Tag Archives: community service

Jackson empowers its team to give back and strengthen the community

Since 2007, employees at Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Jackson®) have donated more than 290,000 volunteer hours to improving their communities. Their philanthropy program is engrained in their company’s values, and has continued to grow since the company’s inception nearly 60 years ago.

Jackson’s employee-engagement program, Jackson in Action, empowers team members to donate their skills and time through volunteer opportunities each month. Their volunteers are regulars with Hands On Nashville, whether it’s individually led projects or groups of volunteers assisting through our Corporate Partner Program.

A group of Jackson volunteers assist in a community painting project.

“We work with organizations to help strengthen families and create economic opportunities in areas where we operate,” says Niya Moon, the manager of Corporate Philanthropy at Jackson. “Popular volunteer activities range from assisting with meal preparation and distribution to address food insecurity to teaching financial literacy principles and offering career exploration opportunities to youth.”

Jackson has partnered with HON as the Presenting Sponsor for the annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards for multiple years, a role they have graciously accepted to assist in honoring some of Middle Tennessee’s greatest volunteers.

“One of Jackson’s core values is to positively impact our community, and we believe our corporate culture and employees should contribute to the greater good of society,” Moon says. “We are honored to be among so many other businesses, foundations, groups, and individuals who give generously to make this community great.”

Like so many companies last year, Jackson was forced to limit its volunteer engagement when COVID-19 struck. But the company pivoted its resources, and began pursuing virtual opportunities to fundraise and conduct donation drives to support local organizations during the pandemic.

Jackson awarded grants to programs providing financial coaching and direct assistance to people facing unemployment and other economic hardship intensified by the pandemic. They also offered support to organizations that were forced to postpone or cancel significant fundraising events.

But Jackson’s generosity extends further than their fundraising. Mid-pandemic, when food insecurity was at its highest, Jackson partnered with the Nashville Food Project by opening their dining center kitchen and utilizing staff to prepare meals while following social distancing protocols. Together, they served 6,075 meals for underserved youth and seniors in the community.

Jackson volunteers cut and prepare flash cards for local schools.

“One thing I love about Nashville is how the community works together to help each other during a crisis,” Moon says. “There were so many inspiring stories of the nonprofit sector meeting critical needs of our community reeling after two concurrent disasters—a tornado and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Following the tornado, Jackson employees volunteered 181 hours and contributed $19,620 toward recovery efforts. As the pandemic continues, Jackson has continued to extend its kindness across the community to aid wherever possible.

For more information about Jackson and their commitment to service, click here.

About Jackson

Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®) is committed to helping clarify the complexity of retirement planning for its customers. Jackson’s range of annuity products, financial know-how, history of award-winning service, and streamlined experiences strive to reduce the confusion that complicates retirement plans. As part of their award-winning Corporate Philanthropy program, Jackson invests nearly $1.2 million annually in nonprofit and community causes in Middle Tennessee.

Strobel Volunteer Awards nominations open April 1!

We’re so excited to once again celebrate the amazing contributions of Middle Tennessee volunteers during the 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards. Nominations will be open April 1-16, 2021. 

Here are three things you need to know about this year’s awards, which are presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company

1. The awards are totally online this year and all finalists will be featured on hon.org for a month. There will be a fun public voting component to spread their amazing stories of service far and wide. 

2. Prize money! Each award recipient will receive a $1,000 gift card from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to give to the charity of their choice. Finalists will receive $250 CFMT gift cards to donate to the charity of their choice. 

3. New categories! We’ve updated the categories a little bit to reflect the challenges of 2020 and the dedicated volunteers who rose to meet them. The two new categories are:

  • Social Justice Impact Volunteer Award  
    Recognizes individuals whose volunteer work in 2020 was centered on dismantling or calling out systemic injustice and oppression and lifting up disenfranchised communities.  
  • Disaster Relief Volunteer Award  
    Recognizes individuals who made a significant contribution to helping Nashville recover from the tornado, pandemic, or bombing in 2020. 

Think of all the incredible people you know who go above and beyond to help others, and consider thanking them by nominating them for a Strobel Award!

Love and volunteering go hand in hand

“Love in action is service to the world.” Lynne Namka 

For some lucky locals, opening their hearts to service also opened their lives to finding love. Here are just a few of their stories, plus some volunteer opportunities that would be a great way for couples to get to know one another! 

Cara and Carey 

Cara Ince’s love story started when she found a volunteer opportunity in HON’s Hands On Call newsletter in 2010. She found that Nashville International Center for Empowerment was looking for volunteers to teach English as a second language, signed up, and began teaching a class. A few months later, another volunteer named Carey came on as an assistant teacher in her class.  

Cara and Carey

They hit it off and volunteered together at NICE for about two years. They’ve now been married for almost seven years and have two small children. 

