Tag Archives: “Hands On Nashville”

Want to make a difference this holiday season?

On this giving Tuesday, we have great ways to give back!

  1. In honor of Hands On Nashville’s 30th anniversary, donate $30 today! We also have these limited-edition, commemorative set available for $30
  2. Start a fundraiser on FB or Instagram. Set a goal of raising $300 for Hands On Nashville.
  3. Commit to volunteering by signing up today! We’ll list some great holiday opportunities here, but our calendar extends out into next year if this time of year is hectic.  

Click here to see how to set up your own Facebook fundraiser!

Thank you for all your support. We are so grateful for the Nashville community and your huge collective heart for service! 

Hope for the Holidays

By Sophia Bobrowsky, AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville 

Once recovery began following the March 2021 flooding, Hands On Nashville and our disaster partners set a goal — rebuilding 30 homes within a year of the flood. On Nov. 5, we celebrated another milestone toward that goal by completing our latest home rebuild, just in time for the holidays!  

It wouldn’t have been possible without The Inspiritus team, HON volunteers, the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT), and service members from the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) who came together to aid the hundreds of families affected by the flooding. My name is Sophia Bobrowsky, the AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the recovery teams on this home, and was able to visit on the final day of construction.  

Here’s what I saw. 

Walking up to the Inspiritus construction site for the last time, I was greeted by Robert Zavala, the contractor who has overseen the home construction for the past three months. He’s contracted through Inspiritus, a nonprofit that offers disaster relief and long-term recovery solutions to people in need.  

An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member assists in renovating a flood-damaged home.

I stood in the kitchen of the newly remodeled home in awe as NCCC members  steadily cleaned around me. A dozen or so members were busy wiping dust from the trim, and putting the final screws in kitchen cabinets.  

Robert chuckled at my excitement, and was quick to credit all the volunteers for their hard work.  

“NCCC is absolutely wonderful, I love them to death,” Robert said. “They come with a big crew and get everything knocked out very fast. It’s nice to have a crew you can train, and that works together for a longer period of time.” 

Robert explained NCCC didn’t come with formal training, but like volunteers who sign up for Inspiritus projects, they’re excited to learn, and always give 100 percent. Together, volunteer teams rebuilt this home from the ground up — the walls were gutted, the flooring torn out, and the HVAC system had to be completely cleaned and repaired.  

Of the projects, the flooring took the longest, Robert said. From ripping up the flooring to repairing the subfloor and then laying new tile — it’s a tedious process that takes time to be done right.  

Robert is the only Inspiritus construction manager in Tennessee, and he assists in matching volunteers with projects that are safe , sources and purchases materials for home repairs, and trains the volunteers completing the work.  

A NCCC member paints the trim of a home damaged by the March 2021 flooding.

Following my talk with Robert, I continued to explore the house and see what my fellow AmeriCorps members were working on. I spoke with Marisa Switzman, a Team Lead with Americorps NCCC. 

NCCC is different than the traditional Americorps program I am currently participating in, as this cohort travels the country for 10 months, spending no more than a few weeks in each city they visit. NCCC members meet community needs in the areas of energy conservation, infrastructure improvement, natural and other disaster services, and urban and rural development. 

Marisa said she said she really enjoys the hands-on experience of NCCC, and learning so many different life and teambuilding skills. 

“It’s been super rewarding to give back to the community and to specific people like this homeowner,” Marisa said. “That’s why we joined NCCC because it’s all about that:, giving back. The most challenging part is making mistakes — but that’s part of the learning process, and Robert has shown us mistakes are really easy to fix.” 

Zach King, also an NCCC member, was serving alongside Marisa, and agreed about the construction skills. This is the first construction project he’s attempted during his term, and said so far each site has presented a different set of challenges.  

“In terms of the whole year — Mammoth Cave was the most physically demanding, but NOLA was emotionally demanding,” Zach said.  

A group of NCCC members post for a photo while working on site in Nashville.

