Tag Archives: “community service”

How to help Kentucky flood survivors

With historic flood damage and brutal heat affecting those in Eastern Kentucky, we know Nashville is looking for ways to help.

YAIPack Outreach, a member of the Nashville VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), is collecting donations for survivors and first responders at 1255 Paradise Hill Road, Clarksville, TN.

Inspiritus, also active in the Nashville VOAD, is looking for volunteers willing to travel to Kentucky to offer aid. Those interested in this opportunity can contact Sherry Buresh at 859-353-2243 or email her at sherry.buresh@weinspirit.org.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (center) met with Inspiritus volunteers at the Volunteer Reception Center in Wayland Floyd County to provide encouragement to responders and survivors alike. (Photo by Inspiritus)

The Inspiritus Disaster Response team is currently on the ground in Eastern Kentucky running the Volunteer Reception Center and coordinating volunteer efforts.

Other local organizations offering relief are The FootPrint Project, Kentucky Red Cross, and the Christian Appalachian Project. They need monetary donations, as well as volunteers.

This is a reminder that disasters can occur without warning. Hands On Nashville and our partners are always preparing for whatever may come our way.

Partner Spotlight: Tennessee Resettlement Aid 

Tennessee Resettlement Aid (TRA) is an organization that began out of compassion. In 2021, founder Katie Finn found herself in the Nashville airport baggage claim area watching refugees arrive with very few belongings begin their lives in Middle Tennessee. She began brainstorming solutions and quickly joined together with Saleem Tahiri and Julie Pine to begin the Tennessee Resettlement Aid.  

TRA is dedicated to meeting the needs of Afghan refugees as they adjust to a new country and new lifestyle. When refugees first arrive in Nashville they are given a federal stipend to spend on clothing, food, and any other needs individuals may have. However, this is not enough to sustain families in the long run, which is where the Tennessee Resettlement Aid steps in.

The organization provides immediate aid to families by giving them food, clothes, English as Secondary Language (ESL) classes, medical and immigration advocacy, transportation, and more. Since its founding, the need for the TRA has only grown to respond to an already overwhelmed resettlement infrastructure. More than 500 Afghan allies have arrived in Nashville, with many more expected in the coming months.

To date, TRA has provided 37 Wi-Fi installations in family homes, 60 bicycles, home goods for 95 families, and 12 washers and dryers installed in refugee’s homes.  

Each week, TRA and its volunteers provide culturally appropriate meals to more than 400 families 

We’re so grateful to welcome the TRA as a Hands On Nashville partner and hope our volunteers can continue to support their ongoing efforts! Click here to learn more

The Tennessee Resettlement Aid was founded in 2021 to offer additional services to Afghan refugees entering Tennessee.

 
Organization: Tennessee Resettlement Aid 

Impact area: Immigrant and Refugee Services 

Mission: Tennessee Resettlement Aid provides direct assistance to our Afghan allies and their families to bridge the gaps in the present refugee resettlement system. They give newly arrived people food, clothing, and household items that are appropriate for their culture, as well as make it easier for them to access other services through partner organizations.  

Contact Information: Email info@tennesseeresettlementaid.org 

Donations & Volunteer opportunities: tennesseeresettlementaid.org 

Sign up for Weed Wrangle and support our local green spaces!

Join Weed Wrangle’s nation-wide effort to save our native plants. On Saturday, March 5, 10 local parks and nature centers are gathering volunteers to pull weeds and keep the invasive plants at bay.

This important work needs to be done annually so that our native plant communities can keep up their hard work of helping control erosion, moderate floods, filter water, decrease water needed for landscaping, and sequester carbon to combat climate change.
Ready to get started?

Pick a location below and sign up! Interested in learning more? Click here.

Spread a little love this Valentine’s Day

We all know Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate your loved ones. But, instead of flowers and chocolates, we thought we would share a few ways you can show some love to your community with those you love. These opportunities are great for your friends, family, or that special someone!  

