Tag Archives: Oasis Center

Volunteers Give Refurbished Bikes to Nashville Youth

200 Youth Benefit From Hands On Nashville’s Third ReCYCLE for Kids Giveaway 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Sunday, two hundred youth served by Metro Parks community centers took home “like-new” bicycles, and brand new helmets and locks as part of Hands On Nashville’s third ReCYCLE for Kids Giveaway event. Continue reading Volunteers Give Refurbished Bikes to Nashville Youth

Donate a bike to underserved kids on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3

Dec. 3 is Giving Tuesday. Think the opposite of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a national day of giving, and we at Hands On Nashville are offering the Nashville community an easy way to help local kids — and feed your sweet tooth with local goodies — at our Bikes and Baked Goods bike drive.


Here’s how it works:

STEP 1) Dig through your garage, storage room, or attic.

STEP 2) Bring any bikes your kids have outgrown or no longer use to Hands On Nashville on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at lunchtime. Here are the details:

Volunteers from Jackson - this year's ReCYCLE for Kids presenting sponsor - refurbish bikes in 2012.
Volunteers from Jackson – this year’s ReCYCLE for Kids presenting sponsor – refurbish bikes in 2012.

Bikes and Baked Goods
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The Trolley Barns’ parking lot
37 Peabody Street, Nashville, 37210


Don’t have a bike but still want to help? We’re also accepting cash donations to help buy new bike helmets for the kids. $10 will buy one helmet. Help us keep their noggins safe!

STEP 3) Receive a small token of our appreciation: a delicious treat generously donated by local bakeries Dozen and Tennessee Cheesecake (while supplies last).

Last year, we gave away bikes to 300 kids served by local nonprofits. This year, our goal is to collect 500 bikes as part of our ReCYCLE for Kids effort presented by Jackson, and to give away 400 (the remaining will be used for extra parts, recycled, or passed along to other groups).

Kids giving their new bikes a test ride at Hands On Nashville's 2012 ReCYCLE for Kids giveaway event.
Kids giving their new bikes a test ride at Hands On Nashville’s 2012 ReCYCLE for Kids giveaway event.

Here’s what will happen to the bikes you donate: Led by experts from the Oasis Center’s Bike Workshop, Hands On Nashville volunteers will fix them up over the next several months. In May, we’ll give the refurbished bikes to more than 400 underserved kids at a fun giveaway event that includes bike safety activities, a skills course, and free helmets for participants.

ReCYCLE for Kids: You give. We fix. Kids ride.

Questions? alix@hon.org or (615) 298-1108

Media inquiries? becca@hon.org or (615) 426-1428



Give a bike to a kid in need.

By Adams Carroll, AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Urban Agriculture Program –

Today we’re announcing a new Hands On Nashville initiative called ReCYCLE for Kids Presented by Cummins! For the next two Saturdays, we’re holding bike drives to collect used kids’ bikes. Volunteers will refurbish them, and then in December we’re gifting them to kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity to own their own bike. Our goal is to collect 300 bikes. Will you join us? Check out this short video of a similar effort in Portland, Ore. that inspired Hands On Nashville’s ReCYCLE for Kids.

In this blog post, our own Adams Carroll reminisces about his early biking adventures, and paints a bigger picture for why this initiative matters to our community.

I remember the first time I rode a bike – who doesn’t? I was one of the last kids in my neighborhood to learn this essential childhood skill. I remember feeling left out when everybody else on the block would go out on some small adventure and I would be left behind… or running to catch up! I also remember being an overweight child, and the effects that this had on my self-confidence and interactions with my peers. Nevertheless, when I finally learned how to ride my bicycle, I wasn’t thinking about all of the great health benefits I was about to reap. I was too busy enjoying that unique feeling of freedom that you can only experience when you are 8 years old, coasting down a hill on a little bicycle with one speed and a coaster brake. And maybe some sweet baseball cards in your spokes. There should be a word for that feeling.