His cohort spent the first month of their term rebuilding hiking trails at Mammoth Cave, Ky., and the following few weeks offering relief to survivors of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans. For the next few weeks Zach and his team will stay in Davidson County continuing to support disaster relief efforts in South Nashville.  

“So far my term has been super good — in NOLA everyone was super thankful, and the people were very vocal about that. In Mammoth [Cave] our work was lasting as the trails will be used by hikers for a while. However, here it’s massive for this homeowner to have a house to get into by Thanksgiving,” Zach said. “That’s incredible, and a really cool goal to have someone in their house by the holidays.” 

We are extremely grateful to VOAD and CFMT for providing the funding to HON and our partnering organizations to assist in flood-relief efforts. To read more about their impact, click here.

NCCC is a federally-funded program that Hands On Nashville applied for and was granted following the March flooding. For more information about NCCC, click here. To volunteer for a disaster relief project, click here 

Volunteers assist in repairing a flood damaged home in Nashville.

Flood survivors need volunteers like you to help on their path to recovery

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Connect with survivors who may still need support: Small groups of volunteers will canvass flood-affected neighborhoods on Nov. 12. We especially need Spanish speakers to ensure we can connect with as many families as possible! 

2. Rebuild homes with Inspiritus: Volunteers will help residents rebuild homes impacted by the flood. Activities range from painting, flooding, installing drywall and insulation. Training is provided with on-site leadership.

3. Use your skills or form a group to help with the rebuilding effort: As recovery and rebuilding continues we need skilled construction volunteers as well as groups of volunteers who can help with demolition, construction, and community outreach.





Show of Hands Week is all about staying connected and helping our neighbors

Ten years ago this weekend, as floodwaters receded and Nashvillians helped each other dig out and clean up, we saw the community come together to overcome mighty tragedy. The images remain forever in our collective memories: The upturned cars, the piles of debris outside houses, the strangers embracing because it all felt so overwhelming.

When, nearly 10 years later, a tornado ripped through our region, we witnessed the same immediate response: Another incredible uprising of people who, despite their own losses and heartache, wanted to help others. What we’ve seen is that it’s through service to others that our community feels more connected. A connected community is a stronger community, and our strength will help us get through our current difficult situation.

To celebrate that spirit, today we kick off a week of activities meant to highlight the ways — big and small — you can lend a hand, bring light, and give thanks to and for your neighbors. Every day here on our blog and on our social media channels between now and May 7, we’ll share ideas for how you can stay connected with your community and each another through acts of service and kindness. Play along every day, or just pick and choose which activities inspire you.

TODAY’S ACTIVITIES (MAY 1): Show of Hands  

Raise your hand if you’re a helper:  Here are three simple ways to show we’re all in this together – even from a distance.

  1. Wave hi. Tip your hat. Give a thumbs up. Whether it’s a new neighbor or an old friend, this #ShowOfHands helps us connect with every person we pass on our daily walk or drive.
  2. You’ve seen rainbows and teddy bears, and now here is a #showofhands for your window. For kids at home and kids at heart, we’ve made a coloring page that reminds us of the importance of working together to help others. Click here to download.
  3. Share what inspires you to lend a hand – use the graphic below on social media along with your answer and tag us — @HONashville — so we can share your story. Why do you volunteer? What has serving others taught you, or how has it changed your life?  Join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

day 1 square graphics

#ShowOfHandsWeek Activities

TODAY: Raise your hand and tell us why you choose to be a helper

SATURDAY, MAY 2: Sign up to serve as a volunteer in May

SUNDAY, MAY 3: Bring color and hope to a neighbor with flowers 

MONDAY, MAY 4: Join the local mask-making effort

TUESDAY, MAY 5: Give thanks for those on the front lines

WEDNESDAY, MAY 6: Find a virtual volunteer opportunity

THURSDAY, MAY 7: Support volunteerism and Hands On Nashville via The Big Payback

 

Hands On Nashville’s 2019 Guide to Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

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Looking for ways to give back to the community this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. Check out the volunteer opportunities below, followed by a list of several of our partners’ holiday in-kind needs too! Thank you for your support of Middle Tennessee’s nonprofits.

