Tag Archives: 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. 

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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.

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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.

Strobel Finalists 2021: Disaster Relief

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

Maria Amado

Maria Amado
Volunteers with The Community Resource Center

When the March 3, 2020, tornadoes hit, Maria Amado headed straight to the Community Resource Center, set up a workspace, and has barely left since. As the CRC’s board chair, she was already well positioned to help advance CRC’s mission of meeting basic needs in the Middle Tennessee community. But when 2020 brought multiple disasters to Nashville, Amado’s support for the resource hub kicked into overdrive. 

She answered phones, did interviews, unloaded trucks, took supplies to their destinations, organized hundreds of volunteers, secured donations of tons of items, and even learned how to drive a forklift so she could be even more useful in the CRC’s warehouse.  

“Maria lives and breathes the mission of volunteerism,” says her nominator, Cindie Burkett. “Her passion for what she does sets her apart and the community knows her by her first name for the support she has provided.” 

When COVID-19 hit Middle Tennessee, many organizations and businesses paused operations. The Community Resource Center — which, at the time, had just one paid employee: their executive director — ramped up its response with Maria’s help and distributed tens of thousands of hygiene and cleaning kits to the community, as well as personal protective equipment and other items that were hard to find in the spring of 2020.

CRC became aware of 300 local military members slated to return from overseas deployment who were to begin quarantine. These soldiers had only what was in their rucksacks — no linens for their beds. Amado personally spent six hours on the phone securing 300 sets of bedding — sheets, pillows, and blankets that could be delivered in 48 hours.  

When a bomb went off downtown on Christmas Day, Amado left her family and went to the CRC warehouse. Phone outages made it impossible to contact CRC’s executive director, so Amado became the sole contact for the Office of Emergency Management, and helped lead CRC’s efforts to provide food and supplies to first responders, federal agents, and survivors.  

“I cannot remember a time when I was not volunteering,” Amado says. “It has been a part of my family’s life, my life, even as a child. Helping others empowers us, grounds us, feeds us intellectually and spiritually. The more we learn about the challenges our neighbors face, the easier it is for us to be the change we want to see — for us to create healthy, stable productive happy communities.”

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Emergency Support Unit volunteers

Emergency Support Unit
Nashville Office of Emergency Management

Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management Emergency Support Unit (OEM ESU) is a group of a couple dozen trained individuals who provide critical services for the city — all while many Nashvillians don’t realize they are volunteers! 

Nashville’s Dive Rescue team, which handles all water rescues and recoveries — all volunteers. Nashville’s Swift Water rescue team that recently saved dozens of people during flooding — volunteers. The K9 search and rescue team that searched the rubble on 2nd Avenue for survivors after the Christmas Day bombing — volunteers. And the weather/disaster response team that helped lead recovery efforts after the March 2020 tornado — volunteers. Working alongside police, fire, and emergency medical technicians, the more than 40 men and women on the team are sometimes overlooked, because when people see them in uniform or in the news, they don’t realize these highly-trained first responders have other 9-to-5 jobs, yet put hundreds of hours in each year responding to whatever weather or emergency disasters our city faces.  

During the tornado, this team was heavily involved with coordinating response and recovery efforts — everything  from search and rescue to connecting survivors with resources and helping provide recovery services. When the bombing happened on Second Avenue, the team deployed to search for survivors in the rubble. The team is called out regularly to help with weather-related incidents and water-related accidents.  

This team of volunteers — who come from all walks of life — has literally saved dozens of lives, helped provide physical and logistical support during disasters to Nashville residents, and regularly provides the city with services it would not otherwise have. OEM ESU saves the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by volunteering their services, as a majority of its members volunteer more than 200 hours a year. 

“Many of our members are native Nashvillians with deep ties to this community,” says ESU’s David Crane. “Some knew Ms. Strobel and her lifetime commitment to service. We consider it an honor and privilege to be included in the list of finalists for this award bearing her name and legacy.”

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Nicholas Renfroe

Nicholas Renfroe
Volunteered in North Nashville to assist with tornado response

When a tornado ripped through Middle Tennessee in the wee hours of March 3, 2020, Belmont senior Nicholas Renfroe immediately sprang into action. He contacted his neighbors, church board members, and fellow Belmont students,  and organized a day of service. In just 48 hours, Renfroe connected 250 volunteers and arranged to shuttle them from his South Nashville church to help survivors in North Nashville clean up their devastated neighborhoods. 

Renfroe then organized a monthlong dropoff where members of his church could donate essential items and nonperishable food to displaced North Nashvillians. More than 1,200 toiletries, articles of clothing, infant items, and more were distributed to survivors over the following weeks.  

When COVID-19 shut down churches across the region, Renfroe developed an app for his church, Lake Providence Missionary Baptist, so that members — in particular senior citizens — could stay connected and prevent loneliness and isolation. The app will continue to connect church members for years to come.  

“My faith is very important to me,” Renfroe says, “and one of the core principles of my Christian faith is services. I believe that the most common way that God answers a prayer for a miracle in the life of someone is through individuals and communities who use their gifts and talents to benefit those around them.”

Additionally, Renfroe was selected to be part of the American Cancer Society’s Men Wear Pink Campaign in October to raise awareness of breast cancer. Renfroe baked cakes and pies to sell and raised more than $2,000.  

“What sets Nick apart is his willingness to meet a need even while he has other obligations to attend to,” says his nominator. “He was a senior in college, working a full-time job, and had other social and personal obligations. Time and time again, when a need arises, Nick will stop what he is doing to help.” 

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

Join the 2021-2022 HON AmeriCorps cohort

Applications are officially open for our upcoming cohort! The 2021-2022 Program Year runs from August 2021 to July 2022. AmeriCorps members spend a year at a local nonprofit, government department, or civic agency, where they build program capacity and receive skills and professional development training, an education award, a living stipend, and more. 

Nashville is powered by people of all ages, races, ethnicities, skin tones, sexes, genders, sexualities, religions, abilities, and socioeconomic statuses engaging in service together. This is a city where YOU matter and YOU make a difference. Join us as we tackle the community’s most pressing challenges through service by becoming a Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Program member.

Ready to get started? Click the buttons below!

Hands On Nashville Announces 2020 Strobel Volunteer Award Recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 17, 2020) – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 34th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Co. Recipients were unveiled during a multiday, virtual ceremony, which occurred Sept. 14–16.

The annual event recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community, and celebrates the life of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian who had an outstanding dedication to service. Winners are typically honored during a luncheon at the Music City Center; however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit opted to recognize recipients virtually.

“Mary Catherine Strobel was the living embodiment of generosity and service to others,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “In light of the recent events in our community – including the March tornado and pandemic currently impacting our country – it is more important now than ever to honor the amazing volunteers who do Mary Catherine’s legacy proud by giving back.”

Community members submitted 165 nominations for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards.

“This event celebrates the spirit of giving that is so crucial to improving our city,” said Aimee DeCamillo, chief commercial officer and president, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC, the presenting sponsor for the awards. “We are thrilled to take part in such a proud tradition and help recognize all of these volunteers for their incredible dedication, in the hopes that they may inspire the next generation of givers to take up the cause.”

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Sherri Mitchell-Snider – Capacity-building Volunteer Award
  • Chicktime – Civic Volunteer Group Award
  • Creative Artists Agency Nashville – Corporate Volunteerism Award
  • Emily Phan – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 5 to 20)
  • Adam Crookston – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 21 to 49)
  • Claudia Prange – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 50-plus)

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About the Awards

The Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards are named in memory of the late Mary Catherine Strobel, known for her extensive and charitable efforts toward improving the lives of Middle Tennessee’s homeless, impoverished and less fortunate populations. The annual awards ceremony celebrates her service and recognizes those who continue her legacy. View all nominees for the 2020 awards.

Photos by Nathan Morgan Photography

Sponsor spotlight: Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group

When a tornado devastated parts of Nashville on March 3, 2020, leaders at the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group knew they wanted to do something big to help with the recovery effort. The company donated $120,000 — its largest ever one-time gift — to Hands On Nashville to support its mission to meet community needs through volunteerism. 

“We have been following along with Hands On Nashville’s efforts for years,” says John Gallagher, Vice President and Executive General Manager of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group. “And knowing that recovery from the devastating tornados would take months — if not years —we knew it would require lots of volunteer hours. Hands On Nashville seemed like the perfect fit for our donation.” 

The donation directly supports ongoing tornado-relief efforts, including paying for supplies and staff salaries spent on disaster-recovery activities. 

“The support from the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group is a game-changer for our tornado-relief efforts,” says HON President and CEO Lori Shinton. “Those funds are going directly to recruit and manage volunteers who are doing the important work of helping people put their lives back together after a major disaster.” 

For more than 25 years, Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group has had an active role supporting Middle Tennessee charities.  

From being the first corporation to enroll in Waves Office Recycling Program, to assisting those who lost their vehicles in the 2010 flood, to now supplying personal protective equipment to Williamson Medical Center – DWAG aims to be a company that cares about helping others.  

Gallagher says the company focuses much of its outreach and resources into two major programs, Hometown Heroes and Darrell Waltrip Automotive’s Drive Away Hunger Challenge

Hometown Heroes is a program honoring those who have shown a commitment to serving others and making a difference in their community. Community members nominate individuals, and each month a new hero is selected by DWAG, which makes a $500 donation to the charity of that hero’s choice.  

Volunteers of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group participate in a breast cancer awareness fundraiser.

“One thing we learned through our Hometown Heroes event is just how many amazing people are at work in our communities, and how they are making a difference in big ways,” Gallagher says.  

This spring DWAG had planned to celebrate their 100th hero, but, due to COVID-19, plans have been tentatively postponed until May 2021.  

The company created Drive Away Hunger in 2013 as a fundraising event partnering with Williamson County high schools and GraceWorks. Through Drive Away Hunger, hundreds of thousands of pounds of food have been collected and donated to food pantries throughout Williamson County. The initiative has since expanded to include the Franklin Special School District and Williamson County elementary and middle schools.  

“We are so proud of all we have done in the community, and thankful for our customers who make it all possible,” Gallagher said.  

The automotive group’s first dealership – Darrell Waltrip Honda – opened in 1986. Since then, they’ve opened three more dealerships across Middle Tennessee.  

For more information about Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group’s history of service, click here

Darrell Waltrip Automotive – Disaster Relief Donation To Hands On Nashville

Darrell Waltrip Cares logo