Tag Archives: Middle Tennessee

Strobel Finalists 2023: Direct Service — Youth

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Youth category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 using the button below!

Harlan Ray
Volunteers with STRIVE4You

Harlan Ray is an asset to STRIVE4You who has transformed the organization into what it is today and dedicated more than 300 hours of service there in the past year alone. No job is too small: He dedicates between three and six hours of their week to administrative tasks for the organization and taking on any other job they are asked to do. This included planning and carrying out STRIVE4You’s biggest event of the year, handling everything from preparing food to keeping scores during a Regional Tournament, without any breaks. This task alone was a lot of pressure — USABA Goalball referees indicated that if it weren’t for Harlan running the clocks, they would have been unable to referee the game, However, Harlan went above and beyond without complaints. 

“As a sighted volunteer working alongside blind and low-vision individuals, Harlan has such a big heart. He has never made it a big deal that he works on so many tasks, he never asks for anything. He never looks at any of those he works with and assists differently,” says Harlan’s nominator. 

Before serving STRIVE4You, Harlan volunteered with the Tennessee Association of Behavioral Analysis (TNABA) for almost five years. Harlan is a proven workhorse: No matter what task heis presented with, he runs with it, never expecting thanks or acknowledgment in return. 

Asia Bigsbee
Volunteers with Beautiful Spirited Women

Asia Bigsbee has an incredible record of community service and volunteer work. She currently volunteers with Beautiful Spirited Women, an organization that focuses on teaching leadership and general life skills that will help provide guidance to youth to become positive-minded citizens in their schools and their communities. She has packed 345 bags for girls, packed 100 warm kits for The Salvation Army, packed over 750 senior food boxes, and much more. She gives back to her community members and school tirelessly.  

Asia also founded the Cupcake Mentoring Program, which teaches children ages 4–11 leadership and life skills in a positive and productive environment. She is always willing to serve and truly enjoys it. She was born with a servant heart and is incredibly important to the organization’s success. 

Asia’s nominator says, “She will one day be a true mentor and positive Black female figure for other young people to look up to.” 

Mary Meacham 
Volunteers with Nashville Diaper Connection

Mary Meacham, a local high school senior, has dedicated more than 190 hours of her time to the Nashville Diaper Connection, also known as “NashDiaper.” This organization is Nashville’s one and only diaper bank, providing free diapers for those in need. Mary started volunteering for NashDiaper in 2021 as a sophomore and has since become an essential part of the team.  

Mary has wrapped over 243,800 diapers, translated for those who speak Spanish, assisted with social media and data entry, led volunteer groups, and much more. Not only does Mary volunteer at NashDiaper, but she also volunteers for Study Buddies for Equity and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She has helped to recruit over 270 volunteers for NashDiaper, who have contributed a total of 544 service hours – and made an immeasurable impact in the community. Mary is always available to help where she is needed. 

Of her work, Mary says, “Working with NashDiaper, I felt as though I had stumbled upon work that both lights me up and interests me to learn more.”  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Congratulations to the 2023 Strobel Volunteer Awards nominees!

We’re so excited to announce the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! 2022 was full of incredible acts of service and responding thoughtfully and creatively to help meet our communities’ needs. Thank you to all the amazing volunteers nominated, and for those who took the time to nominate! Read on for a full list of nominees in each category.

What’s next: We’ll announce the finalists on April 1, and the public will be able to vote for their favorite stories of service between April 1-15.

Save the date for the celebration: Join Hands On Nashville on Friday, May 12, when we’ll announce the award recipients on our website and social channels. Award recipients will receive $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choosing, and the remaining award finalists will also receive $250 to donate.

Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, or Twitter so you don’t miss any important announcements!

Capacity-building Volunteer 

Recognizes individuals who provided significant operational or administrative support in 2022 to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization, or developed an innovative approach to significantly improve an existing program.

  • Andrew Harris 
  • Barbara Kane 
  • Becca Fuqua 
  • Charu Balamurugan 
  • David Silvester 
  • Ingrid Campbell 
  • Kevin Geshke 
  • Mary Elizabeth Jackson 
  • Mary Katherine Bratton 
  • Mike Hudson 
  • Nathan Schutt 
  • Whitney Holifield 
  • Yvonne Sullivan 

Group Volunteer Service 

Recognizes any group of two or more individuals who volunteered together in 2022 for a
specific issue or cause. Some group examples are faith-based, civic, membership, and corporate.   

  • Beautiful Spirited Women 
  • Creative Artist Agency (CAA) 
  • Deloitte FAFSA Volunteers
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 
  • Deltek 
  • Digital Resource 
  • EXIT Real Estate Experts 
  • Food Bank Volunteers (Nashville Humane Association)
  • Friends Life Community 
  • Gilda’s Club Associate Board of Middle Tennessee 
  • Give Black, Give Back 
  • Hands of Hope 
  • Hilton Nashville Downtown Team Members 
  • Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) 
  • Ingram Industries 
  • Leslie Homra and Susan Schoenecker 
  • Master Gardeners of Davidson County Speakers Bureau
  • Piedmont Natural Gas
  • PNC Bank 
  • Ravenwood Girls Cotillion 
  • ReNestcue 
  • Restoration Pointe 
  • Shade Tree Clinic 
  • Shower Bus Volunteers (Shower The People)
  • Students Connecting with Seniors (Students of Valor, FiftyForward)
  • The Huggett Family 
  • The Stand Ministry Team 
  • The Wrap Around Closet 
  • Trish Smith and Nancy Hopwood 
  • United Nations Association, Nashville Cordell Hull Chapter 
  • West End Home Foundation 
  • Woodmont Hills Church of Christ Refugee and Immigrant Committee 
  • Youth Adaptive Climbing League Volunteers (The Crag Climbing Gym)

Disaster Preparedness and Response Volunteer 

Recognizes individuals who made a significant contribution to disaster relief, preparation, or mitigation and prevention in 2022.

