Category Archives: Skilled volunteerism

NIC Inc. specialists assist Alive Hospice in increasing capacity for health care students

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 GeekCause project highlights to help show how skilled volunteers are having an impact in the community. 

Alive Hospice is a Middle Tennessee-based nonprofit that provides compassionate end-of-life care, palliative care, bereavement support, and community education. Each year, they engage hundreds of college students studying healthcare to help them learn about end-of-life care and gain real-life work experience.  

Prior to this year, members of the Alive team manually scheduled and tracked students’ progress within their Institute, and spent weeks compiling student data at the end of each semester. 

But they knew there had to be a better way. So they reached out to GeekCause to see if  skilled volunteers could help them find a solution. 

GeekCause paired Alive with volunteers from NIC Inc., the nation’s largest provider of government websites and digital services. NIC volunteers brought expansive knowledge of data storage and management solutions to the table — a great fit for Alive’s needs.  

The team of volunteers worked with the hospice provider to envision a solution for registering students and creating an all-in-one platform for them to enroll and assist with a variety of roles within the company. 

The registration portal feeds into a database that stores students’ data, allowing them to sign agreement forms virtually, sign up for shifts, and log other relevant information in the database. Volunteers were able to build a cloud-based storage system, which Alive can maintain for a low monthly fee. 

“With our complex needs, they were able to deliver an automated student onboarding platform that we’ll start using for fall registrations,” says Debbra Warden, Director of Contracting, Quality and Data Analytics at Alive Hospice. “The GeekCause team was wonderful to work with and accommodated our multiple requests for changes while we worked through our needs. They did everything with a smile every single time.” 

Deb Kilpatrick, a Project Manager with NIC Inc., led the volunteer team through the project. She and her team are proud of what they have been able to accomplish despite this year’s challenging circumstances.  

“We’re really just grateful the MSP (Microservice Platform) team had the opportunity to give back to our community,” Kilpatrick says. “Alive Hospice does so much to support those in unimaginable situations, and they handle themselves with such care and grace. We sincerely hope the effort our team has provided is a benefit and helps to simplify scheduling student experiences so they can focus on what they do best.” 

By tracking students’ progress through the Alive Institute, Alive staff will be able to more easily give educated, informative feedback to students’ professors, and use their data to apply for future funding opportunities. 

More about the Alive Hospice Institute 

Currently, Alive Hospice offers observational experiences for students enrolled in professional health care programs at Belmont University, Lipscomb University, Meharry Medical College, Middle Tennessee State University, Motlow Community College, Vanderbilt University, and University of Tennessee. 

While working with the Institute, students are under the direct supervision of a health care professional at Alive Hospice. This provides students the opportunity to begin understanding how Alive provides care to those with life-threatening illnesses, supporting patients’ families, and how Alive Hospice provides service to the community in a spirit of enriching lives. 

Did you know? Skilled tech volunteers have contributed 1,368 hours of service so far this year and provided the equivalent of $144,000 in services and support to our community partners! 🤯🤯🤯 

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. 

Cheers to the outgoing 2019-2020 AmeriCorps members!

It is hard to believe August is nearly halfway over, which means it’s time to say goodbye to the 2019-2020 HON AmeriCorps cohort. For the past year, the HON AmeriCorps program engaged 19 civic-minded individuals in a yearlong term of service at local nonprofits. They received skills training, professional development, and networking opportunities, while building programmatic capacity at the agencies they supported. 

Between the devastating March 3 tornado and the communitywide impacts of COVID-19, this has been a challenging year. These AmeriCorps members have proven to be creative, resilient, and impactful in the face of these challenges, and they stepped up to lead in a time of crisis in our community.  

Please join us in wishing them well and read on to learn more about their most memorable experiences and teachable moments, and how the nonprofiteers at the organizations where they served feel about them. We could not be more grateful for this group, and they will all be dearly missed!  

Let’s hear from the leaders at the agencies where they served  

Ellen Barker, Community Partner Engagement Leader at Hands On Nashville

“Ellen has been a true joy to serve alongside for the past year. Every aspect of our operation she’s been involved with has been improved. I cannot image the last year with her as part of the team. Her spirit and willingness to learn will be dearly missed.” — Drew Himsworth (Community Partner Coordinator, Hands On Nashville) 

Paige Dawson, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator at Tennessee Environmental Council

“Paige’s infinite positivity and incredible work ethic will certainly be missed here! Oh, and let’s not forget all the entertaining animal rescue stories … A compassionate spirit, that one.  Incredibly quick learning and efficient.” – Julia Weber (Program Manager, Tennessee Environmental Council)   

