NASHVILLE, Tenn.(April 1, 2022) – Hands On Nashville is pleased to announce the finalists for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company. The 2022 Strobel Awards honor volunteers from 2021 – which saw a devastating flood, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and unprecedented need throughout our most vulnerable communities. Winners will be announced May 13 in a small ceremony that will be live streamed on HON’s social media channels.
“It was difficult to narrow this year’s phenomenal nominees down to just a few finalists,” said Hands On Nashville President and CEO Lori Shinton. “2021 was a challenging year, but the inspiring stories of these finalists show that Middle Tennessee is full of caring people who live out the spirit of the Volunteer State.”
The Strobel Volunteer Awards honor volunteers of all ages and backgrounds for significant community service achievements. This year’s celebration will be held with a small in-person reception, and community members are invited to visit hon.org/strobel2022 to show support and vote for their favorite stories of service between April 1-30.
A screener panel read more than 143 nominations this year and narrowed them down to three finalists in each category.
JohnThomas Atema began volunteering with the Best Buddies organization in the sixth grade. As a peer, lunch and a homework buddy, Atema has been a consistent friend to peers with special needs because of his passion for inclusivity.
Atema has continued his services with the Best Buddies organization by serving as both vice president and president of the organization in middle school. While serving in these roles, he was recognized as the top fundraiser for the Best Buddies Walk that year and won the James C. Parker Service Award. As a high schooler, Atema has served as a peer buddy all three years and currently serves as the vice president of the high school-level organization. Moving into his senior year, he hopes to be president of the organization. He is also a part of Best Buddies International through providing videos for the organization and serving as the youngest Global Ambassador. “JohnThomas does not have to do Best Buddies because he lives Best Buddies — he has a sister with Down syndrome and lives out the organization’s mission every day. However, he has passionately chosen to be involved with this organization because he knows how important it is and has been Buddies with the same student since the seventh grade,” shared a colleague of Atema’s.
Riya Narayan Founder of Treats and Tunes
Riya Narayan is the founder of Treats and Tunes, an organization with a mission to provide people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities with a platform to share their love for music. Through her organization, she has reached out to many assisted living centers, coordinated performances and logistics, and planned in-person and virtual events.
When Narayan recognized the impact that music can have on members of senior living and long-term care facilities, she knew that she would be able to meet that need. At age 14, Narayan founded Treats and Tunes to provide engaging activities and entertainment for members of elderly communities. Based in Franklin, Tenn., Narayan has recruited performers from across the world to share the joy of music to over 1,500 residents in assisted living centers in not only the Nashville area, but also centers in New York, Michigan, California and Vancouver, Canada. Treats and Tunes has expanded to host over 30 virtual and eight in-person events in the span of two years. Narayan has found ways to involve participants from over 10 U.S. states and four different countries, including India and Venezuela.
Despite the pandemic that affected a lot of her in-person efforts in 2020, Narayan continued to expand in ways that would be safe and still enjoyable to residents of the assisted living centers. Her heart and passion for helping serve others continues to impact many community centers and residents. “The joy, twinkle in the eyes and the sense of bonding Riya felt from senior citizens after every performance made the efforts totally worth it,” shared a colleague of Narayan’s.
Maddie McDaniel Volunteers with Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away
Maddie McDaniel is no stranger to spreading the love when it comes to volunteer efforts in the Nashville area. As a student, McDaniel dedicates all her weekends and breaks to serving both Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away. The two organizations are working to alleviate homelessness for women and hunger in Nashville.
Even while attending school Monday through Friday, McDaniel has made the effort to log over 300 hours of community service to both organizations. Starting out as a Girl Scout herself, she first was introduced to Troop 6000 in her freshman year, when she immediately signed up to be a co-leader to provide support and activities to the young women experiencing homelessness. McDaniel felt led to serve this community because of the joy and resilience the women continued to emit, even while experiencing homelessness.
McDaniel was introduced to One Generation Away through a joint mobile food pantry that was initiated by her church. One Generation Away seeks to help families struggling with food anxiety by providing food from local grocery stores. When serving, she helps unload 30,000 pounds of food and sorts through it. With all her dedicated time to the organization, McDaniel has taken on the responsibility of directing over 300 cars of traffic to the food pantry. She has continued to serve the organization in her personal life through her social media platforms, Girl Scout troops, her church youth group and clubs on campus.