Check out our list here:  

Sort and bundle baby clothes with There With Care Middle Tennessee 
When: Ongoing 

Organize donations, bundle baby clothes, and help create grocery support care bags with There with Care. Spread love to new families in your community! 👶💗 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000eFqZGEA0 

Deliver Care Packages to Families at local Children’s Hospitals 
When: Ongoing 

There with Care Middle Tennessee is looking for volunteers to deliver care kits to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and to The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial. Additional training and a background check is required. 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000eFqZaEAK 

Package hygiene kits with the Community Resource Center 
When: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14 

Everyone should have the ability to look and smell their best, especially on Valentine’s Day! Spend a few hours with a loved one packaging relief and hygiene kits at the CRC, which are delivered to eight counties across Middle Tennessee. 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000iO46lEAC 

Share a Hobby or Skill with the residents of Dismas House 
When: Ongoing 

Looking to show off a special skill with your significant other? Volunteering will surely impress them! You can share a hobby or skill together or individually with the residents of Dismas House. Activities can range from cooking a delicious meal together to singing, acting, or whatever your passion is! Activities can be shared in person or over Zoom.  

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C1H00001omHQfUAM 
 
Food Delivery to Afghan Refugees with The Branch 
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14 

Explore Nashville with your Valentine while doing good for our neighbors in need! The Branch of Nashville is looking for volunteers to pick up pre-made boxes of food and deliver them to Afghan families at local apartment complexes. 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000iO3tAEAS 

Modify Homes for Children with Disabilities with Tucker’s House 
When: Ongoing 

Get your hands dirty with your Valentine by remodeling a home to meet specific needs for children with disabilities! Volunteers with construction experience are needed to help with demo, framing, trim, building ramps, and more. General volunteers are also needed to help with demolition, construction clean up, and painting.  

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C1H00001asz6nUAA 

Be a friendly face and provide assistance to guests at FiftyForward  
When: 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 

FiftyForward is looking for folks to assist with their adult day services! Volunteers will greet guests as they arrive, assist with meal services, and provide socialization and one-on-one support during activities. Show some love to the older adult community and warm your own heart in the process.  

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000iO09CEAS 

Want to make a difference this holiday season?

On this giving Tuesday, we have great ways to give back!

  1. In honor of Hands On Nashville’s 30th anniversary, donate $30 today! We also have these limited-edition, commemorative set available for $30
  2. Start a fundraiser on FB or Instagram. Set a goal of raising $300 for Hands On Nashville.
  3. Commit to volunteering by signing up today! We’ll list some great holiday opportunities here, but our calendar extends out into next year if this time of year is hectic.  

Click here to see how to set up your own Facebook fundraiser!

Thank you for all your support. We are so grateful for the Nashville community and your huge collective heart for service! 

Hope for the Holidays

By Sophia Bobrowsky, AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville 

Once recovery began following the March 2021 flooding, Hands On Nashville and our disaster partners set a goal — rebuilding 30 homes within a year of the flood. On Nov. 5, we celebrated another milestone toward that goal by completing our latest home rebuild, just in time for the holidays!  

It wouldn’t have been possible without The Inspiritus team, HON volunteers, the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT), and service members from the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) who came together to aid the hundreds of families affected by the flooding. My name is Sophia Bobrowsky, the AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the recovery teams on this home, and was able to visit on the final day of construction.  

Here’s what I saw. 

Walking up to the Inspiritus construction site for the last time, I was greeted by Robert Zavala, the contractor who has overseen the home construction for the past three months. He’s contracted through Inspiritus, a nonprofit that offers disaster relief and long-term recovery solutions to people in need.  

An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member assists in renovating a flood-damaged home.

I stood in the kitchen of the newly remodeled home in awe as NCCC members  steadily cleaned around me. A dozen or so members were busy wiping dust from the trim, and putting the final screws in kitchen cabinets.  

Robert chuckled at my excitement, and was quick to credit all the volunteers for their hard work.  

“NCCC is absolutely wonderful, I love them to death,” Robert said. “They come with a big crew and get everything knocked out very fast. It’s nice to have a crew you can train, and that works together for a longer period of time.” 

Robert explained NCCC didn’t come with formal training, but like volunteers who sign up for Inspiritus projects, they’re excited to learn, and always give 100 percent. Together, volunteer teams rebuilt this home from the ground up — the walls were gutted, the flooring torn out, and the HVAC system had to be completely cleaned and repaired.  

Of the projects, the flooring took the longest, Robert said. From ripping up the flooring to repairing the subfloor and then laying new tile — it’s a tedious process that takes time to be done right.  

Robert is the only Inspiritus construction manager in Tennessee, and he assists in matching volunteers with projects that are safe , sources and purchases materials for home repairs, and trains the volunteers completing the work.  

