Tag Archives: poverty

Introducing our 2014 Youth Volunteer Corps Summer Youth Leaders!

This summer, four exceptional Middle Tennessee high schoolers will lead their peers to explore important issues facing our community during Hands On Nashville’s new Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) Summer Camp.

From June through July, these 2014 YVC Summer Youth Leaders will each facilitate a weeklong camp for their fellow high school volunteers that focuses on a specific issue, including homelessness, health and wellness, youth education, and the environment. Each camp is designed to encourage a deeper understanding of the issue and our community through hands-on service learning experiences.

After being selected through a highly competitive application process, these difference-makers completed a Hands On Nashville leadership training session to help them prepare to lead skill-building activities centered around service-learning. Please join us in welcoming these four inspiring leaders!

To read about other young people in the Nashville community who are Hyped On Help, check out our Tumblr page.

BEN DELEVANTE, Environment Week, June 9-13

Volunteer Corps Summer Youth Leader Ben Delevante
“I serve because I have the ability to help others.” – Ben Delevante

A few fun facts about Ben:

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

A: I would go to Europe.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do in Nashville?

A: Attend Vanderbilt football games.

For the past two years, Father Ryan High School sophomore Ben Delevante has volunteered as a middle school basketball coach, assisted at Room In The Inn, and has helped raise money to fight cancer as a Relay for Life participant. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have many great examples of volunteerism and leadership,” Ben says. “It’s important to help out those less fortunate in our community.”

As a coach and leader, Ben knows the importance of having a plan and motivating others to achieve a common goal. This summer, he hopes to further his teaching and leadership skills while learning more about our community needs. As a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader, Ben will be channeling his energy for health and wellness to better the environment in our community. This summer, Ben will lead campers in service-learning opportunities including maintenance and upkeep of local parks, planting gardens, and providing energy upgrades to a local home.


CECILIA VON MANN, Hunger & Homelessness Week, June 23-27

YVC Summer Youth Leader Cecilia Von Mann
“I serve because I believe that one small act of service can ripple out and not only impact a person’s life, but change the world.” – Cecilia Von Mann

 A fun fact about Cecilia:

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

A: India during the Holi Fest or Patagonia, Chile, to hike the mountains or hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

For Cecilia Von Mann, volunteering is one of the most important aspects of her life.

Cecilia, a junior at Father Ryan High School, is a long-time volunteer at Room In The Inn. From serving meals and registering guests to teaching art classes, Cecilia is passionate about helping those facing homelessness. In addition, Cecilia tutors refugee children each week, has led multiple retreats at her middle school, and has traveled across the globe to complete mission trips in cities from Honduras to South Carolina.

Cecilia is excited to put her summer to good use by helping others as a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader, and hopes to learn more about hunger throughout the process. This summer, Cecilia will lead campers in service-learning opportunities including sorting perishable food items, serving lunch to women and children facing homelessness, and prepping survival kits.


EMILY THOMPSON, Health & Wellness Week, July 7-11

YVC Summer Youth Leader Emily Thompson
“I serve because I believe making a difference begins with one person taking action, creating a chain reaction of service.” – Emily Thompson
A few fun facts about Emily:
Q: If you could eat only one type of food forever, what would it be?
A: Pizza. All day every day. There is nothing better.

Q: If you could only listen to one CD/album forever, which one would it be?

A: Any Arctic Monkeys album other than A.M. Their older stuff is even better.

Emily Thompson, a junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, believes that time is the greatest gift you can give to someone. A Girl Scout since kindergarten, Emily learned the true value of volunteerism from a young age. Whether volunteering at Hands On Nashville, spearheading a clothing donation drive at her church to support those facing homelessness, or organizing a middle school dance to support Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Emily enjoys making a difference for others and leading by example.

As an aspiring pediatrician, Emily’s goal is to help improve access to proper healthcare and safety in the community. As a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader, Emily will lead campers in service-learning opportunities including sorting medical supplies for clinics overseas, boxing shoes for children abroad, and cooking lunch for people battling illnesses.


