Tag Archives: AmeriCorps

Honor. Serve. Unite.

The September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance (9/11 Day), is a chance to help others in tribute to those killed and injured on September 11, 2001, first responders, and the countless others who serve to defend the nation’s freedom at home and around the globe.

We’re honored to be an Americorps host site that builds nonprofit capacity across Middle Tennessee as members receive skills training, professional development, and networking opportunities throughout their yearlong term.

This #911Day we’re encouraging our members, family, friends, and followers to serve in a remarkable spirit of unity, honor, and compassion.

We would love to share your stories of service. Please feel free to tag us on social media at @HONashville and use the #911Day hashtag.

Remember, even a small act of service is a giant act of patriotism. 

It’s time to say goodbye to another Americorps cohort!

We are so proud of our 2020-2021 AmeriCorps cohort as they near the end of their term and begin their next adventure. This is a cohort that has problem solved like no other — they got out and met their communities, made all kinds of new friends, and have forever changed our organization for the better. The Hands On Nashville team and all our partnering host sites are so grateful for their hard work, amazing attitudes, and that they chose Nashville as their home for a year of service!  

The most rewarding part of my service year was how valued my team and supervisors made me feel. It allowed me to really flourish, both personally and professionally, and gave me the space to try new approaches to how things are done and see what worked and didn’t work to help make Nashville Diaper Connection a more effective non-profit.

— Heidi hayne, americorps volunteer and partner engagement leader at nashville diaper connection

While completing their term, AmeriCorps members said they discovered how to self motivate, their ability to take initiative, unknown writing skills, that they’re more adaptable than they thought, and mostly — that they get stuff done!

Reflecting on these members’ growth at the end of each is year is a rewarding moment, and while we’re sad to see them go, we’re so excited to see what else they achieve moving forward.

Americorps members receive their certificates of completion and thank you gifts at a closing reception in July.

Thank you to all our 2020-2021 host sites for taking such good care of our Americorps members!

Community Resource Center

Cumberland River Compact

The Family Center

Hands On Nashville

Harpeth Conservancy

Nashville Diaper Connection

Nashville Food Project

Nashville Tree Foundation

The Pencil Foundation

Shower The People

Turnip Green Creative Reuse

Workers’ Dignity — Dignidad Obrera

To learn more about the HON Americorps program, click here.

Join the 2021-2022 HON AmeriCorps cohort

Applications are officially open for our upcoming cohort! The 2021-2022 Program Year runs from August 2021 to July 2022. AmeriCorps members spend a year at a local nonprofit, government department, or civic agency, where they build program capacity and receive skills and professional development training, an education award, a living stipend, and more. 

Nashville is powered by people of all ages, races, ethnicities, skin tones, sexes, genders, sexualities, religions, abilities, and socioeconomic statuses engaging in service together. This is a city where YOU matter and YOU make a difference. Join us as we tackle the community’s most pressing challenges through service by becoming a Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Program member.

Ready to get started? Click the buttons below!

Join us in celebrating AmeriCorps Week!

“This program is changing lives. These members are creating a greener and more equitable city. They are so passionate and we are so fortunate to have them here loving on our community.”

Nicki Avila, Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Program Manager

It’s officially AmeriCorps Week! In the past year our AmeriCorps members have faced challenges we could never have predicted, but they continue to astound us with their positivity, ingenuity, and most importantly their commitment to service. This #AmeriCorpsWeek we’ll be featuring outstanding servant leaders from across Middle Tennessee, and showing what it’s like to #ServeLikeMe.  

Join us on Instagram Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, when three AmeriCorps members will take over our stories and give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how they serve Nashville. 

Tuesday: Dalia from The Nashville Food Project 

Wednesday: Kelsea from Shower The People 

Thursday: Rachel from Turnip Green Creative Reuse 

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn any time to see what the HON AmeriCorps cohort is up to, and how you can get involved today.  

Guest post: A letter to our Riverside neighbors

Ben Piñon was a Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps member in 2019-2020. His Riverside neighborhood sustained significant damage during the March 3, 2020, tornado. With the help of countless volunteers, Ben and his neighbors worked to clean up, offer each other comfort, and put their lives back together. Ben also led tornado-recovery volunteer projects for Hands On Nashville across the Metro Nashville area through the end of his term in November 2020. 

Ben Piñon

By Ben Piñon

I’m going to miss Dave. I’ll miss each of you too, don’t get me wrong. But I’m really going to miss Dave. 

Dave would walk his tiny but feisty little dog past our house every day after work. Princess, he calls her. I’ll miss the care in Dave’s eyes every time he would repeat his signature phrase: “Anything you need, just call me, you got my number.” 

Every so often Dave would stop by with a box or two of donuts, leftovers from the store he manages. One day, he brought us 17 dozen. 

“Dave, what am I going to do with all these donuts?!?” 

“Every so often Dave would stop by with a box or two of donuts, leftovers from the store he manages. One day, he brought us 17 dozen.”

“Give ‘em away. You know people.” 