To view even more volunteer opportunities, visit our calendar.

2019 Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

Be Santa’s little helper and an event guide
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Minimum age: 16
When: Nov. 27 through Jan. 5

Celebrate the holiday season by serving at Cheekwood’s magical Holiday Lights event. The gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland designed to create an unforgettable, immersive, and engaging experience that has become a favorite Nashville holiday tradition. Volunteers help as event guides, Santa’s helper, art activity host, and more. Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, bottled water, and hand warmers are provided.

Wrap Christmas presents at Parnassus Books
Book’em
Minimum age: 18
When: Nov. 29 through Dec. 23

Each holiday season, Book’em partners with Parnassus Books to provide gift wrappers in the store. Book’em volunteers wrap customers’ books for free, and tips are accepted for their service, with all proceeds benefitting Book’em and their mission to bring kids and books together.

Warm up your vocal cords and carol for a cause with Fannie Battle
Fannie Battle Day Home for Children
Minimum age: 18, or 12 months and older with an adult
When: Dec. 1 through Dec. 24

Caroling for Kids is a creative and fun way to raise money and awareness for Fannie Battle. Volunteers can participate in traditional caroling, or through the new initiative, digital caroling, where volunteers can raise money online through JustGiving’s platform. These events make a huge impact in helping Fannie Battle continue to provide high-quality, affordable childcare, as well as programs dedicated to empowering families.

Support veterans by volunteering at the Building Lives Christmas Sale
Building Lives
Minimum age: 18, or 16 with an adult
When: Dec. 3 through Dec. 7

During the Building Lives Christmas Sale, shelves are stocked with toys for sale, and smiling faces are needed to help run the sale. Volunteer duties include operating a cash register, bagging and counting purchases, helping load purchases into customers’ vehicles, and keeping products stocked and orderly. All net proceeds go directly to the veterans served by Building Lives.

Direct and cheer runners at Rudolph’s Red Nose Run
Needlink Nashville
Minimum age: 18, or 16 with an adult
When: Saturday, Dec. 7

Cheer runners, help at water stations and snack tables, and generally make festive fun for runners and walkers. Volunteers will be encouraged to take photos of participants as they pass by. This event is rain or shine, so volunteers are encouraged to wear their warm, merry best in the spirit of holiday fun, and stay after the race for the Nashville Christmas Parade. NeedLink Nashville provides basic needs to people in times of crisis by providing short-term assistance and links to other resources.

Offer encouragement and event support at the Jingle Bell Run
Arthritis Foundation, Southeast Region, Tennessee
Minimum age: 13, or 8 with an adult
When: Saturday, Dec. 7

Before the Arthritis Foundation’s signature race, help organizers set up, register runners, and, afterward, assist with cleanup. The Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run is a festive race for charity where participants can strut their stuff in their favorite holiday costume and feel good about doing good.

Act as an Angel Tree liaison at local malls with the Salvation Army
Salvation Army
Minimum age: 15, certain opportunities 12 with an adult
When: Ongoing though Dec. 20

Give out and document Angels and who they are assigned to, process gifts as donors return their gift bags filled with presents, and locate and distribute gifts to Angel Tree families before the holidays begin. The Salvation Army has opportunities to serve with the Angel Tree program at multiple locations this holiday season, with flexible hours available.

Deliver hot meals on Christmas Day
Nashville CARES
Minimum age: 18
When: Wednesday, Dec. 25

Spend two hours of Christmas Day delivering meals to those who need them. Delivery drivers will be picking up routes and hot meals to deliver to client homes all in a similar area. Nashville CARES is the premier caregiver in the region for treating clients living with, or at risk for, HIV/AIDS.

Be a Holiday Hero with Youth Villages
Youth Villages
Minimum age: 18, or 5 with an adult
When: Ongoing

Youth Villages has individually scheduled opportunities to spread holiday cheer through a gift drive, collecting donated presents, decorating porches for kids in foster care, stuffing holiday stockings, and more.