ReCYCLE for Kids Bike Drives:

Sat., Oct. 13, 10a-4p
Hands On Nashville office
37 Peabody Street

Sat., Oct. 20, 10a-4p
Oasis Center Bike Workshop
Youth Opportunity Center
1704 Charlotte Avenue


:: HON.org/recyclebikes
:: Adams@hon.org
:: (615) 298-1108 Ext. 416

According to a 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the Metro Department of Health, nearly 18 percent of Metro Nashville Public Schools high school students are overweight, and an additional 15 percent of students are obese. Locally and nationally, these numbers have risen steadily as our diets have increased in fat and sugar content and our physical activity levels have dropped. As this generation of children matures, they will find themselves at a higher risk for preventable illnesses like diabetes and heart disease than any generation that has preceded them. If nothing is done to combat this trend, doctors from the National Institute of Health predict that today’s kids will be the first generation in American history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

As an adult, just as in childhood, I struggle to maintain a healthy weight. I’ll admit it: even though I understand the importance of maintaining a balanced diet, I love hot chicken and pizza. But since I started riding my bike again in 2004, I’ve noticed a drastic change in my health. I have more energy, sleep better, and am more productive at work. It’s rare that I take a sick day. And best of all, I get to be outside and be active at least twice a day. The health benefits of physical activity are real and measurable, and my waistline thanks me for that.

So if we want our kids to be healthy, how can we encourage them to be active? One way is to encourage kids to do something that they already enjoy. Riding a bicycle is one of the best kid-friendly forms of exercise because:

  • it is an activity that can be shared with friends and family
  • it is recommended by the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services
  • it is an activity that can be continued into adulthood, encouraging lifelong health benefits
  • it is awesome; kids love doing it

Okay, that all sounds good, but as with most health issues, it isn’t that easy. One issue, especially in our city, is that low-income communities tend to experience more environmental factors that increase the likelihood of childhood obesity. Whether this means a lack of access to fresh, nutritious food or fewer playgrounds and safe places to walk, the result is the same. Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that low-income children are more likely to become overweight or obese. As they grow older, these health consequences can hold kids back as they try to get ahead. Sure, riding a bike is a great kid-friendly way to have fun and exercise, but many economically disadvantaged families are unable to justify the purchase of a bike. Tight family budgets, and the reality that a bike only has a useful life of 1-2 years for growing kids, are barriers.

For the past year, Hands On Nashville volunteers have worked with our Urban Agriculture Program to grow healthy foods for families in need at the HON Urban Farm. At our farm’s Youth Service Camp, kids being served by our nonprofits partners have learned about nutrition and the food system while practicing gardening techniques. And today, I’m happy to announce a new Hands On Nashville initiative that will give deserving kids a new tool in the fight against childhood obesity: a bicycle! Our new program, ReCYCLE for Kids Presented by Cummins, will use the power of volunteers to collect, refurbish, and gift bicycles to local kids in need.

This fall, in partnership with the Oasis Center, we will bring volunteers to the Oasis Bike Workshop to rebuild donated bikes to like-new condition. In December, more than 300 kids will join us at Rocketown for a day of bike safety education and a skills course to test their new knowledge. They will all go home with a helmet and the bicycle of their choosing. By the end of the day, there will be a lot of new first-time-I-rode-a-bike memories, and a lot more kids with access to a fun and healthy way to stay active.

YOU can help. If your child has outgrown their old bike, donate it to HON at one of our two upcoming bike drives. (Make sure to get your kid a sweet new bike at one of Nashville’s great local bike shops while you’re at it). If you don’t have a bike to donate, then help us spread the word! We want to get kids bikes out of the waste stream and back on the streets.

Do you have a fun first-bike memory you’d like to share?

A native Nashvillian, Adams Carroll serves as AmeriCorps VISTA Member for HON’s Urban Agriculture Program. He oversees the development of the Urban Farm Apprenticeship and Summer Youth Service Camp program. A bicycling enthusiast and dedicated bike commuter, Adams is a volunteer with Walk/Bike Nashville, the Oasis Center, and Free Bike Shop. His longest bike ride? 3,500 miles across 14 states.

Nashville’s Volunteer Heroes

We LOVE this time of year. The days are getting longer, the weather is in perfect balance, and… April is National Volunteer Month! Each April, we host a celebration of ALL Nashville volunteers at the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards luncheon. This year, 105 incredible volunteers were nominated by nonprofits, faith-based groups, businesses, and individuals in recognition of the life-changing service they provide our community. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated! (See the entire list of these amazing people here, and if you happen to run into one of them around town, be sure to give them a high-five.)