CONOR RORK, Youth Education Week, July 21-25

YVC Summer Youth Leader Conor Rork
“I serve because I want to make a difference in other people’s lives.” – Conor Rork

A few fun facts about Conor:
Q: If you could only eat one type of food forever, what would it be?

A: Spaghetti with meat sauce. All day.

Q: If you could only listen to one CD/album forever, which one would it be?

A: El Camino, The Black Keys

University School of Nashville tenth grader Conor Rork has been an avid reader since age 4. This summer, Conor hopes to share his passion for education and the written word with his peers and community youth as a Hands On Nashville YVC Summer Youth Leader. “I’d like to pass on and share my love of reading with children,” Conor says. “I hope to make a difference in at least one child’s life through this opportunity.”

As a community volunteer, Conor has proudly served as a math tutor for youth at Edgehill Community Center and the Susan Gray School, organized musical activities at his church’s vacation bible school, and led Boy Scout Troup 31 in many service projects.

This summer, Conor will lead campers in service-learning opportunities such as assisting with enrichment activities for young kids, reading to children, and sorting books.


ISABEL JOHNSON-BANN, Youth Volunteer Corps Summer AmeriCorps Member 

"I serve because I know I can make a difference in someone's life." - Isabel Johnson-Ban
“I serve because I know I can make a difference in someone’s life.” – Isabel Johnson-Bann

We’d like to extend a special thank-you to Youth Volunteer Corps Summer AmeriCorps Member Isabel Johnson-Bann. This summer, Isabel will oversee each week of Hands On Nashville’s YVC summer camp while facilitating fun, educational service-learning activities for youth participants. From 2007-2013, Isabel served as a highly active Youth Volunteer Corps volunteer in the Middle Tennessee community. She has completed numerous service projects benefiting our community’s youth, homeless and disabled populations, as well as the environment. Isabel is currently studying Animal Science at The University of Tennessee at Martin.




Nashville youth conduct coat drive to help homeless community

mlkNashville teens are heading up a community coat drive this winter to help women and children experiencing homelessness, and they need your help. The goal is to collect 200 coats by January 17. The coats will be given to women and children who are participating in the Life Recovery program at the Nashville Rescue Mission on Monday, Jan. 20, as part of Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps MLK Day of Service effort.

During MLK Day of Service 2013, Hands On Nashville youth volunteers worked with women and children experiencing homelessness, including doing fun crafts projects with the kids.
During MLK Day of Service 2013, Hands On Nashville youth volunteers worked with women and children experiencing homelessness, including doing fun crafts projects with the kids.

Several local high school students are coordinating coat drives at their schools, including Zack Grady, a senior at Hunters Lane High School.

“The coat drive is a small way we can reach out to the homeless community and show them we care,” said Grady. “It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness around homelessness and to get more students involved in volunteering.”

In addition to giving the coats to the women and children, Hands On Nashville’s teen volunteers will spend Martin Luther King Day at the Rescue Mission and nearby Morgan Park Community Center getting to know each other and helping to facilitate enriching activities with the women and their children. These activities will include completing arts and craft projects; serving lunches; treating women and their children to haircuts – offered at no cost by salon professionals who will volunteer alongside the teens; and creating resumes. The teens will also have the opportunity to dialogue about the issues surrounding homelessness in Nashville.

A volunteer works with a participant of the Nashville Rescue Mission’s Life Recovery program to create a resume during Hands On Nashville’s youth MLK Day of Service in 2013.
A volunteer works with a participant of the Nashville Rescue Mission’s Life Recovery program to create a resume during Hands On Nashville’s youth MLK Day of Service in 2013.

This is the second year Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps has rallied the community around giving coats to help women and children experiencing homelessness during the winter season.

Interested in donating a coat?