  • Catherine Wilson 
  • Nissan North America 
  • Ron Hall 
  • Sherry Nicholson 
  • Sonny Nichols 
  • Sue Mulcahy 
  • Valerie Craig and Verna Wyatt 

Social Justice Impact Volunteer

Recognizes individuals whose volunteer work in 2022 was centered on dismantling or calling out systemic injustice or oppression and lifting up disenfranchised communities. 

  • Bass, Berry & Sims PLC 
  • Emily Jenkins 
  • Lisa Waddle, Board President, Better Decisions 
  • Marcia Truitt 
  • Maria Arvizu 
  • Mark Inman 
  • Mary Randle 
  • Ms. Joan Clayton-Davis 
  • Rachel Parker 
  • Ray Emanuel 
  • Vision Heirs INC. 

Direct Service Volunteer — Youth  

Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2022 to help the community. Volunteers ages 5-20 are eligible for this award.  

  • Alana Cain 
  • Anjali Babu 
  • Anna Cate Graham 
  • Asia Bigsbee 
  • Bailey Bonde 
  • Chloe Graham 
  • Eden Daniel 
  • Eli Shuster 
  • Emma Silva 
  • Harlan Ray 
  • Jacy Miller 
  • Kennedy Cockerham 
  • Mary Meacham 
  • Megan Zarring 
  • Monserrat Lopez 
  • Shelby Franklin 
  • Sterling Lekki 

Direct Service Volunteer — Adult 

Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2022 to help the community. Volunteers ages 21-59 are eligible for this award.  

  • Amber Spencer 
  • Amelia Young 
  • Bethany Gray 
  • Billy Bruce 
  • Brianne Rushing 
  • Brooke Basaran 
  • Cage Spoden 
  • Catherine Davis 
  • Catherine Hollo 
  • Chassity Robison 
  • Cindy Montano 
  • Dawn Warner 
  • Emily Bratton 
  • Erica Kimbrough 
  • Gayle Goodall 
  • Heidi Holman 
  • Hugh Trimble 
  • Ibrahim Ibrahim 
  • JaQobi Scantling 
  • Jenn Ross 
  • Jephreda Hudson 
  • Jihad Boustany 
  • Jonah Barrett 
  • Karen Cole 
  • Kayla MacDonald 
  • Kelly Pietkiewicz 
  • Laura Hill 
  • Madeline Yuen 
  • Matt Bowen 
  • Nicola Ritchie 
  • Nicolette Granata 
  • Noelia chinchilla-Oliva 
  • Quincy Byrdsong 
  • Rebekah Clemons 
  • Sarah Meyer 
  • Susan Rohleder 
  • Tamera Thomas 
  • Tracy Rokas 
  • Unique Dantzler 
  • Vonda McDaniel 

Direct Service Volunteer — Older Adult

Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2022 to help the community. Volunteers ages 60 and up are eligible for this award.  

  • Anita Reed 
  • Ann Bell 
  • Anthony (Tony) Washington 
  • Bryan Richardson 
  • Charlotte E. Thomas West 
  • David Franklin 
  • David Joseph Weir 
  • Deborah Gulley 
  • Donald Han Lee 
  • Ed Batsel 
  • Gary Stein 
  • Gino Giambelluca 
  • James E. Neely 
  • Janet Stewart 
  • Jerry Vandiver 
  • Jimmy Hunt 
  • Joan Clayton-Davis 
  • Joe McLaughlin 
  • Joy Roark 
  • Judith Burt 
  • Judy Jenkins 
  • Judy Meskell 
  • Kathy Martin  
  • Kelly Smith 
  • Kristy Williams 
  • Leora Compton (Ms. Lee) 
  • Lynda Evjen 
  • Mike Knott 
  • Mona Wright 
  • Nancy Parker 
  • Pamela Brashear 
  • Patricia Miller 
  • Teresa Hargrove 
  • Tony Eagan 
  • Tracy Pomeroy 

Improving the community is the heart of Jackson’s commitment to service

At Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Jackson®), volunteerism is an integral part of this company’s mission and culture. Through their corporate philanthropy efforts of prioritizing employee volunteerism, Jackson and Hands On Nashville have a longtime partnership supporting Middle Tennessee’s greatest needs. This is the third consecutive year Jackson is serving as the Presenting Sponsor for the annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards.

Their dedication to the Strobel Awards aligns with one of Jackson’s core values, to positively impact the community. 