2019 Holiday In-Kind Needs

Many of Hands On Nashville’s Community Partners accept donated items. Here’s a holiday wishlist for several of our partners. To donate items, contact the agency directly and please let the agencies know that Hands On Nashville sent you.

American Red Cross
Contact:
Tonya Glasgow, Tonya.glasgow@redcross.org, 615-393-2500
Needs: Blank holiday cards and envelopes that deployed service members can send back home.
How to donate: Please send sets of blank cards/envelopes to:
American Red Cross
Tonya Glasgow
2201 Charlotte Ave., Nashville TN, 37203

Book’em
Contact:
Stacey Vanyo, stacey@bookem-kids.org, 615-255-1820
Website: bookem-kids.org/donate/
Needs: Book donations of new and like-new books through book drives or their charity list on Amazon.
How to donate: Please call 615-255-1820 to schedule a drop-off time. Donations can be brought to the office at 161 Rains Avenue, Nashville TN, 37203. Book’em is located inside the Nashville Public Television building.

FiftyForward
Contact:
Robin Johnson, rjohnson@fiftyforward.org, 615-743-3424
Needs: FiftyForward is looking for holiday gifts for older adults served by Supportive Care programs. Donors will be provided with an individualized wish list and asked to purchase items valued at approximately $100.

Additionally, FiftyForward appreciates:

• Commercially available, boxed snack cakes for distribution with Thanksgiving and Christmas day meal deliveries.

• Single-serve canned goods with pop-tops for seniors’ emergency food needs via the Fresh/Meals on Wheels program.

• Donations to fill the daily needs closet, which the organization uses to distribute items to low-income seniors it serves: Toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and basic toiletries.

How to donate: Please call or e-mail in advance to confirm quantities needed and to arrange for dropoff of items. Items may generally be delivered to the FiftyForward Patricia Hart Building at 174 Rains Ave., Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Heimerdinger Foundation
Contact: volunteer@hfmeals.org or (615) 730-5632
Needs: three vegetable peelers, two box graters, two zesters, two spiralizers, latex gloves of all sizes, gallon size ziplock bags, sharpies, colored pens, four full-size hotel pans, brazier with lid, stock pot with lid.
How to donate: Contact The Heimerdinger Foundation for more information.

Preston Taylor Ministries
Contact:
Bethany Jones, bethany@prestontaylorministries.org, 615-963-3996
Needs: Items ($5-10) to stock the stores for Wrapping Parties, including:

• Gifts for mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc.: jewelry, body sprays, lotions, soaps, hair accessories, frames, trinkets, holiday decorations, scarves, nail polish, candles, etc.

• Gifts for fathers, grandfathers, uncles, etc.: neckties, bowties, hats, baseball caps, sports paraphernalia (Titans, Predators, Grizzlies, Sounds), watches, wallets, cologne, tools, flash lights.

• Gifts for children: toys, baby toys, cars, action figures, baby dolls, stuffed animals, bouncy balls, party favors, bubbles, coloring books, sports equipment, games (traditional and electronic), puzzles, movies, etc.

• Additional ideas: books, coffee cups, mugs, gloves, mittens, beanies, sunglasses, socks, slippers, umbrellas.

How to donate: Please contact Bethany at bethany@prestontaylorministries.org before dropping off. Deliveries should be brought to 4014 Indiana Ave., Nashville TN, 37209.

Youth Villages
Contact:
Julie Abbott, julie.abbott@youthvillages.org, 615-250-7266
Needs: Holiday stockings filled with hygiene items; new toys, games, books, journals/pens for teens; nonperishable food and grocery gift cards for holiday food baskets.
How to donate: Please drop all items off by Dec. 6 at 3310 Perimeter Hill Dr., Nashville TN, 37211.

Check out these family-friendly Fall Break volunteer opportunities

fall break opps

Whether you’re a college student home for Fall Break, or a parent looking for a wholesome (and free!) way for your kiddos to pass the time, we’re here to connect you to volunteer opportunities at lots of great Nashville organizations. The opportunities highlighted below fall between Oct. 5-13, but many agencies have opportunities available all season long. Click the title of each opportunity to learn more and sign up.

Also: look for ways to give back to your community year-round on our calendar.

1. Learn to garden while prepping for the upcoming harvest

Bellevue Edible Learning Lab Inc.
Minimum age: 16, or 4 with an adult
When: Saturdays, Oct. 5 and Oct. 12

The Bell Garden serves as a teaching and learning lab for volunteers, students of Bellevue Middle Prep, and the community. Volunteers can do a variety of things, including sow seeds and harvest plants, water and weed, work in the greenhouse, tend the chicken flock, and can and preserve fruits and veggies. The garden runs on volunteer power, and no experience is necessary.

2. Serve meals to nourish those in need

St. John’s United Methodist Church
Minimum age: 18, or 13 with an adult
When: Thursday, Oct. 10

Thursday Night Community Meals at St. Johns UMC offer free, nutritious meals in a safe, friendly, and caring environment to a diverse group of clients at risk of hunger and some experiencing homelessness. Volunteers help with last-minute preparations, serving the meal, helping clean up, and socializing with diners.

3. Maintain a Nashville treasure while learning about history

The Nashville City Cemetery Association
Minimum age: 18, or 16 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 12

Enjoy the peacefulness of the Nashville City Cemetery while working to restore the grounds and prepare for winter. By clearing brush, weeding, and raking leaves, volunteers will help preserve a historical landmark, and show respect to an important piece of Nashville history. The Nashville City Cemetery Association, Inc., was formed in 1998 to protect, preserve, restore, and raise public awareness of the Nashville City Cemetery. Bring drinking water, gloves, and any gardening tools you have!

4. Take tickets at the Nashville Film Festival

The Nashville Film Festival
Minimum age: 16
When: Thursday, Oct. 3, through Saturday, Oct. 12

Lights, camera, action! The Nashville Film Festival is casting A-list volunteers to assist at its annual festival. Volunteers will usher guests to their seats, collect and distribute ballots for film judging, set up and tear down, check credentials for VIP areas and ticketed events, and provide light cleaning of theaters and VIP areas. Plus: Volunteers receive festival vouchers.

 5. Feed and socialize with school-aged children

Martha O’Bryan Center
Minimum age: 18, or 12 with an adult
When: Mondays, Oct. 7 through Nov. 18

Interact with children and families while serving a hot meal to those in the middle of a food desert. Martha O’Bryan’s Family Resource Center hosts Kid’s Café every Monday for those in need. Volunteers will help set up, serve food, and try and make the community comfortable while they share a meal together.

6. Advocate for recycling at the Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party

Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party
Minimum age: 15, or 12 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 5

Help make the Pickin’ Party waste free by assisting attendees in correctly sorting their food waste into the compost bin, and all recyclables into the recycling bin. With volunteers’ help,  80 percent of waste can be recycled into new materials. Training will be provided prior to the event. The Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party combines the tastes and talents of East Nashville to help preserve one of the city’s most unique landmarks, the Cornelia Fort AirPark.

7. Cheer on cyclists with Bike MS

Bike MS
Minimum age: 12
When: Saturday, Oct. 5

Smiling faces and encouragement are needed for the Bike to Jack & Back bicycle ride. Volunteers will also help with setup, teardown, and food service. Bike MS is the fundraising cycling series of the National MS Society, and to date, has raised more than $1.3 billion to end Multiple Sclerosis.

8. Offer support at the Nashville AIDS Walk

Nashville CARES
Minimum age: 18, or 5 with an adult
When: Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5

Offering a full day of activities, the 28th annual Nashville AIDS Walk needs event volunteers. In addition to celebrating the amazing work of Nashville CARES, volunteers are asked to help set up, register walkers, hand out water, and offer assistance as hundreds of supporters come out to bring awareness to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Middle Tennessee. The Nashville AIDS walk is a family-friendly event that has raised more than $3 million for the cause. Pre-registered volunteers receive a T-shirt and lunch.

