Tag Archives: middle tennessee volunteers

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: Direct Service — Adult

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

Greg O’Loughlin

Greg O’Loughlin
Volunteers with the Oasis Center 

Nine years ago, Greg O’Loughlin joined Oasis, a nonprofit that helps young people in Middle Tennessee transition into a successful and content adulthood. He became a volunteer within Oasis’ bike workshop, where young Metro school students can pick out a bike and learn how to both build and maintain it. In 2014, O’Loughlin and manager Dan Furbish wanted to advance the program and launched the Oasis Mountain Bike Team, which coaches kids to practice and compete on bike courses all over the state.  

With hundreds of hours of service dedicated to Oasis’ bike workshop, O’Loughlin has acted as not only a teacher, but a mentor to over 120 of the students the organization works with each year in partnership with Nashville schools and community centers. The bike team has continued to be successful with national coverage from media outlet NPR that led to recognition in the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. O’Loughlin’s first public school mountain bike team consisted of eight international Metro Nashville Public School students from El Salvador, Mexico and Egypt. Since then, he has continued to help connect the mountain bike team and the bike workshop to STEM teachers across Nashville schools. As the director of the Educator’s Cooperative, O’Loughlin has also applied his knowledge to go the extra mile for the students by helping bring attention to the bike program across the Nashville area.  

O’Loughlin has continued to be a reliable resource for the students he champions alongside students on the mountain bike team. Last year, the Oasis Bike Workshop was granted the Max Barry Fund, which was used to take the mountain bike team to the Appalachian Mountains on a three-day camping trip. With such responsibility and dedication to students, “Greg helped me ensure the children’s safety on some pretty treacherous terrain in a certified wilderness area with no cellphone service and miles from emergency help. My mind was at ease knowing that I could rely on Greg had an emergency occurred,” shared Furbish, co-coach of the mountain bike team.  


Kimberly Webb

Kimberly Webb
Volunteers with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) 

Kimberly Webb is no stranger to volunteering with children as she has been a mentor, advocate and peer to children at the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for the past decade, serving over 17 children and teens. At home, she continues to serve children as a foster mother who has provided a home and a safe environment for over 20 children.  

Eleven years ago, Webb joined the volunteer team at CASA Nashville as a peer coordinator and volunteer advocate and currently serves three additional youth in foster care. As a volunteer who prioritizes the relational aspect of serving, she is known to make children feel individually cared for and heard. Webb’s colleagues have said that she is a dependable and consistent role model to the organization and children as she steps into a gap wherever she can. Her services have no limitation on distance and cost, as she has continued to visit, deliver snacks and spend time with former Nashville-residing children who have grown up and moved to different cities and states.  

In 2020, Webb lost her 20-year-old son, David, in an unexpected and tragic accident. Amid her grief, she remained faithful to her commitment to advocacy work to the children of Tennessee. As she is a foster mother and children’s advocacy volunteer, all her services and volunteer work are motivated by her son. Webb further leaned into the volunteer opportunities at CASA even more after the loss of her son by taking on the role of peer coordinator, mentoring new CASA volunteers, continuing to open her home to foster children and working on two cases as a CASA volunteer advocate.   “I didn’t expect CASA volunteer work to be so involved when I joined 11 years ago. CASA really makes a difference when a child or teen sees your face. Other adults come in and out of their lives, both family members and professionals; but seeing a face they recognize and trust makes all the difference,” Webb shared.


Lina Londoño Tinsley

Lina Londoño Tinsley
Volunteers with Conexión Américas 

As a global marketing manager and life coach at Conexión Américas, Lina Londoño Tinsley has provided many Latino community members with advice to help them obtain the fulfilling life many strive to achieve. Tinsley has volunteered with members of the adult Latino community and is continuing to help them navigate their business, discover their passions and find their voice.  

Conexión Américas is a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for Latino families to succeed, and Tinsley’s work consistently continues to be one of the most highly attended and engaged classes throughout the program, even during virtual classes for the past two years. Tinsley continues to receive rave reviews from her students that exemplify her ability to connect with others authentically as well as impart powerful guidance that leads small-business owners in the right direction. As a mentor who empowers the women of the Latino community, Tinsley has encouraged the community to do the controversial among the community and take risks to pursue their passion. Tinsley has created a bridge between herself and her students by emphasizing the importance of prioritizing mental health within her classes. This holistic approach has granted students the space and environment to fully trust and act on Tinsley’s advice with their small businesses.   Tinsley continues to have a huge impact on the members and students of Conexión Américas, specifically on a student who began the Negocio Prospero program at the nonprofit. Tinsley’s guidance and support to the young student helped her create a business model that capitalized on her strength of cooking. The student now owns a successful catering business that Tinsley helped guide her toward not just personally, but professionally. 