“Though these two organizations are different, I believe they called me to help for the same reason. They enable me to help someone directly, an opportunity to exchange a smile or a thank you. They allow me to learn from them and get back more than I give,” McDaniel shared.
Nine years ago, Greg O’Loughlin joined Oasis, a nonprofit that helps young people in Middle Tennessee transition into a successful and content adulthood. He became a volunteer within Oasis’ bike workshop, where young Metro school students can pick out a bike and learn how to both build and maintain it. In 2014, O’Loughlin and manager Dan Furbish wanted to advance the program and launched the Oasis Mountain Bike Team, which coaches kids to practice and compete on bike courses all over the state.
With hundreds of hours of service dedicated to Oasis’ bike workshop, O’Loughlin has acted as not only a teacher, but a mentor to over 120 of the students the organization works with each year in partnership with Nashville schools and community centers. The bike team has continued to be successful with national coverage from media outlet NPR that led to recognition in the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. O’Loughlin’s first public school mountain bike team consisted of eight international Metro Nashville Public School students from El Salvador, Mexico and Egypt. Since then, he has continued to help connect the mountain bike team and the bike workshop to STEM teachers across Nashville schools. As the director of the Educator’s Cooperative, O’Loughlin has also applied his knowledge to go the extra mile for the students by helping bring attention to the bike program across the Nashville area.
O’Loughlin has continued to be a reliable resource for the students he champions alongside students on the mountain bike team. Last year, the Oasis Bike Workshop was granted the Max Barry Fund, which was used to take the mountain bike team to the Appalachian Mountains on a three-day camping trip. With such responsibility and dedication to students, “Greg helped me ensure the children’s safety on some pretty treacherous terrain in a certified wilderness area with no cellphone service and miles from emergency help. My mind was at ease knowing that I could rely on Greg had an emergency occurred,” shared Furbish, co-coach of the mountain bike team.
Kimberly Webb Volunteers with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Kimberly Webb is no stranger to volunteering with children as she has been a mentor, advocate and peer to children at the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for the past decade, serving over 17 children and teens. At home, she continues to serve children as a foster mother who has provided a home and a safe environment for over 20 children.
Eleven years ago, Webb joined the volunteer team at CASA Nashville as a peer coordinator and volunteer advocate and currently serves three additional youth in foster care. As a volunteer who prioritizes the relational aspect of serving, she is known to make children feel individually cared for and heard. Webb’s colleagues have said that she is a dependable and consistent role model to the organization and children as she steps into a gap wherever she can. Her services have no limitation on distance and cost, as she has continued to visit, deliver snacks and spend time with former Nashville-residing children who have grown up and moved to different cities and states.
In 2020, Webb lost her 20-year-old son, David, in an unexpected and tragic accident. Amid her grief, she remained faithful to her commitment to advocacy work to the children of Tennessee. As she is a foster mother and children’s advocacy volunteer, all her services and volunteer work are motivated by her son. Webb further leaned into the volunteer opportunities at CASA even more after the loss of her son by taking on the role of peer coordinator, mentoring new CASA volunteers, continuing to open her home to foster children and working on two cases as a CASA volunteer advocate. “I didn’t expect CASA volunteer work to be so involved when I joined 11 years ago. CASA really makes a difference when a child or teen sees your face. Other adults come in and out of their lives, both family members and professionals; but seeing a face they recognize and trust makes all the difference,” Webb shared.
Lina Londoño Tinsley Volunteers with Conexión Américas
As a global marketing manager and life coach at Conexión Américas, Lina Londoño Tinsley has provided many Latino community members with advice to help them obtain the fulfilling life many strive to achieve. Tinsley has volunteered with members of the adult Latino community and is continuing to help them navigate their business, discover their passions and find their voice.
Conexión Américas is a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for Latino families to succeed, and Tinsley’s work consistently continues to be one of the most highly attended and engaged classes throughout the program, even during virtual classes for the past two years. Tinsley continues to receive rave reviews from her students that exemplify her ability to connect with others authentically as well as impart powerful guidance that leads small-business owners in the right direction. As a mentor who empowers the women of the Latino community, Tinsley has encouraged the community to do the controversial among the community and take risks to pursue their passion. Tinsley has created a bridge between herself and her students by emphasizing the importance of prioritizing mental health within her classes. This holistic approach has granted students the space and environment to fully trust and act on Tinsley’s advice with their small businesses. Tinsley continues to have a huge impact on the members and students of Conexión Américas, specifically on a student who began the Negocio Prospero program at the nonprofit. Tinsley’s guidance and support to the young student helped her create a business model that capitalized on her strength of cooking. The student now owns a successful catering business that Tinsley helped guide her toward not just personally, but professionally.