“At Jackson, service is an important part of our culture,” says Niya Moon, Corporate Philanthropy Manager at Jackson. “Our employee-engagement program, Jackson in Action, empowers team members to donate their skills and time through volunteerism, and the Strobel volunteer stories of what amazing things can come from a year of service are truly inspiring. We’re honored to be the presenting sponsor for such a wonderful event.”

A group of Jackson team members volunteer at a local park.

In addition to championing volunteerism, both with the Strobel Awards and among their employees, Jackson explored different ways to collaborate with others and help change communities for the better over the past year.

  • In 2021, Jackson invested more than $4.88 million in communities where their associates work and live, with $1.19 million being invested in Tennessee.
  • The company and its associates donated $2.19 million through its matching gifts program.
  • Associates volunteered 11,535 hours nationally last year. (Keeping in mind adjusted volunteer engagement due to covid precautions.)
  • Jackson awarded $100,000 over two years to Conexión Américas to fund and support its financial empowerment programs, as well as supporting Conexión’s commitment to providing direct services to the Latino community throughout the pandemic.

April is Financial Literacy Month, as well as National Volunteer Month, two pillars of Jackson’s strong service commitment. In 2017, the Jackson Charitable Foundation was established with a mission to advance financial education across the United States. They began working with Junior Achievement USA and Discovery Education to encourage financial education at an early age. Jackson engages with students across the country through their signature program, Cha-ChingTM Money Smart Kids

Jackson volunteers sort toys for a local nonprofit.

Entering their five-year anniversary, the Foundation has educated more than 10 million students and continues to sponsor 100 high schools annually to utilize finEDge, an educational initiative developed by the University of Chicago. Read more about the foundation’s work here

“It’s a great privilege for the Foundation to continue our mission, listening, learning and supporting the important work of our partners, advancing financial education across the United States,” says Danielle Robinson, Executive Director at Jackson Charitable Foundation. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to help educate young minds and allow these students to get a head start in planning for a successful financial future.”

Hands On Nashville also thanks Jackson for their support and dedication to meeting our community’s needs. 

For more information about Jackson and their commitment to service, click here.

About Jackson

Jackson National Life Insurance Company is committed to helping clarify the complexity of retirement planning for its customers. Jackson’s range of annuity products, financial know-how, history of award-winning service, and streamlined experiences strive to reduce the confusion that complicates retirement plans. As part of their award-winning Corporate Philanthropy program, Jackson invests nearly $1.2 million annually in nonprofit and community causes in Middle Tennessee.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Direct Service — Youth

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Youth category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 using the button below!

JohnThomas Atema

JohnThomas Atema
Volunteers with Best Buddies 

JohnThomas Atema began volunteering with the Best Buddies organization in the sixth grade. As a peer, lunch and a homework buddy, Atema has been a consistent friend to peers with special needs because of his passion for inclusivity.  

Atema has continued his services with the Best Buddies organization by serving as both vice president and president of the organization in middle school. While serving in these roles, he was recognized as the top fundraiser for the Best Buddies Walk that year and won the James C. Parker Service Award. As a high schooler, Atema has served as a peer buddy all three years and currently serves as the vice president of the high school-level organization. Moving into his senior year, he hopes to be president of the organization. He is also a part of Best Buddies International through providing videos for the organization and serving as the youngest Global Ambassador.  “JohnThomas does not have to do Best Buddies because he lives Best Buddies — he has a sister with Down syndrome and lives out the organization’s mission every day. However, he has passionately chosen to be involved with this organization because he knows how important it is and has been Buddies with the same student since the seventh grade,” shared a colleague of Atema’s.  

Riya Narayan

Riya Narayan
Founder of Treats and Tunes

Riya Narayan is the founder of Treats and Tunes, an organization with a mission to provide people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities with a platform to share their love for music. Through her organization, she has reached out to many assisted living centers, coordinated performances and logistics, and planned in-person and virtual events.  

When Narayan recognized the impact that music can have on members of senior living and long-term care facilities, she knew that she would be able to meet that need. At age 14, Narayan founded Treats and Tunes to provide engaging activities and entertainment for members of elderly communities. Based in Franklin, Tenn., Narayan has recruited performers from across the world to share the joy of music to over 1,500 residents in assisted living centers in not only the Nashville area, but also centers in New York, Michigan, California and Vancouver, Canada. Treats and Tunes has expanded to host over 30 virtual and eight in-person events in the span of two years. Narayan has found ways to involve participants from over 10 U.S. states and four different countries, including India and Venezuela.  

Despite the pandemic that affected a lot of her in-person efforts in 2020, Narayan continued to expand in ways that would be safe and still enjoyable to residents of the assisted living centers. Her heart and passion for helping serve others continues to impact many community centers and residents.   “The joy, twinkle in the eyes and the sense of bonding Riya felt from senior citizens after every performance made the efforts totally worth it,” shared a colleague of Narayan’s.

Maddie McDaniel

Maddie McDaniel
Volunteers with Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away 

Maddie McDaniel is no stranger to spreading the love when it comes to volunteer efforts in the Nashville area. As a student, McDaniel dedicates all her weekends and breaks to serving both Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away. The two organizations are working to alleviate homelessness for women and hunger in Nashville.  

