationwide). As for employment outcomes, research shows that 60-75% of people coming out of prison will remain unemployed for the first 12 months of freedom; however, the employment rate at Project Return exceeds 80%.
Project Return provides services and connects people with resources needed to return successfully to work and community after incarceration. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Project Return here.
Photos courtesy of Project Return.
Only one in 300 children living in a low-income neighborhood owns an age-appropriate book. One.
While completing her undergraduate studies at Belmont, Casey Enright was moved by this statistic – and in response, she founded The Word Wagon, a nonprofit that promotes childhood literacy by providing reading opportunities and reading materials for children who lack access to books. To reach its target audience, The Word Wagon partners with Begin Anew, which serves men and women in Middle Tennessee living in poverty.
With a mobile library in tow, Casey reads to all of the children while their parents attend Begin Anew’s adult education classes. The Word Wagon enhances Begin Anew’s Program by allowing each child to take home a bundle of books to read with his or her parents, allowing Begin Anew’s ESL students to bond with their children as they continue to learn the English language and practice reading at home.
As The Word Wagon and Begin Anew work together, both organizations find new ways to fulfill their missions through partnership. In October, at The Church at Woodbine’s Fall Fiesta, supported by Begin Anew, Casey set up the Word Wagon on a remarkably cold day. Her enthusiasm, despite the weather, engaged several new families in the community who came to the event, establishing meaningful community relationships while promoting literacy. Said Begin Anew Program Director Charlotte Hanson, “Casey’s work has a great impact on building connections between our ministry and the neighborhood.”
“Taking a leap of faith to launch The Word Wagon was the scariest “yes,” but the best “yes” I could have ever said!” said Casey. We couldn’t agree more – thank you for your service, Casey!
Begin Anew empowers individuals to overcome the obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources. The faith-based educational program and missional, life-changing community is composed of more than 250 champions (volunteers) and a ministry staff. Each volunteer dedicates their time and energy to offer mercy and care. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Begin Anew here.
Photos courtesy of The Word Wagon.
“Many mentors show up wanting to make an impact on a child’s life,” said Larry, a volunteer for YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Reach and Rise Program. “My role is to share positive encouragement as a mentee finds his own direction.”
During most of his professional career, Larry called the shots. After retiring from nearly 20 years in an executive position, he became a volunteer youth mentor in the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Reach and Rise Program. Larry quickly took a backseat approach, giving his mentee the space to articulate needs and drive their connection.
Cassanora Lampley, Reach and Rise Program Director at the YMCA, said this dynamic is common among mentor-mentee relationships. “Mentors enter the program expecting that youth will benefit from their influence, but our adult participants truly learn and grow,” she said. Mentors like Larry meet with their mentees once per week for a year, with additional activities taking place in group settings. Together, the pairs work to progress toward mentees’ physical, academic, emotional, and/or spiritual goals.
In one partnership, Larry’s mentee entered the program when his mother hoped to introduce positive male role models into his life. Their age difference was significant – Larry in his 60s, his mentee in his teens – but the two recognized common interests, such as a love of playing musical instruments, which began to set the tone for their outings.
Larry represents a portion of the Reach and Rise Program’s core volunteers: retired professionals who seek meaningful ways to spend their time. Young professionals looking to give back are also centric to the program.
Volunteering for Reach and Rise is a long-term engagement, and approximately 80 percent of participants connect to the opportunity through Hands On Nashville. “If it weren’t for our partnership with HON, we likely wouldn’t have the consistent volunteer engagement that drives our work,” said Lampley. Due to such engagement, the program helps youth gain perspective and support for pressures and challenges in their lives, while providing motivation for mentees to reach their greatest potential.
The YMCA strives to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. In that Christian principles are caring and inclusive, the Y respects various expressions of religion and serves people from all faith traditions and perspectives. Browse all volunteer opportunities with the YMCA.
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.