  • New and pre-loved coats are accepted.
  • All coats should be clean.
  • This is a wonderful opportunity for families, individuals, or school groups to conduct a coat drive to support this effort.
  • Drop coats off at: Hands On Nashville (37 Peabody Street, Suite 206) during the weeks of January 6-10 and 13-17, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Questions? Contact Audrey at Audrey@hon.org or (615) 298-1108 Ext. 416, or visit www.hon.org/YVCmlk.

Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps offers year-round service-learning opportunities to inspire and empower youth ages 11 to 18 to create meaningful community change. Learn more at www.hon.org/teen

Media contact:
Becca Wilson
(615) 426-1428



Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Martha O’Bryan Center

Martha O'Brien Center logo“When I finished my G.E.D., I decided I wanted to go to college,” says Michelle McCann. “The Martha O’Bryan Center was right there helping me complete applications and take the necessary steps I needed to get accepted.”

McCann’s dream is to become a social worker. She wants to help people struggling with poverty, just as the Martha O’Bryan Center helped her. “[Recently] I found out that I have been accepted to attend Berea College in Kentucky on a full scholarship. Martha O’Bryan has been there with me for this ride for as long as I can remember, through my falls and through my strengths.”

Volunteers work with children served by the Martha O'Bryan Center.
Volunteers work with children served by the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Every day, the Martha O’Bryan Center empowers people just like Michelle McCann to realize their full potential. On a foundation of Christian faith, the Martha O’Bryan Center serves children, youth, and adults in poverty, enabling them to transform their lives through work, education, employment, and fellowship.

The families served by Martha O’Bryan in Cayce Place – Nashville’s oldest, largest, and poorest public housing development – and the surrounding East Nashville area are faced with multiple barriers to success. They live in extreme poverty, in a high-crime area, and do not have ready access to transportation or technology options. Martha O’Bryan also serves families from the CWA Plaza Apartments, a development that houses 803 residents (55% under the age of 18; majority are single-parent, female heads of households). A rapidly increasing immigrant population also characterizes these apartments with around 35% being Somali or Sudanese.MOB IMG_3012

Volunteers play a critical role in the Center’s day-to-day activities. Here are just a few of the ways energetic people like you can help:

> Click here to view all of the opportunities to help support the Martha O’Bryan Center! 

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Dismas House

Volunteers encourage former prisoners as they transition into society. Here, a group hangs out on the Dismas House front porch.
Volunteers encourage former prisoners as they transition into society. Here, a group hangs out on the Dismas House front porch.

This time of year, we’re still holding on to those – dare we say it – New Year’s resolutions. We’d like to believe that beyond all those little missteps we’ve made in the past, we can be better. Whether it’s making better choices with food, being more thoughtful about the community, or just finishing that last semester to get a degree, we all have goals to improve our sense of selves. We want a better way of life.

For most of us, this means more discipline and a new goal or two. But what about those who have had a rough beginning? Dwain Adkins, who served six years in prison for aggravated assault, may not be the norm, but just like everyone else, Dwain yearns to start anew and aim for something better.

Dismas House is helping people like Dwain take steps toward reaching their goals. A local nonprofit helping to facilitate the reconciliation of former prisoners to society by developing supportive communities, Dismas House is helping Adkins’s, and others like him transition back into society. As it does for most of us, having some cheerleaders rallying and supporting these former prisoners on their paths to a fresh start increases their chances of success. (Check out this recent article in The Tennessean featuring Dwain and Dismas House.) 

Dinner at Dismas House is a popular volunteer opportunity where people help cook dinner for the Dismas community and exchange uplifting words.
Dinner at Dismas House is a popular volunteer opportunity where people help cook dinner for the Dismas community and exchange uplifting words.

Volunteers are a powerful force in helping Adkins and other folks like him. Scott Pieper, executive director at Dismas House, comments, “Since I’ve been here, many residents have described experiencing anxiety in settings, especially immediately following release – they find themselves believing that others are starting to make judgments about them.” He goes on to say, “When volunteers come to the house, where our residents are most comfortable, there is an opportunity for positive interaction with the residents and our residents get to see for themselves that there are nonjudgmental, supportive people who are excited to welcome them back to society.”