Even while attending school Monday through Friday, McDaniel has made the effort to log over 300 hours of community service to both organizations. Starting out as a Girl Scout herself, she first was introduced to Troop 6000 in her freshman year, when she immediately signed up to be a co-leader to provide support and activities to the young women experiencing homelessness. McDaniel felt led to serve this community because of the joy and resilience the women continued to emit, even while experiencing homelessness.  

McDaniel was introduced to One Generation Away through a joint mobile food pantry that was initiated by her church. One Generation Away seeks to help families struggling with food anxiety by providing food from local grocery stores. When serving, she helps unload 30,000 pounds of food and sorts through it. With all her dedicated time to the organization, McDaniel has taken on the responsibility of directing over 300 cars of traffic to the food pantry. She has continued to serve the organization in her personal life through her social media platforms, Girl Scout troops, her church youth group and clubs on campus.  

“Though these two organizations are different, I believe they called me to help for the same reason. They enable me to help someone directly, an opportunity to exchange a smile or a thank you. They allow me to learn from them and get back more than I give,” McDaniel shared.  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Disaster Relief

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Disaster Relief category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 at the button below!

Hispanic Outreach Task Force
(Marcela Gomez)

Hispanic Outreach Task Force
Volunteers with Hands On Nashville, offers assistance to Latino community in need

In the aftermath of the March 2021 flood, south Nashville was in particular need of disaster relief. While there were many volunteer organizations making recovery efforts at the time, it was quickly realized that a task force of community members who could understand and navigate the cultural nuances of the largely Latino community was needed. This task force consisted of Diane Janbakhsh, Jennifer Novo, Veronica Selcedo, Wendy Silva, Karla Vazaquez and Veronica Zavaleta, all well-known and influential community members. The team immediately crafted a plan to reach members of the Latino community who were in need and let them know that relief was available.

Before the Hispanic Outreach Task Force was assembled, only a handful of Latino residents felt comfortable reaching out for help; after several outreach events and media pushes conducted by the team, over 300 requests for disaster relief from homeowners and renters in the area were received, allowing volunteers to mobilize and help residents. Without this task force, many members of the Latino community in south Nashville would not have had a trusted avenue to reach out for help with disaster recovery. Although the members of the task force didn’t expect any recognition for their work, they are honored to be nominated. “Offering the talents and skills life has given you for the service of others is an honor,” said Marcela Gomez, who was instrumental in assembling the task force. “You don’t volunteer with the mindset that you will get something back; you volunteer because you are grateful to be alive.”

Emergency Support Unit volunteers

Emergency Support Unit
Nashville Office of Emergency Management

During Nashville’s tremendous rainfall and historic flash flooding in March 2021, crews were quickly needed to help rescue residents who had been trapped in dangerous situations. That’s when the Emergency Support Unit (ESU), a team of roughly 30 community members ranging from CEOs to teachers, mobilized. This team volunteered their extensive training to help Nashvillians in need.

When Nashville started flooding, this team, several of whom are trained specifically in flood and swift-water response, put their skills to use and saved dozens of lives. The ESU conducted numerous home, vehicle and high-water rescues. When a Metro Nashville police officer was swept from his vehicle during the night and into rushing, debris-filled, 20-foot-deep water, the ESU team conducted an emergency rescue in the dark, saving the officer’s life.

“ESU volunteers are dedicated to serve their community and its citizens during their time of need during emergency and non-emergency incidents that affect our community,” said a representative from the Office of Emergency Management. “This is a great honor for us.”

Joe Gaines

Joe Gaines
Volunteers with Waverly Flood Survivors and Westminster Presbyterian Church

Joe Gaines has been an active disaster relief volunteer since Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005. He volunteered to help during Nashville’s 2010 flood, and after the 2020 tornadoes in Putnam and Davidson Counties. When flooding devastated Waverly, Tenn., Gaines’s actions were no different – he jumped in to help.

Since the August flooding, Gaines and his team have worked on 12 homes impacted by the storms. His team works on the most severely damaged homes, the ones many other teams walk away from. What makes Gaines’s work special is he recognizes these houses are more than damaged buildings, they’re people’s homes. When on site it’s a priority of his to introduce volunteers to the home owners to show just how important their work is.

“I feel that there is a call to help others in their time of need,” Gaines said. “I also enjoy hands-on labor and the fellowship of my fellow volunteers. My life has been rewarded by seeing the appreciation of those we help.”

Gaines is tireless, and works with a quiet determination and thorough knowledge of his skill set. After the attention has diverted from Waverly and the resources have dwindled, he’s remained dedicated to the flood victims. He continues to gather a crew two days a month to help those who have lost so much, and is often found working long after other volunteers have headed home.

He is the heart of his group, and the motivation to keep everyone positive throughout the day. He says he’s fortunate to work with his fellow members at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and continue their long tradition of service.

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Group Volunteer Service

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Group Volunteer Service category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 at the button below!

Come To The Table
(Jennifer Ray and Gloria Damron)

Come to the Table
Volunteers who founded an initiative to feed the hungry while offering physical, emotional and spiritual support.