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

Strobel Finalists 2022: Direct Service — Older Adult

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

Carole Sergent

Carole Sergent
Volunteers with Tennessee Resettlement Aid, Nashville International Center for Empowerment, The Branch of Nashville, and individual refugee families

Carole Sergent was one of the few independent volunteers who saw a need and carved her own path to meet it. When the Afghan refugees began to arrive in Nashville, Sergent immediately acted by collecting donations needed for survival. Since then, she has recruited over 200 people who help to donate and deliver items to over 250 Afghan refugees who have arrived in the United States.  

When refugees began arriving in Nashville, official relief agencies were not fully staffed, which is when Sergent jumped in to provide crucial services to those in need. She began working with the Tennessee Resettlement Aid (TRA) to create a network of donors through word-of-mouth and social media to provide clothing, linens, household items, toiletries, toys, and more. The TRA now works alongside the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) to receive necessary information about new Afghan arrivals and volunteers. This system provides emergency boxes of food from The Branch of Nashville food bank to families two or three times per day.  

Through her service, Sergent has served many Afghans and has hundreds of success stories for providing resources and opportunity for refugees. She not only provides refugees with the items they need for survival, but has also helped them find schools for children, jobs, documentation needed for work, and even opened her home to those who need a place to do laundry.  “There are hundreds of success stories from Carole because she has created a huge volunteer network and is managing it to work efficiently and effectively. Every volunteer who has delivered emergency food or clothing or transportation can tell you a story that would make you cry,” shared a colleague of Sergent’s. 


Edward Arnell

Edward Arnell
Volunteers with Preston Taylor Ministries 

Edward Arnell has been a consistent and dependable face to many of the students at Preston Taylor Ministries. Serving the students of Mt. Nebo four days a week, Arnell has become not only a mentor to many of the students, but also a friend, tutor and spiritual adviser.  

Within Preston Taylor Ministries, many of the people who dedicate their time do not reflect the population of the surrounding neighborhood and the culture of the students. Arnell not only lives in the neighborhood but is also a volunteer of color. With Preston Taylor Ministries serving a majority African American population, students can relate and feel more connected to Arnell and his service. “When students see Mr. Edward serving, they can see themselves doing the same. This is what causes change in communities, people being inspired to be the difference,” shared a colleague of Arnell’s.  

He has become a role model and inspirational guide for many of the students at Preston Taylor Ministries by providing them with homework and reading tutoring that has allowed them to exponentially increase their grades in school. Arnell also provides meals to students once a week through his own income. His full-course meals with homemade desserts have become a favorite of the students at Mt. Nebo.  

As a deacon at Mt. Nebo, Arnell also acts as a spiritual adviser for the students at Preston Taylor Ministries. He is known to give truthful and inspiring advice to the students while also providing them with scripture that he encourages them to memorize and live out daily.   


Vera Coleman

Vera Coleman
Volunteers with FiftyForward 

As a National Community Engagement Partner for the All of Us Research Program, Vera Coleman joined the nonprofit organization FiftyForward to help advance precision medicine with the National Institutes of Health. 

As one of the All of Us Research Program’s first ambassadors, Coleman has been volunteering alongside the program since its launch in 2018. The newly founded program’s goal is to recruit 1 million volunteers from historically underrepresented communities in biomedical research to share their health information and transform the current one-size-fits-all health care system. Because of Coleman’s contribution, the All of Us Research Program has enrolled over 450,000 individuals so far, with over 80% of those representing historically underrepresented communities in biomedical research. The All of Us Research Program team helps staff community events and health fairs and speaks at in-person and virtual events. Vera has additionally gone the extra mile to sit on nationwide panel discussions on the need for diversity, including older adults, in medical research. The volunteer role requires a heavy amount of in-person interaction that requires a sense of trust from the potential program enrollees.

Coleman has been known to not only earn the trust of those enrollees, but also become a respected leader in her community as she is quick to address fears and concerns of those she’s created relationships with. She has been known to her team and program enrollees for her wisdom, expertise and compassion in her personal interactions.  

During the pandemic, Coleman continued her dedication and services to the All of Us Research Program as a virtual panelist on discussions of diversity and a podcast guest on FiftyForward’s new podcast, Squeeze the Day, where she discusses overcoming online barriers.   With a strong scientific background as the first African American woman in the field of research at Meharry University and Vanderbilt University, Coleman is a trusted source among many. “I’ve always believed in the merits of research. Now, I have an awesome opportunity to be involved in something that will prove beneficial not only for me, but for my family and community as well. The All of Us Research Program has become my passion,” she shared.


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

Strobel Finalists 2022: Capacity-building Volunteer

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

Carole Purkey

Carole Purkey
Volunteers with WOW Transition House

Carole Purkey started volunteering with Women of Worth (WOW) Recovery Home in 2020. Through her work with WOW, she’s built relationships with many women who are transistioning out of incarceration and are looking for a fresh start, helping them make it to dentist and doctors’ appointments and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to celebrate their sobriety.

