Tag Archives: Direct Service Youth

Strobel Finalists 2022: Direct Service — Youth

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Youth category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 using the button below!

JohnThomas Atema

JohnThomas Atema
Volunteers with Best Buddies 

JohnThomas Atema began volunteering with the Best Buddies organization in the sixth grade. As a peer, lunch and a homework buddy, Atema has been a consistent friend to peers with special needs because of his passion for inclusivity.  

Atema has continued his services with the Best Buddies organization by serving as both vice president and president of the organization in middle school. While serving in these roles, he was recognized as the top fundraiser for the Best Buddies Walk that year and won the James C. Parker Service Award. As a high schooler, Atema has served as a peer buddy all three years and currently serves as the vice president of the high school-level organization. Moving into his senior year, he hopes to be president of the organization. He is also a part of Best Buddies International through providing videos for the organization and serving as the youngest Global Ambassador.  “JohnThomas does not have to do Best Buddies because he lives Best Buddies — he has a sister with Down syndrome and lives out the organization’s mission every day. However, he has passionately chosen to be involved with this organization because he knows how important it is and has been Buddies with the same student since the seventh grade,” shared a colleague of Atema’s.  


Riya Narayan

Riya Narayan
Founder of Treats and Tunes

Riya Narayan is the founder of Treats and Tunes, an organization with a mission to provide people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities with a platform to share their love for music. Through her organization, she has reached out to many assisted living centers, coordinated performances and logistics, and planned in-person and virtual events.  

When Narayan recognized the impact that music can have on members of senior living and long-term care facilities, she knew that she would be able to meet that need. At age 14, Narayan founded Treats and Tunes to provide engaging activities and entertainment for members of elderly communities. Based in Franklin, Tenn., Narayan has recruited performers from across the world to share the joy of music to over 1,500 residents in assisted living centers in not only the Nashville area, but also centers in New York, Michigan, California and Vancouver, Canada. Treats and Tunes has expanded to host over 30 virtual and eight in-person events in the span of two years. Narayan has found ways to involve participants from over 10 U.S. states and four different countries, including India and Venezuela.  

Despite the pandemic that affected a lot of her in-person efforts in 2020, Narayan continued to expand in ways that would be safe and still enjoyable to residents of the assisted living centers. Her heart and passion for helping serve others continues to impact many community centers and residents.   “The joy, twinkle in the eyes and the sense of bonding Riya felt from senior citizens after every performance made the efforts totally worth it,” shared a colleague of Narayan’s.


Maddie McDaniel

Maddie McDaniel
Volunteers with Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away 

Maddie McDaniel is no stranger to spreading the love when it comes to volunteer efforts in the Nashville area. As a student, McDaniel dedicates all her weekends and breaks to serving both Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away. The two organizations are working to alleviate homelessness for women and hunger in Nashville.  

Even while attending school Monday through Friday, McDaniel has made the effort to log over 300 hours of community service to both organizations. Starting out as a Girl Scout herself, she first was introduced to Troop 6000 in her freshman year, when she immediately signed up to be a co-leader to provide support and activities to the young women experiencing homelessness. McDaniel felt led to serve this community because of the joy and resilience the women continued to emit, even while experiencing homelessness.  

McDaniel was introduced to One Generation Away through a joint mobile food pantry that was initiated by her church. One Generation Away seeks to help families struggling with food anxiety by providing food from local grocery stores. When serving, she helps unload 30,000 pounds of food and sorts through it. With all her dedicated time to the organization, McDaniel has taken on the responsibility of directing over 300 cars of traffic to the food pantry. She has continued to serve the organization in her personal life through her social media platforms, Girl Scout troops, her church youth group and clubs on campus.  

“Though these two organizations are different, I believe they called me to help for the same reason. They enable me to help someone directly, an opportunity to exchange a smile or a thank you. They allow me to learn from them and get back more than I give,” McDaniel shared.  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2021: Direct Service — Youth

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Youth category of the 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until June 15 at the button below!

