Ms. Brooks, now retired, is an avid churchgoer, a proud new grandmother, and a homeowner in East Nashville.
Before volunteers completed a Home Energy Savings project in her home this April, Ms. Brooks was paying as high as $400 per month for her energy bill alone. Shortly after her project was completed, Ms. Brooks called Hands On Nashville with good news.
“I’m so satisfied with the work you guys did!,” she said. “Thank you for the [energy-efficient] light bulbs! Thank you for my new fire extinguisher, the smoke alarms, all my attic insulation! Thank you, thank you, thank you! … I walked in the house and could immediately tell a big difference!” Continue reading Home Energy Savings Homeowner Spotlight: Ms. Brooks→
From June through July, these 2014 YVC Summer Youth Leaders will each facilitate a weeklong camp for their fellow high school volunteers that focuses on a specific issue, including homelessness, health and wellness, youth education, and the environment. Each camp is designed to encourage a deeper understanding of the issue and our community through hands-on service learning experiences.
After being selected through a highly competitive application process, these difference-makers completed a Hands On Nashville leadership training session to help them prepare to lead skill-building activities centered around service-learning. Please join us in welcoming these four inspiring leaders!
Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: I would go to Europe.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do in Nashville?
A: Attend Vanderbilt football games.
For the past two years, Father Ryan High School sophomore Ben Delevante has volunteered as a middle school basketball coach, assisted at Room In The Inn, and has helped raise money to fight cancer as a Relay for Life participant. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have many great examples of volunteerism and leadership,” Ben says. “It’s important to help out those less fortunate in our community.”
As a coach and leader, Ben knows the importance of having a plan and motivating others to achieve a common goal. This summer, he hopes to further his teaching and leadership skills while learning more about our community needs. As a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader, Ben will be channeling his energy for health and wellness to better the environment in our community. This summer, Ben will lead campers in service-learning opportunities including maintenance and upkeep of local parks, planting gardens, and providing energy upgrades to a local home.
CECILIA VON MANN, Hunger & Homelessness Week, June 23-27
A fun fact about Cecilia:
Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: India during the Holi Fest or Patagonia, Chile, to hike the mountains or hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
For Cecilia Von Mann, volunteering is one of the most important aspects of her life.
Cecilia, a junior at Father Ryan High School, is a long-time volunteer at Room In The Inn. From serving meals and registering guests to teaching art classes, Cecilia is passionate about helping those facing homelessness. In addition, Cecilia tutors refugee children each week, has led multiple retreats at her middle school, and has traveled across the globe to complete mission trips in cities from Honduras to South Carolina.
Cecilia is excited to put her summer to good use by helping others as a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader, and hopes to learn more about hunger throughout the process. This summer, Cecilia will lead campers in service-learning opportunities including sorting perishable food items, serving lunch to women and children facing homelessness, and prepping survival kits.
EMILY THOMPSON, Health & Wellness Week, July 7-11
A few fun facts about Emily: Q: If you could eat only one type of food forever, what would it be?A: Pizza. All day every day. There is nothing better.
Q: If you could only listen to one CD/album forever, which one would it be?
A: Any Arctic Monkeys album other than A.M. Their older stuff is even better.
Emily Thompson, a junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, believes that time is the greatest gift you can give to someone. A Girl Scout since kindergarten, Emily learned the true value of volunteerism from a young age. Whether volunteering at Hands On Nashville, spearheading a clothing donation drive at her church to support those facing homelessness, or organizing a middle school dance to support Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Emily enjoys making a difference for others and leading by example.
As an aspiring pediatrician, Emily’s goal is to help improve access to proper healthcare and safety in the community. As a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader, Emily will lead campers in service-learning opportunities including sorting medical supplies for clinics overseas, boxing shoes for children abroad, and cooking lunch for people battling illnesses.
CONOR RORK, Youth Education Week, July 21-25
A few fun facts about Conor: Q: If you could only eat one type of food forever, what would it be?
A: Spaghetti with meat sauce. All day.
Q: If you could only listen to one CD/album forever, which one would it be?
A: El Camino, The Black Keys
University School of Nashville tenth grader Conor Rork has been an avid reader since age 4. This summer, Conor hopes to share his passion for education and the written word with his peers and community youth as a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader. “I’d like to pass on and share my love of reading with children,” Conor says. “I hope to make a difference in at least one child’s life through this opportunity.”
