Tag Archives: “Hands On Nashville”

AmeriCorps Member Spotlights: Rachel Bradd and Drew Himsworth

It’s been an honor during this year’s AmeriCorps Week to share stories of some of the incredible HON AmeriCorps members serving in nonprofits across Nashville.

Today we feature two members of the Hands On Nashville squad. They have been incredible teammates and all-around natural HONies.

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Rachel Bradd

Volunteer Project Coordinator

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding? 

One thing that was particularly rewarding was planning an event with a non-profit/corporation that HON has never worked with for my AmeriCorps MLK Day of Service project. Through this project with the help of Drew (HON’s Community Partner Program Coordinator AmeriCorps member) we were able to plan, organize, and assist volunteers, in partnership with Metro Social Services, with bundling more than 600 care packages to distribute to people experiencing homelessness.

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

I wanted to gain experience in the business environment while simultaneously pursuing my MBA. This opportunity also allowed for me to serve my community. Service to others has always been a big part of my life.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

My plan is to pursue a career in government contracting with a government agency.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering? 

As a full-time grad student, I am typically studying or writing papers when I’m not serving or volunteering. I also do check out the occasional coffee shop for an extra boost of energy when I have a bit of free time on the weekends.

 

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Drew Himsworth

Community Partner Program Coordinator

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding? 

Building and designing an MLK donation drive to help those experiencing homelessness. We had a great response from the community when asking for items. Then the volunteers who showed up were hard working and amazing.

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

The opportunity to serve at Hands On Nashville and interact with so many amazing non-profits in the Greater Nashville area.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

Continue to work in nonprofits and try to help others who need help.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering? 

Playing ultimate Frisbee, volunteering, dog-sitting, playing video games, making puzzles.

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Resolve to Serve Stories: Weed Wrangle®

Cayce McAlister remembers how different the forest looked when she was young.

“You saw tree trunks. You didn’t see all this low-level scrub,” she says. “All that green scourge you see in the woods is invasive plants.”

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Cayce McAlister

McAlister says that native plants and trees don’t stand a chance in areas that are overgrown with non-native species. Invasive plants reproduce and spread quickly, often out-competing native plants. This leads to a reduction in plant diversity and the loss of habitat and food for wildlife.

Now McAlister is on a mission. A former president and longtime member of the Garden Club of Nashville, she was instrumental in founding Weed Wrangle®, an annual event where volunteers gather in parks and public spaces to remove problematic plants. The annual pull puts a dent in the problem, but McAlister says that alone won’t solve the issue of invasive plant growth. There must be public education, too.

Each Weed Wrangle® site will have an official on hand to show the participants clippings of the pesky plants to target and tell them the best tactics for removal.

“Invasive plants have no borders, and the success of our effort is affected dramatically by landscaping practices of neighbors to all of these public areas,” she says. McAlister encourages attendees to take their new knowledge home and eradicate invasive species in their own yards. Then talk to the people next door about doing the same.

In 2015, its first year, Weed Wrangle® drew more than 500 volunteers to 13 sites across Nashville. McAlister says the event has grown quickly and now exists across multiple Tennessee markets and in 13 other states. Since its inception, Weed Wrangle® has engaged 3,164 volunteers in Tennessee, who have contributed a combined 27,528 volunteer hours.

This year’s event, slated for March 2, has 20 Middle Tennessee sites where volunteers will wrangle weeds. You don’t have to be a gardener to help, says McAlister, who, as the event’s National Chair, is a full-time volunteer and travels the country spreading the seed of an idea that first took root in Nashville.

“There is a job for everyone out there. Little kids can pick up debris and drag it to the pile. Big buff people, they’re all trying to yank everything out of the ground instead of using tools,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a fun day.”

You can join the fun by browsing Weed Wrangle® opportunities here.

Interested in signing up to host your own Weed Wrangle® site? Visit the Weed Wrangle® website or email Ampage158@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of Weed Wrangle.

 

Volunteers Honor Veterans Day through Service

111016_OSDTN Veterans Day Cummins_wm-14.jpgIn honor of Veterans Day, Hands On Nashville and a team of Cummins volunteers made energy-efficiency and home improvements to support Operation Stand Down Tennessee‘s Transitional Housing Program.  Continue reading Volunteers Honor Veterans Day through Service

Eight Nonprofits Achieve Excellence in Volunteer Engagement

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On Oct. 27, Mayor Barry joined Hands On Nashville and the Center Nonprofit Management to celebrate eight Davidson county nonprofits achieving Excellence in Volunteer Engagement.

The gathering marked the 10th round of EVE, which recognizes nonprofits leading high-quality volunteer management programs.

“Thank you for putting volunteers at the heart of your operations,” Mayor Barry said. “There’s nothing more special about Nashville – and Nashvillians – than our desire to help.”

Today, Park Center and Hope Clinic for Women achieved Excellence in Volunteer Engagement certification for the first time, while American Cancer Society – Nashville Chapter, Bellevue Edible Learning Lab, Nashville Sports Council, and Open Table Nashville renewed their certification. Hospital Hospitality House Nashville and Operation Stand Down Tennessee each achieved certification for a third time.