On April 10 at the luncheon, six Strobel Award recipients will be selected from 18 finalists. From starting a running group with women in recovery at Magdalene House to recycling old mattresses while providing employment for the homeless, these 18 finalists are truly inspiring.

> Read about the Civic Volunteer Group finalists, including Belmont University Students in Free Enterprise, Oasis Center’s Middle School Teen Outreach Program, and The Patient and Family Advisory Councils at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

> Read about the Community Impact Award finalists, including Alice Essary, Gertrude Caldwell, and Tangerine Zielinski.

> Read about the Corporate Service Project Award finalists, including Dell ProSupport, Elite Martial Arts of Brentwood, and Reliant Bank.

> Read about the Direct Service Volunteer Award finalists, including Larry and Beth Lisle, Nancy Little, and Darlene Vastano.

> Read about the Volunteer Innovator Award finalists, including Marcie Brolund, Re-New (Julie Davis and Cheryl Hays), and John Poole.

> Read about the Youth Volunteer Award finalists, including Elizabeth Calton, Hui Cheng, and Simran Mahtani.

In grateful recognition of the sponsors of the 2012 Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, Hands On Nashville would like to offer a sneak peek into why these generous organizations serve as great examples of community volunteerism at its best.

Caring for the Community Beyond Hospital Walls
Presenting Sponsor: HCA/TriStar Health

It is only fitting that the Presenting Sponsor of Middle Tennessee’s largest and longest running volunteer recognition ceremony – named for a beloved community volunteer whose life work focused on caring for others – is  HCA/TriStar Health. Committed to the care and improvement of human life, HCA/TriStar Health employees not only deliver healthcare services; they also improve lives through volunteerism and community outreach.

Every year, HCA/TriStar employees choose nonprofits to support with their time or money (or both!) through the company’s “Caring for the Community” campaign. During the 2011 Caring for the Community campaign, HCA employees pledged $2.9M to meet the needs of nonprofit agencies, and served 10,500 hours during HCA Community Day.

“We want to inspire each other to make a commitment to get involved with a local nonprofit and help,” said Joanne Pulles, president of the HCA Foundation and Hope Fund. “It’s a natural extension of our mission at HCA. We’re dedicated to the care and improvement of human life both inside and beyond the walls of the hospital, and are proud once again to present the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards.”

Driving a Brighter Future in Nashville
Founding Sponsor: Ford Motor Company

What do creating an urban farm and making energy efficient upgrades to homes have in common? Aside from the fact that they are both Hands On Nashville programs and are made possible by the hard work of volunteers, both programs require a lot of stuff. (Think tools, insulation, dirt… You get the idea.) HON staff members spend a lot of time hauling all that stuff around Nashville in vehicles generously donated by Ford Motor Company.

Beyond making the already complicated logistics of these programs a bit more manageable, Ford Motor Company is also committed to engaging its employees in volunteerism. In 2011, more than 100 employees from Ford’s Nashville Business Center improved the energy efficiency of four low-income homes through HON’s Home Energy Savings Program; prepared garden beds for the summer growing season at HON’s urban garden; and supported youth programs at Oasis Center through a variety of projects.

“In the words of our executive chairman Bill Ford, ‘A good company delivers excellent products and services. A great company does all that and strives to make the world a better place,’” said Evelyn Sanders, director of Ford Motor Credit’s Nashville Business Center. “We are grateful to all the Strobel nominees for making Middle Tennessee an even better place for all of us.”

Volunteering Together for a Cause
Civic Volunteer Group Award Presenting Sponsor: U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company

When employees volunteer together to address an issue or benefit a cause, amazing things can happen. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC) and its parent company, Altria, have seen this first hand. In 2011, USSTC and Altria Group employees built on their already strong culture of teamwork and caring by rebuilding Radnor Lake hiking trails destroyed by the May 2010 flood; creating rain gardens with Cumberland River Compact; improving the grounds at Monroe Harding Children’s Home; supporting Metro Nashville Public Schools during Hands On Nashville Day; and more.