Mary Eaton, Volunteer Outreach Leader at Hands On Nashville

“When the tornado hit in March, HON was inundated with emails and social media messages from people wanting to help and looking for access to services. Mary helped our team navigate and respond to thousands of inquiries, all while working a second job. She brings levity and humor to everything she does, and we’re so excited to see what her future holds!” — Lindsey Turner (Director of Communications, Hands On Nashville) 

Hayley Elliott, Volunteer Project Leader at Hands On Nashville 

“Hayley is a wonderful team member — always up for a challenge (hello, chainsaw!), ready to pitch in and work wherever needed, warm, funny, dedicated, and thoughtful about how she carries out her responsibilities. We’ll miss her terribly. She’s going to be a great success in the field of nonprofit management, and anyone who works with her will be fortunate to have her!” – Karin Weaver (Corporate Project Manager, Hands On Nashville) 

Samantha Estes, Citizen Science and Volunteer Restoration Project Coordinator at Harpeth Conservancy

“Samantha has been a pleasure to work with during her time at Harpeth Conservancy. Her passion and work ethic helped us develop a well-rounded volunteer engagement program and communication strategy.” — Ryan W. Jackwood, Director of Watershed Science & Restoration

Katin Liphart, Watershed Education and Renewal Coordinator at Richland Creek Watershed Alliance

“All programs outcomes and outputs have close to doubled with Katin on our team. She brought skills, commitment, team work, dedication and enthusiasm the position.” — Monette Rebecca (Richland Creek Watershed Alliance)

Ezra Schley, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator at Tennessee Environmental Council

“Ezra is one of the hardest working individuals we’ve ever gotten the pleasure of working with. He maneuvered through these trying times with grace and confidence.” — Julia Weber (Program Manager, Tennessee Environmental Council) 

Alex Stark, Environmental Education Coordinator at Cumberland River Compact

“Through her service term with the Cumberland River Compact’s education programs, Alex taught over 1,300 students across our region about the value of our water resources and inspired the future water stewards. Her contagious enthusiasm, creativity, and can-do attitude were an important asset to us in these changing times and she will be missed next year. Thank you, Alex!”  — Catherine Price (Education & Outreach Manager, Cumberland River Compact) 

 Matt Trotsky, Stream Restoration Coordinator at Cumberland River Compact

“Matt’s can-do attitude was a welcome addition to our AmeriCorps team. His willingness to jump in and help was always a welcome sight during the past year!” — Gray Perry (Program Manager, Clean Streams) 

Dylan Vines, Urban Tree Coordinator at Cumberland River Compact

“Dylan is a hard worker who takes initiative, and everyone who had the opportunity to work with him — staff, community volunteers, and more — enjoyed his easy-going nature and professionalism.” — Meg Morgan (Campaign Manager, Root Nashville) 

Let’s hear from the members themselves 

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Meriweather Bean, Community, Education & Outreach Coordinator at Harpeth Conservancy

“My favorite memory was seeing our Fall Wild & Scenic Film Festival come to fruition. This was really my first major responsibility in my service year and a great learning experience in event organizing, but also organizing with community partners. It was very rewarding to see it become a success and gave me confidence continuing through my service year.” 

Lexi Bolinski, Volunteer Project Leader at Hands On Nashville

“Serving alongside fellow AmeriCorps members and staff at Hands On Nashville during tornado cleanup efforts was by far the most memorable and life-changing moment of this year of service. Being able to assist those impacted by the disaster while learning from the talented staff at HON was an experience unlike any other.” 

Amber Lopatine, Urban Forest Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at Nashville Tree Foundation

“The most rewarding part of my service year was helping with the tornado relief efforts. It was really impactful to see so many people come together during this time and lend a hand in whatever way they could.”

Jasmine Lucas, Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator at Plant the Seed

“I’ve learned about a variety of stages nonprofits can operate out of. Rolling with the punches is a MUST when serving with nonprofits, but it is quite rewarding in the end when everyone takes on the punches and powers through together. You see the resilience of community through nonprofits.” 

Ben Piñon, Disaster Response Coordinator at Hands On Nashville*

Ben speaks on his favorite memory: “During the tornado response as I was walking the streets directing volunteers, I got a call from a guy offering his assistance including some heavy machinery he had. When he said he was from Maryland all of a sudden, I was speechless. He said hello a couple of times thinking the call had dropped. I told him I was just at a loss for words, touched that people wanted to come help from so far away.” 

*Ben also served with Plant the Seed but transitioned to HON when schools closed in the spring as a result of COVID-19.

