AmeriCorps Q&A: Natalie Hurd, Environmental AmeriCorps Member

Last August, Hands On Nashville welcomed a new class of AmeriCorps members to serve on our environmental, youth and education, and corporate teams. With the team now halfway through the service year, they’re sharing their experiences, lessons learned and favorite memories.

Natalie Hurd has been working with Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings and Environmental Restoration programs. Natalie leads volunteers in installing energy-efficient retrofits in low-income homes and oversees Volunteer Leaders for environmental restoration projects.

Is there a community project in the past six months that particularly resonated with you? Why?

I’ve had the opportunity to work with many wonderful volunteers and homeowners through HON’s Home Energy Savings (HES) program. One of my favorite projects was with a high school group volunteering in a young family’s home. The children in the home were eager to meet everyone, and the volunteers had a great time including them, so it made for a fun day. Getting the work done is always a goal, but I think that one-on-one interaction is what makes projects special.

Have any AmeriCorps moments challenged the way you thought about a particular issue, or affected how you will approach similar situations in the future?

I came into HES and environmental restoration with a background in environmental policy, so I viewed both programs with that frame of mind. I realized early on that each volunteer has unique motivations for lending a hand, and those reasons are often different than mine. I’ve learned to broaden my project orientations to speak to a varied audience, and that has helped me view the issues my programs address in a multifaceted way.

Can you share some advice for someone who is considering AmeriCorps or nonprofit work?

In any role, I think it’s important to be flexible. The best nonprofits respond to changing community needs, so your role may evolve over time. No matter how you day-to-day duties change during your term, it’s helpful to maintain a big-picture view of what you would like to get out of your AmeriCorps experience, and how your skills can benefit your organization.

What is your favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Nashville?

I love spending the afternoon exploring the many hiking trails nearby, especially in Percy Warner Park or Radnor Lake. On rainy days, I like trying out new coffee shops or breakfast spots.

What do you like most about working in the Hands On Nashville office?

Everyone in the office is friendly and supportive, and our team dynamic reflects that. I also think it’s fun to see everyone working on different projects and then coming together to share what we’re doing – it is a cool reminder of all the awesome work Hands On Nashville and our nonprofit partners are doing in the community.

Read more about AmeriCorps experiences at Hands On Nashville.


AmeriCorps Q&A: Anna Byrne, Youth & Education AmeriCorps Member

By Natalie Hurd, Environmental AmeriCorps Member

Last August, Hands On Nashville welcomed a new class of AmeriCorps members to serve on our environmental, youth and education, and corporate teams. With the members nearing the end of the service year, they’re sharing their experiences, lessons learned and favorite memories.

Throughout her term, Anna Byrne has been working with Nashville neighborhood stakeholders to identify volunteer engagement opportunities supporting youth and education. Anna assesses neighborhood needs to help find volunteer-focused solutions.

What has been the most rewarding part of your AmeriCorps term so far?

All of the connections I have made in the nonprofit community, and the confidence I have found in my career path and myself. I start graduate school soon to pursue a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) degree, and because of my experience with HON, I feel confident on that path.

How does your term so far compare to your expectations when first joining?

I have been pleasantly surprised with how much I have learned and been able to do outside of my job description. I didn’t expect to get to do so many different types of work and I have really enjoyed that part of the job.

Can you share some advice for someone who is considering AmeriCorps or nonprofit work?

Service is a great way to learn about the nonprofit world, and AmeriCorps provides one avenue of getting that experience. AmeriCorps is a commitment to service, and service means that you are making a sacrifice—in my experience, that sacrifice has been well worth it. If you decide that you want to serve through AmeriCorps, then you will likely need to have support financially, whether that means working multiple jobs or having family to back you up.

What is your favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Nashville?

Volunteer Trail with my dog, Atlas.

What do you like most about working at Hands On Nashville?

The work environment at HON has been one of my favorite parts of my year of service. Everyone here is so authentic and supportive. I don’t think I have ever felt so comfortable in a workplace.

Interested in serving with AmeriCorps? Hands On Nashville is hiring through July 24.

Four local nonprofits honored for excellent volunteer management programs

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.

Stephanie McCullough, director of community engagement at the office of Mayor Megan Barry; Tari Hughes; Lori Shinton; and the Spring 2017 EVE class.

“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 Any nonprofit agency in Davidson County may apply.

