Tag Archives: “Hands On experience”

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.

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!

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.

Need inspiration? Watch HON’s new video “Be the Change”

Check out Hands On Nashville’s new creative video, featuring incredible Middle Tennessee volunteers. If you are as inspired as we are, make plans to volunteer at a local nonprofit to start 2012 off right! Visit www.HON.org to view opportunities, including ways to serve  on MLK Day weekend Jan. 14-16.

Make your 2012 resolution to volunteer. Change your life (and your community) and see great benefits.

Volunteering is not just about doing good for others – it actually improves your health and overall well-being, too. Why not make a regular volunteering commitment this year? (HON.org makes this an easy resolution to keep! The HON Opportunity Calendar offers up more than 300 opportunities each month.) According to this article on the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS) website, “those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” Check out these 5 reasons why volunteering should be on your 2012 resolutions list:

starbucks employees at Second Harvest
Ready to volunteer this winter? Try helping out at a local food pantry.

Skill Development: Want to learn about your home and gain a better understanding about best practices to make it more energy efficient? Volunteer with Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings program and get hands-on exposure to common issues while helping improve the energy efficiency of a low-income home in Nashville. You’ll really turn some heads as you mention the “.5 GPM dual-thread sink aerator” you now know how to install. Or… Interested in learning about vegetable gardening? Volunteer with HON’s Urban Gardening program. Or check out one of the many opportunities on the HON Opportunity Calendar.

Self-Confidence: The CNCS article says it best: “Volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust.” Just the simple step of signing up for an upcoming project can seem daunting, but accepting the challenge and making that commitment will build your confidence.

Boy Painting
Use your specific skill and help a cause you believe in. You'll see great improvements in your life, both physically and mentally.

Personal Health: Studies looking at the effects of volunteering (specifically Arnstein et al 2002) found improvements in both mental and physical heath. Patients who volunteered for six months showed decreased symptoms of depression. Arnstein attributed success to patients “finding a sense of purpose” and “making a connection.” Additional studies have found volunteering linked to lower mortality rates and other significant health benefits when individuals volunteered around 100 hours per year (or roughly two hours per week).

Relationship-building: Volunteering exposes you to all sorts of people with all different backgrounds – and you are allowed to dabble to find which opportunity is the best fit for you. Try sorting clothes at ThriftSmart or prepare hot delicious meals for the homeless in West Nashville. Different experiences will connect you and expose you to many different people. Check out the recent blog post written by youth volunteer Allyson Burgess about her experience volunteering at Edgehill Community Center.

Salvation Army
Another popular opportunity this winter: Try regularly serving at ThriftSmart.

Impact the Community: The most incredible reward about volunteering is the difference you make with your unique talents. Try to find ways to improve the issues you care most about and you’ll find your individual spin on how to solve problems. Regularly volunteer and you’ll see a clear picture of how you helped your fellow neighbor, family, environment, or friend. Consider lending your specialized skills to an organization that has a mission you really believe in.

Arnstein, P., Vidal, M., Well-Federman, C., Morgan, B., and Caudill M. (2002) “From Chronic Pain Patient to Peer: Benefits and Risks of Volunteering.” Pain Management Nurses, 3(3): 94-103.
Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, Washington, DC 2007.

Teaching More Than Crafts at Edgehill Community Center

By Allyson Burgess

Lesson on Guacamole
Allyson and the kids learned how to make guacamole one evening. YUM.

My experience teaching the children at Edgehill Community Center has been beyond rewarding. As I pulled into the parking lot last Friday for my monthly lesson, the kids rushed to the window and started cheering at my arrival. I will keep that precious moment forever in my memory; it made me feel like I was having as big of an impact on their lives as they were on mine.

I entered the room to find past crafts of elephant masks and decorated aprons on the walls. I always start my lesson with a brief summary of everything I have taught them so far. After a quick quiz, I introduced the December lesson: Japanese culture. In just a short hour, the kids were immersed into The Land of the Rising Sun. They all tried sushi for the first time. Some of the kids made faces when they tried it, but some of them fell in love with it. When just a few kids are able to open their minds to try something new, I know my lesson is a success.

Elephant Masks
The Edgehill kids proudly displayed their newly-constructed Elephant Masks in a recent gathering.

I also taught them how to make an origami swan, penguin, and Christmas tree for them to put on their tree at home because it is very common in Japan to use origami as ornaments. After much trial and error, the kids created something very special that had significance to them. Then, the kids decorated karate headbands before a brief fitness lesson where Japanese numbers were incorporated into a game.

The kids most-recently learned about Japanese culture. They tried sushi for the first time and applied some new fitness skills.

By comparing cultural customs, the kids find all the different countries I teach fascinating. They are starting to recognize the origin of certain American customs, and I truly believe this will be a stepping stone towards furthering their ambitions and goals for their lives ahead.

Allyson Burgess, a senior at Davidson Academy, is one of 12 HON Youth Volunteer Corps Interns, serving in the inaugural 2011-2012 class. These remarkable leaders are currently working with local nonprofits to engage young Nashvillians in educational and skill-building experiences in the arts, fitness/nutrition, and gardening/food security. Allyson leads arts/health projects at Edgehill Community Center one Friday a month.

To volunteer with these youth-led projects, visit the VolunTEEN Opportunity Calendar (volunteers must be 11 to 18). Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN Program here

HON Staff Reflection: Tuesday Night at the Mission – The Kindness of Strangers

Malinda Hersh has worked at Hands On Nashville since January 2005, and is Director of Volunteer and Nonprofit Programs. She volunteered at the Nashville Rescue Mission this week alongside eight HON volunteers, and shares this reflection.

The trays kept coming — faster and faster — and were picked up by hungry diners just as quickly as they were filled. The eight people filling the trays had never met before this night, but they worked as efficiently and happily together as any well-practiced team would. The line workers delivered many wishes of “Merry Christmas” and “enjoy your meal” while they served, but it was those being served that provided the best sentiments. “Thank you for being here,” “we appreciate you,” and “God bless you” were the oft repeated phrases from the diners at the Nashville Rescue Mission.

I was one of the lucky servers at the Mission on a recent chilly Tuesday night who helped serve 525 men an evening meal. I left the Mission feeling as I’ve heard many volunteers state: that I received more than I gave. I said “congratulations” to someone who had just landed a job, I smiled with someone who was excited to see the slice of blueberry pie on his plate, and was thanked countless times for being there. I enjoyed getting to know my fellow volunteers: a mom making sure her young son experiences what giving back really means, a college student home from Atlanta, a couple who just relocated to Nashville, and two ladies who had volunteered previously with the Mission. I have a feeling that they won’t be the only ones to volunteer there again.

Hands On Nashville hosts two dinner service projects every month at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Join us! Click here for more info.