Here are some great opportunities at Dismas house where you can help.

Dinner at Dismas House
April 1, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
> Read more & sign up.

Administrative Assistant
> Read more & sign up.

Volunteers are all smiles at the Dismas House Garden party.
Volunteers are all smiles at the Dismas House Garden party.

Computer Technician
> Read more & sign up.

Grocery Assistant
> Read more & sign up.

Social Media Manager.
> Read more & sign up.

> See ALL volunteer opportunities at Dismas House.

HON Home Energy Savings Program recognized for its innovation & impact on the community

Last night, the Hands On Nashville team was thrilled to receive the Frist Foundation: Innovation in Action Award at the Salute to Excellence Awards. (This event is like the Grammy’s for nonprofits in Nashville produced by the Center for Nonprofit Management.)

HES volunteers cut insulation wrap (this is good for insulating water heaters, leaky holes, and providing additional insulation elsewhere in the home.)

Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings (HES) Program was recognized for its innovation in making a real difference for those in need. We are so proud of the volunteers and dedicated HON staff members who have worked hard since the HES Program launched in February 2011 to make this program a success for our community. HON received an award of $20,000 that will be invested into the HES program. This translates into eight homes that will be safer, more efficient, and more comfortable for Nashvillians in need during weather extremes!

The HES Program engages volunteers in making energy-efficiency upgrades in low-income, owner occupied homes in North and East Nashville at no cost to homeowners. This is the only local, volunteer-centered program to focus exclusively on energy efficiency while addressing unmet community needs.

Caulking gaps between windows and other leaky areas makes a HUGE difference in making a home more energy efficient.

After homeowners are accepted into the program, they receive an in-home energy consultation with diagnostic testing. A suite of upgrades are identified, and volunteers make improvements: insulating attics, weather stripping doors, etc.

Over the last year, more than 100 homeowners have benefited from the HES Program. As a result of volunteers’ work, homes’ air infiltration (or “leakiness”) has been reduced by an average of 24 percent. This translates into average annual utility bill savings of $300 to $700 per homeowner.

Village Real Estate volunteers spent a day last week helping a homeowner in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood make her home more energy efficient. This is a GREAT opportunity for corporate groups and others looking for a good team-building experience!

Are you interested in volunteering for the HES Program and learning how to make energy-saving upgrades in your own home? We are always looking for helping hands for our weekly projects! (No experience needed! Our amazing HES leaders are eager to show you the ropes.) This is a good fit for both individuals and groups of up to 10. Click here to learn more and sign up, or email jaclyn@hon.org.

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.

Sunrise at the Farm

By Becca Stinson, Director of Communications for Hands On Nashville –

Last Thursday morning, I woke up extra early. Not to go for a run or knock some chores off my list before the weekend. I woke up early to dig in the dirt, see nature at its best, and step outside of the rush of the busy work week and give back. And it felt good.

Sunrise at the Farm – volunteers turning compost.

I admit that when my alarm first went off, I thought, “Why did I do this to myself?!” But when I stepped out of my car and saw the light of dawn greeting me over the vegetable rows at the HON Urban Farm, I was reminded of why I signed up. Because I love getting out from behind my desk, getting my hands dirty, learning about the world, and getting out of my comfort zone and my routine. I also love the fact that the tomatoes, squash, beans, and other delicious food grown at the Farm is donated to nonprofit organizations in Nashville serving families in need. Families who might otherwise not have access to fresh, healthy produce.

Our Farm team is making these early Thursday projects a regular thing for the next few weeks, so if you’re an early riser (or just want to pretend you are), you can sign up here. Here’s a little photo montage of my morning at the Farm, before I dashed into work.

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Becca Stinson is Hands On Nashville’s director of communications. Her favorite vegetable? Beets.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: The Contributor

“The Contributor has taken us out of poverty and we are now able to enjoy life.  Instead of being apart from society, we are a part of society, and it feels wonderful.” – A mother and daughter vendor team

The Contributor is so much more than a newspaper.

Copies of The Contributor ready for distribution at the newspaper release meeting! (Volunteers are needed to help with these twice monthly events!)

Since 2007, Nashville’s street newspaper has worked to restore dignity and hope to those experiencing homelessness and poverty. It creates a flexible source of income for homeless and formerly homeless individuals, sheds light on these issues in Nashville through its editorial content, and breaks down barriers of discrimination and judgment in our city. (Check out these profiles of Contributor vendors.)

“Amazing things happen when names are exchanged, eyes meet, hands shake – perceptions are altered and room for caring and community are created,” says Tasha French, executive director of The Contributor. “The Contributor hopes to continue breaking down barriers that further discrimination against those experiencing homelessness and poverty, and replacing them with an understanding of the human condition.”

Volunteers’ helping hands and willing smiles make a paper release meeting go smoothly.

What began as a simple idea more than five years ago has grown to become a life-changing opportunity for hundreds of homeless and formerly homeless individuals in Nashville. With the launch of the first issue of The Contributor in 2007, a handful of homeless and formerly homeless artists, writers, and outreach workers hoped the street newspaper would help a few folks struggling with poverty to earn some income. More than five years later, the paper has grown to be the highest-circulating street newspaper of its kind in North America at 100,000 copies per month, with about 400 active vendors each month, garnering national attention.

“We used to say during vendor training that this was not a way off the streets,” says French. “We have long stopped saying that because Nashville has graciously blessed this project.”

Vendors meet inside Downtown Presbyterian Church for a newspaper release meeting.

More than 35 percent of vendors who sell The Contributor secure housing via their income from sales of the newspaper. And they are building relationships with people all over Nashville, bridging the gap of division and misunderstanding. “I LOVE Mr. James,” one customer says of a vendor. “He just makes my day. I can come into work and not be having a good day, and when I pass by him on a corner he has a smile on his face and always gives me a huge smile and a wave. He is awesome… I think this man is loved by many and he doesn’t realize it.”

While The Contributor has experienced tremendous growth since its inception, it is still the little nonprofit that could. Run with a very small staff, the nonprofit heavily relies on volunteers to do everything from making deliveries and helping run the newspaper release vendor meeting, to day-to-day office operations. Two to four volunteers are needed on any given day.

A volunteer helps with stacking papers – such an important job!

What can you do to help support the uplifting work of this amazing organization?

> Volunteer for paper release meetings. Volunteers are needed to assist with unloading the paper bundles from the truck, stacking the papers inside the church, setting up for the meeting, and helping breakdown tables after the meeting. Releases happen on the second and last Wednesday of each month.

> Check out this opportunity to help with The Contributor street team TOMORROW (8/22).

> Complete this volunteer application if interested in ongoing volunteer opportunities.

> Learn more about The Contributor. 

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Preston Taylor Ministries

Do you remember that slightly older person you looked up to as a child? Maybe it was a big sister, a next-door neighbor, or a teammate. You thought this person hung the moon, and you wanted to be just like her.

Mentor. Friend. Role model. Hero. Whatever you call this person, you know how much of a difference she made by showing you the ropes in your early years – some of the most important years of your life.

A high school student working with his mentee at Preston Taylor Ministries. There’s nothing like helping a child get to those “ah ha!” moments, and seeing their smile of accomplishment!

Preston Taylor Ministries (PTM) knows how essential positive role models are in the lives of children. That’s why the organization seeks to provide afterschool and mentoring programming for more than 150 students, ranging in age from kindergarteners to high school seniors. Through the valuable programming offered to students, PTM empowers them to overcome many of the challenges faced by the Preston Taylor community including drug use, gang involvement, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, and crime.

