Tag Archives: reading

New children’s book examines what was gained and lost during 2020 tornado

The House the Storm Built is a new children’s book written by Rebecca Rose Moody and illustrated by Lauren Reese. The book describes the effects of the deadly tornado outbreak on March 3, 2020, which devastated multiple neighborhoods and killed several Middle Tennesseans. The destructive storms caused extensive damage, including to Lauren’s home, which has had to be rebuilt. 

Hands On Nashville talked with Lauren and Rebecca about the book and how they’ve been doing in the year since the tornado. 

Q: It’s been a year since the tornado. How are you doing? 

Rebecca: What made March 2020 so hard is that we, like so many other families, went straight from processing the tornado to being in lockdown. Our home wasn’t hit in the tornado, but Lauren and her family are some of our closest friends, so that night I remember getting a text from her that her house had been damaged and that the roof was collapsing — it was very surreal. The next day my husband and I went to help them move everything out, and just later that week schools started closing down due to the pandemic. It’s been a year unlike any other, with lots of personal losses.  

Lauren: It’s pretty surreal that it’s been a year since the tornado. My family has spent this year processing and hopefully minimizing the trauma through therapy and open discussions. My children struggle a little when big storms hit and my daughter wanted to make sure we built a safe place in our new home where we could go if another tornado hit. There’s still a lot that hasn’t been processed. We had so much help the first few days after the storm and then everyone went into quarantine. We’ve been in a rental home for almost a year and can count on our hands how many visitors have been over. It’s been extremely isolating. We went from this crazy natural disaster, moving, a global pandemic, figuring out virtual school, trying to get through the steps of rebuilding a home, etc. It feels as though we have been holding our breath all year. Though I’ve had a few good cries, I think once I officially move back into our home (on the same lot as our last), I’ll probably cry and let out a big breath in relief. 

Why did you make this book? 

“The House the Storm Built,” by Lauren Reese and Rebecca Rose Moody, is a children’s book about the March 2020 tornado in Nashville.

Rebecca:  Lauren is one of my closest, dearest friends, and I wanted to write this story as a tribute to her experience in the tornado. The night of the tornado, I was so scared for her and her family, but she is one of the strongest people I know, and has handled losing her house and living in a rental while her new home is being built, with an extraordinary amount of grace — and this is, of course, in addition to the pandemic. Lauren is an amazing mother, so many of her efforts have been geared towards helping her children process everything they’ve been through. Hopefully this book will be a small part of their journey as they continue healing from a very difficult year. And hopefully it can help other families too.  

Lauren: Pretty much what Rebecca said! She wrote the story and sent it to me. I read it out loud to my husband and we teared up! It is such a sweet story and it captures all the feelings of fear, impatience, uncertainty, hope, love, and excitement. I read the story and we knew we had to make a book! I started to illustrate each page and it was extremely cathartic. From painting my old house and remembering beautiful moments to imagining my new home, it was all a wonderful and healing process! I hope this book brings healing to our family but also to so many others who may have been through a natural disaster. 

Do you volunteer? What does volunteering mean to you? 

Rebecca: I have volunteered with Hands on Nashville before and I appreciated how easy it was to find a volunteer opportunity that was a good match for my energy level and abilities. For me, volunteering is all about showing up for one’s community, either by cleaning up a creek or park or by helping an individual or family. It is so important that we take care of each other, and I love that Hands On Nashville and other volunteer organizations make that possible when it’s a stranger or other neighborhood that is in need.  

Lauren: I too have volunteered with Hands on Nashville in the past and other volunteer organizations. Recently, with young children, it hasn’t been as easy, but we still find ways to help those around us. It doesn’t take much to give up some time or money to those who are in need. After the tornado, I wanted to help other victims. My husband was able to tarp roofs, remove debris, etc., but I was in too much shock. I spent that week sitting with my neighbors, listening to their stories, giving them space to cry and laugh. In these moments, I built connections that are still strong now! I learned the needs of those around me and I was able to connect them to those who could help. We were able to get D a brand new roof with a church group, and B’s brother new furniture for his home (this was all done through social media and word of mouth!). I haven’t been able to join a volunteer group in awhile but I’ve volunteered my time to help meet the needs of my community. 