Come to the Table Tennessee is a faith-based nonprofit community organization established in January 2019 by Jennifer Ray and Gloria Damron, out of the desire to feed the hungry while offering physical, emotional and spiritual support. Each week, Jennifer and Gloria serve a free hot meal at Damron’s Restaurant to anyone in need — children, the elderly and all ages in between. Since 2019, they have grown Come to the Table by recruiting new volunteers to the cause, who now serve between 95 and 150 guests weekly. 

What sets this organization apart is not just feeding the hungry and meeting basic needs. These women and the other volunteers strive to meet emotional needs as well, lending an ear, offering friendship free of judgment, and providing a community where people can eat, talk and laugh – filling a void that too often goes unnoticed in the lives of the hungry. As their colleague explains: “These two ladies are committed to lessening the burden of hunger in our town. There are other food sources in town, but the difference in this one is not only do they strive to feed those who are hungry but they also minister to them through non-judgmental friendship and caring.”

“[Gloria] and I began the ministry in January 2019, hoping to feed the hungry in our community a hot meal one night each week. Together we are making a difference in the lives of 100-plus each week,” Jennifer said.  We laugh together, pray together and share life together. It is about more than feeding their bodies; it is about feeding their souls and sharing hope with them.”


Connect Us Outreach Ministry
(Mary Yarbrough and Kathy Morrison)

Connect Us Outreach Ministry Volunteers: Frank Brooks, Mary Yarbrough, and Evang. Kathy Morrison
Volunteers who serve locally to provide food boxes, clothing, and household goods for those in need.

For years, Frank Brooks, Mary Yarbrough and Evang. Kathy Morrison have volunteered at Connect Us Outreach Ministry, a locally owned outreach center that provides hands-on work to make a difference in the lives of those across the Nashville community. 

Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Frank, Mary and Kathy have risen above the call of duty, diligently preparing and distributing food boxes, clothing and household goods for those in need, distributing masks and sack lunches to homeless populations throughout the city, and providing necessary supplies to tornado victims. They have embodied Connect Us Outreach Ministry’s core mission each day, treating all whom they serve with grace regardless of religion. For those with needs that outstrip the Ministry’s resources, Frank, Mary and Kathy have worked tirelessly to connect them with the necessary resources through other organizations. 

This trio has dedicated their lives to serving the community. This past summer, Frank tragically passed away, a significant loss for the Ministry, his fellow volunteers and the city. In a true testament to his love for this community, Frank spent his last day assisting Kathy and Mary with food box assembly. To this day, Kathy and Mary continue to volunteer with Connect Us, and do so in Frank’s honor and memory. 

When asked about her nomination, Mary said, “I was drawn to this Ministry by the work of the director working with women that were homeless, in the jail system, and those in the community that are in need by providing clothing, food boxes and household goods when they find housing.”


Alameda Christian Church Ministry Volunteers

Congregation of Alameda Christian Church
Volunteers who serve with the Society of St. Andrew to coordinate and facilitate large-scale food distributions for communities in need.

The congregation of Alameda Christian Church has volunteered with the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) for five years, aiding the nonprofit in their efforts to provide healthy food, reduce food waste and forge community bonds by ensuring no one goes hungry. 

Alameda has striven to involve as many members of their congregation as possible, from youth groups to deacons. In the last two years, they have hosted three “crop drops,” which are large-scale events to distribute food boxes and thousands of pounds of freshly grown produce to those in need. In addition to hosting, they ensured the event was accessible for all, so that all volunteers, regardless of age or ability, were able to take part in dropping off the food, organizing food bags, and distributing to agencies and others in need. In total, their work to host the last three crop drops increased the amount of food shared in middle Tennessee by 76,000 pounds.

Through their diligence and dedication, Alameda has helped SoSA reach new, underserved areas of the Nashville community.

“We are a small church with a BIG heart. Our members are a diverse, inter-generational team of volunteers with a singular mission to put healthy, fresh, nutritious produce in the hands of those in need in the community,” said Alameda Christian Church representatives about their work. “We are blessed and grateful to volunteer with the Society of St. Andrew to be change agents making a difference in alleviating hunger issues in the community.”

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Partner Spotlight: National Museum of African American Music

In honor of Black History Month we’re excited to spotlight The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), which opened in downtown Nashville in September 2020.

NMAAM is the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced and/or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop.

Using artifacts, objects, memorabilia, clothing and state-of-the-art technology, each of the museum galleries is designed to share a different narrative and a unique perspective on African American music and history.

The museum tells the story of how a distinct group of people used their artistry to impact and change the world. We are honored to partner with the museum, and to help meet their needs through volunteerism.

The National Museum of African American Music is the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced and/or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop. [NMAAAM Photo]

Mission: To educate the world, preserve the legacy, and celebrate the central role African Americans play in creating the American soundtrack.

Hours: The Museum is open 9 am. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Monday, 9AM-5PM.

  • The Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
  • Amplify, the Museum’s gift shop, is open 7 days a week, 10AM-5PM.

Tickets: Tours begin daily at 9 a.m. and occur every half hour.

