Tag Archives: giving back

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!

115 bikes donated on #GivingTuesday!

Warmer weather and lots of wonderful people in Nashville made #GivingTuesday here at Hands On Nashville a glowing success. Thanks to everyone who came out to support this fun day. Special thanks to Dozen Bakery and Tennessee Cheesecake for providing treats, and Wannado for volunteering with us.

This donor brought by a whole truckload of bikes!
This donor brought by a whole truckload of bikes!

Hands On Nashville received 115 bikes during our #BikesAndBakedGoods bike drive on #GivingTuesday, bringing our total so far to 325 bikes (our goal is to reach 500 bikes by Dec. 20 – read more about how you can help here). All of these donations will support our ReCYCLE for Kids program presented by Jackson. Volunteers will restore the bikes to like-new condition with expert guidance from the Oasis Center’s Bike Workshop. Then in the spring, we’ll give them to 400 underserved youth along with new helmets and safety training.

During our #GivingTuesday bike drive, we heard all sorts of fun stories from donors as they parted ways with their wheels.

Instagram user BroccoliCupcake used the day (picture featured below) as a teaching moment with her two boys. She remarks, “The boys donated their bikes to Hands On Nashville today and were pretty excited to get brownies as a thank you.”

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One father took a “last photo” of his daughter’s bike before handing it over to us, and then sent his daughter – who just went off to college – the photo as a memento. He also picked up a few baked goods to ship to her in the mail.

Jerilyn told us about using her childhood bike at her first job on the paper route. The banana seat was just *so* comfortable.

Jerilyn drops off her childhood bike.
Jerilyn drops off her childhood bike.

Another donor came up with a pick-up truck piled high with over eight bikes he collected from his neighborhood. He saw a story on the news and was intent on helping out a good cause.

Thanks to everyone who donated their bikes or gave monetary donations to support ReCYCLE for Kids and Hands On Nashville. We absolutely love this community and are sincerely thankful for your giving hearts.

If you missed out on the designated day of giving, we’ve extended our collection. And yes, we still need your help. Up until December 20, we’re collecting new and used children’s bikes at the Hands On Nashville office, located at 37 Peabody Street, Suite 206 (in the downtown Trolley Barns), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go ahead and dust off those bikes sitting in your garage or basement – they could make a kid’s year, helping them enjoy the excitement of riding and exercising, just like you did as a child.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 3.21.43 PMOur goal is to collect 500 used children’s bikes, and with your help we will get there!

Don’t have a bike but still want to help? We’re also accepting monetary donations to help buy new helmets for the kids. $10 will buy one helmet. Help us keep their noggins safe!

> Click here to make a monetary donation. (Be sure to include the note “for bike helmets” in the Special Instructions field upon checkout.)

 > Click here to read more information about ReCYCLE for Kids.  

Look at all these bikes that will get a second life, thanks to YOU, Nashville!
Look at all these bikes that will get a second life, thanks to YOU, Nashville!

Back to School Tutor Fair Recap

The Salvation Army was just one of many nonprofits at the Tutor Fair.
The Salvation Army was just one of many nonprofits at the Tutor Fair.

The need for tutors who can assist both youth and adult students in Middle Tennessee is greater than ever. Believe it or not, there are usually more than 100 tutoring opportunities listed on the HON website at any given time. But while such a large number of openings provides potential tutors with a nice variety from which to choose, it can be overwhelming for them as well.

With a new school year underway, Hands On Nashville welcomed 18 local nonprofits and more than 75 volunteers to its offices for the inaugural Back to School Tutor Fair on September 5.

The goal of the event was to connect potential volunteer tutors with the nonprofits who need them most and simplify the process that matches individuals with tutor openings. The gathering also provided an opportunity for Hands On Nashville and its nonprofit partners to address some of the common questions and concerns individuals have about tutoring in general.

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A prospective volunteer learns more about tutoring opportunities.

Overall, the Back to School Tutor Fair was an enormous success. Individuals were able to meet a variety of nonprofits in a personal, face-to-face setting and learn about tutoring opportunities that they can fit into their busy schedules.

“It was fantastic to see such a large turnout for this important initiative,” said Kirsten Floyd, HON’s Nonprofit Program Manager, who helped organize the event. “Having nonprofits and potential tutors meet in person, rather than be connected over email, was a great way to start filling the many tutor openings available in the area.”

