Tag Archives: Nashville volunteerism

Survey shows volunteers want to help, but are concerned about exposure to COVID-19

In June, Hands On Nashville invited community members to take a survey gauging their thoughts and attitudes toward volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope was to get a clearer picture of how volunteers felt about weighing the risks of volunteering against the expanding needs in our community, so that we can work with our nonprofit partners to carve out safe and impactful ways volunteers can help Nashville get through this tough time.

Thank you to everyone who took the survey and shared their thoughts with us! 

The survey was completed by 223 individuals, the majority of whom identify as having volunteered through HON before.

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Respondents indicate an increased desire to volunteer in part because of events including the March 3 tornado. However, more than half of respondents also report worrying that volunteering will increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Respondents also report that they don’t necessarily have more time to volunteer now than they did earlier in the year, before the tornado and pandemic hit. A solid majority indicated they would volunteer more once the pandemic was over.

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We asked respondents to evaluate a handful of volunteer scenarios and and gauge their comfort levels with each. Overall they reported greater comfort levels with outdoor projects and projects capped at 10 people. Their comfort levels fell the larger the project attendance grew. Respondents also report feeling much more comfortable volunteering at a project where all the other volunteers are known, as opposed to volunteering with a group of strangers. (To create a volunteer team that can sign up for projects together, click here.)

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We asked respondents to share any additional thoughts they had on volunteering during the pandemic, and several respondents replied that they are in a high-risk category — either through their age, their baseline health status, or both — and do not feel comfortable volunteering. A good portion of Nashville’s volunteer base is retirement age, so we anticipate this consideration is having a substantial impact on the number of overall volunteers serving at this time. Some respondents also replied that they are a caretaker for someone in a high-risk category, and do not want to expose themselves for fear of transmitting the virus to the high-risk person in their care.

Several respondents also commented about how they would prefer to volunteer remotely — from home or delivering things in their car — during this time. (To see a roundup of virtual volunteer projects, click here.)

Some other comments:

I’m more than willing to volunteer as long as I am protected and those around me are as well. If proper guidelines are being followed and there aren’t a mass of people on top of each other, I would also feel comfortable.

I would absolutely love to help, but until the pandemic is over, I am extremely uncomfortable participating in any volunteering event where I’d be in close proximity to anyone else, especially if they aren’t required to wear a mask at all times.

I, like many, am unsure of what to do. Really want to volunteer, but unsure if bringing myself into a scenario will put others at risk. Also, unsure if I will need to limit my exposure to my workplace or to family, etc. as a result.

There is no question that fear of COVID-19 is limiting my willingness to volunteer these days though I have made some food deliveries and done a few solo clean-up projects.

I am reluctant to be around individuals I do not know. I am learning more and more that many people are being quite cavalier about their exposure to COVID-19.

I have less time with kids home and a son with a mild heart condition. So, I can possibly do things out of my house or where I can run around in my car (with some of my kids possibly). My kids would like to help as well, just worry about Covid right now.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: FiftyForward

logo“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.”

Those poignant words, penned by the American poet and novelist Thomas Bailey Aldrich, can serve as useful advice for anyone facing what can sometimes be a difficult transition into the later years of life.

In addition to providing us with a reminder of the importance of getting the most out of our “golden years,” they also wonderfully capture the essence of this month’s featured nonprofit partner.

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Participants in one of FiftyForward’s many exercise classes.

As the premier resource of its kind in Middle Tennessee, FiftyForward is helping adults 50 years of age and older live longer and more meaningful lives by providing pathways to health, well-being, and lifelong learning.

Founded in 1956, the organization and its dynamic team of staffers, volunteers, and community partners offer an array of innovative services for older adults and their families, annually touching the lives of more than 20,000 people in our area.

At seven locations in Davidson and Williamson counties, FiftyForward runs hundreds of health and wellness programs for its members every year. The group offers courses in everything from fine arts and creative writing to yoga, Tai Chi, and general exercise classes to foreign languages, computers, ballroom dancing, and more. Performing arts opportunities are available through the unique Music for Seniors program, as well as in productions that the organization puts on at its own Larry Keaton Theatre. Members can also pack their bags and take advantage of FiftyForward Travel, which organizes trips both at home and abroad.

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FiftyForward’s FLIP program volunteers tutor many local students.

On the supportive care side, FiftyForward operates a Living at Home initiative. Designed for older adults who wish to maintain their independence while confronting health issues, the program helps those individuals and their caregivers get better access to the resources they need to live more safely and comfortably at home and ensure a better overall quality of life.

FiftyForward’s comprehensive programming creates many volunteer opportunities for those who are interested in helping the group fulfill its mission.

Adults 55 and older can volunteer through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Foster Grandparents initiative, or donate their time by tutoring K-4 students in reading and math through the Friends Learning in Pairs (FLIP) service. As tutor Mary Ann Wilson points out, opportunities like FLIP give older adults the chance to make a meaningful impact by sharing their knowledge with those who need it most:

“I began tutoring with FLIP when I retired in 2002,” she says. “(It) is one of the best and most rewarding volunteer efforts in which I participate. When I leave Inglewood School every Tuesday, I leave with a smile and a happy heart.”

Volunteers of all ages are also needed to help support FiftyForward’s daily work, including Meals on Wheels outreach , Adult Day Services, class instruction, and more. Those programs, as well as work at all seven FiftyForward locations, also provide great volunteer opportunities for groups.

FiftyForward volunteers delivering food.
FiftyForward volunteers delivering food.

>Click here to read about volunteer opportunities with FiftyForward!

Make sure to visit the FiftyForward website to find out more about the great work this important group does. Interested individuals can also directly contact FiftyForward team members to learn more about specific individual and group volunteer opportunities:

Meals on Wheels: Contact Sharie Loik at (615) 463-2264 or sloik@fiftyforward.org
Adult Day Services: Contact Heather Davis at (615) 463-2266 or hdavis@fiftyforward.org
FLIP: Contact Sandra Thomas at (615) 743-3422 or sthomas@fiftyforward.org
Bordeaux Center: Contact Derek at (615) 248-2272 or dstogner@fiftyforward.org

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: The Nashville Wine Auction

NWAlogoEven the most novice food enthusiast recognizes the importance of pairing wine with certain dishes and cuisines. But here in Nashville, whether you’re a ‘foodie’ or not, one of the best things you can pair with wine is something that might actually surprise you—your time. 

Combining fantastic wines and philanthropy, the Nashville Wine Auction is a self-sustaining, nonprofit, charitable organization that exists solely to raise funds in the fight against cancer by engaging Nashville wine enthusiasts and wine communities from around the globe. In its 30-plus years of existence, the organization has raised more than $17 million for local cancer charities, including the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, Gilda’s Club, the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Saint Thomas Cancer Network, and more.

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Guests bid during a Nashville Wine Auction event

It all began in the summer of 1980, when a group of Nashville friends (led by Tennessean critic Homer Blitch and local businessman Thomas J. Milam) decided to put together a wine auction to raise money for the American Cancer Society. They called it “l’eté du Vin” (A Summer of Wine) and the event generated more than $3,000 in contributions.

After a popular and successful debut, the auction became an annual affair and gradually expanded to a series of summer-long events in Nashville that has attracted visitors and wine fans from across the United States. By 1993, l’eté du Vin had grown into the country’s biggest one-day charity wine auction outside the California wine regions.

A small sampling of some of the wonderful wines at the Nashville Wine Auction
A small sampling of some of the wonderful wines at the Nashville Wine Auction

Re-branded in just the last year as the Nashville Wine Auction, l’eté du Vin remains the group’s marquee event. But the organization produces a host of similar affairs throughout the calendar year now as well, and volunteers play a vital role in ensuring the success of all of them. For many, the chance to donate their time to such a unique organization that is working to fight cancer right here in Middle Tennessee has resulted in a truly one-of-a-kind volunteer opportunity.

Vanderbilt senior Courtney Kirk, who volunteered at one of the group’s recent Pairings Events, had this to say about her experience:

“Volunteering for Nashville Wine Auction is a hands-on opportunity of the best kind. I cannot say there is another organization I have volunteered for where I have felt as though I really contributed (so much) to the event.”

Hard-working, focused individuals can volunteer with the Nashville Wine Auction in a variety of capacities, including event and silent auction setup, live auction assistance, guest registration, and more.

Volunteers assisting with guest registration
Volunteers assisting with guest registration

Sound enticing? There are a few upcoming events at the Nashville Wine Auction that you can donate your time to this summer. 

>Sign up to volunteer with the Nashville Wine Auction!

Interested individuals can email Kristin@NashvilleWineAuction.com and visit the Nashville Wine Auction website for further information about events and volunteer opportunities available.

Volunteer Spotlight: Josh Angel

Josh Angel has a quirky sense of humor, is a big Green Bay Packers fan (he’s originally from Wisconsin), is a practicing Muslim, and spends his free time volunteering in the community with Hands On Nashville.

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Josh with his daughter, Jailyn. They are all smiles! “We as individuals can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone,” says Josh.

Since he first got involved with Hands On Nashville one year ago, he’s racked up an impressive 60 hours of service, helping out the community at volunteer opportunities ranging from Helping the Hungry and Thriftsmart Assistant to Home Energy Savings projects.

“My first volunteer opportunity ever was serving dinner at the Safe Haven Family Shelter,” explains Josh. “A co-worker of mine at Asurion encouraged me to try it out, and I had such an incredible experience that I just haven’t been able to stop. Volunteering is kinda like Lays Potato Chips, you can’t have just one!” (See what we mean about the sense of humor?)

Josh has a big heart for helping others. In his spare time, he also likes to read The Qur’an, spend time with his daughter and his family, and try to live an honest, humble, and wholesome life.

When it comes to advice about getting involved and helping others, Josh encourages people who may be timid about jumping in to “just try and experience new things. Get involved with your community. Especially youth – they have such a powerful influence these days… So just get out there, and lend a helping hand wherever you can, because we as individuals can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

Josh says the best part about volunteering is the pay. (Ha! We love Josh’s jokes.) “In all seriousness,” says Josh, “the best part of volunteering is just feeling as if in some small way you’ve impacted someone’s life for the better. You’ve shown that there are still people in this world who care, who are concerned. Whether it’s a friendly smile, a warm embrace, or a hot meal.”

We would like to thank Josh and all of those who are so giving of their time, compassion, and willingness to help others. What an amazing community this is!