Tag Archives: hunger

VolunTEEN: My Last Day as a HON Youth Leader

Guest Post by Emily McAndrew
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily headshotEmily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks this year, Emily led service learning opportunities that address hunger.

On July 18, I led my last project with Hands On Nashville at St. Luke’s Community House. Although bittersweet, it was one of my best projects because it reminded me why I wanted to give my summer to service in the first place.

At St. Luke’s, we helped both senior citizens and preschoolers. My team consisted of a group of three high school boys and they were amazing! They were constantly making jokes and putting smiles on everyone’s faces. Seeing the boys make everyone smile made me realize that service is not always about just getting the job done, but also about making an impact and connecting with others.

Much like my internship, the three hour project went by much too quickly. I wish I had more time to cherish with this organization and the people involved in it, but I have gained immeasurable experience and hope that I have taught Nashville’s youth about the value of service learning too.

Thanks to everyone who has been involved in my amazing summer with Hands on Nashville!

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here

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Emily’s service work at St. Luke’s Community House included plenty of smiles!

Crop City: Local Chefs Visit the Farm!

With the 2013 Crop City program winding down here in its final week, campers were treated to a very special visit at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm yesterday!

Local chefs Tony Galzin and Jo Ellen Brown stopped by and spent the morning whipping up a pair of delicious summer dishes for campers to enjoy. The demonstrations, part of Crop City’s unique farm-to-table curriculum, gave dozens of youth a first-hand look at how easy it is to create dishes that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.

Chef Tony’s squash salad and Chef Jo Ellen’s fruit dip were such a huge hit yesterday that we thought it would be a great idea to share the recipes with you.  Give one or both of these outstanding recipes a try in your own kitchen!

Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.
Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.

Summer Squash Salad

2 medium summer squash
1 bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1 lime
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne pepper

–Wash all vegetables.
–Cut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
–Microwave in a plastic container with a little water for 2 minutes.
–Check to see if the squash is tender. If it’s not, microwave until cooked.
–Strain out water and put the squash in a bowl.
–Cut the pepper in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into small dice. Add to the squash.
–Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the rest of the vegetables.
–Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the olive oil and mix.
–Season with salt, pepper, and a small amount of cayenne, and mix.

Yogurt Almond Fruit Dip

Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.
Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.

1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
2-3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

–Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk until the dip has a consistent color and texture. Serve with sliced apples.

Many thanks to both chefs for donating their time and expertise to help Nashville-area youth eat smarter and healthier!

VolunTEEN: What the Future Looks Like

Emily headshotGuest Post by Emily McAndrew,
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Emily leads service learning opportunities that address hunger.

When thinking of the future, many adults fear that the new generation is too lazy, too self-centered, or too unenthusiastic to lead the nation. But in spending the past three weeks around teens who voluntarily give up their time to serve others, I can say without a doubt that this generation is ready to build a bright future.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on the day of my first project. I was worried that the teens wouldn’t like me or that they wouldn’t listen to me. But as the volunteers came in, my fears were diminished. They were all here to serve and have fun just like myself!

I have led kids from all different backgrounds. Most of them have volunteered at multiple HON VolunTEEN projects. Through getting to work with these teens at different times, I have gotten to know some of them pretty well. Each volunteer brings a different aspect to the group, but I have learned that they each share one thing in common: a desire to make a difference.

Although the nation may have a preconceived notion that all teenagers are unfit to be the leaders of tomorrow, I have learned differently. I have met the most hard-working and selfless youth working with HON. These volunteers are our future.

Learn more about HON’s youth leader programs here!

Youth volunteers taking a quick break at Second Harvest Food Bank.
Youth volunteers taking a quick break at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Notes from the Farm: Summertime Activity in Full Swing

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

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Crop City participants show off some of the recently-harvested garlic

Welcome to summer!

We hope all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in the company of good friends, loving family, and (of course) delicious food!

Out at the Farm, these long summer days and warm summer nights are translating into a big growth spurt for many of our crops. Plenty of garlic has already been pulled, the tomatoes and peppers will provide a steady harvest for the next month and a half, our sunflowers are beaming, and the bush beans are taking off like wildfire.

There have also been some pretty significant changes made on the grounds of the Urban Farm over the course of the past month or so as well. Most notably, we have completed installation of the Butterfly Garden between our vegetable fields. This beautiful space will provide a great habitat for all of the beneficial insects that help make our vegetables healthy and happy. We encourage visitors to come enjoy the view of the new garden from one of the nearby swing sets!

Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.
Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.

As we mentioned in our last update, the summer youth development program Crop City is in full swing and will continue to take place every weekday until July 19. Over 200 youth come out to the Farm every week to participate in Crop City and learn about sustainable growing and the importance of healthy eating.