View the full list of EVE-certified nonprofits.

Hands On Nashville Announces 2017 Strobel Award Recipients

Middle Tennesseans were honored on Wednesday, April 21, for outstanding volunteer work at Hands On Nashville’s 31st annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Advance Financial.

  • Laura Little – Capacity-building Volunteer Award
  • Brentwood Baptist Church – Medical Dental Unit – Civic Volunteer Group Award
  • FYKES Realty Group – Corporate Volunteerism Award
  • Olivia Wright – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages five to 20)
  • Terry Key – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 21 to 49)
  • Lillian Schklar – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 50 plus)

More than 600 volunteers and agency representatives attended the luncheon and ceremony at the Music City Center downtown. The annual event recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community.

The St. Cecilia Academy Choir

This year’s awards ceremony kicked off with a choir performance by St. Cecilia Academy Choir to recognize the award nominees and finalists. Great-granddaughter and namesake of Mary Catherine Strobel, Mary Catherine Pyburn, recited the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, a favorite of her great-grandmother. Charles Strobel, son of Mary Catherine Strobel and founding director of Room In The Inn, closed the ceremony with remarks about the event’s significance and an eloquent remembrance of his mother’s legacy.

Family of Mary Catherine Strobel

“The Hands On Nashville team is once again energized by the spirit of service at the Strobel Awards,” said Lori Shinton, President and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “Strangers don’t exist at that luncheon. There is a seemingly unending line of new friends wanting to hear more about you and thank you for your service.”

Community members submitted 126 nominations for the 2017 Strobel Volunteer Awards.

“Volunteerism is a key component of our business culture and a key part of being a Nashvillian,” said Tina Hodges, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Experience Officer at Advance Financial. “Our employees are offered volunteer time and we hear about their incredible experiences all year long. The Strobel Awards celebrate stories like theirs and those of our fellow Nashville volunteers in such a special way.”

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Terry Key, Direct Service Volunteer Award (ages 21 to 49) recipient

“This is probably one of the best awards I could ever imagine receiving,” said Terry Key, recipient of the Direct Service Volunteer Award (ages 21 to 49). “I get a chance to make a difference and work with people who are making a difference. I’m going to show this to all the kids in the bike club and tell them, ‘No matter where you’re from, you can make a difference!’”

Following is a list of award recipients for each category and a brief description of the volunteer work for which they are recognized.

The Capacity-building Volunteer Award honors individuals who provide significant operational or administrative support to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization.

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Joanne Pulles, vice president of community relations at HCA; Laura Little; Lori Shinton, CEO and president of Hands On Nashville


Laura Little received the 2017 Capacity-building Volunteer Award for her work with 18 different nonprofits around Nashville, which includes facilitating donations for Nurses for Newborns, the Department of Children’s Services, The Nashville Food Project and more. Laura anticipates when organizations have upcoming needs for food or supplies, and notices when they’re storing something that might better suit another cause. 

The Civic Volunteer Group Award recognizes representatives of civic, membership, faith-based or non-corporate groups that volunteer together for a specific cause or issue.

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Jennifer Simpkins of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco; Amy Fairchild, Medical Dental Unit coordinator; Lori Shinton

Brentwood Baptist Church – Medical Dental Unit received the 2017 Civic Volunteer Group Award. The MDU is a mobile facility that offers free healthcare services, and welcomes people from all backgrounds. Its volunteers, who include medical and dental professionals, as well as church members, provide healing, restorative, compassionate care.

The Corporate Volunteerism Award pays tribute to businesses that have robust employee volunteer programs with high levels of participation and impact.

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Julia McAndrews, senior HR director of Change Healthcare; Tiffany Fykes, team leader and realtor at FYKES Realty Group; Lori Shinton

FYKES Realty Group is the 2017 recipient of the Corporate Volunteerism Award for its work with Open Table Nashville, which works with individuals facing homelessness. Twice a month, the FYKES team joins Open Table Nashville to set up a resource shelter so unhoused neighbors can enjoy good meals, warm beds and showers, while getting help with housing, paperwork, medical needs and haircuts.

The Direct Service Volunteer Awards recognize individuals who have contributed significant volunteer time, energy and/or resources to support an agency’s constituents.