Carole Purkey Volunteers with WOW Transition House
Carole Purkey started volunteering with Women of Worth (WOW) Recovery Home in 2020. Through her work with WOW, she’s built relationships with many women who are transistioning out of incarceration and are looking for a fresh start, helping them make it to dentist and doctors’ appointments and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to celebrate their sobriety.
WOW aims to serve the needs of women in recovery who are transitioning out of incarceration. Purkey was introduced to the organization through her church, Donelson Church of Christ, and has served as an active board member and volunteer since 2020. She’s spread the word about the organization throughout the community, gaining consistent financial support from several groups and individuals. By advocating for the organization to her church, Purkeyexpanded the capabilities of WOW with a roughly $60,000 property renovation in 2021 that opened the doors to their second recovery house, increasing their capacity from five beds to 11 beds.
“I was introduced to Women of Worth Recovery Home through a class at my church when we began providing dinner for their weekly community meeting,” Purkey said. “After meeting and getting to know them, they have become my friends and have shown me that they just want a second chance.”
Purkey knows each client by name as she volunteers to provide them with transportation to appointments and leads Bible studies with them. Several women even found transportation to her 70th birthday party.
Purkey has shown through her consistent work that she believes in the philosophy, purpose and goals of WOW. “This organization, under the direction of Kristy Pomeroy, gives women who need a support system after incarceration a safe, comfortable and loving environment as they find their path to independence.”
Sunny Fleming Volunteers with Friends of Shelby Park & Bottoms
When Sunny Fleming volunteered with Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms in the summer of 2021, she was able to use her expertise as a national solutions engineer to expand the maintenance capabilities of the nonprofit that maintains the park.
With 1,300 acres of space with varying biomes, the small, dedicated Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms maintenance crew has their work cut out for them in improving and protecting the park. With limited staffing, it was important that they find a way to monitor maintenance needs around the property.
Thanks to Fleming’s knowledge of ArcGIS, a geographical information system, she was able to create and set up a survey that enables park maintenance needs to be easily flagged on a map. She also took the time to train volunteers to use the survey, expediting the maintenance and improvement process.
Several members of the public were mobilized to document areas in the park in need of improvement, and Fleming trained members of the nonprofit to use the program to stay on top of maintenance needs.
Through Fleming’s efforts, Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms can now track their progress on removing invasive species, which trails need maintenance and the urgency of the maintenance. She has volunteered many hours to train members of the nonprofit to use the ArcGIS software, increasing their capacity to maintain the sprawling park grounds for visitors to enjoy.
Susanne Shepherd Post Founder of Shear Haven with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee
As a hair stylist, Susanne Shepherd Post knows how easy it is to be a listening and supportive ear for her clients. As a survivor of domestic violence, she also knows that her job puts her in a position to recognize many of the signs of abuse. Many stylists, however, don’t know what to look for to determine whether their client is a victim of abuse.
Combining her career and her calling, Shepherd Post co-founded the Shear Haven initiative with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee in 2017 to train cosmetologists to recognize their role in identifying and reporting domestic violence. Shepherd Post and YWCA advocated for legislation requiring all licensed beauty professionals in Tennessee to complete a domestic violence education course. Through a unique partnership with the Barbicide company, a short, online video was created and shared at no cost on the Barbicide website, paving the way for the legislation to pass unanimously in the Tennessee Senate and overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives.
Shepherd Post’s work with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee has given the 124-year-old nonprofit a brand-new way to reach and assist women in need. To date, more than 40,000 cosmetologists have completed the Shear Haven training on the Barbicide website, giving them the tools they need to recognize and report domestic abuse. Included in that number are not only cosmetologists from Tennessee, but those stretching to various states and 101 countries. “I am deeply honored to be nominated,” Shepherd Post said. “I am inspired by the work of each of my fellow nominees, and I hope this helps shine a light on the amazing work the YWCA does in our community. Because of my experience as a domestic violence survivor, I feel a calling and a responsibility to spread awareness about the signs of domestic violence. I hope to help open a deeper conversation around the issue and believe that reducing the stigma and sharing resources can help save lives.”