Lily Sronkoski, Garden Programming and Partnerships Coordinator at Plant the Seed

“I thought I was adaptable before this year, but I was wrong. I truly learned how to be adaptable this year.” 

Jessa Tremblay, Programming and Partnerships Coordinator at Plant the Seed

Jessa speaks highly of her time serving over the course of the year: “Kids are hilarious. The things they say to you are so bizarre, but so wonderful. It was absolutely wonderful getting to know my students over time and I always went to work grateful that I was getting to teach them and get to know them better.” 

Haley Tucker, Citizen Science & Restoration Coordinator at Harpeth Conservancy

When asked what new skills she learned: “Website building/design, volunteer organization, science/restoration, etc., all of which can be carried into future jobs.” 

Nashville Tornado Relief Efforts: Things to Know

In this post, we will be updating information as it becomes available. To view our list of resources, click here. If you are looking to volunteer or donate to a disaster relief cause, click here. To view updated recommendations regarding volunteering and COVID-19, click here

4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25

Tornado Debris Collection Update from Metropolitan Nashville Department of Public Works:
MNDPW is temporarily pausing debris pick-up in tornado impacted areas for 2 weeks. The city would like to give residents in these areas an opportunity to get debris onto the curb, and will resume pickup on April 6, 2020. At that time, they will resume regular circulation through all impacted areas in an effort to remove all curbside tornado debris.

Regular brush pick up will continue as scheduled.
Don’t forget to follow the Tornado Debris Guidelines, available at http://bit.ly/DebrisGuidelines.

10:47 a.m. Thursday, March 19

The Red Cross is experiencing severe blood shortages right now due to canceled blood drives across the country. If you are able to donate blood, you can fulfill a critical need felt by our neighbors. Click here to learn more about the need and the measures the Red Cross is taking to protect donors from COVID-19 exposure. Then click here to schedule an appointment.

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17

Hands On Nashville extends our thanks to hubNashville and more than a dozen local roofing professionals for their collaboration this past week in which more than 45 roofs were tarped by volunteers in response to the devastating March 3 tornado.

As of today, hubNashville and HON are no longer accepting requests for volunteer roof tarping.

hubNashville is available year-round, and is a one-stop shop to request Metro Nashville Davidson County services and information, available by calling 311, visiting hub.nashville.gov, or through the hubNashville 311 app.

Special thanks to:
Mr. Roof Nashville
Above All Roofing TN
Brothers In Business
A-Team Roofing
Reach Out WorldWide
Integrity Home Inspections
Roof It Forward
Centennial Services Roofing
Rhythm Roofing

1:58 p.m. Tuesday, March 17

The HON team continues to make adjustments to volunteer projects and recommendations in light of the rapidly shifting nature of COVID-19. Click here to read the latest.

Continue reading Nashville Tornado Relief Efforts: Things to Know

The geeks have landed!

GeekCause, which matches Nashville’s most talented techies with community partners in need of their services, has a new home at Hands On Nashville! GeekCause provides a low-cost platform for agencies to solve tech-based challenges through the support of skilled volunteers. 

Monica Weiss-Sharp, HON’s GeekCause project manager, took some time to answer questions about the program.  

What’s your background and how did you get involved in GeekCause? 

monica mugFor the past five years, I was the Practice Manager at a veterinary hospital in Franklin. I oversaw all areas of daily functioning (patient care, customer service, staff support), and helped guide the practice through tremendous growth, from two to six full-time veterinarians. At the practice, I had the opportunity to learn about and troubleshoot all sorts of tech solutions, from digital X-ray systems to practice-management software.

For four of my five years at the veterinary practice, I was also pursuing a master’s in social work with a focus on Organizational Leadership. During the final year of my degree program, I had the opportunity to intern with Hands On Nashville. I worked on many different projects, including some initial research and planning around how to bolster skills-based volunteerism.

My strengths definitely lie in the realm of guiding ideas toward becoming a concrete realities, and I’m looking forward to applying those strengths to support the successful completion of GeekCause projects. 

How does GeekCause work? 

GeekCause connects talented tech volunteers with nonprofits who need their support. Then I serve as a guide for both throughout the process. It is super easy both for volunteers to sign up and complete their skills profile and for nonprofit organizations to submit projects to us. From there, I review the project to make sure it’s a good fit for a volunteer to work on, and make a match with a volunteer whose skills line up with the project’s needs. I remain connected with the project from kickoff to close-out to help ensure success. In the end, the nonprofit gains a new capability and the volunteer has the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped strengthen their community.

Continue reading The geeks have landed!