Hands On Nashville still has plenty of tutoring openings available throughout the Fall. If you missed the Back to School Tutor Fair but you’re interested in tutoring a local student, contact Kirsten directly, and she’ll help you out.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Back to School Tutor Fair!

Introducing the 2013 YVC Interns

Meet our 2013 Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) interns! These twelve outstanding teens will serve as part of a leadership team that works with Hands On Nashville staff to develop and lead youth projects that impact the community. Each Intern has chosen one of the following three concentrations – Arts, Fitness and Nutrition, and Technology – and will design and facilitate educational and skill-building lessons for youth served by area nonprofits. All of these Interns have proven themselves to be truly kind and hardworking individuals, so without further ado…
ArthurArthur Liu loves to go fishing and set up aquariums. Now in his senior year of high school, he wanted to become a YVC intern because he saw it as an opportunity to make a difference in his community while practicing some teaching skills.
BrittanyBrittany Taylor Paschall, a senior at MNPS Middle College High School, enjoys reading, writing, singing, good football, and spending time with the people she loves. Being part of the YVC will allow Brittany to serve her community while exploring her passion for health and fitness. Brittany is very excited to work with HON, the YVC, and to serve the clients of Preston Taylor Ministries!
Caroline DruryCaroline Drury is a Junior at Hume Fogg High School. She is very excited to be working as a YVC intern. She loves teaching, encouraging, and motivating others!
Esther PhambuEsther Phamabu is a junior at Martin Luther King Magnet school. Her passions include traveling, dancing, and volunteering. Esther wanted to be a YVC intern because she felt it was an opportunity to help out in her community and grow as a person in something that she loves to do. Esther is very excited to be a part of the YVC family this year!
Jenny Head ShotJenny Sai is a senior at Hume-Fogg High School, and this will be her 3rd year as a YVC intern in the arts track. She enjoys sharing her love of music with others and exposing students to new musical varieties, which was her inspiration to start teaching. Community service has been a huge part of her high school career, and Jenny aspires to keep it up during college and beyond!
Julian TurnerJulian Turner is a senior at Mt. Juliet High School. He believes that everyone has a duty to contribute to the betterment of their communities. Julian saw the YVC internship as an opportunity to elevate his involvement in the Nashville community and to make that contribution.
Kara CobbKara Cobb is currently a junior at Hume-Fogg. Kara wanted to be a YVC intern because she wanted a chance to give back to the community and help others.
LaurelLaurel Cunningham is a junior at Harpeth Hall High School. Laurel wanted to be an intern with YVC in order to work with kids and teach them about healthy lifestyles so they are set for the rest of their lives. She also wanted the experience of working with and meeting new people her age to solve issues in our community.
LaurenLauren Levy is currently a senior at Brentwood High School and is an active member of the Interact club as well as the tennis team. Becoming a YVC intern is more than a leadership opportunity for her. It is also a chance to lead in the community and directly help and impact the lives of youth throughout Nashville.
Rachel WestRachel West attends Brentwood High School. She enjoys running cross country, playing lacrosse, and helping run the Habitat for Humanity chapter at her school! Rachel joined YVC because she really wanted to make a positive impact in the community, and thought it would be a great opportunity to do so!
RuiqiRuiqi Chen (pronounced Ricky) is a sophomore at Hume-Fogg. She really loves anything to do with the arts, and is especially into music. Ruiqi wanted to be a YVC intern because it seemed like a lot of fun and a good way to give back to the community at the same time.
Zach GradyZach Grady wanted to become an intern for Hands On Nashville to help the community and become a more well-rounded leader. He enjoys helping others & making new discoveries. Zach feels that there’s always an opportunity for change if you’re willing to apply yourself.
Learn more about HON’s youth programs here!

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Dance Theatre of Tennessee

DTTlogoNashville may be known as Music City, but music isn’t the only art form flourishing here.

Our featured nonprofit, The Dance Theatre of Tennessee (DTT), has been fostering the development and expansion of dance throughout Middle Tennessee for nearly ten years. As the performance arm of the Asian American Performing Arts Society, the DTT bills itself as “storytellers on toes” and delivers the pageantry of ballet and live dance theater to enthusiastic fans here in Nashville through a variety of programs and initiatives.

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Just some of the many students learning dance at the DTT.

Founded with a goal of exposing new audiences to the diversity and beauty of dance, the DTT has made tremendous strides in fulfilling that mission and has carved out a solid niche among the numerous performing arts organizations in Nashville under the leadership of Artistic Director Christopher Mohnani.