Hispanic Outreach Task Force Volunteers with Hands On Nashville, offers assistance to Latino community in need
In the aftermath of the March 2021 flood, south Nashville was in particular need of disaster relief. While there were many volunteer organizations making recovery efforts at the time, it was quickly realized that a task force of community members who could understand and navigate the cultural nuances of the largely Latino community was needed. This task force consisted of Diane Janbakhsh, Jennifer Novo, Veronica Selcedo, Wendy Silva, Karla Vazaquez and Veronica Zavaleta, all well-known and influential community members. The team immediately crafted a plan to reach members of the Latino community who were in need and let them know that relief was available.
Before the Hispanic Outreach Task Force was assembled, only a handful of Latino residents felt comfortable reaching out for help; after several outreach events and media pushes conducted by the team, over 300 requests for disaster relief from homeowners and renters in the area were received, allowing volunteers to mobilize and help residents. Without this task force, many members of the Latino community in south Nashville would not have had a trusted avenue to reach out for help with disaster recovery. Although the members of the task force didn’t expect any recognition for their work, they are honored to be nominated. “Offering the talents and skills life has given you for the service of others is an honor,” said Marcela Gomez, who was instrumental in assembling the task force. “You don’t volunteer with the mindset that you will get something back; you volunteer because you are grateful to be alive.”
Emergency Support Unit Nashville Office of Emergency Management
During Nashville’s tremendous rainfall and historic flash flooding in March 2021, crews were quickly needed to help rescue residents who had been trapped in dangerous situations. That’s when the Emergency Support Unit (ESU), a team of roughly 30 community members ranging from CEOs to teachers, mobilized. This team volunteered their extensive training to help Nashvillians in need.
When Nashville started flooding, this team, several of whom are trained specifically in flood and swift-water response, put their skills to use and saved dozens of lives. The ESU conducted numerous home, vehicle and high-water rescues. When a Metro Nashville police officer was swept from his vehicle during the night and into rushing, debris-filled, 20-foot-deep water, the ESU team conducted an emergency rescue in the dark, saving the officer’s life.
“ESU volunteers are dedicated to serve their community and its citizens during their time of need during emergency and non-emergency incidents that affect our community,” said a representative from the Office of Emergency Management. “This is a great honor for us.”
Joe Gaines Volunteers with Waverly Flood Survivors and Westminster Presbyterian Church
Joe Gaines has been an active disaster relief volunteer since Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005. He volunteered to help during Nashville’s 2010 flood, and after the 2020 tornadoes in Putnam and Davidson Counties. When flooding devastated Waverly, Tenn., Gaines’s actions were no different – he jumped in to help.
Since the August flooding, Gaines and his team have worked on 12 homes impacted by the storms. His team works on the most severely damaged homes, the ones many other teams walk away from. What makes Gaines’s work special is he recognizes these houses are more than damaged buildings, they’re people’s homes. When on site it’s a priority of his to introduce volunteers to the home owners to show just how important their work is.
“I feel that there is a call to help others in their time of need,” Gaines said. “I also enjoy hands-on labor and the fellowship of my fellow volunteers. My life has been rewarded by seeing the appreciation of those we help.”
Gaines is tireless, and works with a quiet determination and thorough knowledge of his skill set. After the attention has diverted from Waverly and the resources have dwindled, he’s remained dedicated to the flood victims. He continues to gather a crew two days a month to help those who have lost so much, and is often found working long after other volunteers have headed home.
He is the heart of his group, and the motivation to keep everyone positive throughout the day. He says he’s fortunate to work with his fellow members at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and continue their long tradition of service.
Come to the Table Volunteers who founded an initiative to feed the hungry while offering physical, emotional and spiritual support.
Come to the Table Tennessee is a faith-based nonprofit community organization established in January 2019 by Jennifer Ray and Gloria Damron, out of the desire to feed the hungry while offering physical, emotional and spiritual support. Each week, Jennifer and Gloria serve a free hot meal at Damron’s Restaurant to anyone in need — children, the elderly and all ages in between. Since 2019, they have grown Come to the Table by recruiting new volunteers to the cause, who now serve between 95 and 150 guests weekly.