Imagine not being able to read. Imagine not being able to speak or understand the English language. Imagine not being able to fill out a job application or communicate with your doctor. Imagine never having a chance for a better job or job promotion. Imagine not being able to help your children with their homework or not being able to attend a parent-teacher conference. Imagine having to rely on someone to pay your bills for you because you can’t read them. Imagine the feeling of your children asking for a bedtime story, and you are unable to read to them.
Imagine yourself changing someone’s life.
Last year, the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC) worked with hundreds of volunteers to help nearly 1,700 adults learn reading, writing, conversational skills and information about U.S. citizenship. Most of the agency’s volunteers do not come from a professional teaching background. Through NALC’s training, individuals become one-on-one tutors who help adults in Nashville become successful, thriving parts of the community.
Julie Kramer, ELL Specialist at NALC, manages the one-on-one tutoring program for adult immigrants. She draws from her own personal experience as an example of what volunteering for NALC means.
“I worked in the corporate travel industry for 30 years, but wanted to find a meaningful volunteer opportunity that would directly benefit someone,” says Julie. “I never thought of myself as a teacher and never thought I’d be teaching anybody anything, but I decided to get outside of my comfort zone to help someone in the Nashville community. I was pretty unsure of myself in the beginning.”
Julie’s first student was a biology teacher from Egypt, who was working in hotel housekeeping at the time. As the student gained proficiency with his English skills, he became more confident and landed a job in a biology lab. Though Julie met with her student in Antioch, Julie lived in Bellevue and worked near Nashville International Airport.
One in eight Nashville adults is functionally illiterate, and 12 percent of Nashville’s population was born outside of the United States. With more than 100 people on NALC’s waiting list, the need for one-on-one tutors is great, especially in the Antioch and south Nashville areas of the city.
Julie says, “I felt like this was the most rewarding volunteer experience I had ever had, so much so that I decided to change careers to work with adult immigrants who were learning English. I knew I had found my calling right away.” Now, she manages the program.
It wasn’t just Julie’s calling. The entire Nashville Adult Literacy Council staff began their work as volunteer tutors, many after careers in completely different fields.
Consider stepping outside of your neighborhood and meeting someone you would never come in contact with in your everyday life. NALC has trained accountants, IT professionals, college students, FBI investigators, doctors, project managers, waiters, scientists, homemakers, and healthcare workers to help adults learn to read and improve English skills.
Over and over, volunteers state they get more out of the experience than the learners. Participants enjoy the experience while making a huge difference in someone’s life.
The Nashville Adult Literacy Council is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to teaching reading to U.S.-born adults and English skills to adult immigrants. The agency’s vision is for all to learn and for all to help build a community of adults empowered through literacy. Browse all volunteer opportunities with NALC and visit the agency’s website for upcoming volunteer training dates.
Nashville, Tenn. – October 24, 2017 – Dismas House of Nashville, Fannie 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.
The Adventure Science Center, Monroe Harding, NeedLink Nashville and the Sexual Assault Center were recognized for Excellence in Volunteer Engagement (EVE) certification today at the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM). EVE is a unique cross-sector partnership between CNM, Hands On Nashville (HON), and the Mayor’s Office, recognizing Middle Tennessee nonprofits with excellence volunteer management programs.
“Volunteers are critical to the success of so many nonprofits, and that is why it is so important for nonprofits to put processes for best-practice volunteer management in place. I am proud that CNM partners with HON and the Mayor’s Office to recognize such achievement in our local nonprofits,” said CNM President and CEO Tari Hughes.
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, 68 organizations are currently EVE certified.
“Hands On Nashville celebrates the dedication it takes to transform volunteer support into capacity,” said HON President and CEO Lori Shinton. “We’re thrilled to support our partners as they engage volunteers to fulfill their missions.”
The next round of EVE applications will be accepted in the fall via http://www.hon.org/EVE. Any nonprofit agency in Davidson County may apply.
View the full list of EVE-certified nonprofits.