“We still always talk about our students and have such fond memories of that time,” Cara says. “It was definitely a cool experience, and a really good way to get to know someone when you’re first starting to date.” 

And while they don’t volunteer as much these days as they used to because they’re busy at home with their two children, they are beginning to talk about ways, once the pandemic is over, they could engage the whole family in volunteering.   

“We want [them] to be appreciative of what we have and also to give back to other people,” Cara says. 

Jordan and Kirsten 

Jordan Fernandes met his future wife Kirsten as a volunteer with The Bridge Ministry, serving groceries and meals to individuals experiencing homelessness. Kirsten had just graduated college and moved back to Nashville when she decided to volunteer with some friends.  

Jordan and Kirsten

“For them it was a one-time visit, but I liked it so much that I came back again and again,” she says. During one of her shifts, while they were unloading a grocery truck, Jordan spotted Kirsten. He introduced himself not long afterwards and the two became friends. Their friendship evolved into dating, and Kirsten says they fell madly in love. 

“Throughout our time getting to know each other, we always knew that we had a guaranteed date every Tuesday night serving the homeless under the Jefferson Street Bridge,” Kirsten says.  

Jordan proposed in 2015 and the couple married in 2016. They’re now expecting their first child. 

“Volunteering played a huge part of our story together, and volunteering in various capacities around Nashville continues to be so important to us,” Kirsten says. “It allows us to share our love beyond just our family to families and individuals throughout Nashville!” 

Ava and Tristan 

Ava Suppelsa was feeling helpless last summer in the wake of a deadly tornado and the pandemic. She wanted to do something tangible to help the many people in the community who were hurting. So Ava, a songwriter, started Hope on the Row, a nonprofit that connects music industry professionals with homelessness relief efforts.  

Ava and Tristan

Her boyfriend Tristan — also a songwriter — was a source of strength and support as she launched the nonprofit. Ava says the two of them grew up in families that emphasized giving back, so they had volunteered together over the course of their two-year relationship. But starting a nonprofit was a whole different ballgame. 

“I didn’t really know exactly how much work I was getting myself into, and I wouldn’t be able to do this without Tristan,” Ava says. “He’s been there with me for every stressful, hard, frustrating, beautiful, and rewarding moment that comes with running and organization like this, and that only brought us closer.” 

Now the organization serves more than 50 people each week, and helps individuals navigate the low-income housing system with a goal of getting as many people off the streets as possible. 

“We’ve both seen each other at our best, truest selves that come out when you’re doing work like this,” Ava says, “and I think I speak for both of us when I say that seeing that makes you fall in love with your partner all over again.” 

Patrick and Patti  

When Patrick Lyons moved to Nashville in 1993, he didn’t know a soul. Then he saw a writeup in the Nashville Scene for Hands On Nashville volunteer orientation. 

“I thought, ‘What a great way to meet people,’” Patrick says. He went to orientation and learned that he could volunteer in the evenings and on weekends, which fit his travel-heavy work schedule.  

Patti and Patrick

One day he volunteered at an event at Cheekwood, taking tickets. That’s when he met Patti, who had also found the volunteer opportunity through HON.  

“We found out more about each other and talked about how hard it is to meet people,” Patti says. “Then he called me up and asked me out.” 

Patti and Patrick quickly realized they both shared a heart for service.  

“I knew he was a good guy because he was volunteering,” Patti says. “We knew we were like-minded people.” 

“It was a pre-screening we didn’t have to do,” Patrick says, laughing.  

Patrick and Patti took their relationship — and their commitment to volunteering — to the next level. Patti became HON’s executive director and Patrick served on HON’s board of directors. While Patrick and the rest of the board reached out to nonprofits to tell them about HON, Patti compiled the volunteer opportunity calendar manually by making phone calls to local organizations, typing up volunteer needs, and making copies of the calendar to distribute around town.  

The couple live in Savannah, Ga., now, but they still believe in the power of giving back — volunteering, delivering meals, mentoring, serving on advisory boards. Patti says she sees HON in the news sometimes and is so proud of how the organization has grown.   

Volunteering through HON is a great way to meet people in a new city, Patrick says. He found love with Patti, but he also made lifelong friends.  

“The organization did wonders with putting together like-minded people,” he says. “I’ve probably got seven close friends I’m still in touch with after 26 years.” 

Volunteer opportunities that would be great for dates 

Looking for a way to spend some time with your sweetie over Valentine’s Day? Check out these volunteer opportunities! 

💓 Help fight food insecurity with The Branch of Nashville 

💓 Create Love Your Neighbor Notes with the Community Resource Center 

💓 Garden Prep with Inspiritus 

💓 Organize donations for tornado survivors with Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. 

💓 Plant trees with the Nashville Tree Foundation 

💓 Deliver groceries to seniors with The Store 

💓 Pack food boxes for From Your Father’s “Couples Day of IMPACK”