Tag Archives: nashville volunteers

Hands On Nashville announces 2021 Strobel Volunteer Awards recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 1, 2021) – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company. Recipients were announced on HON’s website, social media channels, and featured on Lightning 100.

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

“Last year presented challenges that could only be met by the unbreakable spirit of this community and its volunteers,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “We are so honored to celebrate that incredible spirit and some outstanding individuals through the Strobel Volunteer Awards.”

Community members submitted more than 160 nominations for the 2021 Strobel Volunteer Awards. The public was invited to vote for their favorite stories of service, and a panel of judges selected the recipients, who will receive $1,000 to give to the charity of their choice. Finalists will receive $250 to give to charity.

“Congratulations to all Strobel Awards recipients,” said Aimee DeCamillo, Chief Commercial Officer and President, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC. “This has truly been a shared celebration of service, and we are honored to join Hands On Nashville and others in our community to acknowledge the resilience of volunteers during one of the most challenging years for our city.”

HON introduced two new categories this year — Social Justice Impact Volunteer and Disaster Volunteer — to acknowledge the extraordinary volunteer work that took place in 2020.

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Direct Service — Youth Volunteer: Sydnee Floyd, Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives
  • Direct Service — Adult Volunteer: Teaka Jackson, Love Thy Neighbors
  • Direct Service — Older Adult Volunteer: Dennis Caffrey, Siloam Health
  • Group Volunteer Service Award: Bridge Builder’s Program, Inc.
  • Capacity-building Volunteer Award: Corrie Anderson, Community Resource Center
  • Social Justice Impact Award: Greta McClain, Silent No Longer
  • Disaster Relief Volunteer Award: Maria Amado, Community Resource Center

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About the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards

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

About Hands On Nashville

Hands On Nashville (HON) builds capacity for individuals and agencies to meet needs through service. Its programs connect volunteers to opportunities supporting 140-plus nonprofits, schools and other civic organizations; help these partners reimagine volunteer potential; and bring awareness to the challenges facing the people and places in our community. For more information, visit HON.org or call (615) 298-1108.

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.

Volunteers needed to respond to recent flash flooding

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. 

Resources for survivors

11,689 vaccines in arms, all because of volunteers like you!

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.

Photographs by Madison Thorn, HON volunteer 

Spring Break volunteer opportunities for the whole family

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! 


Wrap and pack diapers for new parents in need as a Diaper Bank Volunteer
Age minimum with an adult: 12  
Minimum age: 16+  

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. 

Compile hygiene relief kits with the Community Resource Center 
Age minimum with an adult: 8+ 
Minimum age: 15+ 

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. 

Write letters to seniors and people with disabilities to brighten their day 
Age minimum with an adult: 1+ 
Minimum age: 16+ 

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. 

A child writes letters for seniors and those in assisted living communities.
A young volunteer writes letters for the elderly and
those with disabilities with the Greater Nashville Regional Council.

Prepare a meal for families in the hospital with a loved one
Age minimum with an adult: 10 
Minimum age: 18+ 

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. 

Plant trees at at Westmeade Elementary
Age minimum with an adult: 6+ 
Minimum age: 16+ 

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 weeds at Ellington Agriculture Center
Age minimum with an adult: 7+ 
Minimum age: 18+ 

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 with GraceWorks Ministries
Age minimum with an adult: 7+ 
Minimum age: 18+ 

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. 

For a full list of our opportunities, click here.

It may be cold now, but spring is almost here! Check out these outdoorsy volunteer opportunities coming up

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.  

SIGN UP HERE (several shifts available) 

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! 

SIGN UP HERE (several shifts available) 

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.   

BROWSE LOCATIONS AND SIGN UP HERE  

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.  

SIGN UP FOR MARCH 3 HERE (East Nashville) 
 
SIGN UP FOR MARCH 6 HERE (Shelby Park) 
 

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. 

SIGN UP HERE 

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. 

SIGN UP HERE (full but you can join the waiting list)  
 

Friends of Shelby Park small tree planting (Feb. 20)

Volunteers will transplant seedlings from the tree nursery to their forever homes in Shelby Park, which was hit hard by the March 3, 2020, tornado.  

SIGN UP HERE (full but you can join the waiting list) 

Hands On Nashville’s 2020 Impact Report

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 and volunteering go hand in hand

“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.  

Cara and Carey

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.  

Jordan and Kirsten

“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.  

Ava and Tristan

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.  

Patti and Patrick

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! 

💓 Help fight food insecurity with The Branch of Nashville 

💓 Create Love Your Neighbor Notes with the Community Resource Center 

💓 Garden Prep with Inspiritus 

💓 Organize donations for tornado survivors with Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. 

💓 Plant trees with the Nashville Tree Foundation 

💓 Deliver groceries to seniors with The Store 

💓 Pack food boxes for From Your Father’s “Couples Day of IMPACK” 

‘We still have work to do’: Celebrating the volunteer spirit that powered us through 2020

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.

👋 Volunteer: http://hon.org/membership
🎁 Donate: http://hon.org/donate

Thank you for your support!

Thanks to Adelicia Company for the great partnership this year, and the beautiful videos! Additional thanks to everyone who contributed photos and video clips to help us tell this story.

Five ways to make a difference in 2021

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 TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn.