Tag Archives: Hope Lodge

Resolve to Serve Stories: Hope Lodge

Tangerine Zielinski is dressed in pink — bright pink. 

Bright pink wide-brimmed hat with lace. Bright pink glasses with pink lenses. Bright pink patterned tunic. She stands in dazzling contrast to the drizzly, gray October day outside. 

“By dressing up, it seems to brighten up people’s days one way or another somehow,” she says. 

Zielinski is a 14-year volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Nashville Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge, located just outside downtown, provides a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers while they are in town receiving treatment. The Hope Lodge provides lodging, transportation, and activities for its guests free of charge. Volunteer groups provide meals throughout the month. 

Zielinski got started as a volunteer at the Hope Lodge when the facility opened in 2004. She says her own battle with lymphoma of the intestines in 2001 led her to want to volunteer with cancer patients.  

“Cancer … awakened me to the value of life,” she says. “Having been through cancer, I know how rough it can be. I know what it can do to you and your body. I know some of the emotional sides to it.” 

Zielinski says it’s important to make guests feel as relaxed as possible while they’re staying at the Hope Lodge. As a shuttle driver, she takes guests to and from appointments at hospitals, treatment centers, and imaging centers. When there’s time, she says, she will take them to the grocery store. 

When a guest gets into her shuttle, Zielinski will often ask what kind of music they’d like to hear. She keeps nearly 3,000 songs on her phone. 

“To get their minds off of cancer for but even a few minutes is, for me, very gratifying,” she says. “It makes my heart sing when I hear them hum in the backseat or sing along with a song.” 

Michele Ryan, senior manager of the Hope Lodge, says that volunteer shuttle drivers are a crucial part of making a Hope Lodge guest’s stay more comfortable, as many of them come from out of town and are unfamiliar with how to get around Nashville. 

“After a long day of treatment,” Ryan says, “no one wants to tackle traffic. They just want a comfortable and safe ride back.” 

Zielinski says that throughout her 14 years as a Hope Lodge volunteer, what has really sustained her is knowing that she’s having an impact in the lives of people going through the most difficult challenge of their lives. 

“Just to see the gratefulness that comes from the guests that come through the Hope Lodge is what really keeps me coming back,” she says.   

The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge program mission is to provide a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. Browse all volunteer opportunities with the Hope Lodge here 

hope lodge volunteers
photos provided by Hope Lodge


Guest Blog: TechnologyAdvice Volunteer Recap

Hands On Nashville is fortunate to work with inspired corporate groups looking to make a difference. Recently, TechnologyAdvice Media Relations Coordinator Jenna Elkins sent us this great recap of the volunteer efforts her team has led this year!

Giving is Ingrained in our Company Culture

At TechnologyAdvice, we are committed to serving the Nashville area, along with the people and local businesses that have helped us thrive. In fact, we’ve centered our entire company culture around giving – giving our all to our clients, our employees, and our community.

As of January 2015, we’ve ramped up our volunteer efforts in order to better serve our community and benefit our employees. Studies show that a culture of giving at the workplace enhances moods, encourages teamwork, and keeps employee churn low. As a small but rapidly growing business, volunteering allows us to build positive community relations by serving people from all walks of life and assisting with environmental projects that better our surrounding area.

Through the Hands On Nashville volunteer platform, we’ve connected with unique, and rewarding volunteer projects. It’s a simple system that allows us to seamlessly sign up team members for various activities. We’ve had wonderful experiences, and are looking forward to more!

Tree Planting with Hands On Nashville 

Technology/Advice team planting trees with Hands On Nashville in March.

In March, a large group from TechnologyAdvice worked together to support Hands On Nashville in their efforts to plant more trees for a healthier city. Volunteers worked in a riparian zone in north Nashville, and around 200 trees were planted in just two hours! Cameron Graham, TechnologyAdvice Managing Editor, shares his tree planting experience:

“After we arrived on site we received a short, informative presentation about the importance of riparian zones and their effect in controlling run-off waters. Nashville has previously seen intense flooding in some areas, so these zones are crucial for ensuring that excess water can safely be absorbed into the ground.

Once we had been oriented and shown the proper techniques, we picked up our shovels and started planting. To ensure that each tree had a chance to successfully grow, we had to space them correctly and carefully cover them with soil. Everyone on the team had fun digging holes  and searching for areas which needed additional trees. During the event some of our team members also found a variety of wildlife.

Our team enjoyed the activity so much in fact that we finished well ahead of schedule. That gave us time to help collect some errant litter, and grab a few snacks after our hard work. While it might be a little while until we see the results of our efforts, the entire team had a great time actively contributing to the community and the Nashville ecosystem.”

Below are a few more experiences TechnologyAdvice has had through Hands On Nashville since January 2015:

TechnologyAdvice team volunteering at American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in spring 2015.

Hope Lodge Game Night – American Cancer Society: Nine of our team members shared in some fun with the residents of the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge by playing rounds of bingo. Hope Lodge provides free temporary housing for cancer patients receiving outpatient treatment at Nashville hospitals.

Technology/Advice team helping at The Nashville Food Project in spring 2015.