I really don’t know that many people in Nashville. I wish I did. Definitely didn’t before surviving the tornado — didn’t even know Dave before then. It probably looked like I knew people as I hugged several of you on your front lawns, directed volunteers showing up to help out that first week, let our living room become a donation storage space. I was just trying to be a good neighbor. It was over so quick though, and a year later, with all but that one remarkable week under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, it wasn’t so easy to keep building on those connections the tornado had brought into being. 

By the time you read this, we will have left. Moved out a couple weeks short of the one-year anniversary. I write this letter from our new house, still in East Nashville, only 2 miles down the road. Far enough though that we won’t simply run into each other anymore. Far enough that Dave can’t stop by with the same regularity, far enough that we’ll be just as anonymous to our new neighbors as we were to you 16 months ago back in October of 2019 when we packed up the car in Oregon and landed two weeks later, by some weird twist of fate, on East Nashville’s Riverside Drive. 

I imagined a whole lot for us even before the leaves on the broken branches had lost their color. It’s what we dreamers do. I imagined us having big block parties, coffee and tea in each other’s living rooms, emotional community forums, the fences separating us never getting rebuilt. I wanted us to be good neighbors. To stay good neighbors. 

“Stay Human. On the second day of the cleanup, I borrowed a can of spray paint and on a piece of plywood that used to live under your roof I wrote those two words as big as I could for the world to see.”

Recovery is not glorious as you well know. It’s not a neat fairy tale that magically ends happily ever after. I’m not sure it ever really ends. Remember how fast the tornado made us the center of attention? How we became yesterday’s news just as quickly? The world keeps turning, my friends, and it turns brutally. Another, bigger crisis made our situation no easier to solve and much easier to overlook. Some of you still haven’t moved back in. Some of you ended up out of work, out of money, low on your dignity. You lost family members, friends, or mentors since then, all while houses were still being repaired, developers were hawking, and landlords were itching to sell, raise the rent, or build back those destroyed rentals around the corner taller, skinner, and more expensive than the old tenants could afford. Just like you can’t stop a tornado from coming, you can’t just put all the pieces back together again once it’s passed. If that was the goal, we’ve lost. 

One of my favorite musicians has this song — “Stay Human.” On the second day of the cleanup, I borrowed a can of spray paint and on a piece of plywood that used to live under your roof I wrote those two words as big as I could for the world to see. 

The song starts like this: “I remember when I was just a boy, Mama said this world was not always a paradise.” Ain’t that the truth. 

I get sad sometimes about what might have become but never did, I can’t lie. But I also don’t feel like we lost. 

We may not have gotten our fairy tale, but we did what we had to do to keep moving. For me, it was growing a garden in our freshly cleared backyard — never before did it have the sunlight or open space to support one. We called it our farm. Like good neighbors, you graciously took all the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes we didn’t adequately prepare for off our hands. 

“Don’t you give up on me,” the song continues. “’Cause I won’t give up on you.” 

“You let us join your cookout on July 4th, gave us plates of leftovers to take home, treated us like family.”

How could I? You painted tree stumps with words of encouragement, so we stopped by on our walks to say hello, a thank you of sorts, only to receive even more nuanced advice on life. You let us join your cookout on July 4th, gave us plates of leftovers to take home, treated us like family. You were genuine with us, speaking openly on the pain of losing an adult daughter or son. And Dave, your vulnerability in sharing with me stories of the harassment you faced growing up Black in Nashville in the ’60s and ’70s, that was a real gift. You and so many of the neighbors held onto your generosity, your sincerity, and your humanity through just about everything. 

“All I’m trying to do, is stay human with you.” 

I found a lot of joy and comfort in sharing the same three square blocks of real estate with y’all for as long as it lasted. At least for me, being your neighbor helped me stay human through some strange times. I’m grateful to all of you for that. I can only wish some of that same peace befalls you as all our lives keep moving forward, if only just a little further apart. Oh, and I wish you some more good neighbors now that we’re gone. You deserve good neighbors. 

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.” 

Celebrating AmeriCorps’ 25th Anniversary: Q&A with Hands On Nashville’s first AmeriCorps member

The AmeriCorps program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion, we checked in with Susannah Fotopulos, the first AmeriCorps member ever placed at Hands On Nashville. Fotopulos went on to found and direct Plant the Seed, a Nashville nonprofit that provides experiential education to children ages 4-14 through garden-based learning.

When were you an AmeriCorps member? Where did you serve and what role did you have?

In 2003 I served at Hands On Nashville as their inaugural Citizen Action AmeriCorps member. This was a specific type of indirect service position created in partnership with the HandsOn Network and designed to increase volunteer opportunities in HandsOn communities.

How did AmeriCorps prepare you to start Plant the Seed? 

My placement as the first AmeriCorps member at Hands On Nashville was during a time of rapid growth, which gave me an amazing chance to build a program from idea to delivery. It gave me a testing ground to conceive how to address a community need, deliver that program, and evaluate its effectiveness. My AmeriCorps service year was such an amazing way to grow my entrepreneurial spirit!

How does it feel to come full circle with AmeriCorps, having four members serve at your own nonprofit? 