“Volunteering together for a cause is core to Altria’s and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco’s culture,” said Olivia Wood of Altria Client Services. “We are proud to honor all the volunteer groups who do incredible work in our community, and the finalists for the Civic Volunteer Group Award: Belmont University Students in Free Enterprise, Oasis Center’s Middle School Teen Outreach Program, and The Patient and Family Advisory Councils at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

The Engine Behind Community Impact
Community Impact Award Presenting Sponsor: C3 Consulting

C3 Consulting knows that groups are more innovative and productive when they have access to meeting space that is designed specifically to allow teams to gather, dream, plan, and grow. That’s why the company opened the engine, a creative new meeting space adjacent to the firm’s corporate offices in the heart of Nashville on Sidco drive. The space is available for professional and community organizations to use for problem-solving, strategic planning, team building, and a variety of other meetings.

With the engine and C3’s ongoing commitment to supporting nonprofits, the company’s impact on the community makes it a perfect match for the Mary Catherine Strobel Community Impact Award. “We are pleased to recognize volunteers who make a difference in their neighborhoods by presenting the Community Impact Award,” said Beth Chase, president and CEO of C3 Consulting. “Alice Essary, Gertrude Caldwell, and Tangerine Zielinski have made significant contributions to the community through their work, and we are honored to recognize their achievements.”

Celebrating Corporate Service
Corporate Service Project Award Presenting Sponsor: Emdeon

Emdeon employees are committed to doing the right thing, in the workplace and in their communities. Because Emdeon shares its employees’ enthusiasm for community involvement, the company offers paid days off specifically dedicated for volunteerism. In 2011, Emdeon employees used this time to build a sensory and reading garden at McGavock Elementary School; improve schools as part of Hands On Nashville Day; and sort, bag, and tag holiday gifts for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, among other initiatives. In 2012, Emdeon will play a key role in the Nashville Waterway Recovery and Restoration Project through a variety of volunteer projects.

“Because Emdeon takes corporate service so seriously, we are honored to be a part of celebrating the volunteerism of other companies,” said Susan Byrd, vice president of human resources at Emdeon. “We look forward to presenting the Corporate Service Project Award to one of three amazing companies: Dell ProSupport, Elite Martial Arts of Brentwood, and Reliant Bank.”

Giving Time, Talent, and Heart
Direct Service Award Presenting Sponsor: McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations

Direct service is all about hands-on efforts that further an organization’s mission. For the past seven years, the work of the talented individuals at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations has embodied the heart of the Mary Catherine Strobel Direct Service Award. Through its generous gift of time and expertise, MP&F artfully tells the HON story to media, volunteers, and other stakeholders, allowing HON to recruit more volunteers and make a bigger impact in the community. And HON isn’t the only charity that benefits from MP&F’s generosity: In 2011, MP&F provided more than 3,800 hours of pro bono service to 30 Middle Tennessee nonprofit organizations.

“We have seen the power of direct service and what it can mean for nonprofits,” said MP&F founding partner Mike Pigott. “We are proud to honor finalists for the Strobel Direct Service Award who are doing life-changing direct service work in our community: Larry and Beth Lisle, Nancy Little, and Darlene Vastano.”

Powering Volunteerism (and Engines) Through Innovation
Volunteer Innovator Award Presenting Sponsor: Cummins, Inc.

Many of us know the feeling. We want to volunteer, but with busy jobs and hectic schedules, it can often be difficult to carve out time. Cummins, Inc. doesn’t let that stand in the way of its employees’ volunteerism. Through an innovative volunteer program, Cummins partners with HON to provide large service projects at its Nashville headquarters, in addition to off-site opportunities.

In 2011, Cummins employees adapted toys for Technology Access Center, giving children with disabilities the chance to engage in fun activities independently; planted rain gardens to help protect our waterways; refurbished Smith Springs Recreational Area at J. Percy Priest Lake; and more. This year, in addition to continuing much of its work from 2011, Cummins will also play a key role in the Nashville Waterway Recovery and Restoration Project.

“As the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of technology products for engine-powered equipment, innovation is at the center of what we do,” said Josh Inman, sourcing director for Cummins Filtration. “Marcie Brolund, the YWCA Re-New program (Julie Davis and Cheryl Hays), and John Poole are remarkable volunteers responding creatively to an unmet community need. We are pleased to honor these volunteer innovators at the 2012 Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards luncheon.”