The organization provides affordable and accessible professional performances throughout the area, offers superior academy dance training, fosters enlightened outreach programs, and works to bring eminent national and international artists, choreographers, and premiere works to Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

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DTT dancers with local students after an outreach event.

The DTT is headquartered in a 14,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility that plays host to many of the group’s performance events. It is also home to an expansive slate of dance classes that annually engage more than 150 students. Additionally, the DTT enjoys partnerships with more than 25 local arts organizations and nonprofits, and the organization has reached more than 20,000 Middle Tennesseans through professional and community performances in the last three years alone!

One such individual, Pennington Elementary teacher Kathryn McCarthy, was inspired and touched by the DTT’s outreach work with students in her school:

The Dance Theatre of Tennessee enjoys a strong presence in the local community.
The Dance Theatre of Tennessee enjoys a strong presence in the local community.

“Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s programs, especially those bringing ballet to the people and the schools, should be applauded,” she says. “(They) showed all students a different way to tell a story by using the beauty of dance and music. It not only enriched the lives of my students, but also of those throughout the school community.”

The DTT is heavily reliant on the work and support of volunteers to further its mission. In particular, operational functions for live performances at various venues in Middle Tennessee are almost entirely staffed by volunteers.

>Click here to volunteer with the Dance Theatre of Tennessee!

The group’s second annual “Ballet in the Park” performance series in Centennial Park will take place later this month, and volunteers will be needed to fill a number of roles, including welcoming park goers, handing out programs, ushering, and assisting at the information booth and kids tent. Individuals can also volunteer to help in setting up and ‘striking out’ lights and equipment for performances during the series.

Important dates for Ballet in the Park is as follows:

September 17-19: Setup Days
September 19 and 26: Full dress and technical rehearsals
September 20-22 & 27-30: Performances
October 1: Post-performance/strike out day

Be sure to visit the DTT’s website for more information about the group’s offerings. If you’re interested in volunteering with the Dance Theatre of Tennessee, contact Christopher Mohnani at 615-391-5500 ext. 3 or via email: cmohnani@dancetheatretn.org.

A Match Made in Service: A HON Day Love Story

Guest Post by: Lauren Repass

Two years ago I was given the opportunity to volunteer at Hands On Nashville Day. Even though I had other friends volunteering and I knew it would be a good experience for me either way, another motivating factor for me to participate was to hopefully make a connection with a co-worker I had a crush on named Marcus.

I got up two hours before I had to be at the school site so I could do my hair and make-up and pick out the perfect outfit. I arrived at the school at 8 a.m. that Saturday morning. Once I arrived, I met up with all of the other volunteers and we gathered around so we could get instructions. I was assigned to the same team Marcus was (surprise!) We were outside painting the portable classrooms when we made our first connection.

After a day full of painting and some yard work, we continued on to the HON Day afterparty, which was great. We were able to meet some of the people that were volunteering at other schools that day and ask how their projects went. We also got to meet some of the students and teachers. The Hands On Nashville staff was very appreciative of everyone’s efforts and how much we achieved in that one day. They also catered a lunch for us at the afterparty and had raffle prizes. I won a CMT One Country bag with tons of cool stuff in it and Marcus won tickets to the play Holes at the Children’s Theatre.

Marcus and I were the last guests to leave the afterparty because we were having such a good time talking. As we were leaving, Marcus asked if I would like to see the play with him soon. Of course I said yes! We ended up having our first date together before we made plans to see the play. That was almost two years ago and now we have a little boy named Lincoln who is seven months old and we are getting married in October in Florida!

Hands On Nashville Day not only gave me the opportunity to do some good work in my community, it helped start my wonderful family as well. I have no doubts that we were meant for each other and that things would have worked out for us no matter what. But the fact that our first encounter was at HON Day really helped make our connection strong right from the beginning. We were able to see each other’s charitable side immediately, and that is something that helped us grow together as a couple and will help our new family grow in the future. Marcus and I continue to volunteer and promote this great opportunity.

A true HON Day family: Lauren, Marcus, and baby  Lincoln.
A true HON Day family: Lauren, Marcus, and baby Lincoln.