Meal Prep at The Nashville Food Project: Our team was feeling like iron chefs during this activity. We helped process donated and grown produce for the Nashville Food Project’s hot meal program. Our 11 volunteers chopped butternut squash, peeled sweet potatoes, made quesadillas, and more. We used many ingredients to make delicious hot meals for people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Technology/Advice team at Project C.U.R.E.

Project C.U.R.E: Fourteen of our team members supported Project C.U.R.E., which collects new, surplus, and overstock medical supplies. We sorted all kinds of different medical supplies, and packed them in boxes, which were delivered to one of Project C.U.R.E’s targeted, developing countries.

Learn more about Hands On Nashville’s Corporate Partner Program:
Interested in a customized, team building opportunity to give back with your staff?
Contact tara@hon.org.
Share your story:
Want to share a volunteer experience with us? Let us know at contactus@hon.org.


Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: The Nashville Wine Auction

NWAlogoEven the most novice food enthusiast recognizes the importance of pairing wine with certain dishes and cuisines. But here in Nashville, whether you’re a ‘foodie’ or not, one of the best things you can pair with wine is something that might actually surprise you—your time. 

Combining fantastic wines and philanthropy, the Nashville Wine Auction is a self-sustaining, nonprofit, charitable organization that exists solely to raise funds in the fight against cancer by engaging Nashville wine enthusiasts and wine communities from around the globe. In its 30-plus years of existence, the organization has raised more than $17 million for local cancer charities, including the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, Gilda’s Club, the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Saint Thomas Cancer Network, and more.

Guests bid during a Nashville Wine Auction event

It all began in the summer of 1980, when a group of Nashville friends (led by Tennessean critic Homer Blitch and local businessman Thomas J. Milam) decided to put together a wine auction to raise money for the American Cancer Society. They called it “l’eté du Vin” (A Summer of Wine) and the event generated more than $3,000 in contributions.

After a popular and successful debut, the auction became an annual affair and gradually expanded to a series of summer-long events in Nashville that has attracted visitors and wine fans from across the United States. By 1993, l’eté du Vin had grown into the country’s biggest one-day charity wine auction outside the California wine regions.

A small sampling of some of the wonderful wines at the Nashville Wine Auction
A small sampling of some of the wonderful wines at the Nashville Wine Auction

Re-branded in just the last year as the Nashville Wine Auction, l’eté du Vin remains the group’s marquee event. But the organization produces a host of similar affairs throughout the calendar year now as well, and volunteers play a vital role in ensuring the success of all of them. For many, the chance to donate their time to such a unique organization that is working to fight cancer right here in Middle Tennessee has resulted in a truly one-of-a-kind volunteer opportunity.

Vanderbilt senior Courtney Kirk, who volunteered at one of the group’s recent Pairings Events, had this to say about her experience:

“Volunteering for Nashville Wine Auction is a hands-on opportunity of the best kind. I cannot say there is another organization I have volunteered for where I have felt as though I really contributed (so much) to the event.”

Hard-working, focused individuals can volunteer with the Nashville Wine Auction in a variety of capacities, including event and silent auction setup, live auction assistance, guest registration, and more.

Volunteers assisting with guest registration
Volunteers assisting with guest registration

Sound enticing? There are a few upcoming events at the Nashville Wine Auction that you can donate your time to this summer. 

>Sign up to volunteer with the Nashville Wine Auction!

Interested individuals can email Kristin@NashvilleWineAuction.com and visit the Nashville Wine Auction website for further information about events and volunteer opportunities available.

By Elizabeth Madsen, HON’s Director of Nonprofit and Volunteer Relations

The group serving at Hope Lodge.
The group serving at Hope Lodge.

I work at a volunteer resource center – which is amazing and allows me to connect people who want to help our community to other people who could use a helping hand. What it doesn’t allow me to do is spend a lot of time volunteering. Usually. One of my roles at HON is to train and manage the dedicated Volunteer Leader (VL) corps. They are the folks you usually see at projects, making sure that you have the tools that you need, getting you signed in and generally making sure that you’re having a good time AND a meaningful experience. (It’s a big job, isn’t it?) Last month, I was blessed to volunteer four times in one week. The following is an experience I had at one of the projects.

Monday – Dinner at Hope Lodge

Hands On Nashville closes on President’s Day. We run around like crazy men and women on MLK Day, making sure that everyone else’s day off can be put to good use. By mid-February, we are all ready for a little R&R. I started my day off with a workout, then showered and signed into work email to make sure everything was running as it should.

There was an email from Keitha, one of the VLs for Dinner at Hope Lodge. She was emailing to let me know that a number of people were dropping out that afternoon and that she didn’t think we would have enough food for the Hope Lodge residents. She had already called Hope Lodge to manage expectations and was writing just to let me know.

So, I emailed her back, put on my sneakers, and headed to Kroger for brownie mix and veggies to roast. Several hours later, I had made three batches of brownies and two batches of roasted veggies. It was time to head out. In the rain. On my day off.

