Category Archives: Resolve to Serve Stories

Resolve to Serve Stories: Doing Good

For nonprofits, the quest to get professional, effective brand messages out to the community takes time and resources that are sometimes hard to come by. That’s where Doing Good comes in.

Doing Good, founded in 2014 by Megan McInnis, pairs media-savvy volunteers with nonprofits in need of communications tools and resources. The organization is powered by volunteers with experience in marketing, public relations, and other skilled fields.

“Long-term volunteers are incredibly valued at Doing Good,” said McInnis, who serves as the organization’s president. “We try to match our volunteers with how Doing Good can benefit them.”

One volunteer, Charley Arrigo, joined Doing Good as a social media volunteer. Arrigo was also working as a courier and trying to figure out his career. He developed into Doing Good’s “Twitter Guru,” McInnis said, and organically increased the organization’s following to more than 1,200 from 200.

Arrigo had such a positive experience as a Doing Good volunteer that he decided to pursue a career in social media and marketing. He has since moved to Washington, D.C., where he landed a full-time job in marketing.

McInnis said that some volunteers, like Arrigo, come to Doing Good seeking résumé-building experience, while others are more interested in finding out about the variety of nonprofits in Middle Tennessee.

“Some want to use their talents for good, some simply want to give back, and others want to meet like-minded people,” McInnis said.

Some creative long-term roles at Doing Good include graphic designer, marketing committee member, video producer, public relations consultant, and grant writer.

“Doing Good spends time up front with each volunteer to talk about what they are looking for and how Doing Good can help,” McInnis said. When the volunteer is better matched up front, she said, the volunteer, nonprofit, and community benefit.

 

Marketing PR Conference for Nonprofits 

Doing Good is hosting a marketing and PR conference for nonprofits. 

When: Oct. 11 from 1-5 p.m.  

Where: TBD 

To register: Sign up here or email director@doinggood.tv for details 

Doing Good’s mission is to educate and engage communities by promoting and celebrating “Doing Good” through volunteerism. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Doing Good here. 

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Resolve to Serve Stories: Insight Counseling Centers

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.

Victoria Driver, one of Insight Counseling Centers' first VIPs
Victoria Driver, one of Insight Counseling Centers’ first VIPs

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.

 

Resolve to Serve Stories: Project Return

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.

Resolve to Serve Stories: Begin Anew of Middle Tennessee

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.”

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Casey Enright, Founder and Executive Director of The Word Wagon

“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.

Resolve to Serve Stories: YMCA of Middle Tennessee

“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.

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Larry, mentor at YMCA’s Reach & Rise Program 

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.

Resolve to Serve Stories: SCORE 

A teacher stands in front of you; a coach stands behind you; a mentor stands beside you.

Mentorship, and the above interpretation, was on Nick Taras’ mind as he prepared to retire. His more-than-40-year career in food distribution took him from cleaning floors at his grandfather’s business to running Nashville’s SYSCO branch. As he moved toward his next chapter, he sought to align his passion for food service with giving back to the community.

Teaming up with SCORE, which pairs business mentors with entrepreneurs and small businesses, Nick began “walking beside” his mentees on their journeys to business success. He watches their awareness and understanding develop while working collaboratively to move toward their goals.

“Certain mentees stand out to me for different reasons,” said Nick. “Not because they built monster companies, but because they built their awareness, understood the process and connected with customers. I’ve worked with immigrants launching businesses while speaking English as a second language, individuals trying to reinvent themselves with second or third careers, mentees who saved headaches and money by realizing a new business idea wasn’t the right fit, co-mentor partnerships – each opportunity has been unique.”

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SCORE hosts training and networking sessions for mentors.

“Nick has a natural way of relating to clients at all levels and helping them reach pragmatic business decisions,” said Lisa O’Dell, a senior Nashville SCORE mentor. “His can-do and upbeat attitude engages clients and helps keep them positive, even when working through the most difficult issues.”

Navigating the transition to retirement can be daunting. Volunteering can serve as an ideal bridge, allowing individuals to use and build professional skills while enjoying a flexible schedule and the satisfaction of helping others.

“Since I’ve gotten into the retirement world, it’s amazing how many of my friends who are thinking about retirement want to engage in conversation about it,” said Nick. “I was fortunate to have people in my life who provided examples I could learn from. This made for a great transition – after planning my exit strategy for two years, I had options ready to go.”

For those considering the transition to retirement, long-term volunteering opportunities can help individuals find their passion in service. By leveraging professional experience or building new skills while serving the community, volunteers build unmatched capacity for community organizations.

SCORE fosters vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. The Nashville chapter serves the 30 counties that comprise Middle Tennessee, providing workshops and one-on-one mentoring. 

Browse all long-term and skilled volunteer opportunities with HON partners.

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: Nashville Adult Literacy Council

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.

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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.

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.