Hands On Nashville Day 2013, the community’s largest day of service to public schools, will take place Saturday, September 21 from 8 a.m. to 12 Noon. More than 1,500 volunteers will take part in done-in-a-day improvement projects such as painting and landscaping at 50-plus Metro Nashville Public Schools, greatly enhancing learning environments for both students and teachers alike. Following the school projects, all HON volunteers are invited to attend the CMT One Country Celebration at The Listening Room Café for a complimentary lunch, free entertainment, and door prizes. Learn more about HON Day 2013 and how you can participate at: www.HON.org/honday.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Mid South Chapter, National MS Society

imageChances are, you probably know someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease affects an estimated 2.1 million people worldwide and does not discriminate between men and women or adults and youth. While great strides have been made in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of MS in recent years, the battle against this crippling disease continues.

Leading the fight in the U.S., the National MS Society works toward its organizational vision of a world free of multiple sclerosis by funding research initiatives, facilitating professional education and advocacy efforts, and providing programs and services that help those with MS and their families move their lives forward.

Our featured nonprofit, the Mid South Chapter of the MS Society, is based in Nashville and serves more than 9,000 individuals in Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Mississippi, and eastern Arkansas.

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An enthusiastic youngster shows support for the MS Society.

They offer an array of support services and educational programs for MS patients and their families, including a lending library of books and audio materials, empowerment seminars, employment programs, wellness and exercise program referrals, and much more. The Mid South Chapter oversees 25 different self-help groups, all of which are led by volunteers. Plus, they organize a number of events throughout the year that help raise awareness about the disease and the Society’s work.

Volunteers are a driving force in the movement to cure MS. For the Mid South Chapter, committed and dedicated volunteer help is an essential component of the group’s advocacy efforts, programming, and day-to-day activities. The Chapter has a variety of flexible volunteer opportunities available, both ongoing and short-term.

>Click here to volunteer with the National MS Society’s Mid South Chapter!

Three of the Chapter’s biggest annual events are right around the corner and volunteers are needed to assist with all of them.

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Both recreational and serious riders alike can participate in the MS Society’s bike tours.

At Fall Crush, a unique wine tasting and auction that takes place in mid-September, individuals can volunteer to assist with guest registration, silent auctions, and wine pairing stations. During two separate bike tours – Bike MS: Bike to Jack and Back and Bike MS: Rock ‘N Roll – volunteers will help with registration, staffing rest stations, assisting with traffic flow, loading luggage, and setup and cleanup projects.

Individuals can also assist with in-office work, such as bulk mailings, phone calls, and event organizing. Those who are skilled at using programs like InDesign or Publisher are also needed to help with the group’s marketing and promotional efforts.

Be sure to visit the Mid South Chapter’s website to learn more about their outstanding work. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Michelle Stewart at michelle.stewart@nmss.org (event volunteer opportunities) or Abby Mullen at abby.mullen@nmss.org (in-office volunteer work).

Serving as a Volunteer Leader at Backfield In Motion

JaxSeniorGuest Post by Jackson Oglesby
HON Youth Volunteer

Jackson Oglesby, a recent MLK Magnet High School graduate, has been a youth volunteer leader for the past year, leading a weekly four-hour tutoring project with Backfield In Motion.

The first time I volunteered with Backfield in Motion, a local mentoring program, I was in awe. When I initially signed up to mentor 80-plus middle school-aged boys, I prepared myself for craziness. Reflecting on my own middle school experience, I expected to walk into a chaotic room.

To my surprise, upon my first hour working with the kids, I discovered that these boys were not only incredibly polite, but also extremely eager to learn. Seeing how they acted in a classroom environment, I realized that they were more mature than a lot of my high school classmates!

After three years of dedication to Backfield in Motion, I can say that these are some of the best kids I have ever seen. Every Saturday the boys came in prepared and ready to participate. They cleaned up after themselves and were extremely respectful in the classroom. In the course of the three years I volunteered with Backfield, there were few instances where I witnessed a crazy classroom. For the most part, these kids were the perfect students. In fact, most Saturdays, I was the one who felt unprepared. It was a major challenge to re-learn a lot of the course material I hadn’t studied since my own middle school days.

Inside and outside of the classroom, the kids treated me with as much respect as one of their teachers. Not only did they listen to me when I offered individual help, but they also included me in personal conversations outside of the classroom. Volunteering with Backfield not only gave me a new-found respect for teachers, but also helped me to realize how beneficial and essential programs like Backfield are to making positive changes in the community.

>Click here to learn more about HON volunteer projects for youth and teens!

Volunteer Spotlight: Chung Chow

head shotChung Chow knows food. This 25 year old self-described “military brat” makes her living working as a restaurant manager at an upscale sports bar here in Nashville and spends most of her free time sampling the fare at the city’s many eateries.