As a community volunteer, Conor has proudly served as a math tutor for youth at Edgehill Community Center and the Susan Gray School, organized musical activities at his church’s vacation bible school, and led Boy Scout Troup 31 in many service projects.
This summer, Conor will lead campers in service-learning opportunities such as assisting with enrichment activities for young kids, reading to children, and sorting books.
ISABEL JOHNSON-BANN, Youth Volunteer Corps Summer AmeriCorps Member
We’d like to extend a special thank-you to Youth Volunteer Corps Summer AmeriCorps Member Isabel Johnson-Bann. This summer, Isabel will oversee each week of Hands On Nashville’s YVC summer camp while facilitating fun, educational service-learning activities for youth participants. From 2007-2013, Isabel served as a highly active Youth Volunteer Corps volunteer in the Middle Tennessee community. She has completed numerous service projects benefiting our community’s youth, homeless and disabled populations, as well as the environment. Isabel is currently studying Animal Science at The University of Tennessee at Martin.
All of the company’s profit is reinvested in Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings (HES) program. This nonprofit program engages volunteers to make energy and safety improvements in low-income homes at no cost to qualifying Nashvillians. Since 2011, HES has completed improvements on more than 160 homes and saved each homeowner an average of 16 percent on their utility bills.
When you choose Go Green Home Services, you will feel good in your home, and help someone in need feel good in theirs.
Rising energy costs and utility bills have become a growing concern for just about every American in recent years, but for homeowners in many low-income areas, the problem is even more acute. This is particularly true in Middle Tennessee and Davidson County.
One Nashville neighborhood where this has become a real challenge for low-income homeowners is Chestnut Hill, a small and diverse community just south of downtown Nashville. Chestnut Hill boasts many homes that date as far back as the 1930s, most of which have never had any weatherization or efficiency upgrades. Metro Council District 17, where Chestnut Hill is located, also has the lowest median household income in Davidson County, making the prospect of skyrocketing utility costs even more worrisome for residents there.
Channeling and implementing the expertise it has cultivated since its inception in early 2011, our amazing Home Energy Savings (HES) program team and dedicated volunteers are working with community partners, including Mayor Dean’s Impact Nashville Initiative, to help ease the burden of utility costs for low-income homeowners in Chestnut Hill.
We would like to introduce you to one particular homeowner we had the pleasure of working with this past April, Ms. Starnes:
She lives in a small, neatly kept home on a quiet street. Family photographs and marathon finisher medals adorn the walls, and a bedroom is set up for her grandson, who often spends the night with her.
Because of serious health problems, Ms. Starnes is no longer able to participate in marathons. But she was thrilled to be able to show off her medals to Mayor Dean when he stopped by the project to say “thank you” to volunteers!
While volunteers busily worked on her home, installing insulation, adding weather stripping to doors and windows, sealing up cracks, and more, Ms. Starnes looked on with a smile of gratitude on her face.
“What a blessing these volunteers are to me,” she said over and over. She was especially thankful for the raised-bed garden that volunteers built in her backyard, and talked about how her grandson couldn’t wait to grow broccoli there.
Fast-forward two months later, and you can already see the delicious vegetables growing in Ms. Starnes’ garden!
As a result of HES volunteers’ work at her home, Ms. Starnes will save hundreds of dollars in utility bills each year that she can now put toward her healthcare. Now that the heat of summer is really here, she is also enjoying a much more comfortable home. And as part of her daily physical activity, she’s gardening and enjoying quality time with her grandson too.
Ms. Starnes is one of more than 200 homeowners that have benefited from the Home Energy Savings program since 2011.
With the generous investments of the following house sponsors, Hands On Nashville is completing 63 Home Energy Saving Projects in 2013. They include: Cities of Service, Corporation for National and Community Service, CSX Corporation, Ingram Industries, Inc., LetterLogic, The Melkus Family Foundation, The HCA Foundation, The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Nashville Energy Works, The T&T Family Foundation, Urban Land Institute, and Village Real Estate Advised Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Our work in Chestnut Hill will continue throughout 2013 and we are always on the lookout for more volunteers to donate their time to this and other important HES projects throughout Nashville. An ideal fit for both individuals and groups of up to 10, no experience is needed and our HES leaders will guide you through every step of the process. As an added bonus, volunteers working on these projects learn valuable energy-saving tips that they can take with them and implement in their own homes!
Click here to learn more about HES volunteer opportunities and sign up!
