Tag Archives: service

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Mid South Chapter, National MS Society

imageChances are, you probably know someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease affects an estimated 2.1 million people worldwide and does not discriminate between men and women or adults and youth. While great strides have been made in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of MS in recent years, the battle against this crippling disease continues.

Leading the fight in the U.S., the National MS Society works toward its organizational vision of a world free of multiple sclerosis by funding research initiatives, facilitating professional education and advocacy efforts, and providing programs and services that help those with MS and their families move their lives forward.

Our featured nonprofit, the Mid South Chapter of the MS Society, is based in Nashville and serves more than 9,000 individuals in Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Mississippi, and eastern Arkansas.

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An enthusiastic youngster shows support for the MS Society.

They offer an array of support services and educational programs for MS patients and their families, including a lending library of books and audio materials, empowerment seminars, employment programs, wellness and exercise program referrals, and much more. The Mid South Chapter oversees 25 different self-help groups, all of which are led by volunteers. Plus, they organize a number of events throughout the year that help raise awareness about the disease and the Society’s work.

Volunteers are a driving force in the movement to cure MS. For the Mid South Chapter, committed and dedicated volunteer help is an essential component of the group’s advocacy efforts, programming, and day-to-day activities. The Chapter has a variety of flexible volunteer opportunities available, both ongoing and short-term.

>Click here to volunteer with the National MS Society’s Mid South Chapter!

Three of the Chapter’s biggest annual events are right around the corner and volunteers are needed to assist with all of them.

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Both recreational and serious riders alike can participate in the MS Society’s bike tours.

At Fall Crush, a unique wine tasting and auction that takes place in mid-September, individuals can volunteer to assist with guest registration, silent auctions, and wine pairing stations. During two separate bike tours – Bike MS: Bike to Jack and Back and Bike MS: Rock ‘N Roll – volunteers will help with registration, staffing rest stations, assisting with traffic flow, loading luggage, and setup and cleanup projects.

Individuals can also assist with in-office work, such as bulk mailings, phone calls, and event organizing. Those who are skilled at using programs like InDesign or Publisher are also needed to help with the group’s marketing and promotional efforts.

Be sure to visit the Mid South Chapter’s website to learn more about their outstanding work. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Michelle Stewart at michelle.stewart@nmss.org (event volunteer opportunities) or Abby Mullen at abby.mullen@nmss.org (in-office volunteer work).

Serving as a Volunteer Leader at Backfield In Motion

JaxSeniorGuest Post by Jackson Oglesby
HON Youth Volunteer

Jackson Oglesby, a recent MLK Magnet High School graduate, has been a youth volunteer leader for the past year, leading a weekly four-hour tutoring project with Backfield In Motion.

The first time I volunteered with Backfield in Motion, a local mentoring program, I was in awe. When I initially signed up to mentor 80-plus middle school-aged boys, I prepared myself for craziness. Reflecting on my own middle school experience, I expected to walk into a chaotic room.

To my surprise, upon my first hour working with the kids, I discovered that these boys were not only incredibly polite, but also extremely eager to learn. Seeing how they acted in a classroom environment, I realized that they were more mature than a lot of my high school classmates!

After three years of dedication to Backfield in Motion, I can say that these are some of the best kids I have ever seen. Every Saturday the boys came in prepared and ready to participate. They cleaned up after themselves and were extremely respectful in the classroom. In the course of the three years I volunteered with Backfield, there were few instances where I witnessed a crazy classroom. For the most part, these kids were the perfect students. In fact, most Saturdays, I was the one who felt unprepared. It was a major challenge to re-learn a lot of the course material I hadn’t studied since my own middle school days.

Inside and outside of the classroom, the kids treated me with as much respect as one of their teachers. Not only did they listen to me when I offered individual help, but they also included me in personal conversations outside of the classroom. Volunteering with Backfield not only gave me a new-found respect for teachers, but also helped me to realize how beneficial and essential programs like Backfield are to making positive changes in the community.

>Click here to learn more about HON volunteer projects for youth and teens!

Volunteer Spotlight: Chung Chow

head shotChung Chow knows food. This 25 year old self-described “military brat” makes her living working as a restaurant manager at an upscale sports bar here in Nashville and spends most of her free time sampling the fare at the city’s many eateries.

It is that same strong passion for all things cooking and food that has driven much of her volunteer work here in Music City as well.