Pre-order The House the Storm built here. A portion of the book’s proceeds will go to support Hands On Nashville, whose mission is to meet community needs through volunteerism.  

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Nashville International Puppet Festival & Nashville Public Library

puppetlogoFor three days in June, the Nashville Downtown Library and Church Street Park will be transformed into a magical and mesmerizing land of storytelling and puppetry as the Nashville International Puppet Festival descends upon our city. No matter what your age, your imagination is sure to be flexed at this wonderful family-friendly event!

Hosted by the Nashville Public Library Foundation, the Nashville International Puppet Festival will bring performers from around the globe together to celebrate storytelling through puppetry arts.  From June 21 through 23, this vibrant carnival will include dozens of international and domestic puppet performances, a puppet parade, live music, and an outdoor street fair.

Puppet Festival participants enjoy the festivities at Church Street Park.

This year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever, and volunteers will play a critical role in this incredible event. This volunteer experience is extremely rewarding and fun. As one volunteer remarked after the 2011 Puppet Festival, “I had such fun!!! Thank you for the awesome opportunity.”

The library needs hundreds of volunteers to assist with a variety of tasks throughout the three-day festival. And this volunteer gig doesn’t come without awesome perks! Volunteers will receive:

  • a souvenir t-shirt to wear during their shift and to take home;
  • snacks and beverages;
  • free parking is free, and a complimentary shuttle; and
  • a souvenir “Monster Button” for volunteers ages 13 to 17 as part of the regular Teen Volunteer Monster Button program at the library.

Check out Minnie Pearl! The Nashville Public Library is partnering with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to create a puppet show about the history of Country Music… this show will premiere on June 20 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to launch the International Puppet Festival.

So, what are all the fun things that Puppet Festival volunteers get to help with? Here’s the rundown:

Information Booth Assistant: Sit or stand at one of the designated information kiosks and help guests find information about puppet shows, assist with ticketing information, help guests with directions, and provide general assistance.

Information Floater: Roam throughout the library and Church Street Park and help guests find information about puppet shows, assist with ticketing information, help guests with directions, and provide general assistance.

Puppet Show Host: Collect tickets from guests who have pre-purchased their tickets, keep a count of guests entering the venue, and allow standby guests to enter the venue. Hand guests surveys as they exit venues following the shows.

puppet2Ticket Booth Assistant: Print and distribute tickets upon guest requests for upcoming shows. No money handling involved. The library will be using the Tickets Nashville system and training will be provided on site.

Hospitality Room Assistant: Help to manage the hospitality room for the International Puppet Festival performers.

Volunteer Services Assistant: Assist the volunteer department with checking in and checking out volunteers for their shifts at the Festival. Help to keep volunteer snacks and beverages stocked and in good appearance.

> Sign up to volunteer for the Puppet Festival! 

The Nashville Public Library also has other ongoing volunteer needs, from shelving and checking in library books to serving as library archives volunteer. If you are a book worm and value our library system’s efforts to extend lifelong learning and discovery to all people, we encourage you to check out these opportunities to support the library throughout the year!

> Sign up to volunteer to support the Nashville Public Library in its ongoing needs throughout the year. 

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: NALC

november-issue-of-between-the-linesRemember that time you spelled “rhinoceros” wrong in the first grade? It was supposed to be your shining moment, a spelling bee stud kind-of-moment, yet you stood there with the blank stare, and showed everyone what you didn’t know. Imagine if everyday felt that way even though your spelling bee days were long past. The truth is, over 1,500 Nashville adults struggle with literacy, yet most of us don’t know it.

Thankfully, the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC) has recognized the need for volunteer tutors to help teach reading to U.S.-born adults and guide adult immigrants in learning English skills. NALC serves over 1,500 adults annually, with the help of 500 volunteer tutors and 33 classes. NALC’s vision is for all to learn and for all to help build a community of adults empowered through literacy.

NalcJames Morehead, 2012 NALC Literacy Learner of the Year, comments, “When I was young, I always had a hard time reading and writing. I could not do things like make a grocery list. I had to draw pictures of the food when I went to the store. It was also hard to do things like fill out job applications to see if I could get a job. For a long time, I could not drive because I could not pass the driver’s test,” says James.