9. Create crafts with The Family Center

The Family Center
Minimum age: 18, or 1 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 5

Grab your glitter and start crafting with The Family Center to make calm-down bottles for their clients. Volunteers will fill bottles with water and glitter to act as a calming mechanism. The Family Center works to break multi-generational cycles of child abuse, neglect, and trauma by providing a safe, supportive space where parents and/or their children can connect and grow.

 

HON Community Partners: Do YOU have family-friendly volunteer opportunities during Fall Break (Oct. 5-13) that aren’t featured here? Let us know so we can add them!

Resolve to Serve Stories: Nashville Dolphins

Edward McClarty hadn’t been searching for a long-term volunteering gig when he was asked to bring smoothies to the Nashville Dolphins’ Swim-a-Thon.

“I didn’t give it much thought at the time, other than it was my way of giving back to my local community,” says McClarty, who had just become the owner of a Smoothie King. “Obviously, God had other plans.”

Shortly after, McClarty began prepping for an Iron Man Triathlon, which required a lot of swimming. He was training in the Gordon Jewish Community Center’s pool — the same pool where the Nashville Dolphins were holding a swim class — when he had an idea.

“I asked if I could get in the water and assist the athletes, and it just developed from there,” he says.

The Nashville Dolphins’ mission is to enable people with special needs to experience the physical and emotional benefits of swimming. The Dolphins provide free learn-to-swim classes and a free swim team to children and adults with special needs.

“Volunteers continue to come back because they are able to see the direct impact they are having with our organization,” says Program Director Megan Kelly. “They are working with the same swimmers each week so they are able to see their growth and progress and build friendships with our swimmers.”

Ed 4 square
Edward McClarty

Since that afternoon when he got in the pool with the Dolphins, McClarty — AKA Coach Ed — has spent his Tuesday nights leading swim practice. He decides the curriculum and exercises, gets swimmers ready for practice, and conducts the drills.

“We run the swim practice just like any other swim team,” Coach Ed explains. He says he enjoys seeing what each athlete is capable of and helping them work hard to maximize their potential.

For Coach Ed, who has been swimming with the Dolphins since 2004, serving with the organization has been a spiritual endeavor.

“I’m so blessed to be a part of this. I’m so happy that the parents and the athletes want me there to participate, and I’m grateful to offer whatever it is that I offer to them.”

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with the Nashville Dolphins, express interest here

Photos provided by Nashville Dolphins.

AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Jasmine Lucas

Jasmine Lucas joined the HON AmeriCorps Program in late March. Read on to learn more about her!

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Jasmine Lucas

Community Outreach Coordinator at Hands On Nashville

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

Being out with the volunteers and recognizing them for what they are contributing to their community. It has been exhilarating to meet individual volunteers who walk completely different lives from one another meet up and commune over serving the community. I believe there is nothing more beautiful than that. I plan on recognizing our volunteers directly through social media in future Community Partner events. I’m excited to be the voice of HON and put forth the faces of our volunteers!

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?

What drew me to serve with AmeriCorps was that I saw it as a chance for me to be a part of something bigger than myself. That has been my driving force for a long while. I have made many personal, developmental decisions based on this standard, and it has yet to fail me. I have always grown to be a better person when I made a decision to be a part of something that is bigger than myself, and I am confident AmeriCorps is that next “bigger than myself” opportunity in this season of my life.

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

After AmeriCorps I am not quite sure what I will start doing. So far, I plan to serve another term with a nonprofit here in Nashville. After that, I may begin working with a local nonprofit in Nashville, or I may travel the world teaching English as a Second Language (I have a lot of international friends who want me to visit 🙂 )

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

In my free time I partake in a variety of hobbies including crocheting, writing/reading poetry, watching movies with my roommates, and going on excursions around Nashville with new friends. You will probably also find me staking out at local coffee shops as I read and write.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-2020 AmeriCorps cohort. Learn more and apply here.

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.

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.”

cayce mcalister
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.