WOW aims to serve the needs of women in recovery who are transitioning out of incarceration. Purkey was introduced to the organization through her church, Donelson Church of Christ, and has served as an active board member and volunteer since 2020. She’s spread the word about the organization throughout the community, gaining consistent financial support from several groups and individuals. By advocating for the organization to her church, Purkey expanded the capabilities of WOW with a roughly $60,000 property renovation in 2021 that opened the doors to their second recovery house, increasing their capacity from five beds to 11 beds.

“I was introduced to Women of Worth Recovery Home through a class at my church when we began providing dinner for their weekly community meeting,” Purkey said. “After meeting and getting to know them, they have become my friends and have shown me that they just want a second chance.”

Purkey knows each client by name as she volunteers to provide them with transportation to appointments and leads Bible studies with them. Several women even found transportation to her 70th birthday party.

Purkey has shown through her consistent work that she believes in the philosophy, purpose and goals of WOW. “This organization, under the direction of Kristy Pomeroy, gives women who need a support system after incarceration a safe, comfortable and loving environment as they find their path to independence.”


Sunny Fleming and her dog, Elise

Sunny Fleming
Volunteers with Friends of Shelby Park & Bottoms

When Sunny Fleming volunteered with Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms in the summer of 2021, she was able to use her expertise as a national solutions engineer to expand the maintenance capabilities of the nonprofit that maintains the park.

With 1,300 acres of space with varying biomes, the small, dedicated Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms maintenance crew has their work cut out for them in improving and protecting the park. With limited staffing, it was important that they find a way to monitor maintenance needs around the property.

Thanks to Fleming’s knowledge of ArcGIS, a geographical information system, she was able to create and set up a survey that enables park maintenance needs to be easily flagged on a map. She also took the time to train volunteers to use the survey, expediting the maintenance and improvement process.

Several members of the public were mobilized to document areas in the park in need of improvement, and Fleming trained members of the nonprofit to use the program to stay on top of maintenance needs.

Through Fleming’s efforts, Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms can now track their progress on removing invasive species, which trails need maintenance and the urgency of the maintenance. She has volunteered many hours to train members of the nonprofit to use the ArcGIS software, increasing their capacity to maintain the sprawling park grounds for visitors to enjoy.


Susanne Shepherd Post

Susanne Shepherd Post
Founder of Shear Haven with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

As a hair stylist, Susanne Shepherd Post knows how easy it is to be a listening and supportive ear for her clients. As a survivor of domestic violence, she also knows that her job puts her in a position to recognize many of the signs of abuse. Many stylists, however, don’t know what to look for to determine whether their client is a victim of abuse.

Combining her career and her calling, Shepherd Post co-founded the Shear Haven initiative with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee in 2017 to train cosmetologists to recognize their role in identifying and reporting domestic violence. Shepherd Post and YWCA advocated for legislation requiring all licensed beauty professionals in Tennessee to complete a domestic violence education course. Through a unique partnership with the Barbicide company, a short, online video was created and shared at no cost on the Barbicide website, paving the way for the legislation to pass unanimously in the Tennessee Senate and overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives.

Shepherd Post’s work with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee has given the 124-year-old nonprofit a brand-new way to reach and assist women in need. To date, more than 40,000 cosmetologists have completed the Shear Haven training on the Barbicide website, giving them the tools they need to recognize and report domestic abuse. Included in that number are not only cosmetologists from Tennessee, but those stretching to various states and 101 countries. “I am deeply honored to be nominated,” Shepherd Post said. “I am inspired by the work of each of my fellow nominees, and I hope this helps shine a light on the amazing work the YWCA does in our community. Because of my experience as a domestic violence survivor, I feel a calling and a responsibility to spread awareness about the signs of domestic violence. I hope to help open a deeper conversation around the issue and believe that reducing the stigma and sharing resources can help save lives.”

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

Congratulations to the 2022 Strobel Volunteer Awards nominees!

We’re so excited to announce the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! 2021 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 1-30.

Save the date for the celebration: Join Hands On Nashville on Friday, May 13, when we’ll announce the award recipients on our website and social channels. Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any important announcements!

Capacity-building Volunteer 

Recognizes individuals who provided significant operational or administrative support in 2021 to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization, or developed an innovative approach to significantly improve an existing program.

  • Bob Teague
  • Brian Morris
  • Carole Purkey
  • Erin Samuelson
  • Holly Therrell
  • Jaclyn Mothupi
  • Jacobia Dowell
  • Kamilah Sanders
  • Kiersten DeVore
  • Kristen Adams
  • Leslie Hooper
  • Maddi Vowell
  • Marc Bussone
  • Maureen May
  • Nathan Webb
  • Sunny Fleming
  • Susanne Shepherd Post

Group Volunteer Service 

Recognizes any group of two or more individuals who volunteered together in 2020 for a specific issue or cause. Some group examples are faith-based, civic, membership, and corporate. 

