More than 7 inches of rain fell between March 27-28, driving flash flooding in many areas across Middle Tennessee. The floods resulted in several deaths as well as devastation of homes and businesses. Hands On Nashville is working with with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management to safely deploy volunteers to areas in need of help. Volunteer opportunities will be posted to the link below with the hashtag #NashvilleFlooding. We anticipate more projects will be posted over the coming the days and weeks. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates!
We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity this community shows in times of need.
WOW. That’s about all we can say about the mass vaccination event on March 20. Hundreds of volunteers — including many medical professionals — helped vaccinate thousands at Nissan Stadium, Lee Chapel AME, and Music City Center on Saturday. It was an emotional day, but many volunteers said they would do it again in a heartbeat. In total, 11,689 people were vaccinated with the help of volunteers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
It’s Spring Break! With temperatures finally getting warmer and the kids home for the week (or the past year, depending on your situation), you may be going a little stir crazy looking for ways to keep them engaged while also building memories as a family. Well, we’re here to help! Below are a few options for things to do together, ranging for kids as young as 5 years old to those who are young at heart.
Here’s a quick and easy video that explains how to volunteer as a family!
Nashville Diaper Connection is looking for volunteers to help count, wrap, and package diapers. The diapers will then be labeled and organized for distribution to the Diaper Connection’s community partners. Opportunities are offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Volunteers are essential to setting up production stations, sorting materials (like soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste) and compiling kits for distribution. These kits are then given to people in need all over the community, from tornado survivors to those currently experiencing homelessness. Opportunities are offered from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Help bring some cheer to isolated seniors by creating drawings and writing letters to those in nursing homes and those who are in disabled living facilities. Families can create their drawings at home, and after “expressing interest” in this opportunity a volunteer leader will share how to mail them. For March the theme is “Spring and Easter.” This opportunity is virtual and can be completed at any time.
The Hospital Hospitality House is looking for volunteers to graciously provide dinner to the patients and caregivers who are staying at the Hospitality House while receiving treatment in Nashville. These dinners provide comfort and a sense of community. This opportunity is offered with a flexible schedule.
Planting trees provides shade, helps filter air pollution, creates an oxygen rich environment, and reduces flooding by absorbing great amounts of groundwater. Together, families can learn how to plant and care for trees, while also joining forces to make Nashville a greener community! This opportunity is from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 20.
Help remove invasive species of plants from Ellington Agricultural Center to prepare the ground for planting. Once the invasive plants have been cleared, white oak seedlings will be planted in their place! This opportunity is from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 20
Unload donations from people’s cars and assist in getting them sorted. GraceWorks Ministries collects donations for its thrift store on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This opportunity is offered daily, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Middle Tennessee feels like a frozen tundra lately, but we’ve got dreams of spring. As the days grow longer and the weather warms, lots of local organizations are planting trees, prepping gardens, and getting park and public spaces cleaned up and ready for prime time.
Want to get out of the house for a workout that will also help beautify the city? Here are some upcoming volunteer opportunities soon blooming near you:
Prep the BELL Garden for the upcoming growing season (several shifts)
The Bellevue Edible Learning Lab is gearing up for another growing season and needs community engagement! The garden serves as teaching and learning lab for volunteers, students of Bellevue Middle Prep, and for the community. No gardening experience is necessary. Children are allowed with adult supervision.
Clean out the Inspiritus gardens in preparation for planting (multiple dates)
The Inspiritus Healthy Garden Program empowers families in public and subsidized housing to grow their own food in raised-bed gardens right outside their doors. Volunteers are needed to clean out the gardens and prepare them for spring planting. Inspiritus will provide tools — just dress warmly and bring gloves!
