Tag Archives: philanthropy

VolunTEEN: My Last Day as a HON Youth Leader

Guest Post by Emily McAndrew
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily headshotEmily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks this year, Emily led service learning opportunities that address hunger.

On July 18, I led my last project with Hands On Nashville at St. Luke’s Community House. Although bittersweet, it was one of my best projects because it reminded me why I wanted to give my summer to service in the first place.

At St. Luke’s, we helped both senior citizens and preschoolers. My team consisted of a group of three high school boys and they were amazing! They were constantly making jokes and putting smiles on everyone’s faces. Seeing the boys make everyone smile made me realize that service is not always about just getting the job done, but also about making an impact and connecting with others.

Much like my internship, the three hour project went by much too quickly. I wish I had more time to cherish with this organization and the people involved in it, but I have gained immeasurable experience and hope that I have taught Nashville’s youth about the value of service learning too.

Thanks to everyone who has been involved in my amazing summer with Hands on Nashville!

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here

Emily’s service work at St. Luke’s Community House included plenty of smiles!

VolunTEEN: Seeing the Yield of Your Crop

Emily headshotGuest Post by Emily McAndrew,
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, wanted to be a Summer Youth Leader so that she could learn how to be a better leader while helping others. Emily chose to focus on hunger because she wants to teach youth that the issue is not just something that exists in developing countries.

When volunteering, if you aren’t working directly with the person or people you are helping, it can be difficult to fully grasp the impact of your efforts.

While organizing food in the freezing coolers of the Second Harvest Food Bank as an HON Summer Youth Leader, I did not realize how much my work and the work of my fellow volunteers truly meant until I got to work at the East Nashville Cooperative Ministry (ENCM), a recipient of food donations from Second Harvest.

ENCM’s mission is to improve health and welfare of the residents of the East Nashville community. They do this by offering healthy meals, food, and other necessities to people in the area. The ministry is one of two recipients of Second Harvest that do not accept cakes or dessert items.

My group has helped in the garden and has cooked for the clients of ENCM. My favorite part of the projects was to help cook. The food that is cooked is a combination of produce from the garden and donated items from Second Harvest. It is so cool to think that the food I was preparing one day could have been the same food that I was organizing the day before! What I have learned from my experiences so far as a Summer Youth Leader is that volunteering always has an impact on someone, whatever the task may be. I urge everyone in the community to volunteer and make their own impact.

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here!

Volunteers preparing some amazing burgers!
Volunteers preparing some amazing burgers!

Give a Smile, Get a Blessing: Volunteering at Room In The Inn

Guest post by Caroline Foley

“Girl, you could light up the world with that smile.  You always smile like that?” A homeless guest asked me.

“I can’t help it,” I said.  “Y’all make me laugh.”

A volunteer registers a guest for the Winter Shelter Program.
A volunteer registers a guest for the Winter Shelter Program.

I started volunteering for Room In The Inn’s winter shelter program a few months ago when, on a chilly November evening, I had met some friends for dinner at a local restaurant.  As we stood in the parking lot, shivering and saying our goodbyes, one friend commented, “I feel so bad for the people with no place to stay tonight.”

That statement stayed with me during my drive home.  I thought about Nashville’s homeless population and the dropping temperature.  I thought about being lucky enough to go home to a heater and a comfortable bed and wanting to help those who couldn’t.  I thought about Hands On Nashville’s motto: Be the Change.  Then, I thought about the 100+ people who would be sheltered that night thanks to Room In The Inn and their partner congregations.  The next day, I signed up to attend a volunteer orientation at Room In The Inn.

The atmosphere there is one of acceptance and friendship, and I look forward to volunteering with them on Tuesday evenings.  My usual assignment as a runner involves ensuring registered guests are transported to the correct congregation.  As another volunteer calls a list of names over the loudspeaker, I chat with guests as they assemble near the front entrance.  More often than not, they spend this time entertaining me with jokes and stories, which has quickly become my favorite part of the evening.

Church shuttles lined up to receive guests at Room in the Inn.
Church shuttles lined up to receive guests at Room in the Inn.

Last Tuesday, I called roll after I escorted a small group onto a church shuttle.  I called the first name, and he responded, “Here.”
I called the second name.
“Over here,” he said.
Then, I called the third name.
“God bless you, Caroline.”
I called the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh names, and they all answered with “Bless you, Caroline.”
When I called the final name, he smiled and said, “You have a blessed evening, young lady.”

I don’t know if I will ever be able to repay what they have given me, but I will continue to try.

 Browse volunteer opportunities with Room In The Inn here or visit their website, for even more ways to get involved.

CarolineCaroline Foley is a community volunteer and Program Manager at Hands On Nashville. A former Peace Corps Volunteer who served for 27 months in Romania, Caroline loves reading and spending time outdoors. 



Need inspiration? Watch HON’s new video “Be the Change”

Check out Hands On Nashville’s new creative video, featuring incredible Middle Tennessee volunteers. If you are as inspired as we are, make plans to volunteer at a local nonprofit to start 2012 off right! Visit www.HON.org to view opportunities, including ways to serve  on MLK Day weekend Jan. 14-16.

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.

HON Staff Reflection: Tuesday Night at the Mission – The Kindness of Strangers

Malinda Hersh has worked at Hands On Nashville since January 2005, and is Director of Volunteer and Nonprofit Programs. She volunteered at the Nashville Rescue Mission this week alongside eight HON volunteers, and shares this reflection.

The trays kept coming — faster and faster — and were picked up by hungry diners just as quickly as they were filled. The eight people filling the trays had never met before this night, but they worked as efficiently and happily together as any well-practiced team would. The line workers delivered many wishes of “Merry Christmas” and “enjoy your meal” while they served, but it was those being served that provided the best sentiments. “Thank you for being here,” “we appreciate you,” and “God bless you” were the oft repeated phrases from the diners at the Nashville Rescue Mission.

I was one of the lucky servers at the Mission on a recent chilly Tuesday night who helped serve 525 men an evening meal. I left the Mission feeling as I’ve heard many volunteers state: that I received more than I gave. I said “congratulations” to someone who had just landed a job, I smiled with someone who was excited to see the slice of blueberry pie on his plate, and was thanked countless times for being there. I enjoyed getting to know my fellow volunteers: a mom making sure her young son experiences what giving back really means, a college student home from Atlanta, a couple who just relocated to Nashville, and two ladies who had volunteered previously with the Mission. I have a feeling that they won’t be the only ones to volunteer there again.

Hands On Nashville hosts two dinner service projects every month at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Join us! Click here for more info.

Home Energy Savings Projects Help Low-income Nashville Neighbors

Still looking for an opportunity to give back this holiday season? Come on out to a low-income home in North and East Nashville and help make it more energy efficient – ultimately saving people money on utility bills!  No experience is necessary.  Scope of work includes: installing attic and wall insulation, installing CFL’s, installing sink aerators and low flow shower heads, installing reusable air filter, CO2 and smoke detector and wrapping hot water heaters.  These are great skills to know how to do to your own home too! Available dates to sign-up: 12/7, 12/14 and/or 12/21. Click here to go directly to our project calendar and reserve your spot.

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Agency Partner Spotlight: The Salvation Army of Nashville

The Salvation Army, a faith-based nonprofit serving Nashville since 1890, extends a resourceful hand of assistance to families in greatest need, so that they may lift themselves from crisis to stability and independence.  Serving individuals and families in Middle Tennessee, the Salvation Army offers a variety of programs that include: transitional housing for families and single women, childcare, life skills classes, after school and summer care for children, Christmas assistance through the Angel Tree program, homeless outreach, emergency services, disaster assistance and spiritual guidance.

The Salvation Army truly values volunteers who enable it to function effectively and efficiently in everything it does: feeding the homeless a hot meal, tutoring students, attending to disasters, or staffing an Angel Tree booth during Christmas.  Below are some of these opportunities:
Angel Tree Volunteers – Angel Tree volunteers take client applications, staff Angel Tree booths in the malls, sort gifts, and distribute them to families before Christmas.
Red Kettle Bell Ringing – The Red Kettles will go out on November 11th and will stay out until December 24th.  This annual fundraiser supports Salvation Army programs and services year-round.
Homeless Outreach – Two programs are offered weekly: Breakfast Brigade on Main Street and Friday Night feeding under the Jefferson Street Bridge.  Anyone who would like to join is welcome.  If you would like to bring something with you to hand out, bottled water, fresh fruit, milk, snacks, etc. are always greatly welcomed by those served.
Red Shield Kids Club Tutors and Mentors– The Kid’s Club after school program at the Magness-Potter Community Center includes homework help, tutoring, arts and crafts, sports, music, and all kinds of other recreation activities. Volunteers are needed to provide tutoring and mentoring to children ages 6-14.
GED Tutors– If you have a few hours in the evening and would be interested in helping someone turn their life around, consider tutoring in the GED program. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Office Assistant– A volunteer is needed to answer phones and help with office work at the Magness-Potter Community Center.  Times are available through the week, preferably 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Internship Programs – Several opportunities exist for students to gain experience in our intern program.  Call for details.

To see all of HON’s volunteering opportunities with the Salvation Army, please click here.   For information on other volunteer projects, please visit the Salvation Army’s website at www.salarmy-nashville.org, or contact Misty Ratcliff, Director of Volunteers, at 242-0411 (office) or 416-3175 (cell) or email Misty_Ratcliff@uss.salvationarmy.org.

The Salvation Army of Rutherford County has many similar volunteer opportunities, so if you are looking to help out with the Angel Tree or Red Kettle Bell Ringing in the Murfreesboro area, please click here.