  • Alamada Christian Church
  • Blair and Robin Gilley
  • Bridge Builders
  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Nashville – First Impressions Unit
  • Co-Historians for the Cordell Hull Chapter of the United Nations Association
  • Come To the Table
  • Connect Us Outreach Ministry
  • Cross Point Church
  • Designed Conveyor Systems, LLC
  • Dr. Robert Stein’s Group
  • ELL Teachers: Brian Disney, Karen Disney, Lisa Mosley, Lu Smith, & Paula Stephens
  • Feeding Music City
  • FortyAU
  • Founding Members of the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
  • Friends Life Community
  • Greater Nashville Chapter of National Charity League
  • GROW Enrichment
  • HCA Healthcare
  • Keith and Meryl Kraft
  • Legacy Mission Village
  • Melissa Kaiser and Chandler Anderson
  • My Friend’s House
  • Nashville Angels Volunteer Board Members
  • Open Hands Nashville
  • Patchwork
  • People Loving Nashville
  • The Greater Nashville Church
  • Tractor Supply Company

Disaster Relief Volunteer 

Recognizes those who made a significant contribution to helping Nashville recover from the tornado, pandemic, or bombing in 2020. 

  • Anthony Lopez
  • Hispanic Outreach Task Force
  • Joe Gaines
  • Maria Elena Amado
  • Nashville OEM Emergency Support Unit
  • Sherry Nicholson
  • Tami Hilbert
  • Thomas Fortney
  • YAIPak Outreach

Social Justice Impact Volunteer

Recognizes individuals whose volunteer work in 2020 was centered on dismantling or calling out systemic injustice or oppression and lifting up disenfranchised communities. 

  • Amy Hodges Hamilton
  • Caitlyn Herrington
  • Dawn Warner
  • Jasmyn Cheatham
  • John Bull
  • Kathy Halbrooks
  • Khandi Marthel
  • Linda McFadyen-Ketchum
  • Maureen Organ
  • Rocio Zenon Honorato
  • Veronica Zavaleta

Direct Service Volunteer — Youth  

Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2020 to help the community. Volunteers ages 5-20 are eligible for this award.  

  • Anjali Babu
  • Bailey Bonde
  • Chandler Sheridan
  • Connor Parr
  • Cora Funk
  • JohnThomas Atema
  • LeeAaron Berks
  • Maddie McDaniel
  • Riya Narayan
  • Ronae Briley
  • Sarah Lowe
  • Shreya Priyadarshi
  • Sterling Gale Lekki
  • Sydnee Elizabeth Floyd

Direct Service Volunteer — Adult 

Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2020 to help the community. Volunteers ages 21-49 are eligible for this award.

  • Amanda Fermstad
  • Amanda Healan
  • Bernard Britton
  • Beverly Stanton
  • Britta Roach
  • Brittany Parker Short
  • Cassandra Fecteau
  • Chuka Onuh
  • Crystal Clark-Chatman
  • Daniel Craig
  • Emily Bratton
  • Greg O’Loughlin
  • Jahnari Edwards
  • Jared Elzey
  • Jennifer Meadows
  • Jeremy Trujillo
  • Kari Leigh Ames
  • Kat Shaoul
  • Kevin McKellar
  • Kimberly Webb
  • Lina Londoño Tinsley
  • Liz Rogers
  • Maria Arvizu
  • Simone Lampkin
  • Walter Enrique Polanco Díaz

Direct Service Volunteer — Older Adult

Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2020 to help the community. Volunteers ages 50 and up are eligible for this award. 

  • Alan Hulst
  • Angela McLoughlin
  • Biars Davis, Jr.
  • Bill Kaludis
  • Carole Sergent
  • Charles High
  • Dana Morrow
  • DeeDee Sudarshan
  • Doris Ann Hendrix
  • Edward Arnell
  • Edward Kothera
  • Jim Neely
  • Joan Clayton-Davis
  • Judy Meskell
  • Leigh Barnes
  • Lesa Prime
  • Linda McFadyen-Ketchum
  • Mark Brown
  • Mary Dionne
  • Maureen May
  • Michelle Giffen
  • Mike McAllister
  • Pierre Hunt
  • Robin Salyers
  • Ronny Lewis
  • Ruthann Getz
  • Sandra Frank
  • Sharon Berenfeld
  • Teresa “Terri” Smith
  • Teresa Barry
  • Tom Mulgrew
  • Vera Coleman
  • Vince Zaccardi
  • Walt Grooms
  • Yvonne Joosten

Thank you to our generous Strobel Volunteer Awards sponsors 

Host a voting party to select your favorite stories of service during the Strobel Awards!

Each year, Hands On Nashville celebrates Middle Tennessee’s outstanding volunteers through the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards. More than 140 nominations have been narrowed down to 21 finalists, and now it’s time for you to weigh in!  

You can help ensure these inspiring stories are seen widely by hosting a voting party for friends, family, or colleagues. Act fast because voting closes on June 15!