Hannah Bodoh

Hannah Bodoh 
Volunteers through various organizations around Nashville

In a year of uncertainty and destruction, high schooler Hannah Bodoh spent 2020 looking for ways to be a light to others. When the March 2020 tornado hit Nashville, she immediately jumped at the chance to volunteer with Hands On Nashville, helping to deliver meals to families who had been displaced in North Nashville and assisting with cleanup efforts. Then when COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect, Hannah spent her time sewing masks, making baby blankets, sending cards and photos to health care workers and the elderly, and collecting clothing and art supplies to distribute to those who needed them most.  

Around the holidays, she stepped up to make and deliver meals to the homeless. When transit shut down due to the Christmas Day bombing, Hannah made sure at-risk Nashvillians received hot meals since they could not get to the shelters.  

Throughout the school year, she volunteered for several events to help raise money for Mary’s Meals, an international organization that feeds the hungry. 

“For me, service has ignited a deep compassion for others and allowed me to share my skills, while meeting new people in a wide range of situations,” Hannah says. “Without service, I would never know the kindness the world can offer each one of us. To this day, service continues to remind me to love humanity for all of its beauty.” 

Hannah has demonstrated an incredibly level of humility and compassion for her age. She makes service a top priority in her schedule, and her efforts have helped countless Nashvillians while inspiring others to step up and make a difference.  

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Sydnee Floyd 

Sydnee Floyd 
Founder of Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives 

When she was just 13 years old, Sydnee Floyd founded the nonprofit Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives. In 2020 alone, her nonprofit helped 20 different organizations and several thousand individuals through a number of donations, including clothing, toiletry bags, sanitary wipes, first aid kits, backpacks and more. 

Through Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives, Sydnee identifies various volunteer opportunities and then recruits young people, educating them on how they can change lives through volunteer service in the hope they will continue service throughout their lives. She also organized a club, Echoes of Hope, at her high school to get even more students involved in charitable causes. 

2020 was a challenging year for the Middle Tennessee community. COVID-19 caused a shortage of support since people weren’t venturing outside of their homes and many businesses helping the homeless were temporarily closed. On top of that, many people lost their jobs, adding to the number of those in need or facing homelessness. Still, in the face of all of that, Sydnee’s organization gathered 100 students and volunteers to provide the needed manpower to gather, sort and pack items to distribute. When the March tornado hit, Jumbled Dreams sprang into action, distributing supplies and materials for victims and volunteers.  

Sydnee says she grew up in service, inspired by her mom, and has always looked for ways to help her community. 

“Service is my whole world. My passion, fire, fuel and heart. I thrive on helping others, and no matter what that will always be my passion. Because I have seen the smiles, tears, heart and passion of those who are experiencing hard times and those who volunteer with us. It might be hard, but it is worth it seeing the heart and soul of your organization come to life.”

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Ian Hooper

Ian Hooper 
Volunteers with Urban Bicycle Food Ministry 

High school student Ian Hooper became involved with the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM) when he was looking to try something new while serving. Since May 2020, he’s logged more than 130 hours of service, biked hundreds of miles and touched countless lives.  

Regardless of the weather – heat, cold, rain or snow – the UBFM team bikes into downtown Nashville twice a week to deliver burritos, water, supplies and words of encouragement to those experiencing homelessness. Ian has developed a true passion for UBFM and the ministry they have created. The two nights a week he volunteers have become his favorite nights of the week, and he’s developed relationships not only with the team, but with the people they serve each week. 

When Ian injured his leg and had to wear a boot, he did not let that stop him from serving. He continued to drive downtown and meet the team each week, standing by to help deliver blankets and other supplies that could not be easily carried on a bike. On his birthday, he chose to ride and deliver food and cookies to celebrate, instead of going to dinner.  

While those who are served each week benefit, the benefit Ian and the rest of the UBFM team receive in return is just as impactful.  

Ian says the UBFM organization has saved him from a lot of personal struggles.  

“UBFM and the opportunity to serve has made a mark on Ian and fueled his passion to serve others,” said Ian’s mom, Laura. 

To see a full list of the nominees for the 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.