Last night, the Hands On Nashville team was thrilled to receive the Frist Foundation: Innovation in Action Award at the Salute to Excellence Awards. (This event is like the Grammy’s for nonprofits in Nashville produced by the Center for Nonprofit Management.)
The HES Program engages volunteers in making energy-efficiency upgrades in low-income, owner occupied homes in North and East Nashville at no cost to homeowners. This is the only local, volunteer-centered program to focus exclusively on energy efficiency while addressing unmet community needs.
After homeowners are accepted into the program, they receive an in-home energy consultation with diagnostic testing. A suite of upgrades are identified, and volunteers make improvements: insulating attics, weather stripping doors, etc.
Over the last year, more than 100 homeowners have benefited from the HES Program. As a result of volunteers’ work, homes’ air infiltration (or “leakiness”) has been reduced by an average of 24 percent. This translates into average annual utility bill savings of $300 to $700 per homeowner.
Are you interested in volunteering for the HES Program and learning how to make energy-saving upgrades in your own home? We are always looking for helping hands for our weekly projects! (No experience needed! Our amazing HES leaders are eager to show you the ropes.) This is a good fit for both individuals and groups of up to 10. Click here to learn more and sign up, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is to complete work in 10 homes over four days in October, and we need your help!
Groups and individuals encouraged to sign up. Perfect team-building opportunity (can accommodate up to 10 volunteers per home).
NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED! All work is supervised by a Project Leader, and all equipment and materials are provided.
Volunteers will install attic and basement insulation, weather stripping to doors and windows, rain gardens and shade trees, and other upgrades.
Volunteers should wear comfortable work clothes and closed-toe shoes. Lunch, water, and snacks will be provided.
Be prepared to have fun and learn simple energy savings tips for your own home!
About this Project
Chestnut Hill is a small, diverse community in South Nashville with a strong community spirit. Most homes in the neighborhood date back to the 1930s and have had very little weatherization work done on them. All homes participating in this program are owner-occupied and low-income. Community partners making this project possible include the Village Fund, LetterLogic, the Urban Land Institute, Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education & Human Development, and 12South Neighborhood Association.
If you had asked me last month what a caulking gun was used for, I would have made up an answer that was 99% likely to be wrong – but not anymore!
In late February, I joined six of my coworkers from the Grand Ole Opry to help Hands On Nashville make a home more energy efficient and weather proof, and that’s how I met Mr. Danridge* and learned exactly what one does with a caulking gun!
Having no home improvement experience beyond painting, I was a little nervous as I drove up to Mr. Danridge’s East Nashville home to join the HON crew. However, as soon as we began our initial project overview, our leader Jaclyn put my mind at ease. Many of the projects were simple tasks that just took a few minutes to learn, but make such a big difference in the homes once they are installed! It was amazing to learn that by simply replacing the shower heads and adding some thermometers to the refrigerator and weather stripping to the doors, Mr. Danridge would be saving a significant amount in bills each month. I even purchased a reusable air filter for my own condo this week, thanks to what I learned at the HON site!
After completing some of these minor tasks, I moved on to my big project of the day – caulking the living room to seal out any air that may sneak in through the cracks in the wood paneling. After several attempts, and a lot of caulk on my clothes, I think I finally perfected the art, and we got some great photos in the meantime!
It was truly inspiring to meet Mr. Danridge, a kind older gentleman suffering from dementia, and to talk with him about his home and his family, knowing that we were helping improve his home and lessen his financial burden. It was also unique to spend time outside of work with my coworkers, doing good for others.
Thanks Hands On Nashville for the opportunity, and I look forward to more caulking experiences (or whatever the project may call for) with you!
*Name has been changed to respect privacy.
Jessica Siegel is Events Assistant at Grand Ole Opry. Thanks to Jessica and all of the Grand Ole Opry employees who volunteered at Mr. Lockridge’s home! Interested in getting involved in HON’s Home Energy Savings Program? Learn more here.