Overseeing all of this activity and leading the programming for Crop City is our talented team of 15 Urban Farm Apprentices. Our Apprentices have been doing an amazing job running the program and engaging Crop City campers while also gaining valuable leadership skills, and the program certainly would not be the success that it is without them!

Click here to learn more about each of these outstanding high school students who are making a real difference this summer.

Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.
Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.

Finally, we will be offering an Urban Farm Summer Camp program from July 22 to July 26 for 9- to 13-year old boys and girls. This curriculum for this camp will be very similar to that of Crop City, and it will also be led by our Apprentices. Participants will be immersed in an experienced-based learning environment full of delicious vegetables, colorful flowers, and a variety of fun and educational games. We’d love to have you join us for this fun and educational experience so click here to learn more and sign up!

And of course, if you have any other questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!

_________________________________________________________________________

josh2Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

VolunTEEN: Seeing the Yield of Your Crop

Emily headshotGuest Post by Emily McAndrew,
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, wanted to be a Summer Youth Leader so that she could learn how to be a better leader while helping others. Emily chose to focus on hunger because she wants to teach youth that the issue is not just something that exists in developing countries.

When volunteering, if you aren’t working directly with the person or people you are helping, it can be difficult to fully grasp the impact of your efforts.

While organizing food in the freezing coolers of the Second Harvest Food Bank as an HON Summer Youth Leader, I did not realize how much my work and the work of my fellow volunteers truly meant until I got to work at the East Nashville Cooperative Ministry (ENCM), a recipient of food donations from Second Harvest.

ENCM’s mission is to improve health and welfare of the residents of the East Nashville community. They do this by offering healthy meals, food, and other necessities to people in the area. The ministry is one of two recipients of Second Harvest that do not accept cakes or dessert items.

My group has helped in the garden and has cooked for the clients of ENCM. My favorite part of the projects was to help cook. The food that is cooked is a combination of produce from the garden and donated items from Second Harvest. It is so cool to think that the food I was preparing one day could have been the same food that I was organizing the day before! What I have learned from my experiences so far as a Summer Youth Leader is that volunteering always has an impact on someone, whatever the task may be. I urge everyone in the community to volunteer and make their own impact.

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here!

Volunteers preparing some amazing burgers!
Volunteers preparing some amazing burgers!

Volunteer Leader Spotlight: Julie Hill

julie121212Between her hobbies of hiking, biking, camping, and painting, Julie Hill seems to find herself leading volunteers and helping others on a regular basis. Just like getting in that habitual workout at the gym, Julie needs her community fix – and the community needs her. Twice a month, this southern California native works with a team to help prep and cook food for people who don’t have easy access to fresh produce. She has become an integral part of The Nashville Food Project, a local nonprofit that seeks to provide increased access to healthy foods in homeless and working poor communities across Davidson County.“I like the Nashville Food Project because you have two steps: preparing the food and handing it out to the individuals in need. I find it very fulfilling to be able to meet the individuals that we are there to help,” says Julie. “For me, volunteering is such a rewarding experience; I get the benefits of helping others and meeting great people who enjoy giving back to the community.”

She’s been working with The Nashville Food Project as a Volunteer Leader since September 2012, but has been an active Hands On Nashville volunteer since 2009. From a very young age, Julie was taught that helping her community was part of normal life. She continues to value the opportunity to help out her community and encourage those around her to do the same.

Julie has found Hands On Nashville to be a wonderful place to get connected. “By offering such a great website and partnerships, and the amazing people, Hands On Nashville makes volunteering truly a no-hassle and thoroughly enjoyable experience.”

Are you looking to get involved with The Nashville Food Project like Julie?
➢ Click here to see a list of upcoming opportunities and sign up.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Metropolitan Homelessness Commission

PHCIt’s a new year with new possibilities for anyone seeking employment. But before beginning the search, job seekers must have all their ducks in a row. This includes legal proof of identification, an appearance of good health and hygiene, showing the physical ability to follow through with job requirements, and, of course, confidence in acquiring the job. For the homeless population, these aren’t merely ducks… they are elephants. And reining them in without help or resources can prove to be a daunting task.

Volunteer to help guide the attendees on February 13.
Volunteer to help guide the Project Homeless Connect attendees on February 13.

Thank goodness for Nashville’s largest homeless service provider event, Project Homeless Connect. The Metropolitan Homelessness Commission is recruiting 500 volunteers to assist individuals and families in need at this important event, which takes place on Wednesday, February 13.