How to host a voting party in three easy steps: 

1) Schedule a 30-minute event (virtual or in person, but you will need tech to vote) with your guests. This is plenty of time to read all of the great stories, vote for your favorite volunteer in each category, and share on social media. Here is some language to use in the invite if you’d like: Join me for a voting party! Let’s get inspired by Nashville’s amazing volunteers and help them win $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. You can also win a $250 Target gift card! Here is the voting page if you want a sneak peak!  

2) During the event, encourage participants to share their favorite stories, favorite volunteers, and favorite agencies. This should be a fun, inspiring, high-energy voting party. Ask if guests have their own inspiring stories to share.   

3) Reserve the last 5 to 10 minutes to ensure that all participants vote for one finalist in each category and then share their excitement/choice on social media — being sure to tag @HONashville. Consider posting a “group photo” from your voting party, too! 

Things to remember: 

  • You can vote for your favorite volunteer once/day from now through June 15. 
  • Each vote automatically enters you into a drawing to win a $250 Target gift card.  
  • The award recipient in each category will receive $1,000 to donate to the nonprofit agency of their choice! 
  • The lucky gift card winner and the Strobel Award recipients will be announced on July 1.

Strobel Finalists 2021: Capacity-building Volunteer

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

Jena Altstatt 

Jena Altstatt 
Volunteers with Hands On Nashville 

When the March 2020 tornado struck Nashville, Jena Altstatt jumped into action, immediately reaching out to Hands On Nashville to see how she could help. Once it became apparent that there was a major need for volunteer leader training, Jena wasted no time filling that role. 

She quickly created training materials, put them online and administered them for days to get trained leaders out into the field. As a trusted leader and trained volunteer administrator, she used her skill to educate others so that Nashville could get the coordination and support needed to ensure recovery efforts went smoothly. Her assistance gave Hands On Nashville a much wider, organized reach in the community in the aftermath of the tornado, and helped established communication with those who needed help most. 

In all, Jena trained and sent out 100 volunteer leaders to help coordinate recovery efforts, and her work was critical in amplifying the impact volunteers could have during this very chaotic time. While many people shy away from the “behind-the-scenes” roles in the face of a disaster, Jena ran at it head-on.   

“I volunteer because I’m able to. I see it less as volunteering and more about participating in my community, which I think is just a part of being human,” Jena said. “I’ve worked with volunteers professionally for the past 10 years, and so I know a lot about how volunteers impact not only organizations but communities in general.” 

Jena’s steady and useful presence helped to calm the Hands On Nashville staff during an incredibly trying time for the community. Her willingness to lend a helping hand made a world of difference to a hurting community. 

•••

Corrie Anderson 

Corrie Anderson 
Volunteers with Community Resource Center of Nashville 

Stricken by the March 2020 tornado and its path of destruction – as well as a devastating global pandemic – Corrie Anderson felt personally inspired to do as much good as possible for Nashville’s recovery efforts. She channeled her time and energy into the Community Resource Center of Nashville (CRC), helping to raise awareness, recruit volunteers and, ultimately, maximize their level of support for the city’s most impacted populations.  

For 35 years, the CRC has served as a supply line to the city’s front lines of poverty, providing partner agencies with the resources they need to offer their critical services. When last year’s tornado and the onset of the pandemic sent recovery efforts into overdrive, Corrie saw it as an opportunity to grow the nonprofit’s capabilities and meet the needs of her neighbors. She worked tirelessly to promote the CRC and recruit fellow volunteers for disaster relief. Prior to Corrie, the nonprofit had virtually no social media presence and a volunteer base of fewer than 20 people; thanks to her efforts, the CRC now has more than 120 unique volunteers each month and regular weekly and monthly volunteers. As a result of her work, the CRC is able to consistently answer the call for Nashvillians in the wake of disaster.  

“I am honestly just so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our neighbors in such a trying year,” Corrie says. “I am so inspired and motivated by everyone who volunteers and donates items, by our partner agencies who are making our city a better place every single day, by small businesses that stepped in eagerly to help, and by the leadership at the CRC. Everyone is coming together for the same purpose – to serve our neighbors, to provide support.” 

•••

Suzanne Hartness

Suzanne Hartness 
Volunteers with Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands 

Motivated by the cause of the Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands (LAS), Suzanne Hartness made it her own personal mission in 2020 to help the nonprofit in every capacity possible. In addition to her other volunteer work, Suzanne took the initiative in event planning, fundraising, development and outreach efforts to grow the nonprofit and ensure its longevity in serving Nashville’s hardest-hit citizens.  

Following her introduction to LAS, Suzanne threw herself wholeheartedly into furthering its mission of providing free legal counsel for and enforcing the legal rights of low-income and vulnerable Nashvillians. She helped plan the annual Breakfast of Champions fundraising event and secured more than $10,000 in sponsorships for LAS’ annual Campaign for Equal Justice. She also spearheaded the nonprofit’s Ambassador program, helping recruit community leaders across the state to educate the public about LAS’ services. She has also brought the support of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Legal Administrators and its 50 member law firms to LAS – a vital addition to the organization’s stable of volunteer attorneys. 

