Tag Archives: Music City

Make your 2012 resolution to volunteer. Change your life (and your community) and see great benefits.

Volunteering is not just about doing good for others – it actually improves your health and overall well-being, too. Why not make a regular volunteering commitment this year? (HON.org makes this an easy resolution to keep! The HON Opportunity Calendar offers up more than 300 opportunities each month.) According to this article on the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS) website, “those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” Check out these 5 reasons why volunteering should be on your 2012 resolutions list:

starbucks employees at Second Harvest
Ready to volunteer this winter? Try helping out at a local food pantry.

Skill Development: Want to learn about your home and gain a better understanding about best practices to make it more energy efficient? Volunteer with Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings program and get hands-on exposure to common issues while helping improve the energy efficiency of a low-income home in Nashville. You’ll really turn some heads as you mention the “.5 GPM dual-thread sink aerator” you now know how to install. Or… Interested in learning about vegetable gardening? Volunteer with HON’s Urban Gardening program. Or check out one of the many opportunities on the HON Opportunity Calendar.

Self-Confidence: The CNCS article says it best: “Volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust.” Just the simple step of signing up for an upcoming project can seem daunting, but accepting the challenge and making that commitment will build your confidence.

Boy Painting
Use your specific skill and help a cause you believe in. You'll see great improvements in your life, both physically and mentally.

Personal Health: Studies looking at the effects of volunteering (specifically Arnstein et al 2002) found improvements in both mental and physical heath. Patients who volunteered for six months showed decreased symptoms of depression. Arnstein attributed success to patients “finding a sense of purpose” and “making a connection.” Additional studies have found volunteering linked to lower mortality rates and other significant health benefits when individuals volunteered around 100 hours per year (or roughly two hours per week).

Relationship-building: Volunteering exposes you to all sorts of people with all different backgrounds – and you are allowed to dabble to find which opportunity is the best fit for you. Try sorting clothes at ThriftSmart or prepare hot delicious meals for the homeless in West Nashville. Different experiences will connect you and expose you to many different people. Check out the recent blog post written by youth volunteer Allyson Burgess about her experience volunteering at Edgehill Community Center.

Salvation Army
Another popular opportunity this winter: Try regularly serving at ThriftSmart.

Impact the Community: The most incredible reward about volunteering is the difference you make with your unique talents. Try to find ways to improve the issues you care most about and you’ll find your individual spin on how to solve problems. Regularly volunteer and you’ll see a clear picture of how you helped your fellow neighbor, family, environment, or friend. Consider lending your specialized skills to an organization that has a mission you really believe in.

Arnstein, P., Vidal, M., Well-Federman, C., Morgan, B., and Caudill M. (2002) “From Chronic Pain Patient to Peer: Benefits and Risks of Volunteering.” Pain Management Nurses, 3(3): 94-103.
Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, Washington, DC 2007.

In Thanksgiving of Nashville’s Volunteer Spirit

This week always has a certain feel to it – life’s busy pace seems to slow down just a bit, autumn really seems to settle in amongst the fallen leaves, and families and friends prepare to gather around tables to share a meal together. There’s just something about this holiday that seems to allow space for quiet reflection, even amidst the grocery shopping, the travel, and the menu preparation. And so – in between making plans to run in the Boulevard Bolt Thursday morning and our travel schedules – here’s our reflection on what makes us proud to be Nashvillians.

Middle Tennesseans have embraced a spirit and culture of volunteerism over the past two years that is quite literally changing lives every day. We can share the numbers with you until we’re blue in the face (Nashville leapfrogged 19 places in the latest national ranking of volunteer service – from 37 to 18 among 51 of the nation’s largest cities), and we can point to the number of people who volunteered in 2010 to help with Nashville’s flood response and then kept volunteering in the community beyond flood response. But the every-day stories of people helping people are what remind us of how truly remarkable our community is. Here are a few:

Children served by Bethlehem Centers showcasing the tasty produce grown in the Center's garden. The garden was built by volunteers, and volunteers continue to work with the children to maintain it (and enjoy the fruits of their labor).
Volunteers creating rain gardens at a Metro School, in partnership with HON and Impact Nashville. Rain gardens make a big difference in our city's rainwater system by reducing runoff - this helps our rivers stay clean and healthy.
Twice a month, volunteers play goalball with the blind and visually impaired athletes of TN Association of Blind Athletes.
The high school students serving as HON Youth Volunteer Corps interns work each month to engage children from low-income families in fun service learning activities.
Volunteers make big improvements in Metro Nashville Public Schools each September as part of Hands On Nashville Day. A record number of volunteers participated in HON Day 2011.
Each week, volunteers work to make efficiency improvements in low-income homes in North and East Nashville, so homeowners can be more comfortable during weather extremes and save on their energy bills. This is a group of Ford employees with the homeowner they helped. So far this year, 33 homes have been improved thanks to the volunteers who have participated in HON's Home Energy Savings Program.
Just last week, volunteers from DaVita Kidney Care spent an entire day helping to renovate East Nashville Cooperative Ministry. The renovation will help the organization better serve the elderly, poor, disabled, unemployed, and disadvantaged with emergency food assistance and empower community wellbeing through food security.

So, as we prepare for our Thanksgiving activities, we want to acknowledge our deep appreciation and thanks for the culture and spirit of volunteerism and service that makes Music City such an incredibly giving community.