This is a one-day, one-stop event providing individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, or on the brink of homelessness, with access to a broad range of services including housing and employment assistance, medical checkups, eye screenings, foot care, legal services, employment assistance, pet care, food, toiletries, and more. The goal of Project Homeless Connect is to remove barriers to housing and employment. This is a true collaborative effort in which more than 70 agencies and hundreds of volunteers come together to provide thousands of services to an expected 1,000 to 1,500 guests.

PHC2012With such a large event, your hands are certainly needed. Volunteer Vette Hughes, a Bank of America employee, said volunteering at Project Homeless Connect was a great experience for her. “The best part is to be able to help people. I love being able to give time. It has made me see that I can do more about homelessness. I am more aware – homeless people are just people like you and me. Everybody needs help sometime.”

Jason Vanover, of Reliant Bank, volunteered for the second year and said he felt like the day really made a difference to a lot of the guests. “Navigating the ID system is not an easy task. And having the right ID is the lynchpin for so many things. And the people are so appreciative.“

If you’re interested in getting involved, volunteers are needed to help with registration, crowd management, check out, guidance, setup/cleanup, and other duties. One of the main needs is for volunteer guides to pair up with the guests. As a volunteer guide, you will ensure that your assigned guest receives the proper services and respect as they navigate the event. Because so many people in our community come together and care, life is more navigable for our homeless population. You, in addition to the 500 other volunteers and 70 agencies, will help move Nashvillians who are experiencing homelessness one step forward. Read below and see how to be a part of this amazing day.

How to volunteer for Project Homeless Connect on Wednesday, February 13:
> Click here to see volunteer opportunities.
> View Project Homeless Connect’s Website.

Still have questions? Email Tojuana Jordan at Tojuana.Jordan@nashville.gov or call her at 615-880-2773.

Sunrise at the Farm

By Becca Stinson, Director of Communications for Hands On Nashville –

Last Thursday morning, I woke up extra early. Not to go for a run or knock some chores off my list before the weekend. I woke up early to dig in the dirt, see nature at its best, and step outside of the rush of the busy work week and give back. And it felt good.

Sunrise at the Farm – volunteers turning compost.

I admit that when my alarm first went off, I thought, “Why did I do this to myself?!” But when I stepped out of my car and saw the light of dawn greeting me over the vegetable rows at the HON Urban Farm, I was reminded of why I signed up. Because I love getting out from behind my desk, getting my hands dirty, learning about the world, and getting out of my comfort zone and my routine. I also love the fact that the tomatoes, squash, beans, and other delicious food grown at the Farm is donated to nonprofit organizations in Nashville serving families in need. Families who might otherwise not have access to fresh, healthy produce.

Our Farm team is making these early Thursday projects a regular thing for the next few weeks, so if you’re an early riser (or just want to pretend you are), you can sign up here. Here’s a little photo montage of my morning at the Farm, before I dashed into work.

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Becca Stinson is Hands On Nashville’s director of communications. Her favorite vegetable? Beets.

Turtles, Picnic Tables, & Summer Camp at the HON Urban Farm

By Josh Corlew, HON Urban Agriculture Program Manager –

We have a lot of visitors on the Farm, each one bringing their own special gifts. Volunteers bring their willing spirit and hard work, donors bring the resources needed to keep our program going, our apprentices bring leadership and education, and our campers bring a youthful enthusiasm and curiosity. But there are also several non-human visitors on the Farm. Here’s a picture of one of the more unique visitors that our apprentices found last week:

Photo of turtle
Hi, momma Shelly.

We named him Sheldon initially, welcomed him to our space, and went about our day. Later that afternoon we came back to find Sheldon is actually Shelly… she had dug a nest in our tomato row! We’re not sure if she’ll be back to lay eggs or raise some tiny turtles, but we’ll keep an eye out for her.

Another favorite visitor to the Farm is Sally the salamander, and she helps keep the pests at bay:

Photo of salamander
Isn’t he cute?!

Last Friday one of our corporate partners, Deloitte, joined us for a day of impact. They built five new compost bins and two beautiful picnic tables for us. Here’s one of the cedar picnic tables:

Cedar picnic table
These picnic tables will provide a much-needed place to relax and take a breather for our Farm volunteers. Thank you, Deloitte!

This week was our first week of Summer Camp at the Farm. Every day we’ll have teens from area nonprofits coming out to learn and work on the Farm. Led by our apprentices, the campers learn about the food system, how to grow food, why it’s important to eat healthy food, and how to cook some simple recipes using farm fresh produce. Our schedules are booked from Mondays through Thursdays, but on Fridays we have room for other teens to come participate. If you’re 11 through 18 and would like to join us on the Farm on a Friday, just sign up here by clicking on one of the VolunTEEN opportunities. Learn more about the HON Urban Farm here.

JoshJosh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.


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.

 
References:
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.