  • A few notes about your visit to NMAAM: 
  • NMAAM uses timed tickets for tours (self-guided).
  • Estimated tour time is 90 minutes but guests may take as much time as they like to enjoy the galleries
  • When you receive your ticket confirmation, you will be prompted to print your ticket(s) or bring your e-ticket(s) on your phone the day of your visit which we strongly encourage you to do. If you do not bring your printed ticket(s) or e-ticket(s) you will have to come to the NMAAM ticket desk the day of your visit to pick-up your tickets which will delay your ability to begin your tour as scheduled.

Locals can visit free: Through the Nashville Public Library’s Community Passports program, two adults from Davidson County can receive free admission to NMAAM for one visit over a 7-day period. Library card holders can “check out” a passport online, and be placed on the waiting list for when they become available. Learn more here!

Volunteer opportunities: NMAAM offers long-term volunteer opportunities and date and time specific opportunities though the HON website. Click here to see their offerings!

Membership: A NMAAM membership offers special privileges throughout the entire year, including unlimited free admission, access to private exhibitions, discounts at our gift shop and much more! Members can receive customized experiences when viewing exhibitions that bring the American soundtrack to life. We’re devoted to providing members with intimate experiences that will leave them inspired beyond our walls. Additionally, your membership provides vital support for NMAAM’s rich programs, educational opportunities, and community partnerships. View membership options here!

The latest FEMA information regarding the Dec. 2021 storms

Earlier this week FEMA shared some updated messaging regarding applying for assistance, what types of assistance FEMA offers, deadlines to apply, and information on applying for Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans. For questions regarding this information, please visit fema.gov/disaster/4637.

These updates are accurate as of Feb. 17.

Latest news:

One Month Left to Apply for FEMA Assistance
Since the devestating December 2021 storms, more than $4.4 million in federal funds has been provided to residents to assist in their recovery. Survivors who still need to apply for FEMA assistance have until March 15, 2022, to do so.

Funding is available to residents in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, Weakley, and Wilson counties.

Applying for FEMA assistance is free and easy. To start your claim, use any of the following options:

  • Go online to DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Use the FEMA app, which can be easily downloaded to a smartphone.
  • Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Specialists are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week. Multilingual services are available.
  • If you use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others:
    • Update the “Current Phone” field using the relay service phone number
    • Add “Relay Service” to the Note box; provide FEMA with your number.

FEMA Housing Inspections
FEMA Housing Inspectors will make an appointment before visiting your property to assess damage. The inspector may call and confirm the last four digits of your FEMA application number and then schedule an appointment seven to 10 days from the date your initial application is submitted.

Over the past month, FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams have gone door-to-door in the 12 declared counties, interacting with 2,061 individuals to help them apply for assistance and to provide referrals to other resources.

NOTE: Apply Even If You Have Insurance
If your personal property or primary residence was damaged when a line of tornadoes touched down in middle and west Tennessee in December, consider applying for FEMA assistance even if you have insurance. Don’t wait until after you receive your insurance settlement to apply. First, file your insurance claim, then apply for FEMA. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits, but once you are in the agency’s application system, you can submit documentation on your insurance settlement or claim denial when you receive it, and any uncovered damages will be considered.

For nonprofits: FEMA continues to support state and local leaders to provide Public Assistance funding for storm-related emergency response and the restoration of infrastructure, damaged public facilities and certain private nonprofits, like houses of worship. To learn more, go to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency “Active Disasters” page, and click on FEMA-4637.

Read the full FEMA press release here.

What FEMA Individual Assistance Does and Does Not Cover

Under a recently signed Major Disaster Declaration, homeowners and renters in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, Weakley and Wilson counties whose primary residence and/or personal property was damaged or destroyed by the December

What is not eligible?

FEMA does not offer housing assistance for secondary homes; you may only receive FEMA assistance for disaster damage to your primary residence. Additionally, FEMA does not provide assistance to small businesses. Our partner, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), offers low interest disaster loans for that. Business owners, renters and homeowners may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunication relay services), or by emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Disaster loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster.

What FEMA may cover

Tornado survivors in middle and west Tennessee are eligible to apply for grants that cover temporary housing, repairs and other uninsured or underinsured losses. However, those who still have questions can speak with a FEMA representative at 800-621-3362 to learn how the agency can assist with their disaster recovery. Here is an abbreviated list of assistance available:

Temporary Housing Assistance: Funds for temporary housing, such as rental assistance or reimbursement for hotel costs, while you are unable to live in your home due to extreme tornado damage.

Lodging Expenses Reimbursement: Reimbursement of hotel expenses for homeowners or renters for short periods of time because they can’t access their disaster-damaged primary residence, or a utility outage makes the home unlivable.

Home Repair or Replacement: FEMA may assist with the replacement of, or repairs to, a disaster-damaged primary residence in certain circumstances. This assistance is not intended to restore your home to its pre-disaster condition. Instead, grants cover uninsured essentials like doors, windows, a roof, critical utilities, toilets and other necessities. The homeowner may apply for an SBA disaster loan to help with additional repairs beyond what FEMA may provide.
FEMA may also consider funding for hazard mitigation measures, such as roof, furnace, water heater, or main electrical panel mitigation, to help reduce the amount of damage to the home in future disasters, if those items

Other needs:
Financial assistance is available for necessary expenses and serious needs directly caused by the disaster, including:

  • Child-care expenses
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Damage to essential household items; tools required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, schoolbooks, supplies)
  • Fuel for the primary heat source (heating oil, gas)
  • Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier)
  • Damage to an essential vehicle
  • Moving and storage expenses caused by the disaster. This is moving and storage of essential household goods to prevent further damage, such as ongoing repairs, and returning property to the applicant’s primary residence.
  • Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA

Everyone Has the Right to Appeal a FEMA Determination
If you receive a determination letter advising you are ineligible for assistance or that your application is incomplete, do not be frustrated or discouraged. Instead, just read the entire letter to find out what’s needed for FEMA to continue processing your application. Many times, it’s a simple fix. You have 60 days from the date on your FEMA decision letter to submit a written appeal and supporting documentation.