Due to her efforts and experience, LAS has already seen a significant increase in new supporters and community awareness.  

“Suzanne has a full-time job but treats her volunteer work with equal importance,” said Derria Ford of LAS. “She constantly comes up with innovative ways to reach new audiences and spread the word about causes that are important to her. Her spirit has been an inspiration to our staff and board.”  

“Working with the team at LAS continues to inspire me to find opportunities to ‘give back’ and to ‘lift up’ when possible,” Suzanne said. “The need for their legal services is not diminishing. I want to support them by encouraging others to get involved and in finding incremental financial resources to assist them in their efforts.” 

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

Strobel Finalists 2021: Direct Service — Older Adult

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

Dennis Caffrey 

Dennis Caffrey 
Volunteers with Siloam Health 

Dennis Caffrey serves as a Spanish Medical Interpreter at Siloam Health. Volunteering five shifts weekly, he facilitates communication between the patient and provider during a visit or clinical examination at Siloam, assists with translating written documents, makes phone calls for nurses, and trains new medical interpreters who go on to become great volunteer interpreters themselves. 

Dennis began this work in 2010, and has been volunteering longer than the majority of Siloam Health’s staff. In 2020 he reached the milestone of 5,000 hours served with Siloam, completing 500 of those last year alone, amid a pandemic.  

He started to learn Spanish when he was 8-years-old, and advanced his knowledge of the language throughout college. Dennis spent 15 years of his Air Force career working in and with Latin America. Shortly after retiring from the Center For Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., he and his wife moved to Murfreesboro. 

“After about four months of ‘doing nothing,’ I took a course to become a medical interpreter and it was there that I learned about Siloam,” Dennis says. “It seemed like the perfect way for me to share my language and cultural skills while helping our non-English speaking neighbors deal with their health needs. That was by far the best decision I made since retirement.” 

As Siloam navigated serving on the frontlines of the pandemic with an incredibly diverse patient base, Dennis was the steady go-between communicator as staff cared for COVID-19 patients, educated others about the risks of the coronavirus, and eventually began administering vaccines to patients. His help in not only interpreting one language from another but overcoming cultural barriers ensured patients felt comfortable, heard, and that their needs were being met. 

“Dennis is an amazing volunteer and we could not hold ourselves to the standard of care that we do without the volunteer work that he provides,” his nominator says. 

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Kathy Halbrooks  

Kathy Halbrooks  
Volunteers with PFLAG Nashville, Open Table Nashville, Nashville Launch Pad, Planned Parenthood, and others 

Kathy Halbrooks fills her days with volunteerism. She serves with PFLAG (a national support organization 
for LGBTQ+ people, their families, and allies), Open Table Nashville, Nashville Launch Pad, Planned Parenthood, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Trans Buddy Program all on a regular (if not weekly) basis. 

Each of these organizations she’s chosen with care. Whether it was a result of a local political issue that gave her insight about the discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community, making sure everyone has accessing to safe, affordable, reproductive health care, or her aspirations to see a future where everyone has housing and live-in situations that allow their basic needs to be met.  

Kathy has been an ally with the LGBTQ+ community for 19 years. In addition to her full-time job, she serves on the board of PFLAG Nashville and as the regional director for PFLAG National, and has volunteered on the board of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition and GLSEN Tennessee. 

During the pandemic Kathy continued to volunteer, despite being at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. At Open Table Nashville she delivers food, warm blankets, and clothes to encampments around town; offers security from protestors to clients at Planned Parenthood; and provides support to transgender people during doctor appointments through VUMC’s Trans Buddy Program. In her nomination, Kathy’s nominator particularly mentioned Kathy’s heart for service when she volunteered on Christmas Eve at Nashville Launch Pad to make sure LGBTQ+ youths had a warm place to stay, food for dinner, and a present to know they are worthy.  

“I, who have many privileges, have been blessed by the many people I’ve met who are brave, resilient, loving, and compassionate,” Kathy says. “I’m grateful for every person whose life has touched mine, even for the briefest moment.” 

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Stephen Kohl 

Stephen Kohl 
Volunteers with UpRise Nashville 

UpRise Nashville is a career development program that provides training in highly sought-after skills along with leadership and personal development, to give Nashvillians a way to stop living paycheck to paycheck and launch a career. Many of their emerging leaders, (referred to as leaders) come from low-income situations, and travel across the city to attend programs with UpRise. Often, these leaders face transportation issues, whether it’s not having their own vehicles, money for public transportation, or the means to manage working, childcare, and attending classes.   

Facing these challenges is where Stephen Kohl has lent his talents, and has since become an invaluable volunteer to the UpRise program. 

Stephen is a full-time commercial photographer, with an extensive knowledge of vehicles and mechanical repairs. Over the last two years, he has single-handedly repaired six leaders’ cars at no cost and transformed three cars donated to UpRise into reliable transportation for leaders.  