It is that same strong passion for all things cooking and food that has driven much of her volunteer work here in Music City as well.

Born in North Carolina and raised in nearby Clarksville, Chung relocated to Nashville just last year. Like so many new arrivals and transplants, she was looking for ways to meet new people and get involved in community service. With some encouragement from her mother, an avid volunteer herself, Chung began researching volunteer opportunities through Hands On Nashville (HON).

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Chung and her students working on a new dish together.

It didn’t take long to find her first opportunity. Within a week, she was volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank, where she was welcomed with open arms by Second Harvest’s staff and her fellow volunteers. That initial opportunity, which she considers her most memorable volunteer project to date, made Chung realize that volunteering in an area that she loves can make for a much more meaningful service experience.

So, with a minor in Culinary Arts from Austin Peay State University (where she also currently holds an adjunct professor position) and three years of experience as a pastry chef prior to the transition into restaurant management, Chung took her considerable talents and expertise and began serving as a skilled volunteer at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

There, she teaches a regular cooking course at the teen center that educates youth on the importance of healthy eating and portion control. Chung takes great pride in being able to pass along her food knowledge to young people, helping them make smart choices about what they eat.

“I take suggestions from the students on what foods they love most and make substitutions to make it healthier,” she says. “Teaching and seeing the kids enjoy the food they prepare is very rewarding.”

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Just one of the many meals Chung and her students put together at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

With two jobs and a busy schedule, Chung admits that finding time to volunteer can sometimes be a challenge. But after gaining so much from volunteering through HON, she’s determined not to allow that to become a deterrent.

“Volunteering with HON has been a wonderful experience,” Chung notes. “It’s a great way to get involved with the community and meet people that you wouldn’t have (met) otherwise. After all, we live in the Volunteer State!”

>To find out how you can help your local YMCA, click here!

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Sexual Assault Center

SAClogoFor victims of sexual violence, moving on from their attacks and rediscovering normalcy and happiness is a monumental challenge. Feelings of shame in the aftermath can prevent many from seeking help, and the resulting loneliness and isolation can make the trauma that much worse. This is particularly true when the victim involved is a child.

Our featured nonprofit partner, The Sexual Assault Center, helps victims of sexual assault get on the road to recovery.

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SAC volunteers put in some work outside.

As the only organization of its kind in the area, The Sexual Assault Center’s (SAC) mission is to provide services that help heal children, adults, and families affected by sexual assault end the violence through counseling, education and advocacy. Since its founding in 1978, SAC has helped more than 17,000 children and adults in Middle Tennessee.

SAC specialists employ a holistic approach for the counseling of men, women, children, teens, and the family members of survivors in both individual and group settings. Roughly half of SAC’s clients are children, and counselors often work with entire families in helping those younger victims.

The organization’s 24/7 Crisis and Support telephone line serves as a first stop for many sexual assault victims who need information on resources and services available to them.
SAC also operates a Hospital Accompaniment Program (HAP) which, in tandem with the Davidson County Sexual Assault Response Team, assists victims in the early stages of the recovery process and provides needed emotional support for those with medical questions and concerns.

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Volunteers take a quick break to pose for a group shot.

Educational initiatives that raise public awareness about sexual violence are also an important component of the group’s work. SAC offers programs for middle school students and high school teens aimed at preventing sexual victimization and developing tools for healthy relationships. To help elementary school students, SAC educates hundreds of teachers and counselors throughout Tennessee using their personal safety curriculum. Additionally, the organization hosts community workshops at local churches and civic groups featuring qualified experts and speakers that address a wide range of topics including date rape and sexual abuse prevention.

Dedicated volunteers play an enormous role in SAC’s efforts and help raise public awareness on the issue of sexual violence and the organization’s everyday work. Both the Crisis and Support line and Hospital Accompaniment programs are staffed wholly by volunteers, all of whom participate in training sessions in order to provide the best possible support to SAC clients.

>Sign up to volunteer with The Sexual Assault Center!

If you are interested in volunteering, SAC will be holding orientation meetings for potential HAP volunteers on August 22 at 1 p.m. and September 3 at 6:30 p.m. HAP training then begins in mid-September as follows:

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Volunteers outside SAC headquarters.

September 16 and 18, 6 to 9 p.m.
September 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
September 23 and 25, from 6 to 9 p.m.

(Attendance at all training dates is mandatory.)

For more information on the full range of volunteer opportunities available, visit SAC’s website or contact Jessica Labenberg at jlabenberg@sacenter.org.