“Now, I can do things like write ‘Happy Birthday’ and read the newspaper. Most importantly, I can write a letter to my wife to show her how much I love her.”

James has the confidence he needs to flourish in the world today because of people like you who volunteer their time to teach him to read. The NALC would not exist if it weren’t for the people who share their knowledge, patience, and encouragement. Annually, over 500 volunteer tutors dedicate thousands of hours to teaching their fellow adults to read and write, and speak English. Volunteers from all backgrounds and occupations tutor with NALC. No teaching experience is necessary! If you can read, you can help.

Aside from volunteering with the Start Now Program and One-on-One Tutoring Program, creative and devoted volunteers help NALC with events, office work, speaking engagements and community outreach, teaching classes, and facilitating extra-curricular activities for learners.

The Nashville Adult Literacy Council holds volunteer trainings once or twice per month for both the Start Now and One-on-One Tutoring programs. Currently, there are 100 learners on NALC’s waiting list waiting for a one-on-one tutor.

One-on-One Tutoring Program
The One-on-One Tutoring Program is Nashville Adult Literacy Council’s primary mission. In this program, NALC matches one adult learner with one volunteer tutor based on schedule and location preference. Tutors are asked to commit to a minimum of six months with their learner, meeting between two and three hours per week.

Upcoming trainings for the One-on-One Tutoring Program are:
> Friday, January 11th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
> Saturday, January 26th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Start Now Program
Due to NALC’s growth and success, immediate accommodation for every learner is difficult. In fact, it can take six months or longer for a learner to be matched with a volunteer tutor. The Start Now Program allows learners to get immediate service while waiting to be matched with a long-term volunteer tutor. It also allows volunteer tutors greater scheduling flexibility than the One-on-One Tutoring Program. Tutors sign up for hour-long appointments as often or as little as their schedule permits, and meet with a new learner each visit.

Upcoming Trainings for the Start Now Program are:
> Wednesday, January 30th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
> Tuesday, February 26th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Monthly training dates are always listed on NALC’s website.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, please email info@nashvilleliteracy.org or call 615-298-8060. For more information, visit the website at Nashvilleliteracy.org.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee

Desi Smith’s granddaughter, age 3, seems to have a sixth sense for books that are en route to her house. “She always seems to know when her book is in the mail,” Ms. Smith says. “Because of this program, she has such a passion for books and words, and I believe that she will be a great student when it comes time for school. We had three babies born in our church last week, and because of [my granddaughter’s] love for reading, all the parents signed up for Books from Birth.” This amazing organization is turning children into readers, one book at a time.

The mission of Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee is to increase literacy and school readiness while strengthening family relationships. The organization has three early childhood literacy programs:

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (32,000 kids receive one book a month from birth through age five, regardless of family income and at no cost to the family)
• Jo’s Reach Out & Read Book Club (at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt)
• The Family Literacy Program

With only three staff, volunteers are essential in helping with day-to-day maintenance of this organization. Many volunteers fill ongoing needs such as picking up undeliverable books from the post office, registering children for the Imagination Library, reading to kids in clinic waiting rooms, and in-office administrative tasks. While these ongoing volunteer slots are currently full, interested volunteers can email cathy.riviere@vanderbilt.edu to sign up for the mailing list to find out when new slots become available. There are also many one-time needs such as assisting with annual fundraisers (committee chairs, silent auction, set-up/tear-down, marketing, etc.) and participating in community events.

Upcoming Books from Birth volunteer opportunities:

Family Valentine’s Dance – Sat., Feb. 11, The Factory at Franklin:
This annual family-friendly event needs registration volunteers from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Please contact Cathy Riviere at cathy.riviere@vanderbilt.edu to sign up or for more information. Click here for details about the dance and tickets.

Sat., March 24, Belmont United Methodist Church:
This volunteer-driven annual fundraiser features local cupcake vendors and bakers, with proceeds benefiting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Volunteers are needed for the following shifts:

• 12-2 p.m. Setup, sign holders, picking up cupcakes
• 2-5 p.m. Registration, ticket sales, kids area, cupcake stations
• 5-7 p.m. Cleanup/teardown

All volunteers will be entitled to sample a designated number of cupcakes! Read more about this event on the Facebook event page  and click here to sign up.