He has devoted about 300 hours repairing cars to ensure leaders can get to class, childcare services, and ultimately, their new jobs. Stephen has never turned down a challenging repair, and is always a phone call away (even while on vacation). He assesses a vehicle’s issues, buys car parts, and willingly repairs as necessary. 

“Uprise is a ministry facilitated by my church, so being able to serve this organization is very personal for me,” Stephen says. “I’m called upon to help get vehicles in working order for Uprise participants, and some of the cars have proven quite challenging for me, a self-taught mechanic. However, this opportunity has exponentially grown and expanded my skill set, and helping make sure Uprise participants have reliable vehicles has been the most rewarding part.” 

The energy Stephen has spent not only repairing used vehicles, but shopping around the metro area for quality used parts remains invaluable to leaders and their families. Stephen owns his own company, yet continues to volunteer with transportation challenges on a weekly basis. 

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

Strobel Finalists 2021: Direct Service — Adult

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

Teaka Jackson

Teaka Jackson 
Volunteers with Love Thy Neighbors, and multiple other community organizations 

Teaka Jackson is an active community member who has fully embodied what it means to care for others. Whether it’s organizing a Valentine’s Day sock drive for seniors, raising awareness during National Autism Awareness Month, acting as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA), or responding in the wake of a disaster, her compassion extends to all kinds of people.  

Teaka credits her caring heart to her family. Community involvement was a large part of her childhood, and she remembers consistently volunteering and supporting various charitable causes and organizations. 

“As I grew into adulthood my passion became more evident and I knew volunteer service was apart of my purpose leading me to fight for the most vulnerable people and communities by contributing a significant amount of my time, energy, and resources,” she says.  

Teaka founded Love Thy Neighbors, which is geared toward engaging the community through programming, events and initiatives that will aide in providing education, tools, resources and opportunities.  

In addition to her nonprofit, she is active with organizations like Autism Speaks, Tennessee Justice Center, America Cancer Society, Hands On Nashville, Nashville Rescue Mission, Second Harvest Food Bank, Susan G. Komen, Nashville Cares, the Martha O’Bryan Center, the YWCA, American Red Cross, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, and Prevention Alliance of Tennessee. 

Teaka was also selected for Nashville’s Black 40 under 40 Award for 2020, and is the recipient of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities Award in conjunction with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. 

“Volunteer service has impacted my life in many ways,” Teaka says. “It has provided me the opportunity to make significant contributions to building a sense of unity and purpose in the community that will aide in improving the lives of others. By volunteering I have gained a unique sense of purpose which manifests in all areas of my life.” 

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Laura Prechel 

Laura Prechel 
Volunteers with RARE Rescue and Charlie’s Angels Saving Animals 

Laura Prechel has dedicated her life to saving animals from kill shelters in rural Tennessee. Last year she saved more than 2,800 animals from being euthanized, and commits to driving three transports per week to rescues in other states. 

“Laura is a one of a kind,” says her nominator. “She works a full time job in real estate, all while coordinating the rescue and vetting of thousands of animals a year.” 

In addition to transportation, Laura fosters hard to adopt pups that wouldn’t otherwise have a chance, and often spends her own money to vet and transport these animals to rescue partners. 

Education is also part of her mission. Laura engages with rural communities about various spay and neuter programs, and supplies rural rescues with necessary vaccines for homeless pets. 

“Once I became aware of the volume of companion animals that are euthanized every year I felt compelled to act,” Laura says. “I began by fostering dogs and my involvement has snowballed into a life mission.” 

She got involved in animal rescue five years ago, transporting Maury County shelter dogs to shelters in the Northeast that had ample space. For the past three years she’s served with RARE Rescue as the transport director, before founding her own nonprofit with a few friends, Charlie’s Angels Saving Animals. It is this program’s mission to transport at-risk animals out of Tennessee to shelters that can adequately care for and adopt out these pets.  

Quickly her transport team has expanded, and now contains a pilot who is able to fly animals across the country, as well as two vans who engage volunteers to make multiple transports per week. 

•••

Savanna Rae Starko 

Savanna Rae Starko 
Volunteers with Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee 

Savanna Starko volunteers with Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee, a nonprofit that provides free support to anyone impacted by cancer, in a variety of ways. Over the past year she has led a virtual meditation session twice a week via ZOOM for Gilda’s Club members. These sessions create a safe, calming space for the people of Gilda’s Club to not only practice mindfulness and relaxation, but to also make space for members to connect and share in ways that foster a sense of community, understanding, and connection. 

“Teaching meditation for Gilda’s Club of Middle Tennessee has allowed me to share meaningfully of myself as a registered yoga teacher for others with cancer like me or those in their lives affected by this disease,” Savanna says. “We build connection through breath and intention that ultimately lifts us all up together.” 

