HON Day 2017: Altria Volunteers and the Value of Showing Up

At 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, HON Day volunteers started arriving at Metro Nashville Public School site. For many, the day was just beginning. However, a handful of employee volunteers from Altria had started their “days” the previous night. The volunteers had worked from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Instead of heading home, the group reported to Cora Howe School to lend a hand.

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Preparing to expand the school garden.

Altria has been a dedicated HON Day sponsor since 2012, serving as presenting sponsor for the past two years. The company’s participation in HON Day 2017 is a testament to the power of private organizations connecting with their communities – and the value of showing up and making a difference. With Altria’s 2017 support, more than 1,000 volunteers had the resources needed to make a difference at 15 MNPS schools. On top of that, Altria volunteers always show up with positive attitudes, roll up their sleeves and turn project resources into results.

This year, the Altria volunteer team brought massive energy, laughter and hard work to Cora Howe, despite the long hours and hot Nashville sun. Led by community partners Cumberland River Compact and Nashville Tree Foundation, volunteers helped build a rain garden and plant trees on school grounds.

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One of seven new trees at Cora Howe School.

“HON Day builds camaraderie within our team, and it’s so great to be helping schools,” said Altria’s Jennifer Simpkins. 2017 marked Simpkins’ second HON Day, and she was one of the volunteers who reported for duty after working through the night.

James Harvey and Robert Klein, training leader and plant manager at Altria (respectively), also shared why they’ve supported HON Days past and present. “When it comes down to it, we’re blessed and fortunate,” said Harvey. “Whenever we can give back – that’s the right thing to do. As a business and as a person, it matters.”

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Starting work on the new rain garden.

To the entire Altria team: thank you for your commitment to HON Day as not only the presenting sponsor, but a team of community members ready to pitch in and work for a shared cause.

View photos from Hands On Nashville Day 2017.

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Hands On Nashville Day Mobilizes More Than 1,000 Volunteers at Metro Nashville Public Schools

NASHVILLE – September 23, 2017 – This morning, more than 1,000 volunteers came together for the 26th Annual Hands On Nashville Day, a citywide day of service supporting Metro Nashville Public Schools. At 15 schools, volunteers created inspirational murals, landscaped playgrounds, and painted hallways, gymnasiums and more.

“Today’s volunteers aren’t just sprucing up schools,” said Dennis Neal, executive director of the Facility and Grounds Maintenance Department at Metro Nashville Public Schools. “They’re showing support for the MNPS students and families who learn and grow in these spaces every day.”

Hands On Nashville partnered with numerous community organizations and businesses in support of the day of service. A team of employee volunteers from Altria, the presenting sponsor, completed projects at Cora Howe School. Nashville Tree Foundation and Cumberland River Compact also contributed support.

“Hands On Nashville Day helps us give back to the community in which we live and work,” said Altria’s Mark Czuba. “It’s powerful to see what we can accomplish as a team, especially as we focus on a cause as important as our local schools.”

Metro Public Works partnered with the event for the second year as part of Mayor Megan Barry’s Fall Green & Clean initiative, sponsoring 100 tree plantings. Funding was provided through a Community Partner Grant from Lowe’s/Keep America Beautiful (KAB), a national nonprofit that inspires and educates people to improve and beautify community environments.

The Nashville Tree Foundation supported the event through the Green Shirt Volunteer program, which recognizes volunteers who have experience planting trees at NTF events or have related professional qualifications. Green Shirt Volunteers trained and supervised Hands On Nashville Day projects to ensure proper planting methods, and will do so for additional planting projects in the community.

“Hands On Nashville’s mission – to meet community needs through volunteerism – truly comes alive on this day,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “Our team has the unique position to see the impact volunteers contribute to our city every day, and events like Hands On Nashville Day highlight this impact for our entire community.”

Throughout Hands On Nashville’s 26 years, more than 26,000 volunteers have engaged in 75,000 hours of Hands On Nashville Day service, creating an economic impact valued at nearly $2 million, according to Independent Sector research.

To support Hands On Nashville’s work, please consider purchasing a commemorative HON Day 2017 t-shirt. $20 of the $26 t-shirt price goes directly to Hands On Nashville. Learn more at http://www.hon.org/honday.

For More Information:

Hands On Nashville – Jessica Moog, (615) 298-1108 (o); (908) 240-3444 (c); jessica@hon.org

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) meets community needs through volunteerism.

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Dedicated volunteers preparing to paint at Cora Howe School.
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The Nashville Tree Foundation led volunteers in planting trees on school properties.
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Lonnell Matthews, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement, pauses for the camera with one of HON Day’s youngest volunteers.

 

Sponsor Grid - HON Day 2017

Hi, Neighbor! Join us for Good Neighbor Day!

Hands On Nashville and the Neighborhoods Resource Center invite you to come and be recognized for the great work you do in our community as a volunteer.

Join us for Good Neighbor Day at the fifth annual Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 30 in Elizabeth Park.

  • Enjoy local artists performing great music, poetry, and storytelling;
  • Taste wonderful food from around the world; and
  • Engage in a wide range of fun activities for people of all ages.