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Mark McNeely, founding partner of MP&F Public Relations; Olivia Wright; Lori Shinton

Olivia Wright received the Direct Service Volunteer Award in the ages five to 20 category for her work with Tennessee H.U.G.S., or Help Us Give Shoes, an organization she started with she was only nine years old. Now 17, Olivia started the program to help children meet basic needs and ensure their ability to get an education. The idea has transformed into an international organization: H.U.G.S. has delivered more than 100,000 pairs of shoes to 13 countries and six continents.

Anna Altic, Village Fund community service representative at Village Real Estate; Terry Key; Lori Shinton; Elizabeth Moss

Terry Key is the 2017 recipient of the Direct Service Volunteer Award, ages 21 to 49 category, for his efforts with the Edgehill Bike Club. Terry started the club as a way to show kids in his neighborhood life outside Edgehill. Edgehill Bike Club works to give children bikes, teach them basic maintenance and encourage children to take control of their futures. Since 2013, Terry has helped give more than 1,000 bikes to kids, and is working to establish new bike clubs in other Nashville communities.

Lillian Schklar; Stephen Francescon, community relations manager at Piedmont Natural Gas

Lillian Schklar received the 2017 Direct Service Volunteer Award in the ages 50-plus category for her tutoring work with FiftyForward’s Friends Learning in Pairs (FLIP) program. She is a fixture in the school where she tutors, having logged hundreds of service hours in more than a decade. She works not only to improve her students’ academic skills, but to develop loving friendships with them.

Lillian Schklar

For more information:

Jessica Moog, Hands On Nashville, (615) 298-1108, ext. 409,

Laura Huddleston, MP&F Public Relations, (615) 259-4000,

About the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards

The Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards are named in memory of the late Mary Catherine Strobel, known for her extensive and charitable efforts toward improving the lives of Middle Tennessee’s homeless, impoverished and less fortunate populations. The annual awards ceremony celebrates her service and recognizes those who continue her legacy.

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) works to address critical issues facing the Middle Tennessee community through volunteer-centric programming. For more information, visit or call (615) 298-1108.


Support Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville is proud to share 25 Years | 25 stories, a collection of photos, videos and reflections that represent the incredible impact volunteers have made over the last 25 years. We hope these stories serve as a reminder of the importance of volunteerism in our community and inspire you to support Hands On Nashville by making a gift to help us continue this work.

Ready to volunteer? Click here to continue to



In 1991, 16 people came together with one vision. Their story continues today.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

— Margaret Mead





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In 1991, a group of sixteen Nashvillians came together with one dream — to expand Nashville’s base of community volunteers.

With heart and passion, the group was seeking a more innovative approach to volunteerism. They wanted to offer individuals a flexible schedule of diverse and meaningful volunteer opportunities.  

The group, volunteers in their own right, was led by Hal Cato. Hal at the time served as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels during his lunch break. He had such a rewarding experience that he started bringing friends along to deliver meals with him. Soon, these friends began developing volunteer opportunities with other nonprofits.

As this passion for service grew, Cato became aware of the work that a forward-thinking volunteer group in Atlanta was doing – this group would later form HandsOn Network. After visiting with the folks in Atlanta, Cato and his friends said, “Let’s do this in Nashville, too.” And the idea was born to create an organization that makes it easy for people to find meaningful volunteer opportunities in the Nashville area.

The organization began as a true grassroots effort. In the first year of operation, there were no paid staff or budget, and Cato provided office space in his home. The group set a goal to recruit 250 volunteers, and they created fliers listing volunteer opportunities and left them in people’s mailboxes.

The first project calendar was printed in June of 1991.  By December, the project calendar had expanded to include 10 projects. In 1992, the Board coordinated a city-wide day of volunteerism called Hands On Nashville Day, and on October 31, 1992 1,100 people joined together to “Lend Nashville A Hand”.

Based on other successful groups in New York, Washington D.C. and Atlanta, Hands On Nashville became the fourth “Hands On” agency in America.

Today, their legacy continues, with thousands of volunteers uniting in service each year.

When referring back to the beginnings of the organization, founders have often referenced a quote from Margaret Mead that still rings true for the organization today:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Hyped On Help

Young Nashvillians + Service = Hyped On Help

Over the decades, young Nashvillians have shown time and again their willingness to help.  From fixing up bicycles for Nashville youth, to teaching their peers about healthy eating and living at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm, to organizing book drives, young Nashvillians play a vital role in the community. As we have said before, we have been fortunate to work with many young people who are “hyped on help.”