Take back the earth from invasive species during Weed Wrangle (March 6, multiple locations)
Nothing says spring’s coming like the annual Weed Wrangle! Hundreds of people will take to parks and public spaces to pull up invasive plant species — honeysuckle, privet, winter creeper, and more. Weed Wrangle is being held in Shelby Bottoms, Cumberland Park, Two Rivers Park, Harpeth Hall, Forest Hills, Cheekwood, Owl’s Hill, and Warner Parks.
Replenish the urban canopy with Nashville Tree Foundation (March 3 and March 6)
NTF’s Releaf 2020 campaign aims to restore Nashville’s canopy, which took a huge hit during the March 3, 2020, tornado. Two upcoming events will help establish trees in East Nashville. Both opportunities are family friendly and allow for children as young as 6 to participate if they are accompanied by an adult.
Help beautify Radnor Lake State Park (several dates in spring, summer, and fall)
Volunteers are needed to build and mulch trails, remove invasive plants, and occasionally to help clean trash out of the park and streams. The work can be strenuous but it’s very rewarding to support such a beautiful state park right here in our back yard. Projects happen rain or shine.
Help Turnip Green Creative Reuse establish a community garden (Feb. 20)
Volunteers will get their hands dirty to help build out a community garden and outdoor learning space in Wedgewood-Houston. Activities may include creating composting and rainwater collection site, building and maintaining garden beds from reusable materials, and building pollinator hotels from recycled materials.
2020 was a year marked by immense challenges, but also by so many stories of people stepping up and coming together to support their neighbors. Volunteers played a huge part in helping Nashville get through a tough year. We’re honored to share Hands On Nashville’s 2020 Impact Report, which shows the strong and inspiring impact of volunteerism.
If you’d like to receive a PDF copy of this impact report, fill out the form below!
“Love in action is service to the world.” Lynne Namka
For some lucky locals, opening their hearts to service also opened their lives to finding love. Here are just a few of their stories, plus some volunteer opportunities that would be a great way for couples to get to know one another!
Cara and Carey
Cara Ince’s love story started when she found a volunteer opportunity in HON’s Hands On Call newsletter in 2010. She found that Nashville International Center for Empowerment was looking for volunteers to teach English as a second language, signed up, and began teaching a class. A few months later, another volunteer named Carey came on as an assistant teacher in her class.
They hit it off and volunteered together at NICE for about two years. They’ve now been married for almost seven years and have two small children.
“We still always talk about our students and have such fond memories of that time,” Cara says. “It was definitely a cool experience, and a really good way to get to know someone when you’re first starting to date.”
And while they don’t volunteer as much these days as they used to because they’re busy at home with their two children, they are beginning to talk about ways, once the pandemic is over, they could engage the whole family in volunteering.
“We want [them] to be appreciative of what we have and also to give back to other people,” Cara says.
Jordan and Kirsten
Jordan Fernandes met his future wife Kirsten as a volunteer with The Bridge Ministry, serving groceries and meals to individuals experiencing homelessness. Kirsten had just graduated college and moved back to Nashville when she decided to volunteer with some friends.
“For them it was a one-time visit, but I liked it so much that I came back again and again,” she says. During one of her shifts, while they were unloading a grocery truck, Jordan spotted Kirsten. He introduced himself not long afterwards and the two became friends. Their friendship evolved into dating, and Kirsten says they fell madly in love.
“Throughout our time getting to know each other, we always knew that we had a guaranteed date every Tuesday night serving the homeless under the Jefferson Street Bridge,” Kirsten says.
Jordan proposed in 2015 and the couple married in 2016. They’re now expecting their first child.
“Volunteering played a huge part of our story together, and volunteering in various capacities around Nashville continues to be so important to us,” Kirsten says. “It allows us to share our love beyond just our family to families and individuals throughout Nashville!”
Ava and Tristan
Ava Suppelsa was feeling helpless last summer in the wake of a deadly tornado and the pandemic. She wanted to do something tangible to help the many people in the community who were hurting. So Ava, a songwriter, started Hope on the Row, a nonprofit that connects music industry professionals with homelessness relief efforts.