To be certified with EVE honors, nonprofits must meet certain volunteer management best practices, including a volunteer program component in the organization’s strategic plan and more. In total, 64 organizations are currently EVE-certified.

Excellence in Volunteer Engagement was co-founded by Hands On Nashville, Center for Nonprofit Management and Mayor Karl Dean in November 2011. In 2016, Mayor Megan Barry renewed this unique cross-sector partnership.

Congratulations to each of the organizations recognized! To learn, more visit HON.org/EVE.

 

 

Introducing Hands On Nashville’s 2016-2017 AmeriCorps Members!

092816_AmeriCorps-Team-Photo--1.jpgThis Fall, Hands On Nashville welcomed a class of AmeriCorps members to serve in key impact areas. From leading projects that enhance our environment, to harnessing the power of Nashville’s corporate volunteers, each of these individuals will support Hands On Nashville in its mission to meet community needs through volunteerism.

As Breanna, Peter, Anna and Natalie get settled into their terms, we asked them about the meaning of volunteerism, what drives them to serve, and few curve balls for good measure.
Continue reading Introducing Hands On Nashville’s 2016-2017 AmeriCorps Members!

Community Partnership Brings Public Art to Educational Spaces

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This August,  Hands On Nashville and Dollar General joined the Nashville Public Library to unveil murals at six library branches, each of which were completed by Dollar General volunteers this summer! Continue reading Community Partnership Brings Public Art to Educational Spaces

Marines Volunteer to Support Nashvillians during Marine Week!

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As part of Marine Week, hosted by the United States Marine Corps,  Hands On Nashville had the honor of engaging two groups of service men and women in meaningful community-focused projects.

Home Energy Savings Project 

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Marine Week is designed to be a celebration of Community, Country and Corps – providing the American public the experience of directly connecting with hundreds of Marines. And for one Nashville homeowner, this direct connection occurred in a very real way.

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On Sept. 8, a group of 12 Marines arrived at Ms.Galloway’s home, ready with a mission to make her home more energy efficient. After three hours of hard work, the results were transformational.

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The group first helped move old family memories from attic , which had zero insulation prior to the project. After a team effort, volunteers sprayed 15 inches of insulation throughout the attic, which will make a significant impact on keeping the home comfortable.
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The group also air-sealed windows, doors, and underneath sinks and cabinets. They added toilet tank banks, installed new light bulbs and smoke detectors, and even helped patch dry wall where air was escaping.

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When the project was complete, the effort made a 21% percent improvement in the amount of air that was leaking from her home. On average, Home Energy Savings Projects save homeowners nearly $400 a year on their utility bills.

Hands On Nashville Urban Farm 

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On Saturday, Sept. 10, members of the US Marine Corps devoted much needed support at Hands On Nashville Urban Farm.

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During their four hours of volunteerism, the Marines prepared the Urban Farm for fall vegetable planting. From mowing around orchards, to adding compost and soil to three garden field rows, to removing weeds and grasses in prepped garden rows, the Marines made tremendous headway in getting the Farm in shape for the colder months ahead.
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Our most sincere thanks to each member of the Marine Corps who volunteered their time in support of Nashvillians during Marine Week. Your service to others is an inspiration.

To learn more about how you can get involved with the Home Energy Savings Program and Urban Farm, please visit HON.org.

 

Team Registration: Hands On Nashville Day 2016

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This September, celebrate Hands On Nashville’s 25th birthday and take part in service events benefiting 25 Metro Nashville Public Schools! Follow this step-by-step tutorial to sign up a volunteer team for Hands On Nashville Day. Continue reading Team Registration: Hands On Nashville Day 2016

Summer Camp Week 3 Addresses Hunger & Homelessness

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On July 15, we concluded our final week of Summer Camp at Hands On Nashville, and we have to say, it’s been an educational summer!

After a week of focusing our attention on the environment, and a week exploring health and wellness issues, we engaged young people in a third week of service-learning activities exploring issues of hunger and homelessness.

The goal of the week was to inspire campers to make a positive change by becoming more attuned to  how hunger and homelessness affects those in our community. Much of our week was spent at Nashville organizations that focus on affecting these issue areas.

Given the hardships hunger and homelessness present to our fellow community members, this final session brought challenging moments. As campers confronted stereotypes and participated in service projects, we shared positive moments of camaraderie and understanding.

Here’s a look at few of the week’s highlights:

Park Center Visit

On day one, our friends at Park Center set the stage for campers by showing us first hand accounts of how being without shelter affects Nashvillians. Park Center’s mission is to empower people who have mental illness and substance use disorders to live and work in their communities through a variety of services. We’re grateful for their staff taking the time to help campers increase their understanding.

BELL Garden Project

During the week, campers dug around in the Bellevue Edible Learning Lab! BELL Garden is solely volunteer run and provides a local food pantry with its only source of fresh produce. Local gardens such as these help to provide fresh and healthy food in areas where fresh, nutritious foods are hard to access. Thanks BELL Garden!