A NCCC member paints the trim of a home damaged by the March 2021 flooding.

Following my talk with Robert, I continued to explore the house and see what my fellow AmeriCorps members were working on. I spoke with Marisa Switzman, a Team Lead with Americorps NCCC. 

NCCC is different than the traditional Americorps program I am currently participating in, as this cohort travels the country for 10 months, spending no more than a few weeks in each city they visit. NCCC members meet community needs in the areas of energy conservation, infrastructure improvement, natural and other disaster services, and urban and rural development. 

Marisa said she said she really enjoys the hands-on experience of NCCC, and learning so many different life and teambuilding skills. 

“It’s been super rewarding to give back to the community and to specific people like this homeowner,” Marisa said. “That’s why we joined NCCC because it’s all about that:, giving back. The most challenging part is making mistakes — but that’s part of the learning process, and Robert has shown us mistakes are really easy to fix.” 

Zach King, also an NCCC member, was serving alongside Marisa, and agreed about the construction skills. This is the first construction project he’s attempted during his term, and said so far each site has presented a different set of challenges.  

“In terms of the whole year — Mammoth Cave was the most physically demanding, but NOLA was emotionally demanding,” Zach said.  

A group of NCCC members post for a photo while working on site in Nashville.

His cohort spent the first month of their term rebuilding hiking trails at Mammoth Cave, Ky., and the following few weeks offering relief to survivors of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans. For the next few weeks Zach and his team will stay in Davidson County continuing to support disaster relief efforts in South Nashville.  

“So far my term has been super good — in NOLA everyone was super thankful, and the people were very vocal about that. In Mammoth [Cave] our work was lasting as the trails will be used by hikers for a while. However, here it’s massive for this homeowner to have a house to get into by Thanksgiving,” Zach said. “That’s incredible, and a really cool goal to have someone in their house by the holidays.” 

We are extremely grateful to VOAD and CFMT for providing the funding to HON and our partnering organizations to assist in flood-relief efforts. To read more about their impact, click here.

NCCC is a federally-funded program that Hands On Nashville applied for and was granted following the March flooding. For more information about NCCC, click here. To volunteer for a disaster relief project, click here 

Volunteers assist in repairing a flood damaged home in Nashville.

Flood survivors need volunteers like you to help on their path to recovery

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Connect with survivors who may still need support: Small groups of volunteers will canvass flood-affected neighborhoods on Nov. 12. We especially need Spanish speakers to ensure we can connect with as many families as possible! 

2. Rebuild homes with Inspiritus: Volunteers will help residents rebuild homes impacted by the flood. Activities range from painting, flooding, installing drywall and insulation. Training is provided with on-site leadership.

3. Use your skills or form a group to help with the rebuilding effort: As recovery and rebuilding continues we need skilled construction volunteers as well as groups of volunteers who can help with demolition, construction, and community outreach.





Survey shows volunteers want to help, but are concerned about exposure to COVID-19

In June, Hands On Nashville invited community members to take a survey gauging their thoughts and attitudes toward volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope was to get a clearer picture of how volunteers felt about weighing the risks of volunteering against the expanding needs in our community, so that we can work with our nonprofit partners to carve out safe and impactful ways volunteers can help Nashville get through this tough time.

Thank you to everyone who took the survey and shared their thoughts with us! 

The survey was completed by 223 individuals, the majority of whom identify as having volunteered through HON before.

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Respondents indicate an increased desire to volunteer in part because of events including the March 3 tornado. However, more than half of respondents also report worrying that volunteering will increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Respondents also report that they don’t necessarily have more time to volunteer now than they did earlier in the year, before the tornado and pandemic hit. A solid majority indicated they would volunteer more once the pandemic was over.

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We asked respondents to evaluate a handful of volunteer scenarios and and gauge their comfort levels with each. Overall they reported greater comfort levels with outdoor projects and projects capped at 10 people. Their comfort levels fell the larger the project attendance grew. Respondents also report feeling much more comfortable volunteering at a project where all the other volunteers are known, as opposed to volunteering with a group of strangers. (To create a volunteer team that can sign up for projects together, click here.)

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We asked respondents to share any additional thoughts they had on volunteering during the pandemic, and several respondents replied that they are in a high-risk category — either through their age, their baseline health status, or both — and do not feel comfortable volunteering. A good portion of Nashville’s volunteer base is retirement age, so we anticipate this consideration is having a substantial impact on the number of overall volunteers serving at this time. Some respondents also replied that they are a caretaker for someone in a high-risk category, and do not want to expose themselves for fear of transmitting the virus to the high-risk person in their care.