Born in North Carolina and raised in nearby Clarksville, Chung relocated to Nashville just last year. Like so many new arrivals and transplants, she was looking for ways to meet new people and get involved in community service. With some encouragement from her mother, an avid volunteer herself, Chung began researching volunteer opportunities through Hands On Nashville (HON).

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Chung and her students working on a new dish together.

It didn’t take long to find her first opportunity. Within a week, she was volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank, where she was welcomed with open arms by Second Harvest’s staff and her fellow volunteers. That initial opportunity, which she considers her most memorable volunteer project to date, made Chung realize that volunteering in an area that she loves can make for a much more meaningful service experience.

So, with a minor in Culinary Arts from Austin Peay State University (where she also currently holds an adjunct professor position) and three years of experience as a pastry chef prior to the transition into restaurant management, Chung took her considerable talents and expertise and began serving as a skilled volunteer at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

There, she teaches a regular cooking course at the teen center that educates youth on the importance of healthy eating and portion control. Chung takes great pride in being able to pass along her food knowledge to young people, helping them make smart choices about what they eat.

“I take suggestions from the students on what foods they love most and make substitutions to make it healthier,” she says. “Teaching and seeing the kids enjoy the food they prepare is very rewarding.”

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Just one of the many meals Chung and her students put together at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

With two jobs and a busy schedule, Chung admits that finding time to volunteer can sometimes be a challenge. But after gaining so much from volunteering through HON, she’s determined not to allow that to become a deterrent.

“Volunteering with HON has been a wonderful experience,” Chung notes. “It’s a great way to get involved with the community and meet people that you wouldn’t have (met) otherwise. After all, we live in the Volunteer State!”

>To find out how you can help your local YMCA, click here!

Introducing the 2013-2014 Urban Agriculture Fellows

This unique service-learning opportunity places ten awesome high school students at nonprofit gardens across Nashville. After a highly competitive application process, ten outstanding teens were selected to serve as the Urban Agriculture Fellows of 2013. Without further ado, here are our new Fellows!
akhila_fellowAkhila Ashakan is a junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She enjoys volunteering and helping out in her community. Her passion is writing. She looks forward to working at Hands On Nashville this year.
alexAlex Benick is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. He enjoys writing and playing music in bands around Nashville as well as reading casually in his leisure time. On most days you can find him sitting in Fido drinking Chai Lattes.
Carson_fellow_2013Carson Thomas is a junior at the University School of Nashville. She interned over the summer at HON’s Urban Farm, leads USN’s environmental club, and is a member of USN’s Student Sustainability Initiative. In addition to writing and listening to music, Carson also enjoys long walks on the beach.
Emma_fellow_2013Emma Fischer is a junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She enjoys gardening, carpentry, writing and spending time with friends. She spent the past summer as an Apprentice at the Urban Farm, while working lights at the Nashville Children’s Theater. Go Royals!
emily_fellowEmily Kerinuk is a senior at Father Ryan High School. She is the new captain of the Irish bowling team and spent the month of June at Tennessee’s Governors School for the Humanities. Her favorite animal is the sea turtle and she loves hiking.
katherine_fellow_2013Katherine Knowles is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School and is an event organizer for her Environmental Action Club. She is passionate about music, cooking, books, nature, and helping others. Katherine aspires to be a sustainable systems designer on a city-scale.
maddyMaddy Underwood is a junior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. She regularly visits The Nashville Farmers Market and is part of a community supported agriculture program. She loves to volunteer and is eager to use her love of design and interest in urban renewal to help out the community.
Sara_FellowSara Shaghaghi is a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School and was a fellow in the Urban Agriculture Spring Fellowship. She enjoys volunteering and helping others. Sara hopes to one day open an urban farm in a community in Costa Rica in order to give back to the environment and she cannot wait to work with Hands On Nashville this year.
shu_fellowShu Zhang is currently a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She loves to read and make crafts, and she is curious about how she can help the community. Shu hopes to own a chicken and a dog one day.
simonSimon Cooper is excited to be starting his sophomore year at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. He is also ecstatic to be participating in HON’s Urban Agriculture fellowship this year. Simon loves to learn new things and stay as busy as possible, and his interests include swimming, current events, and architecture.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Sexual Assault Center

SAClogoFor victims of sexual violence, moving on from their attacks and rediscovering normalcy and happiness is a monumental challenge. Feelings of shame in the aftermath can prevent many from seeking help, and the resulting loneliness and isolation can make the trauma that much worse. This is particularly true when the victim involved is a child.