Key messages:

Tennessee Tornado Survivors: Avoid Contractor Fraud

  • Disasters often bring communities together but con artists, identity thieves and other criminals may target survivors working to rebuild after last December’s severe weather and tornadoes. The most common types of post-disaster fraud include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations, fake offers of municipal or federal aid and charging for free services.
    • If you need help day or night, call the local police and the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

Major Disaster Declaration Amended to Include FEMA Public Assistance

  • Thirteen Tennessee counties are now eligible to receive FEMA Public Assistance reimbursement funds to help communities repair and replace damaged infrastructure, public buildings and some facilities operated by private nonprofits, such as houses of worship. The PA declared counties are Cheatham, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, and Weakley.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans

What is a SBA loan? The SBA offers disaster assistance in the form of low interest loans to businesses, nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters located in regions affected by declared disasters. SBA also provides eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations with working capital to help overcome the economic injury of a declared disaster.

  • There is no cost to apply for a SBA disaster loan, or to accept the loan if approved. However, if FEMA refers you to SBA, you must apply before you can be considered for certain kinds of FEMA grant money. If you are not approved for a loan, FEMA may be able to provide grants to cover disaster related expenses for personal property, vehicle repair or replacement and/or moving and storage feed.
  • Homeowners may be eligible for a disaster loan up to $200,000 for primary residence structural repairs or rebuilding. SBA may also be able to help homeowners and renters with up to $40,000 to replace important personal property, including automobiles damaged or destroyed in the disaster.
  • Businesses and nonprofit organizations may be eligible to borrow up to $2 million for repair costs and disaster related working capital needs.

Read the full press release by FEMA here.

For more information on Tennessee’s disaster recovery, visit www.tn.gov/tema.html and www.fema.gov/disaster/4637. You may also follow FEMA on www.facebook.com/fema and Twitter @FEMARegion4.

Jackson empowers its team to give back and strengthen the community

Since 2007, employees at Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Jackson®) have donated more than 290,000 volunteer hours to improving their communities. Their philanthropy program is engrained in their company’s values, and has continued to grow since the company’s inception nearly 60 years ago.

Jackson’s employee-engagement program, Jackson in Action, empowers team members to donate their skills and time through volunteer opportunities each month. Their volunteers are regulars with Hands On Nashville, whether it’s individually led projects or groups of volunteers assisting through our Corporate Partner Program.

A group of Jackson volunteers assist in a community painting project.

“We work with organizations to help strengthen families and create economic opportunities in areas where we operate,” says Niya Moon, the manager of Corporate Philanthropy at Jackson. “Popular volunteer activities range from assisting with meal preparation and distribution to address food insecurity to teaching financial literacy principles and offering career exploration opportunities to youth.”

Jackson has partnered with HON as the Presenting Sponsor for the annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards for multiple years, a role they have graciously accepted to assist in honoring some of Middle Tennessee’s greatest volunteers.

“One of Jackson’s core values is to positively impact our community, and we believe our corporate culture and employees should contribute to the greater good of society,” Moon says. “We are honored to be among so many other businesses, foundations, groups, and individuals who give generously to make this community great.”

Like so many companies last year, Jackson was forced to limit its volunteer engagement when COVID-19 struck. But the company pivoted its resources, and began pursuing virtual opportunities to fundraise and conduct donation drives to support local organizations during the pandemic.

Jackson awarded grants to programs providing financial coaching and direct assistance to people facing unemployment and other economic hardship intensified by the pandemic. They also offered support to organizations that were forced to postpone or cancel significant fundraising events.

But Jackson’s generosity extends further than their fundraising. Mid-pandemic, when food insecurity was at its highest, Jackson partnered with the Nashville Food Project by opening their dining center kitchen and utilizing staff to prepare meals while following social distancing protocols. Together, they served 6,075 meals for underserved youth and seniors in the community.

Jackson volunteers cut and prepare flash cards for local schools.

“One thing I love about Nashville is how the community works together to help each other during a crisis,” Moon says. “There were so many inspiring stories of the nonprofit sector meeting critical needs of our community reeling after two concurrent disasters—a tornado and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Following the tornado, Jackson employees volunteered 181 hours and contributed $19,620 toward recovery efforts. As the pandemic continues, Jackson has continued to extend its kindness across the community to aid wherever possible.

For more information about Jackson and their commitment to service, click here.