Patrick, a rising 11th grade student at Big Picture High School, has been involved with PTM since 2005. “I used to be a mentee,” says Patrick. “I had a mentor and I looked up to him, so I can see how my mentee, Jerome, looks up to me.”

PTM is able to offer these rich life experiences to students like Patrick, Jerome, and so many other students because of the outpouring of volunteer support. Because of the organization’s emphasis on building “joy-filled friendships,” volunteers are crucial to PTM’s success. More than 200 volunteers each week give their time, energy, and resources to PTM and the children and teens it serves.

“I love the whole PTM atmosphere. …We’ve been living in the Preston Taylor community since 2005. [Each of my children have] been a member of the PTM program. I love it and they love it. My daughter who is 14 actually comes on Wednesdays now and reads to children there.” –LaVonda, a parent of four PTM students
But, more volunteers are needed. PTM has a waiting list of students at two sites. With more volunteers willing to get involved, PTM can engage even more students in its activities and programming. At PTM, it’s all about friendships, and through afterschool programming and mentorship opportunities, volunteers accomplish PTM’s mission by “empowering children to discover and live their God-inspired dreams.”

Here are ways to get involved with Preston Taylor Ministries today:

Volunteer Training – Wednesday, August 8, 4-6 p.m.
For all individuals interested in volunteering with PTM for the 2012-2013 school year.
> Sign up to participate in the training.

Afterschool Tutoring Program – Begins Monday, August 13 (Ongoing)
Loving staff and volunteers meet with children each day after school in small groups, focusing on math, reading, and homework. Volunteers are needed to facilitate the subject rotations, help with homework, and provide instruction.
> Volunteer to help a child with his homework!

Fun Friday – Begins Friday, August 17 (Ongoing)
Every Friday during the school year, more than 60 PTM children are exposed to a variety of volunteer-led enrichment opportunities including dance, sports, art, music, gardening, and more.
> Volunteer to help make Fun Friday even more fun.

For other opportunities with Preston Taylor Ministries, view a full list here, or contact Martha Willis, volunteer coordinator for PTM, at Martha@prestontaylorministries.org or (615) 569-7468. Learn more about PTM on the organization’s blog, or at www.ptmweb.ik.org. Check out this uplifting video of the good things happening at PTM!

Preston Taylor Ministries from David McKay on Vimeo.

To view a complete list of Hands On Nashville Nonprofit Partners, click here.

Nonprofit Partner Feature: Lutheran Services Building Healthy Families Program

Shelia sleeps on the couches of friends and family members, having struggled with homelessness and substance abuse for years. After surviving severe physical abuse from a close relative, she lives in fear of it happening again. She quietly mourns the loss of a son and the death of her mother.

Women served by the Building Healthy Families Program learn about gardening.

Despite her many challenges, Shelia has found hope in Lutheran Services in Tennessee’s program called Building Healthy Families.

“The program has helped me with prayer, to deal with my problems … inspired me that life is a battle but it gets better with time,” says Shelia.

Just like Shelia, so many women in our community are raising children in the midst of poverty, without adequate support systems. Lutheran Services in Tennessee is working to lift these women up through its Building Healthy Families Program. Through educational sessions and support groups, Lutheran Services offers health education, spiritual development, and small group discussions to low-income women in North Nashville.

Volunteers in the garden
Volunteers participate in the raised bed garden program to help residents of the Cheatham neighborhood learn how to grow their own food.

Volunteers are an important part of Lutheran Services’ work to bring healing, help, and hope to the community. Volunteer needs for the Building Healthy Families Program include:

  • Childcare, so the women can take part in group discussions and participate in educational sessions each week;
  • Assistance with the raised bed garden program in the Cheatham neighborhood to help residents learn how to grow their own healthy food; and
  • Help with securing food and household items donations.

> Check out these volunteer opportunities with Lutheran Services in Tennessee currently listed on HON’s website.

> For other opportunities and more information about volunteering with Lutheran Services in Tennessee, please contact Janet Arning at (615) 881-4579 or jarninglst@gmail.com.