During the pandemic, Savanna also initiated and led Gilda’s Club’s first virtual fundraiser, a 5K that raised more than $5,000. In addition to raising important funding for the cancer support nonprofit, the event was a fun and creative way for those served to connect, and for new audiences to get to know Gilda’s Club and their mission. 

Outreach has been an integral part of Savanna’s work, introducing members to new community partners like Small World Yoga, and promoting resources through Vanderbilt University. 

“Savanna embodies the Mary Catherine Strobel volunteer spirit—and it shows in every single encounter she has with our Gilda’s Club community,” says her nominator. “She is always kind, encouraging, supportive and emotionally available, no matter how difficult the moment or conversation. We—and the greater Nashville community—are better because Savanna is a part of it.” 

Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee is a place where Savanna says she and her students are seen, heard, and valued as more than people affected by cancer.  

“While there, we are whole and complete individuals with so much to offer from our hearts to the world,” she says. 

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

Strobel Finalists 2021: Direct Service — Youth

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

Hannah Bodoh

Hannah Bodoh 
Volunteers through various organizations around Nashville

In a year of uncertainty and destruction, high schooler Hannah Bodoh spent 2020 looking for ways to be a light to others. When the March 2020 tornado hit Nashville, she immediately jumped at the chance to volunteer with Hands On Nashville, helping to deliver meals to families who had been displaced in North Nashville and assisting with cleanup efforts. Then when COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect, Hannah spent her time sewing masks, making baby blankets, sending cards and photos to health care workers and the elderly, and collecting clothing and art supplies to distribute to those who needed them most.  

Around the holidays, she stepped up to make and deliver meals to the homeless. When transit shut down due to the Christmas Day bombing, Hannah made sure at-risk Nashvillians received hot meals since they could not get to the shelters.  

Throughout the school year, she volunteered for several events to help raise money for Mary’s Meals, an international organization that feeds the hungry. 

“For me, service has ignited a deep compassion for others and allowed me to share my skills, while meeting new people in a wide range of situations,” Hannah says. “Without service, I would never know the kindness the world can offer each one of us. To this day, service continues to remind me to love humanity for all of its beauty.” 

Hannah has demonstrated an incredibly level of humility and compassion for her age. She makes service a top priority in her schedule, and her efforts have helped countless Nashvillians while inspiring others to step up and make a difference.  

•••

Sydnee Floyd 

Sydnee Floyd 
Founder of Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives 

When she was just 13 years old, Sydnee Floyd founded the nonprofit Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives. In 2020 alone, her nonprofit helped 20 different organizations and several thousand individuals through a number of donations, including clothing, toiletry bags, sanitary wipes, first aid kits, backpacks and more. 

Through Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives, Sydnee identifies various volunteer opportunities and then recruits young people, educating them on how they can change lives through volunteer service in the hope they will continue service throughout their lives. She also organized a club, Echoes of Hope, at her high school to get even more students involved in charitable causes. 

2020 was a challenging year for the Middle Tennessee community. COVID-19 caused a shortage of support since people weren’t venturing outside of their homes and many businesses helping the homeless were temporarily closed. On top of that, many people lost their jobs, adding to the number of those in need or facing homelessness. Still, in the face of all of that, Sydnee’s organization gathered 100 students and volunteers to provide the needed manpower to gather, sort and pack items to distribute. When the March tornado hit, Jumbled Dreams sprang into action, distributing supplies and materials for victims and volunteers.  

Sydnee says she grew up in service, inspired by her mom, and has always looked for ways to help her community. 

“Service is my whole world. My passion, fire, fuel and heart. I thrive on helping others, and no matter what that will always be my passion. Because I have seen the smiles, tears, heart and passion of those who are experiencing hard times and those who volunteer with us. It might be hard, but it is worth it seeing the heart and soul of your organization come to life.”

•••

Ian Hooper

Ian Hooper 
Volunteers with Urban Bicycle Food Ministry 

High school student Ian Hooper became involved with the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM) when he was looking to try something new while serving. Since May 2020, he’s logged more than 130 hours of service, biked hundreds of miles and touched countless lives.  

Regardless of the weather – heat, cold, rain or snow – the UBFM team bikes into downtown Nashville twice a week to deliver burritos, water, supplies and words of encouragement to those experiencing homelessness. Ian has developed a true passion for UBFM and the ministry they have created. The two nights a week he volunteers have become his favorite nights of the week, and he’s developed relationships not only with the team, but with the people they serve each week. 

When Ian injured his leg and had to wear a boot, he did not let that stop him from serving. He continued to drive downtown and meet the team each week, standing by to help deliver blankets and other supplies that could not be easily carried on a bike. On his birthday, he chose to ride and deliver food and cookies to celebrate, instead of going to dinner.  

While those who are served each week benefit, the benefit Ian and the rest of the UBFM team receive in return is just as impactful.  

Ian says the UBFM organization has saved him from a lot of personal struggles.  

“UBFM and the opportunity to serve has made a mark on Ian and fueled his passion to serve others,” said Ian’s mom, Laura. 

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