Our featured nonprofit partner, The Sexual Assault Center, helps victims of sexual assault get on the road to recovery.

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SAC volunteers put in some work outside.

As the only organization of its kind in the area, The Sexual Assault Center’s (SAC) mission is to provide services that help heal children, adults, and families affected by sexual assault end the violence through counseling, education and advocacy. Since its founding in 1978, SAC has helped more than 17,000 children and adults in Middle Tennessee.

SAC specialists employ a holistic approach for the counseling of men, women, children, teens, and the family members of survivors in both individual and group settings. Roughly half of SAC’s clients are children, and counselors often work with entire families in helping those younger victims.

The organization’s 24/7 Crisis and Support telephone line serves as a first stop for many sexual assault victims who need information on resources and services available to them.
SAC also operates a Hospital Accompaniment Program (HAP) which, in tandem with the Davidson County Sexual Assault Response Team, assists victims in the early stages of the recovery process and provides needed emotional support for those with medical questions and concerns.

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Volunteers take a quick break to pose for a group shot.

Educational initiatives that raise public awareness about sexual violence are also an important component of the group’s work. SAC offers programs for middle school students and high school teens aimed at preventing sexual victimization and developing tools for healthy relationships. To help elementary school students, SAC educates hundreds of teachers and counselors throughout Tennessee using their personal safety curriculum. Additionally, the organization hosts community workshops at local churches and civic groups featuring qualified experts and speakers that address a wide range of topics including date rape and sexual abuse prevention.

Dedicated volunteers play an enormous role in SAC’s efforts and help raise public awareness on the issue of sexual violence and the organization’s everyday work. Both the Crisis and Support line and Hospital Accompaniment programs are staffed wholly by volunteers, all of whom participate in training sessions in order to provide the best possible support to SAC clients.

>Sign up to volunteer with The Sexual Assault Center!

If you are interested in volunteering, SAC will be holding orientation meetings for potential HAP volunteers on August 22 at 1 p.m. and September 3 at 6:30 p.m. HAP training then begins in mid-September as follows:

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Volunteers outside SAC headquarters.

September 16 and 18, 6 to 9 p.m.
September 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
September 23 and 25, from 6 to 9 p.m.

(Attendance at all training dates is mandatory.)

For more information on the full range of volunteer opportunities available, visit SAC’s website or contact Jessica Labenberg at jlabenberg@sacenter.org.

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

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

VolunTEEN: Not Simply a Chore

ferriss headshot1Guest Post by Ferriss Bailey
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Ferriss Bailey, a rising senior at Montgomery Bell Academy, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Ferriss leads service learning opportunities that address the environment.

The BELL Garden at Bellevue Middle School is a large, educational garden that is run by Liz Meeks and sustained with volunteer help. The garden contains more plants than most people even know exist, and it is a wonderful educational tool for students. However, it takes a substantial amount of work to keep it lush and thriving.

In my time as a Summer Youth Leader, I have been fortunate enough to lead four projects at BELL with volunteers of all different ages and backgrounds. Together, the volunteers and I enjoyed weeding, harvesting, and sometimes, even eating in the different beds.

One project particularly stands out in my mind when I think of my time at Bell. I was leading four volunteers, all of whom were around my age. We worked extremely hard, but it seemed like nothing! While we worked, we talked about our different schools and told funny stories, and by the end we had become great friends.

Certain projects like BELL can be extremely hard, especially when you are working in the hot sun. However, BELL and the other challenging projects are not simply a means to an end, but a great way to meet amazing people while doing important and impactful work.

Learn more about HON’s youth leader programs here!

Liz Meeks teaches volunteers how to properly water plants at the BELL Garden.
Liz Meeks teaches volunteers how to properly water plants at the BELL Garden.

VolunTEEN: A Meal Ready to Serve

Corey headshotGuest Post by Corey Wu
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Corey Wu, a rising junior at John Overton High School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Corey leads service learning opportunities that address homelessness.

Spending time at The Nashville Food Project (TNFP) has made me really appreciate individuals who devote their time and effort in the name of helping the less fortunate. Their organization is a fairly new one compared to Hands On Nashville. However, TNFP’s presence in the Nashville area is a successful one that I deeply admire.