But, we had a great time. We had enough people and plenty of food, as it turned out. I was glad I went. It’s always nice to get out from behind my desk to see the service that we help make possible come to life. And then, it happened. I first noticed this young couple when we welcomed everyone into the kitchen to serve themselves dinner. They were about my age – I’m 33. They were staying at the Hope Lodge, a free place to stay for people getting cancer treatment who don’t live near Nashville.

It didn’t seem right. People my age shouldn’t be at the Hope Lodge. I put them out of my mind and continued on, making sure everyone had what they needed, bagging up leftovers, getting closer to a little down-time with each step. After all, this was my day off. I hadn’t planned to devote most of it to work. Finally, at 7:15 we were done. Keitha thanked us all and sent us home.

And as I walked out of the kitchen, the guy my age came over, wrapped me in a bear hug, and thanked me. He had expressed his thanks all evening, but this was it for me. My coworkers can tell you that I value my personal space. But as Alex squeezed me tight, thanking me for feeding him and his companion, I fought back tears. Six hours of standing, cooking, serving and cleaning disappeared and all I felt was thankful. I am thankful for my health and thankful that at HON we make these moments possible every day.

EMA native Texan, Elizabeth Madsen serves as HON’s director of nonprofit and volunteer relations. She helps HON’s Nonprofit Partners think about ways to engage volunteers in meaningful service work, manages the Volunteer Leader Corps, and sends you an email every time you sign up to volunteer. (Okay, fine.  A computer does that last part.) Elizabeth is training to complete her first half marathon in June.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge

“If it wasn’t for Hope Lodge, I would have slept in my car at Wal-Mart.” Samuel, a guest of Hope Lodge, is one of many for whom this has been a place of refuge and hope during a very difficult time.

The mission of the American Cancer Society (ACS) is to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem through prevention, saving lives, and easing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Hope Lodge is a service of ACS, providing lodging at no cost to cancer patients and their families who come into Nashville for treatment. Each year, Hope Lodge serves nearly 1,800 people and gives 23,000 free nights of lodging annually.

One of the easiest ways to lift the spirits of someone suffering from cancer is by offering

Volunteers comfort families at Hope Lodge by providing home-cooked meals.

a home-cooked meal. Several times a month, Hands On Nashville volunteers put together a delicious dinner menu for Hope Lodge guests.

“I really enjoyed meeting and talking to the residents at Hope Lodge,” says one recent volunteer. “They brightened my day and I hope I did the same for them. I also enjoyed meeting the other volunteers.”
> Learn more and sign up here.

Not into dinner, but love the idea of bringing light into someone’s world who is dealing with illness? Consider game night, where you can play a simple game of bingo with the guests and provide a welcome break from stress.
> Learn more and sign up here.

Or give just a few hours a month driving cancer patients to their life-saving treatment as a Road to Recovery driver. Anyone who has a driver’s license, a safe driving record, personal auto insurance, owns or has access to a car, and can spare as little as one morning or afternoon a month is perfect for this volunteer opportunity.
> Learn more and sign up here.

If you’re interested in raising awareness or funds to support the work of American Cancer Society, check out Relay for Life or consider becoming an event committee member.
> Learn more and sign up here.

Read more about additional volunteer opportunities with the American Cancer Society and Hope Lodge here.

Serving Up Love at Hope Lodge

Volunteer Spotlight: Kevin Groom
Kevin Groom makes a mean home-cooked meal, and the cancer patients and their families that he cooks for each month at Hope Lodge savor every bite.

This IT expert and country music lover started volunteering with Hands On Nashville in 1997, a few years after moving here. Looking for an opportunity to meet new people, learn more about Nashville, and connect with others to whom he might lend a helping hand, Kevin got involved by helping to plan Hands On Nashville Day two years in a row.

Then in 2000, he got even more involved by serving as co-chair of the event. “This was my most memorable volunteer experience,” Kevin says. “We had almost 1,000 volunteers working on about 50 projects throughout Nashville that year. Helping to plan the event was a huge time commitment and required a great deal of effort. But on the day of the event, the members of the planning committee traveled around to several projects to take pictures and meet the volunteers. Visiting all the different sites really helped me to see just how great an impact Hands On Nashville really has on the city.”

In 2007, Kevin began volunteering regularly at The American Cancer Society’s Memorial Foundation Hope Lodge. This amazing organization provides free housing for out-of-town patients undergoing cancer treatment and their families. HON volunteers provide home-cooked meals to help make the guests’ stay more comfortable.

“I like volunteering at the Hope Lodge because it’s a great opportunity to help others and immediately see a benefit,” he says. “After spending all day at the hospital, the families really appreciate having a home-cooked meal instead of having to prepare something themselves or go out to a restaurant.”

Kevin also learns a lot from the people he serves, and says they serve as an example for how to deal with adversity.  “I’m always amazed at the positive attitudes of the patients and their families even though they are going through such tough times. “

Kevin’s advice to new volunteers? “Sign up for several different projects to see which ones you like the best. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain life experience and meet people from all walks of life.”

Interested in joining Kevin and the other cooks at Hope Lodge? Dinner at Hope Lodge occurs on the third Monday, and the first and second Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.