Several respondents also commented about how they would prefer to volunteer remotely — from home or delivering things in their car — during this time. (To see a roundup of virtual volunteer projects, click here.)

Some other comments:

I’m more than willing to volunteer as long as I am protected and those around me are as well. If proper guidelines are being followed and there aren’t a mass of people on top of each other, I would also feel comfortable.

I would absolutely love to help, but until the pandemic is over, I am extremely uncomfortable participating in any volunteering event where I’d be in close proximity to anyone else, especially if they aren’t required to wear a mask at all times.

I, like many, am unsure of what to do. Really want to volunteer, but unsure if bringing myself into a scenario will put others at risk. Also, unsure if I will need to limit my exposure to my workplace or to family, etc. as a result.

There is no question that fear of COVID-19 is limiting my willingness to volunteer these days though I have made some food deliveries and done a few solo clean-up projects.

I am reluctant to be around individuals I do not know. I am learning more and more that many people are being quite cavalier about their exposure to COVID-19.

I have less time with kids home and a son with a mild heart condition. So, I can possibly do things out of my house or where I can run around in my car (with some of my kids possibly). My kids would like to help as well, just worry about Covid right now.

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.

Kids Ride! Volunteers Connect Bikes with 200+ Nashville Youth.

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Hands On Nashville hosts Fourth ReCYCLE for Kids Giveaway supporting Metro Students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –On Saturday, July 30, 200+ youth took home helmets, locks, odometers and “like-new” bicycles during Hands On Nashville’s fourth ReCYCLE for Kids presented by Jackson.

View more photos from this event.

This spring, Hands On Nashville volunteers donated and refurbished nearly 220 gently used bikes for Metro students and youth served by Metro Parks Community Centers. Saturday’s giveaway event at Coleman Park Community Center marked the culmination of a three-phase volunteer effort to support healthy youth lifestyle choices and access to community resources.073016_ReCYCLE Giveaway_WM-9

“Our summer and after-school programs are focused on keeping young people active to support healthy social and academic development,” said Coleman Center Facilities Manager Stevon Neloms. “Thanks to generous community volunteers, our kids now have another fun way to exercise and stay active here and at home.”

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During the event, volunteers helped recipients select bikes, fit riders for new helmets, and led them through a series of bike-safety activities.

“Exercise and education are true building blocks for student achievement, and we’re thrilled that many of our families now have these resources,” said Paragon Mills Principal Dr. Maria Austria. “Our community has rallied together to show our students they care.”

073016_ReCYCLE Giveaway_WM-8Community partnerships played a key role in the successes leading up to the event. In May, Metro Parks Community Centers and Middle Tennessee YMCAs served as bike collection sites. For the fourth consecutive year, the Oasis Center led refurbishment efforts at its Bike Workshop, where volunteers cleaned bikes, replaced chains, repaired seats and more.

073016_ReCYCLE Giveaway_WM-17.jpg“At the Oasis Bike Workshop, teens learn about themselves and their communities through our bike building program,” said Oasis Bike Workshop Founder Dan Furbish. “Our hope is that today’s recipients develop a passion for biking now, and someday will join our program.”

073016_ReCYCLE Giveaway_WM-1Many ReCYCLE for Kids volunteers hailed from the Nashville business community, including Change Healthcare, Cummins, Regions and Ted Sanders Moving. Jackson celebrated its third year consecutive year as ReCYCLE’s presenting sponsor.

“One of Jackson’s core pillars is to enhance the lives of children in our community,” said Susannah Berry, corporate social responsibility specialist for Jackson. “Our team has truly united around ReCYCLE for kids, and its unique approach to empowering youth.”

Since its inception in 2012, ReCYCLE for Kids has made bike ownership a reality for nearly 1,000 youth living in underserved neighborhoods. The goal of the effort is to encourage the re-use and recycling of materials. Hands On Nashville plans to distribute remaining bikes to Nashville youth this summer.

 ReCYCLE for Kids is a testament to the value of creative community partnership and volunteerism,” said Hands On Nashville Interim Executive Director Lori Shinton, “This event is an uplifting example of what we can do as a community when we come together around a common goal.”

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 www.HON.org or call (615) 298-1108.

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