The event is free with plenty of free parking. MTA riders will discover easy access using route 42 – St. Cecilia / Cumberland.

 

Volunteers: Stand up and be recognized! 

At 2 p.m., we’ll pause to recognize and thank the festival’s volunteers, and their role as some of the 10,000 volunteers serving our community through Hands On Nashville. Share your story about the work you do to make our community a better place to live. Help inspire others to volunteer and make a difference.

Volunteers are good neighbors

“The Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration is inspired by the qualities of every great neighbor,” said Jim Hawk, executive director at the Neighborhoods Resource Center and organizer of Good Neighbor Day. “Hands On Nashville Volunteers are good neighbors, too!

If you believe being a Good Neighbor is important part of life—and I believe most volunteers do—then you’ll be in the right place!”

Volunteer opportunities

Of course, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities if you want to help make Good Neighbor Day a great day.

The Celebration’s volunteer needs are listed below. You might expect some opportunities, such as greeting folks, taking photos, setting up and breaking down. Others might come as a surprise – for example, the Celebration is recruiting more than a dozen kazoo players to provide a soundtrack for the competitions and parades.

Browse the list, click your favorite to sign up, and help the Neighborhoods Resource Center make the Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration the city’s most welcoming event!

For more information about Good Neighbor Day at the fifth annual Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration, or ADA accommodation, visit the event’s website or call (615) 782-8212.

AmeriCorps Q&A: Stephen Decker, Refugee Cultural Orientation Specialist

Working with Hands On Nashville and Volunteer Tennessee, Catholic Charities of Tennessee welcomed two AmeriCorps members for the 2016-2017 term. As his term came to a close, we asked Steven Decker, refugee cultural orientation specialist, to share thoughts about what he’ll take away from a year of service.

Is there a community project or moment in the past year that particularly resonated with you? Why?

I always was trying to improve my cultural orientation class by working with community organizations and PSOs that could help me develop new materials for the class. My outreach to the Metro Nashville Police Department resulted in much more than I expected; not only did we get some great information and materials to pass on to clients, but with MNPD’s help, I was able to organize a field trip for clients. They met police officers in Nashville and learned more about the role of the police in American society. This was the kind of community building I came to AmeriCorps in order to do, and I was glad to see my outreach efforts bear fruit.

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

The political dimensions surrounding refugee resettlement in the U.S. right now make working in an agency like Catholic Charities awfully interesting, to say the least. With funding cuts and other related changes, we are down to a skeleton crew compared to the staff we had, but are still expected to deliver the same level of service to our clients within the same kind of timelines as before. Lucky for us, we have a great staff that has banded together to weather the storm. It’s a great team that continues – and will continue in the future, I’m sure – to perform ordinary, everyday miracles!

What about the most rewarding? 

There are two answers I could provide for this question. The first thing I’d mention is the chance to work with some remarkable people who have overcome terrible hardships, and yet could teach many of us a thing or two about compassion and respecting your fellow man. The second is helping others in the Nashville community and surrounding area better understanding the facts surrounding the refugee experience before and after resettlement. I have found the best way to fight prejudice borne of ignorance is to provide people with the means to break their own ignorance.

What do you like most about working with Catholic Charities?

This is one of the best staffs I have ever been a part of; it’s been a true privilege to work with and be counted among this group, and I have been blessed with plenty of “take-aways” or lessons I can apply to my future work from this experience.

What’s something you didn’t expect about living in Nashville?

T-R-A-F-F-I-C. You can say want you want about Nashville residents, but they sure do know how to clog up a road!

Learn more about Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

AmeriCorps Q&A: Breanna Rack, Corporate Partner Program AmeriCorps Member

By Natalie Hurd

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 nearing the end of the service year, they’re sharing their experiences, lessons learned and favorite memories.

As an AmeriCorps member, Breanna Rack helped direct corporate projects and create partnerships between businesses and community organizations. Now, as her AmeriCorps term comes to an end, she’s embracing a new role – as manager of HON’s corporate partner program.

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

Our project with Jackson National Life Insurance at Maplewood High School built capacity for two student-led community initiatives: Project LIT Community and the Garden Club. Project LIT Community installs mini-libraries in barbershops, restaurants and community centers, focusing on neighborhoods that don’t have easy access to a public library. Volunteers built 27 libraries for Project LIT Community and sorted more than 10,000 donated books. Volunteers also created a pumpkin patch for the school garden for students to seed and have pumpkins ready to sell this fall.

What about the most rewarding?

Seeing tangible outcomes at the end of every volunteer project. I’ve always enjoyed working with people, and I love working with enthusiastic volunteers who want to make a difference and see that change at the end of the day.

This spring, at a school in south Nashville, we created a rain garden outside a classroom that constantly gets flooded. Knowing that the work we do makes a tangible difference and improves the lives and work of people in the organizations we serve makes each day rewarding.

