This Fall, Hands On Nashville welcomed a class of AmeriCorps members to serve in key impact areas. From leading projects that enhance our environment, to harnessing the power of Nashville’s corporate volunteers, each of these individuals will support Hands On Nashville in its mission to meet community needs through volunteerism.
This spring, Hands On Nashville welcomed a new class of AmeriCorps members to serve in key impact areas. From supporting school gardens in Nashville, to engaging youth in service-learning opportunities year-round, each of these fine folks will support Hands On Nashville in its mission to meet community needs through volunteerism. Continue reading Introducing the 2015-2016 Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Members→
Ashleigh Barker reflects on a year as a Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Member.
For the last year, Ashleigh Barker has served as Hands On Nashville’s YVC Outreach AmeriCorps Member. In this role, Ashleigh has poured her heart and energy into connecting Nashville youth and teens, many of whom attend Metro Nashville Public Schools, to meaningful service opportunities designed to help them grow as leaders in their own right. From guiding a team of Youth Volunteer Corps interns who develop and lead their own service projects at area nonprofits, to facilitating a dynamic service-learning Summer Camp educating young Nashvillians in multiple issue areas, to creating social-networking content and the regular youth newsletter, Ashleigh has made a lasting impact in the lives of youth leaders, and those they benefit.
Chase Davenport joined Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings Program (HES) team in May 2014 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Hailing from Humboldt, Tennessee, Chase earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Austin Peay State University in 2013 before embarking on this next chapter. The decision to serve as a VISTA, Chase said, felt like the right thing to do.
“I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life,” he said. “I’d been accepted into a Master’s program at American University in Washington, D.C., but something told me this opportunity with AmeriCorps and Hands On Nashville was important. Grad school could wait.”
Chase led many capacity-building efforts for the HES program during his term. He developed relationships with homeowners, scheduled energy audits, added insulation to homes, led 300 volunteers, and engaged the community and other nonprofits to expand the impact the projects could have on the quality of life for homeowners.
“I didn’t know how to do many of the standard tasks performed during HES,” Chase said of his start. “The challenging aspect of my term wasn’t learning a new trade; it was seeing week-to-week how Nashville homeowners who are elderly, veterans, or who have limited mobility, struggle financially to pay for things like medicine, food, transportation.”
With Hands On Nashville, Chase worked to make a difference for those community members. During Chase’s year of project leadership and community engagement, 50 homeowners received energy-efficiency upgrades. On average, homeowners experience $455 dollars in utility savings each year as result of this work.
In March, Chase was accepted to Teach for America, where he’ll be serving as a teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools. “Really, it’s just another way I can help others. That’s what I feel strongly about, and that’s what I intend to continue doing.”
Chase’s term with Hands On Nashville ends this May. Thank you, Chase, for an outstanding year of service to Nashvillians as a Home Energy Savings VISTA – you truly made a difference. We wish you the best in your future endeavors!
By Erika Burnett, Hands On Nashville’s Service Learning Manager at TSU —
I chose to attend Tennessee State University because of its rich legacy as a Historically Black College and University. TSU, like most HBCUs, is located in the heart of the inner city. Historically, Black colleges were founded in areas inhabited primarily by minority populations, and those who were most vulnerable and lacking resources. For their local communities, these universities served as an academic resource, a place of employment, medical, and legal assistance, and a pillar of pride. HBCUs were established to have a direct impact on their communities through service!
The words “Enter to learn, go forth to serve” are inscribed on the front of the building where I spent the majority of my time during my matriculation. Of course I learned that hard work and academic rigor has its rewards. But the most meaningful lessons were those not found in my text books: the essence of leadership is servitude; community is more than a geographical proximity; service has no end, there is always more to do, more to give, more to strive to change. To find ourselves we must first lose ourselves in worthy causes. I found myself and my passion through service.
My journey has now come full circle as I currently serve as the Service Learning Manager at TSU. I recently led a volunteer project at Radnor Lake with a group of students. The weather was cool, the sky was cloudy, and it was a Friday afternoon! The odds were NOT in our favor. Yet, it was a most fulfilling experience to watch 15 young adults (many of whom had never been exposed to this type of environment) excited as they learned why invasive plants are harmful and their eagerness to remove them! One student shared her thoughts: “the overall experience was great and I walked away knowing I made an improvement, served the community, and learned why and how my help was appreciated.”
Whether it’s walking to Samaritan Ministries to serve lunch, hosting an HIV awareness campaign, or feeding the stray dogs that roam around campus, TSU students are being the change they want to see in their local Nashville community and in the world. As my alma mater celebrates its Centennial year, I am grateful to serve as a bridge connecting thinking to service. I am encouraged, that without publicity or notoriety, without titles or accolades, Tennessee State University continues to cultivate a spirit of leadership as students enter to learn, and go forth to serve.
As Service Learning Manager at Tennessee State University, Erika Burnett oversees the collaboration between Hands On Nashville and TSU to engage university students in meaningful volunteer service throughout the Nashville community. Previously, Erika worked at the Oasis Center as a Youth Engagement Program Coordinator. Prior to Oasis Center, she worked as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the YWCA of Middle Tennessee. A graduate of Vanderbilt and TSU, Erika loves to dance and is the co-founder of a ministry-based dance company. She re-joined Hands On Nashville’s staff in September 2011 after completing her AmeriCorps term at HON in 2007. Learn more about Hands On Nashville’s collaboration with TSU or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.