By Jaclyn Khoury, Hands On Nashville’s Director of Sustainability
The Home Energy Savings (HES) Program is celebrating its ONE (!) year anniversary this month. It feels like a lifetime of accomplishment has been packed into these past twelve months, thanks to the help of 264 volunteers who worked hard to improve the energy efficiency of nearly 40 low-income homes in North and East Nashville. As we analyze the utility bills of each home before and after each project, we are able to see the environmental, economic, and social impact of our work. Each metric adds up to make Nashville a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable community:
• kilowatts of electricity saved
• reduction in each homeowner’s utility bills
• reduction in CO2 emissions
• safer, more comfortable homes
• increased homeowner awareness
• community/neighborhood building
My desk is a living collage of all the wonderful things homeowners have given to me in humble thanks – from cards and poems to plants. I work with a lot of elderly widows that are astounded that a young woman would crawl in their attic space just to help lower their utility bills. Sometimes I show homeowners their attic space for the first time in their 30+ years of living in a home, and they are so curious and mystified… it’s like we’ve made a voyage to the moon.
One particular homeowner, Ms. Smith*, took notice of my paint-covered work boots while inspecting her home. As we sat at her kitchen table going over the importance of shutting off lights, she said, “my, your feet must ache being in those all day.” I smiled and didn’t think much of it.
Three weeks later, 20 employees from Schneider Electric and C & W Weatherization spent the better half of a day helping weatherize Ms. Smith’s home. All afternoon she sat at her kitchen table feverishly knitting. The volunteers did a great job and heart felt “thank you’s” were exchanged all around at the end of the day.
Ms. Smith knew I would be working on her neighbor’s house the following week. Mid-day while I was working in her neighbor’s front yard, Ms. Smith came up the street with a freshly finished pair of knit slippers for me. She said, “I don’t have much money, but I know everyone needs a place to rest their feet, so I made you these, I hope you like the colors I picked.” The knot in my throat made it hard to say thank you, I was so deeply touched.
This week we ran the utility analysis on Ms. Smith’s utility bills. In the eight months since we completed work on her home, she has saved $654 on her bills compared to the previous year. That is $654 she can put towards more pressing needs like food, medicine, and transportation. Furthermore, we saved 6,812 kWh**, and 10,218 pounds of CO2 emissions for Nashville residents to breathe easier.
With generous investments from The River Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, The T&T Family Foundation, and Ingram Industries, Inc., we are rolling up our sleeves to complete 280 homes in 2012 and 2013. This will be no small feat, and it will take the many hands and hard work of volunteers like you to make this happen.
*Name is changed to respect privacy.
**kWh=1,000 kilowatts (electricity is measured in kilowatts)
About Jaclyn: As Hands On Nashville’s Director of Sustainability, Jaclyn developed the organization’s Home Energy Savings Program, which launched in early 2011. She works with volunteers, homeowners, and her hands to create more sustainable homes in Nashville’s low-income neighborhoods. Before her move to Nashville in 2009, Jaclyn worked with Habitat for Humanity as a Construction Facilitator in Minneapolis and Central America. As a LEED ID+C and certified energy auditor, Jaclyn is determined and devoted in her commitment to integrate sustainability into the fabric of working communities. She is currently a student at Lipscomb University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Green Building.
Still looking for an opportunity to give back this holiday season? Come on out to a low-income home in North and East Nashville and help make it more energy efficient – ultimately saving people money on utility bills! No experience is necessary. Scope of work includes: installing attic and wall insulation, installing CFL’s, installing sink aerators and low flow shower heads, installing reusable air filter, CO2 and smoke detector and wrapping hot water heaters. These are great skills to know how to do to your own home too! Available dates to sign-up: 12/7, 12/14 and/or 12/21. Click here to go directly to our project calendar and reserve your spot.
This week always has a certain feel to it – life’s busy pace seems to slow down just a bit, autumn really seems to settle in amongst the fallen leaves, and families and friends prepare to gather around tables to share a meal together. There’s just something about this holiday that seems to allow space for quiet reflection, even amidst the grocery shopping, the travel, and the menu preparation. And so – in between making plans to run in the Boulevard Bolt Thursday morning and our travel schedules – here’s our reflection on what makes us proud to be Nashvillians.
Middle Tennesseans have embraced a spirit and culture of volunteerism over the past two years that is quite literally changing lives every day. We can share the numbers with you until we’re blue in the face (Nashville leapfrogged 19 places in the latest national ranking of volunteer service – from 37 to 18 among 51 of the nation’s largest cities), and we can point to the number of people who volunteered in 2010 to help with Nashville’s flood response and then kept volunteering in the community beyond flood response. But the every-day stories of people helping people are what remind us of how truly remarkable our community is. Here are a few:
So, as we prepare for our Thanksgiving activities, we want to acknowledge our deep appreciation and thanks for the culture and spirit of volunteerism and service that makes Music City such an incredibly giving community.