What sets this organization apart is not just feeding the hungry and meeting basic needs. These women and the other volunteers strive to meet emotional needs as well, lending an ear, offering friendship free of judgment, and providing a community where people can eat, talk and laugh – filling a void that too often goes unnoticed in the lives of the hungry. As their colleague explains: “These two ladies are committed to lessening the burden of hunger in our town. There are other food sources in town, but the difference in this one is not only do they strive to feed those who are hungry but they also minister to them through non-judgmental friendship and caring.”
“[Gloria] and I began the ministry in January 2019, hoping to feed the hungry in our community a hot meal one night each week. Together we are making a difference in the lives of 100-plus each week,” Jennifer said. We laugh together, pray together and share life together. It is about more than feeding their bodies; it is about feeding their souls and sharing hope with them.”
Connect Us Outreach Ministry Volunteers: Frank Brooks, Mary Yarbrough, and Evang. Kathy Morrison Volunteers who serve locally to provide food boxes, clothing, and household goods for those in need.
For years, Frank Brooks, Mary Yarbrough and Evang. Kathy Morrison have volunteered at Connect Us Outreach Ministry, a locally owned outreach center that provides hands-on work to make a difference in the lives of those across the Nashville community.
Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Frank, Mary and Kathy have risen above the call of duty, diligently preparing and distributing food boxes, clothing and household goods for those in need, distributing masks and sack lunches to homeless populations throughout the city, and providing necessary supplies to tornado victims. They have embodied Connect Us Outreach Ministry’s core mission each day, treating all whom they serve with grace regardless of religion. For those with needs that outstrip the Ministry’s resources, Frank, Mary and Kathy have worked tirelessly to connect them with the necessary resources through other organizations.
This trio has dedicated their lives to serving the community. This past summer, Frank tragically passed away, a significant loss for the Ministry, his fellow volunteers and the city. In a true testament to his love for this community, Frank spent his last day assisting Kathy and Mary with food box assembly. To this day, Kathy and Mary continue to volunteer with Connect Us, and do so in Frank’s honor and memory.
When asked about her nomination, Mary said, “I was drawn to this Ministry by the work of the director working with women that were homeless, in the jail system, and those in the community that are in need by providing clothing, food boxes and household goods when they find housing.”
Congregation of Alameda Christian Church Volunteers who serve with the Society of St. Andrewto coordinate and facilitate large-scale food distributions for communities in need.
The congregation of Alameda Christian Church has volunteered with the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) for five years, aiding the nonprofit in their efforts to provide healthy food, reduce food waste and forge community bonds by ensuring no one goes hungry.
Alameda has striven to involve as many members of their congregation as possible, from youth groups to deacons. In the last two years, they have hosted three “crop drops,” which are large-scale events to distribute food boxes and thousands of pounds of freshly grown produce to those in need. In addition to hosting, they ensured the event was accessible for all, so that all volunteers, regardless of age or ability, were able to take part in dropping off the food, organizing food bags, and distributing to agencies and others in need. In total, their work to host the last three crop drops increased the amount of food shared in middle Tennessee by 76,000 pounds.
Through their diligence and dedication, Alameda has helped SoSA reach new, underserved areas of the Nashville community.
“We are a small church with a BIG heart. Our members are a diverse, inter-generational team of volunteers with a singular mission to put healthy, fresh, nutritious produce in the hands of those in need in the community,” said Alameda Christian Church representatives about their work. “We are blessed and grateful to volunteer with the Society of St. Andrew to be change agents making a difference in alleviating hunger issues in the community.”
John Bull is a longtime volunteer for Open Table Nashville (OTN), an interfaith, grassroots nonprofit that seeks to disrupt cycles of poverty, journey with the marginalized and provide education about issues of homelessness. Whether on the streets, in the woods, under bridges or in encampments, OTN meets Nashville’s homeless population where they are — and no one exemplifies this more than Bull , who assists with outreach efforts day in and day out. In his daily visits to encampments, Bull acts as the eyes and ears for OTN among the unhoused community, providing the supplies they need to survive outside, communicating when the overflow shelter is open, monitoring flood activity and transporting those in need of medical attention. On their own, these actions are vital to humanizing those impacted by homelessness, a population that has grown substantially over the years in number and need. However, to do it the way Bull does – tirelessly, daily and totally ingrained into his routine – is lifesaving.