About Jackson

Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®) is committed to helping clarify the complexity of retirement planning for its customers. Jackson’s range of annuity products, financial know-how, history of award-winning service, and streamlined experiences strive to reduce the confusion that complicates retirement plans. As part of their award-winning Corporate Philanthropy program, Jackson invests nearly $1.2 million annually in nonprofit and community causes in Middle Tennessee.

Strobel Finalists 2021: Group Volunteer Service

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Group Volunteer Service category of the 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until June 15 at the button below!

The winter canvassing team

Open Table Nashville’s Winter Canvassing Team
Volunteers who served those experiencing homelessness by providing transportation and supplies throughout the winter

A core team of seven volunteers from Open Table Nashville’s winter canvassing team went above and beyond to serve as a consistent source of warmth for the city’s homeless population. During a particularly harsh winter, Adam Twining, Caroline Erickson, Teddy Denti, Jon Rizzo, Jacob Margason, Liz Shadbolt, Cooper March and Bob Milburn provided vital transportation and supplies, organized outreach for unhoused citizens, and ultimately helped prevent cold-weather death and injury. 

Open Table Nashville is an interfaith homeless outreach nonprofit with the goal of disrupting cycles of poverty and educating the public about issues of homelessness. In 2020, the dedicated team of winter canvassing volunteers distinguished itself, battling brutal conditions amid an ongoing pandemic, to ensure that needs were met. Every night this past winter that temperatures dropped to or below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the team performed wellness checks, distributed warming supplies and either drove homeless citizens to shelters or equipped them with the resources to stay warm in their cars or encampments.  

The team also addressed homelessness from a civic perspective, including outreach to WeGo staff and Metro Councilmembers to organize supply drives and support equitable and accessible transportation for the unhoused population. 

“Our volunteers are different because they show up,” said Adam Twining, Open Table Nashville staff member. “They show up when it’s not easy or glamorous, in the evenings when no one is watching them put in the work. They show up for our unhoused friends who are often in crisis mode, extremely stressed, and often need to be met with an incredible amount of grace and patience. They show up and volunteer for days in a row, even when they have jobs, families and school to also attend to.” 

In 2020, the volunteers offered 782 rides to Metro Nashville’s Overflow Cold Weather shelter and 47 rides to other shelters, handed out warming supplies 912 times, and ultimately, interacted with homeless citizens a staggering 2,163 times. Their efforts meant that Nashville’s homeless community received safety, warmth and comfort during a period when those qualities seemed few and far between. 


Charlotte Heights Church of Christ

Charlotte Heights Church of Christ Volunteer Group
Volunteers who provided weekly shower services and hygiene supplies with nonprofit Shower The People

Motivated by widespread need and refusing to be held back by a devastating pandemic, the Charlotte Heights Church of Christ volunteer group joined forces with local nonprofit Shower the People to provide weekly shower services and hygiene supplies for homeless Nashvillians. In doing so, they harnessed the power of collaboration to yield an exponential impact on the city.  

Over the past 18 months, this group of volunteers has showed up for Shower the People’s Tuesday night shower service every week, stopping only when the COVID-19 stay-at-home order mandated it. Each week, they have fulfilled every role from picking up shower guests and connecting the water hoses, to distributing supplies and everything in between. When last year’s tornado prevented the regular service from occurring in West Nashville, this group used their church bus to drive homeless citizens to the new location, ensuring that no one would go without.  

“During hot summer nights and cold winter evenings, this group shows up,” says Josh Barnett, a member of Shower the People. “As soon as the bus pulls up to service, they are unloading supplies, connecting hoses, starting the signup board – all like a well-oiled machine.” 

In total, the group has provided hundreds of hours of service and even more showers to homeless citizens of Nashville. Their work demonstrates that, when it comes to meeting the need for health and human dignity, no act is too small.


Bridge Builders

Bridge Builders 
Nonprofit providing leadership, mentorship, academic support and networking opportunities for children and families in Nashville 

Amid a devastating pandemic that has wreaked havoc on our community and, in particular, families, Bridge Builders went the extra mile for school-age children and their loved ones in 2020. The nonprofit impacted the lives of students throughout Metro Nashville Public Schools and schools in surrounding counties by connecting them to necessary resources, including free haircuts, school supplies, meals and more. Bridge Builders also continued their mentorship program for high-school-age students, equipping them with the tools and connections necessary for their transition to higher education. Through their efforts, they eased the burden for Nashville students navigating a grueling school year and experiencing a total loss of normalcy. 

Bridge Builders’ efforts were not limited to students and their families. Over the past year, President Daniel Craig and the Bridge Builders organization have risen to meet the needs of the community both large and small. This included distributing bottled water and meals to senior citizens unable to leave their homes, coordinating holiday gift donations for families, and partnering with organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and Nashville Rescue Mission to further serve their members.  

“Bridge Builder is a grassroots organization with limited resources,” said nominator Jessica Rich. “They’ve found ways to impact the community by partnering with organizations, community members and businesses to provide for those in need.” 

“Bridge Builders Program Inc. was brought into community service by the very community we serve,” said Daniel Craig, president of Bridge Builders. “Early on, we noticed that small, seemingly insignificant acts created a ripple effect. It’s truly an honor to serve the teachers, students and senior citizens. They are the cornerstones of our community!” 

To see a full list of the nominees for the 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.