TNFP is a nonprofit organization that is solely dedicated to feeding the hungry and the needy. The Food Project’s main customers are people who are living in assisted government housing and people who are struggling to make ends meet. They keep their organization running by maintaining a garden full of fresh vegetables and purchasing nearly-expired food items by the pound for discounted prices. They cook their purchased produce as soon as possible, and all of the meals and dishes are created by their dedicated chefs and, of course, our volunteers.

Leading a group of volunteers at their location gives everyone a large range of tasks to do. Whether it is washing collard greens or cutting roasted chicken, every volunteer has something to do during the two hours of work. Many of the volunteers, especially the younger ones, enjoy getting their hands dirty in the garden. Personally speaking, I enjoy baking brownies and cutting the poultry just because it makes me feel like a chef.

Determination and compassion are two adjectives that I think of when describing the folks at TNFP. After a long day of cooking and preparing, their hard work truly pays off when they deliver their homemade goods to grateful individuals.

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here!

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Corey hard at work constructing a wheelchair ramp.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: LP Pencil Box

LPPBlogoBefore you know it, school bells will be ringing throughout Middle Tennessee and students will return to the classroom for another school year. But what happens when some of those students and their teachers lack needed supplies like pens, notebooks, and backpacks?

Enter LP Pencil Box, our featured nonprofit partner that addresses these challenges one classroom at a time.

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Volunteers sort and organize donated school supplies.

Founded in 2005, LP Pencil Box (LPPB) is a collaboration of the Nashville business community, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the LP Foundation, which is the charitable arm of LP Building Products.

The group collects new and gently-used educational, art, and office supplies and makes them available at no cost to educators. Teachers can ‘shop’ for supplies twice each school year at LP Pencil Box, which is located in the McCann Alternative Center in West Nashville. They bring back to their classrooms materials valued at up to $250 per visit to help ensure that their students have all the tools they need to succeed.

LPPB serves more than 2,200 local teachers annually and processes an enormous volume of donated items, ranging from arts and crafts materials to magazines and classroom furniture. With so many teachers to serve, there are some fantastic volunteer opportunities available for individuals.

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A local teacher shops at LP Pencil Box.

Volunteers play an important role in making sure things run smoothly at the LP Pencil Box store, and they can serve in a number of capacities. Greeters and check-out assistants guide teachers through the shopping process, helping them find what they need. Stock clerks and inventory assistants aid in sorting, organizing, and stocking all of the supplies that are donated. There are also administrative volunteer opportunities in data entry, marketing, and development too.

With the 2013-2014 school year right around the corner, LP Pencil Box will be buzzing in the coming weeks and months. Here are just a few of their upcoming volunteer opportunities:

July 22-24: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
July 25: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesdays/Thursdays throughout August and September: 3 to 6 p.m.
Saturdays throughout August and September: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12 to 3:30 p.m.

>Sign up to volunteer with LP Pencil Box!

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Keeping the shelves stocked is an important volunteer job at LP Pencil Box.

Make sure to check out the LP Pencil Box website to learn more about this great organization.

For more information about volunteering with LPPB, you can also contact Kimberly Washington, Program Manager at kwashington@pencilfd.org or 615-974-0438.

Crop City: Local Chefs Visit the Farm!

With the 2013 Crop City program winding down here in its final week, campers were treated to a very special visit at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm yesterday!

Local chefs Tony Galzin and Jo Ellen Brown stopped by and spent the morning whipping up a pair of delicious summer dishes for campers to enjoy. The demonstrations, part of Crop City’s unique farm-to-table curriculum, gave dozens of youth a first-hand look at how easy it is to create dishes that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.

Chef Tony’s squash salad and Chef Jo Ellen’s fruit dip were such a huge hit yesterday that we thought it would be a great idea to share the recipes with you.  Give one or both of these outstanding recipes a try in your own kitchen!

Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.
Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.

Summer Squash Salad

2 medium summer squash
1 bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1 lime
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne pepper

–Wash all vegetables.
–Cut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
–Microwave in a plastic container with a little water for 2 minutes.
–Check to see if the squash is tender. If it’s not, microwave until cooked.
–Strain out water and put the squash in a bowl.
–Cut the pepper in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into small dice. Add to the squash.
–Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the rest of the vegetables.
–Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the olive oil and mix.
–Season with salt, pepper, and a small amount of cayenne, and mix.

Yogurt Almond Fruit Dip

Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.
Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.

1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
2-3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

–Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk until the dip has a consistent color and texture. Serve with sliced apples.

Many thanks to both chefs for donating their time and expertise to help Nashville-area youth eat smarter and healthier!