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

Nonprofits demand a really diverse skill set, which can be challenging at first but rewarding in the long run. AmeriCorps is a great way to learn a lot of skills in a short amount of time, and hone in on what strengths you bring to an organization. AmeriCorps members also get to see the direct impact of our work on a daily basis.

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

I’m a big brunch-er, so any brunch spot or coffee shop is my favorite place to be on a Sunday, followed by a walk in one of our local parks!

What’s something you didn’t expect about living in Nashville?

I was pleasantly surprised to see the cultural diversity. I moved here from Orlando, which is a very diverse city, and I was nervous about how I would find that community here as well. I enjoy getting to explore the neighborhoods and see what they have to offer because they are all so different and have such unique personalities.

Build a custom day of employee volunteerism for your team.

GEODIS and McMurray Middle School: Partners on HON Day and Beyond

Social responsibility is part of the culture at GEODIS. It’s not unusual to find the company’s Nashville office collecting donations of food, clothing and other supplies to benefit local schools – in particular, McMurray Middle School.

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 HON Day 2011

In 2011, a group of GEODIS employees spent Hands On Nashville Day volunteering at McMurray Middle School. From that day forward, a partnership grew between GEODIS and McMurray. They became PENCIL Partners, with GEODIS employees participating in “Principal for a Day” and other school events, and holding fundraisers to benefit the school. Around the holidays, GEODIS employees donate specific foods and household items to help serve McMurray families.

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A food and clothing drive at GEODIS

Shayla Holt, Transportation Planner at GEODIS, helps coordinate volunteer events as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility committee (SRC). When it comes to HON Day, “everyone’s always excited about doing something for the school,” she said. “Even with football games going on and other Saturday activities, people look forward to giving their time on HON Day. It encourages people to get involved in other service events, such as food sorting at Second Harvest.”

While GEODIS remains in contact with McMurray Middle School throughout the year, the team has returned to serve on Hands On Nashville Day. “We present it as a family event,” says Holt. “Employees bring their kids to volunteer and enjoy spending time together.”

Holt shared that it’s important for the SRC to be excited and passionate about service in order to motivate employees. While GEODIS makes sure to thank participants after volunteer events, many people simply enjoy knowing they’ve made a difference. “Last year, McMurray teachers volunteered alongside our team on HON Day. Our employees interacted with the principal and teachers, and understood how their work impacted the school,” she said.

This year, McMurray Middle School will be undergoing construction during HON Day. However, Shayla Holt will return to serve as site leader, and the GEODIS SRC is working with Hands On Nashville to find new volunteer opportunities – all while continuing to grow the partnership with McMurray.

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HON Day 2016

Thank you, GEODIS, for your commitment to the Nashville community!

 

Learn more about employee volunteerism with Hands On Nashville.

More Than 200 Nashville Kids Ride with ReCYCLE For Kids 2017

Hands On Nashville’s fifth annual initiative delivers bikes to youth in need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – July 31, 2017 – More than 200 local youth and 100 volunteers participated in Hands On Nashville’s ReCYCLE for Kids bike giveaway on July 29, 2017, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®). Since its inception in 2012, more than 1,200 youth have received bicycles through ReCYCLE.

The volunteer-powered initiative includes three phases: bike donations, refurbishments and today’s giveaway event. The giveaway took place at Coleman Park Community Center, connecting Nashvillians with new and like-new bicycles, new helmets, locks and interactive safety training.

The Oasis Center hosted ReCYCLE refurbishments for the fifth consecutive year. Volunteers fixed and replaced tires, adjusted cables and hubs, checked brake pads and shifters, replaced parts, and cleaned and polished bikes.

Support from local schools, faith-based organizations, businesses and Metro Parks and Recreation is fundamental to ReCYCLE for Kids’ success. Individuals from Montgomery Bell Academy, Harpeth Hall School and Harpeth Presbyterian Church hosted bike drives. Employees from event sponsors Change Healthcare, Cummins, Ted R. Sanders Moving & Warehouse, Inc. and Jackson participated in refurbishment efforts.

What the community is saying about ReCYCLE for Kids:

  • “Keeping kids active during the summer is a priority for Metro Parks,” said Stevon Neloms, superintendent of community programs for the Metro Parks and Recreation Department. “Our partnership with Hands On Nashville is a creative way to engage toward that goal and benefit kids who may not otherwise have access to bike resources.”
  • “Bikes are not only forms of transportation, they’re also a means of empowerment,” said Dan Furbish, founder and manager of the Oasis Bike Workshop. “Our doors are open to all who develop a passion for biking and its positive effects on Nashville.”
  • “Jackson is committed to enhancing children’s lives in our community,” said Susannah Berry, corporate social responsibility manager at Jackson. “Each year, ReCYCLE is a special opportunity for our team to come together and serve.”
  • “Service can take many forms,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “ReCYCLE For Kids offers volunteers the opportunity to engage in any way that resonates with them.”

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) works to meet community needs through volunteerism. For more information, visit HON.org or call (615) 298-1108.

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.

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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 http://www.hon.org/EVE. Any nonprofit agency in Davidson County may apply.

View the full list of EVE-certified nonprofits.