Her boyfriend Tristan — also a songwriter — was a source of strength and support as she launched the nonprofit. Ava says the two of them grew up in families that emphasized giving back, so they had volunteered together over the course of their two-year relationship. But starting a nonprofit was a whole different ballgame.
“I didn’t really know exactly how much work I was getting myself into, and I wouldn’t be able to do this without Tristan,” Ava says. “He’s been there with me for every stressful, hard, frustrating, beautiful, and rewarding moment that comes with running and organization like this, and that only brought us closer.”
Now the organization serves more than 50 people each week, and helps individuals navigate the low-income housing system with a goal of getting as many people off the streets as possible.
“We’ve both seen each other at our best, truest selves that come out when you’re doing work like this,” Ava says, “and I think I speak for both of us when I say that seeing that makes you fall in love with your partner all over again.”
Patrick and Patti
When Patrick Lyons moved to Nashville in 1993, he didn’t know a soul. Then he saw a writeup in the Nashville Scene for Hands On Nashville volunteer orientation.
“I thought, ‘What a great way to meet people,’” Patrick says. He went to orientation and learned that he could volunteer in the evenings and on weekends, which fit his travel-heavy work schedule.
One day he volunteered at an event at Cheekwood, taking tickets. That’s when he met Patti, who had also found the volunteer opportunity through HON.
“We found out more about each other and talked about how hard it is to meet people,” Patti says. “Then he called me up and asked me out.”
Patti and Patrick quickly realized they both shared a heart for service.
“I knew he was a good guy because he was volunteering,” Patti says. “We knew we were like-minded people.”
“It was a pre-screening we didn’t have to do,” Patrick says, laughing.
Patrick and Patti took their relationship — and their commitment to volunteering — to the next level. Patti became HON’s executive director and Patrick served on HON’s board of directors. While Patrick and the rest of the board reached out to nonprofits to tell them about HON, Patti compiled the volunteer opportunity calendar manually by making phone calls to local organizations, typing up volunteer needs, and making copies of the calendar to distribute around town.
The couple live in Savannah, Ga., now, but they still believe in the power of giving back — volunteering, delivering meals, mentoring, serving on advisory boards. Patti says she sees HON in the news sometimes and is so proud of how the organization has grown.
Volunteering through HON is a great way to meet people in a new city, Patrick says. He found love with Patti, but he also made lifelong friends.
“The organization did wonders with putting together like-minded people,” he says. “I’ve probably got seven close friends I’m still in touch with after 26 years.”
Volunteer opportunities that would be great for dates
Looking for a way to spend some time with your sweetie over Valentine’s Day? Check out these volunteer opportunities!
We kicked off 2020 thinking we’d usher in a spring of commemoration. It had been 10 years since the devastating flood of 2010, during which time thousands of volunteers came together in a show of solidarity and spirit.
But hopes for reflection turned into action, this time in response to the March 3 tornado and COVID-19 pandemic. Again, volunteers showed how absolutely critical they are during disaster response and recovery.
We’re excited to share with you a video that celebrates the spirit of the volunteers helping our community get through this challenging time.
Hands On Nashville is in awe of this community. It’s not easy for folks to give to others while they themselves are hurting. But that’s what Nashvillians do. It’s who we are.
We’re working hard to be ready for the next disaster, and we can’t do it without you. Join us by volunteering or donating.
What a year it’s been. It’s hard to imagine what life will look like after such a chaotic and challenging 2020. We know one thing for sure: Nashville’s needs aren’t going away just because the calendar flips over to 2021. Volunteers will still be needed. They’re the gift that keeps on giving to the community all year long.
So, what can you do?
Here are five easy ways to make a difference in 2021:
1. Commit to volunteer 3 hours per month
It’s so easy through hon.org! Sign up to volunteer with more than 200 local organizations. Fly solo or serve as a family or team, find an in-person or virtual project, enjoy an outdoors project, or even select a project where you can utilize your creative or technical skills.