It’s wild! I feel like having four AmeriCorps members is a cool indicator of our growth and a marker of scale and legitimacy in our ability to manage AmeriCorps members. I also see it as a way for Plant the Seed to live out our mission of being a learning organization by helping young adults develop the skills and next steps for their careers.

What’s something you are looking forward to teaching these members that you took from your own experience with AmeriCorps?  

I hope these new AmeriCorps members learn flexibility, gratitude, resilience, how to create something they can call their own, how to bring an open mind to new learning opportunities, and how to feel like they have made a legitimate difference to effect positive change in the world.

AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Jasmine Lucas

Jasmine Lucas joined the HON AmeriCorps Program in late March. Read on to learn more about her!

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Jasmine Lucas

Community Outreach Coordinator at Hands On Nashville

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding?

Being out with the volunteers and recognizing them for what they are contributing to their community. It has been exhilarating to meet individual volunteers who walk completely different lives from one another meet up and commune over serving the community. I believe there is nothing more beautiful than that. I plan on recognizing our volunteers directly through social media in future Community Partner events. I’m excited to be the voice of HON and put forth the faces of our volunteers!

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?

What drew me to serve with AmeriCorps was that I saw it as a chance for me to be a part of something bigger than myself. That has been my driving force for a long while. I have made many personal, developmental decisions based on this standard, and it has yet to fail me. I have always grown to be a better person when I made a decision to be a part of something that is bigger than myself, and I am confident AmeriCorps is that next “bigger than myself” opportunity in this season of my life.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term?

After AmeriCorps I am not quite sure what I will start doing. So far, I plan to serve another term with a nonprofit here in Nashville. After that, I may begin working with a local nonprofit in Nashville, or I may travel the world teaching English as a Second Language (I have a lot of international friends who want me to visit 🙂 )

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

In my free time I partake in a variety of hobbies including crocheting, writing/reading poetry, watching movies with my roommates, and going on excursions around Nashville with new friends. You will probably also find me staking out at local coffee shops as I read and write.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-2020 AmeriCorps cohort. Learn more and apply here.

AmeriCorps Member Spotlights: Rachel Bradd and Drew Himsworth

It’s been an honor during this year’s AmeriCorps Week to share stories of some of the incredible HON AmeriCorps members serving in nonprofits across Nashville.

Today we feature two members of the Hands On Nashville squad. They have been incredible teammates and all-around natural HONies.

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Rachel Bradd

Volunteer Project Coordinator

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding? 

One thing that was particularly rewarding was planning an event with a non-profit/corporation that HON has never worked with for my AmeriCorps MLK Day of Service project. Through this project with the help of Drew (HON’s Community Partner Program Coordinator AmeriCorps member) we were able to plan, organize, and assist volunteers, in partnership with Metro Social Services, with bundling more than 600 care packages to distribute to people experiencing homelessness.

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

I wanted to gain experience in the business environment while simultaneously pursuing my MBA. This opportunity also allowed for me to serve my community. Service to others has always been a big part of my life.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

My plan is to pursue a career in government contracting with a government agency.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering? 

As a full-time grad student, I am typically studying or writing papers when I’m not serving or volunteering. I also do check out the occasional coffee shop for an extra boost of energy when I have a bit of free time on the weekends.

 

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Drew Himsworth

Community Partner Program Coordinator

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding? 

Building and designing an MLK donation drive to help those experiencing homelessness. We had a great response from the community when asking for items. Then the volunteers who showed up were hard working and amazing.

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

The opportunity to serve at Hands On Nashville and interact with so many amazing non-profits in the Greater Nashville area.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

Continue to work in nonprofits and try to help others who need help.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering? 

Playing ultimate Frisbee, volunteering, dog-sitting, playing video games, making puzzles.

AmeriCorps Member Spotlights: Shelby Timmons and Victoria Schnaufer

Happy AmeriCorps Week! All week here on the Show of Hands blog, we’ll be highlighting members of the HON AmeriCorps program, who are completing yearlong terms of service at nonprofit agencies across Nashville.

Today we feature two members serving with Plant The Seed, whose mission is to shape community and school gardens into outdoor classrooms to educate and empower under-resourced youth.

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Shelby Timmons

Garden Learning Coordinator 

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding?  

The most rewarding part of my service has been spending time with children and watching them learn and grow while in Plant the Seed programs. They love exploring the garden and have the most amazing observations and insight!

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

I found myself wanting to explore the world of nonprofits and not sure where to start. I also wanted to take my first steps toward a meaningful career.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

I want to continue to work in education, as that is the part of my service I feel the most connected to.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?  

I enjoy making art and spending time outdoors!

 

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Victoria Schnaufer

Garden Learning Coordinator 

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding?  

Every time I see a student come into the garden and connect recall a past lesson, or connect what we are learning in Plant the Seed to what they are learning in class, my eyes light up. This recall tells me that what we are doing in the garden is doing something — it matters.

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

I wanted to submerge myself into my community here in Nashville.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

My hope is to stay connected to the Nashville community through education.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?  

Working on my house! I just recently bought a house in Nashville and I am learning that a homeowner’s work is never complete.