Promoting Compassionate Care Among Young Volunteers
Youth Volunteer Award Presenting Sponsor: Baptist Healing Trust

Most volunteerism starts from a small seed of hope and compassionate care. And from tiny seeds, abundant gardens can bloom. The Baptist Healing Trust knows that young people who volunteer serve as an inspiration to others, and can cause a great ripple effect in communities. The Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards’ longest-serving award sponsor of eight years, Baptist Healing Trust once again will honor youth volunteers at the 2012 awards luncheon.

“Each year, we are inspired by the young people nominated for the Strobel Youth Volunteer Award,” said Catherine Self, president and CEO of Baptist Healing Trust. “Each of them is driven to volunteer by a sense of compassionate care for those who need it, and serve as powerful examples for all of us. We are truly honored to recognize Youth Volunteer Award finalists Elizabeth Calton, Hui Cheng, and Simran Mahtani at this year’s Strobel Awards.”

Think, Work, Serve. More Than Just a Motto.

By Erika Burnett, Hands On Nashville’s Service Learning Manager at TSU —

I chose to attend Tennessee State University because of its rich legacy as a Historically Black College and University. TSU, like most HBCUs, is located in the heart of the inner city. Historically, Black colleges were founded in areas inhabited primarily by minority populations, and those who were most vulnerable and lacking resources. For their local communities, these universities served as an academic resource, a place of employment, medical, and legal assistance, and a pillar of pride. HBCUs were established to have a direct impact on their communities through service!

Visiting with youth from Meeting Point Kampala - a school & orphanage in Uganda - during a field day sponsored and coordinated by a group of Vanderbilt students.

The words “Enter to learn, go forth to serve” are inscribed on the front of the building where I spent the majority of my time during my matriculation. Of course I learned that hard work and academic rigor has its rewards. But the most meaningful lessons were those not found in my text books: the essence of leadership is servitude; community is more than a geographical proximity; service has no end, there is always more to do, more to give, more to strive to change. To find ourselves we must first lose ourselves in worthy causes. I found myself and my passion through service.

My passion led me to serve as an AmeriCorps member, to East Africa as an advocate, and drove my work at the Oasis Center here in Nashville as a program coordinator, among many other pursuits.

Tackling the invasive plants at Radnor Lake during a recent service opportunity with TSU students.

My journey has now come full circle as I currently serve as the Service Learning Manager at TSU.  I recently led a volunteer project at Radnor Lake with a group of students. The weather was cool, the sky was cloudy, and it was a Friday afternoon! The odds were NOT in our favor. Yet, it was a most fulfilling experience to watch 15 young adults (many of whom had never been exposed to this type of environment) excited as they learned why invasive plants are harmful and their eagerness to remove them! One student shared her thoughts: “the overall experience was great and I walked away knowing I made an improvement, served the community, and learned why and how my help was appreciated.”

In Jena, Louisiana, in 2007, rallying in support of racial justice after the Jena 6 incident.

Whether it’s walking to Samaritan Ministries to serve lunch, hosting an HIV awareness campaign, or feeding the stray dogs that roam around campus, TSU students are being the change they want to see in their local Nashville community and in the world. As my alma mater celebrates its Centennial year, I am grateful to serve as a bridge connecting thinking to service. I am encouraged, that without publicity or notoriety, without titles or accolades, Tennessee State University continues to cultivate a spirit of leadership as students enter to learn, and go forth to serve.

A walk (and a smile) for breast cancer awareness. Who says volunteering always has to be so serious?!

As Service Learning Manager at Tennessee State University, Erika Burnett oversees the collaboration between Hands On Nashville and TSU to engage university students in meaningful volunteer service throughout the Nashville community. Previously, Erika worked at the Oasis Center as a Youth Engagement Program Coordinator. Prior to Oasis Center, she worked as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the YWCA of Middle Tennessee. A graduate of Vanderbilt and TSU, Erika loves to dance and is the co-founder of a ministry-based dance company. She re-joined Hands On Nashville’s staff in September 2011 after completing her AmeriCorps term at HON in 2007. Learn more about Hands On Nashville’s collaboration with TSU or e-mail erika@hon.org.