2. Donate to empower other volunteers
Independent Sector says volunteer time is valuable: It’s worth $27.20 per hour! That means volunteers who donate three hours of their time each month are essentially donating $81.80 monthly to the organization they help. So maybe your schedule is packed and there’s no time to volunteer. Can you commit to donate $81.80 each month — the equivalent of three hours of volunteering? Any amount helps HON cultivate active volunteers. Click here to set up your sustaining donation now.
3. Give while you shop
Add Hands On Nashville to your Amazon Smile account. It’s totally free and allows your regularly scheduled shopping to benefit the community automatically.
4. Use your paid volunteer hours if you have them
Many companies offer paid time off for their employees to volunteer. Don’t let this benefit go to waste! If your company doesn’t already offer paid volunteer time, ask if that’s something they’d be willing to implement in the future! Or maybe even ask your boss if your colleagues could volunteer as a teambuilding exercise. Need ideas on where to go and what to do? That’s why HON is here!
5. Like, share, and comment on HON’s social media posts
Every time you engage with one of our posts, it increases our reach on social. And when our reach on social grows, we are able to recruit more volunteers and meet more critical needs in the community. Stop doom scrolling and get inspired! Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Did you know that charitable giving is good for your health? At the end of a difficult year, we could all use that immune system boost. The good news is it’s easier than ever spread the love for your favorite organizations no matter what your budget looks like. Here are three super easy ways you can show support for HON and our mission to meet needs through volunteerism:
1. Set it (a sustaining donation) and forget it Don’t get us wrong — one-time donations are fantastic! But did you know you can set up a monthly, quarterly, or annual donation to HON? Sustaining donations help HON plan our budget for maximum impact. No gift is too small — even a $5 sustaining monthly gift makes a big difference to us.
2. Start a fundraiser on Facebook or Instagram There’s power in numbers! Use this link to set up a fundraiser for HON on Facebook. Or, in Instagram stories, go to the sticker menu and select the “donation” icon. Search for “HONashville.” When you post a story with the HON donation sticker, your followers will be able to donate with just a couple of taps!
3. Like, share, and comment on HON’s social media posts Every time you engage with one of our posts, it increases our reach on social. And when our reach on social grows, we are able to recruit more volunteers and meet more critical needs in the community. So YES, Virginia, spending all that time on social media really CAN do some good! Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
As the holidays kick off and revelers and shoppers are more likely to spend time out and about in groups, the Metro Public Health Department is looking for volunteers to help spread the word about masks and social distancing. Katie Stone from Metro Public Health took time to answer some questions for Hands On Nashville about how a mask and social distancing ambassador spends a volunteer shift.
HON: What will a shift as a mask and social distancing ambassador look like for a volunteer?
Katie: The volunteers will initially meet up as a group with the Health Dept representative and will be given a hat and a yellow “Public Health Volunteer” shirt to clearly identify them. From there, depending on the number of people available, we will disperse and walk around to ensure visibility. Volunteers will work in groups of 2.
HON: To what parts of town will volunteers deploy?
Katie: The current areas are Lower Broadway, Opry Mills Mall, and Green Hills Mall. However, some of those may change based on need and number of signups.
HON: What happens if someone takes offense to the volunteer’s suggestions?
Katie: The volunteer should simply walk away and let the Health Dept representative know if they have any concerns.
HON: Why are these volunteer ambassadors important to Metro’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19?
Katie: As is now widely known, the wearing of masks and maintaining distance from others greatly reduces the spread of COVID-19. However, pandemic fatigue is setting in, and we have found that a visible reminder (by way of people wearing yellow “Public Health Volunteer” shirts and hats) of the need to continue following recommendations is very helpful in encouraging those out in public to wear their masks and remain socially distant. By encouraging people to wear masks and stay socially distanced, volunteers can help stop the spread and keep our city and economy going until COVID-19 is behind us.