More than a Paper

Campers also made a visit to speak with the staff and vendors at The Contributor. Thanks to The Contributor, a.k.a. the “street paper,” many people experiencing homelessness and many who are formerly homeless earn a steady source of income. For many formerly homeless vendors, income earned selling newspapers empowered them to achieve housing. Pretty great, right? And, not only does The Contributor newspaper help individuals earn a living, it also helps connect those individuals to their community. One piece of advice we got from The Contributor was to not just give money for the paper, but to take it and read it. Taking the paper not only gives vendors a sense of pride from fulfilling the transaction, you help the paper boosts their sales!

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Green beans anyone? At Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, campers helped sort through huge boxes of green beans by discarding any that were not edible. Second Harvest is one of the largest food bank operations in the area and provides food to fight hunger across Middle Tennessee.

071416_Health & Wellness WM-5Open Table Immersive Experience

Arguably the most poignant moments of the week came during an immersive experience downtown led by Open Table Nashville . With their team, campers were able to speak with people experiencing homelessness and listen to their stories first hand. This experience was powerful for the group as it showed us that everyone has a story and it usually isn’t what we expect. Campers learned how some individuals became homeless and why they have not been able to get out of homelessness.

Open Table works closely with the homeless as their advocate, as their friend, and as their resource. One way we can all help, Open Table staff communicated, is to understand that everyone has a story and everyone deserves food in their belly and a place to call home.

071416_Health & Wellness WM-3Old School Farm Garden Project

Campers had a blast harvesting carrots with Old School Farm, an organization that provides fresh food to the community, while also employing and training individuals with intellectual disabilities. During our visit, Old School Farm leaders explained how disabilities, be they medical, intellectual or physical, can be barriers to employment work. Their efforts seek to provide those employment opportunities, as well as to fight hunger.

Room in the Inn Tour & Service Activity

On the last day of camp, the group toured Room in the Inn, whose mission is to provide programs that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help and work, centered in community and long term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home. Here, campers helped the organization prepare for an annual festival for  Room in the Inn visitors designed to make them feel connected, welcome and stress-free.

Thank You!

Thank you to each of the organizations who supported this year’s summer camp. You all enriched these service-learning experiences and we thank you all for the work you do every day in our community!

And to the campers: our hope is that Summer Camp has had as great of an impact on you, as you made on our community. Thanks for a great summer.

Ready to volunteer? Sign up at HON.org.

2016 Summer Camp Recap: Health & Wellness!

Hands On Nashville’s second week of Summer Camp was full of more projects, friendships, and fun!

From learning about healthy eating, to discussing stress management, to talking through best practices for living an overall healthy lifestyle, the group explored issues of health and wellness over the five day camp. Each afternoon, campers participated in service-learning projects at a different organization working to improve the health and wellness of our community and its individuals.

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Hospital Hospitality House Service Project

At Hospital Hospitality House, an organization that provides low-cost accommodations to patients and families facing medical crisis, campers helped with outdoor beautification projects like weeding, picking up trash, clearing rocks away from pathways, and sprucing up the courtyards. Tasks like these can seem small, but they are a big help to organizations that rely on volunteers to help them continue to do the work they do!

Soles4Souls Shoe Sorting Service Project

Soles4Souls is an international organization that provides shoes to those in need in the US, and in 127 countries around the world! During Health and Wellness Week, campers sorted more than 1,000 pairs of shoes that will reach those in need around the globe. Now that’s a good feeling!

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Cooking up something good.

What says health and wellness more than good food? Every day, campers worked together to prepare healthy lunches and snacks that honed their cooking skills as well as their taste buds.

Campers also took part in discussions on larger food security and access issues facing our communities, including the ease and accessibility of non-nutritious fast food, which can often seem like the best choice based on access and affordability.  During lunch, campers practiced basic cooking skills, took home step-by-step recipes, and learned from nutritionists about the different benefits that eating nutritious food can have on the body.

 

Bike Refurbishment Project at Oasis Center

For the second camp week in a row, we traveled to the Oasis Center’s Bike Workshop for a bike refurbishment project!  The Oasis Bike Workshop provides young people a place to go and fix their bikes, as well as learn how to maintain them. During the project, campers learned useful bike-fixing skills and refurbished bikes that will be donated to local students through Hands On Nashville’s ReCYCLE for Kids program this July.

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Pickles, anyone?

Thanks to Sally Rausch, our very own fermentation guru and YVC Urban Agriculture Education AmeriCorps Member, campers learned about health the benefits of naturally preserved foods, not to mention it is a good way to use excess produce from the garden! Each camper made their own jar of preservative-free pickles to take home and eat in a couple of weeks.

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Project C.U.R.E. service project.

Ever wonder what happens to excess or used medical equipment? During Health and Wellness week, campers sorted medical supplies at Project C.U.R.E., a nonprofit that collects donated medical supplies and distributes them all over the world to developing countries. The campers learned that these supplies can mean the difference between life and death and  experienced first-hand how saving materials from landfills can make a huge difference for the health and well-being of those in need.

Thank you, campers!

A big shout out to our volunteer leaders this week, Jackson and Dhara, as well as all of our speakers and project coordinators — we could not do it without you!

Looking to get involved? Sign up for a volunteer project at HON.org.