Bull ’s efforts extend beyond daily checks. In 2021 and for many years now, he has attended WeGO board meetings, city council meetings and other community meetings to better campaign for accessible resources for the unhoused, the decriminalization of homelessness and affordable housing. He is a one-of-a-kind volunteer who does the direct, daily work while also advocating for sustainable, systemic changes that our city needs.
“John makes a huge difference in so many people’s lives that just need someone to help them access the systems of care that currently are not accessible in our city,” his nominator shared. “They just need someone on their side, and John is this someone for so, so many of our unhoused friends. It is rare to have someone who shows up for our unhoused friends in the capacity he does — always advocating for our friends, never judging, all as an organic, authentic part of his own lifestyle.”
When asked about his nomination, Bull simply said: “We are all in this together.”
Linda McFadyen-Ketchum Volunteers with Moms Demand Action Tennessee
Linda McFadyen-Ketchum has given almost 50 years of volunteer service to the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee. As a full-time volunteer activist for national organization Moms Demand Action, she gives a voice and power to those who are impacted by gun violence. In 2013, McFadyen-Ketchum jump-started the organization of Tennessee’s ‘Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America’ following the Sandy Hook massacre. Through determination and grassroots leadership, Linda helped grow from a Nashville chapter of five moms to a fully-fledged, nationally recognized organization that includes nine local groups statewide.
Since founding the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action, McFadyen-Ketchum has devoted her life to achieving justice and peace for those impacted by gun violence. Her dedication extends to legislative efforts, such as educating lawmakers; testifying before the legislature; establishing a “State Legislative Rapid Response Team” in Middle Tennessee; and coordinating with other statewide organizations serving vulnerable populations affected by gun violence like Tennessee trauma surgeons, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, the NAACP and racial justice organizations, foster care agencies, and suicide prevention organizations. Most importantly, however, Linda lifts up survivors: She invites survivors and families who have lost loved ones to meetings to offer respect and healing.
“Linda’s exceptional volunteer work with Moms Demand Action Tennessee gives a voice and power to those who are impacted by gun violence and gun deaths in our city and state,” a colleague shared. “Many of those victims are African American children and their mothers and families, many deeply in need of a voice for their pain and loss.”
“Many [survivors] don’t have power or resources, and are especially vulnerable in the face of such grief. We lift up survivors by using our power and resources to assist them,” McFadyen-Ketchum said. “I am a survivor of gun violence and a retired public school teacher. The Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012 woke me up to the gun violence epidemic we Americans are living with now. We don’t have to live like this, and I am doing everything I can to save Tennesseans from gun death and injury.”
Veronica Zavaleta Volunteers with Hands On Nashville and Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition
A local and national community organizer and activist, Veronica Zavaleta has availed herself to Nashville’s immigrant community and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients since 2010. Amid changing legislation and uncertainty, she has gone above and beyond the call of duty, helping to coordinate an event to benefit Nashville’s Hispanic community impacted by the flood, recruiting other volunteers and organizing outreach to assist with everything from supplies to paperwork for immigration cases.
Immigration issues hold a personal element for Zavaleta, yet she takes great personal risk each day to fight for the local immigrant community, one which has historically been ignored and underserved. Her selflessness is evident in the breadth and depth of her service — she not only gives her all to uplifting this community, but also recruits others to the same cause, amplifying her impact and maximizing the potential for change. In the words of a colleague, “What sets Veronica apart is that she goes beyond what is being asked of her. She is always an advocate at heart. For Veronica, anybody in need regardless of the reason needs to be addressed, and she ensures that happens.”
“I was called to serve in this world, and if I don’t serve, I don’t know what I would do,” said Zavaleta about her nomination.
We’re so excited to announce the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! 2021 was full of incredible acts of service and responding thoughtfully and creatively to help meet our communities’ needs. Thank you to all the amazing volunteers nominated, and for those who took the time to nominate! Read on for a full list of nominees in each category.
What’s next: We’ll announce the finalists on April 1, and the public will be able to vote for their favorite stories of service between April 1-30.
Save the date for the celebration: Join Hands On Nashville on Friday, May 13, when we’ll announce the award recipients on our website and social channels. Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any important announcements!
Recognizes individuals who provided significant operational or administrative support in 2021 to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization, or developed an innovative approach to significantly improve an existing program.
Susanne Shepherd Post
Group Volunteer Service
Recognizes any group of two or more individuals who volunteered together in 2020 for a specific issue or cause. Some group examples are faith-based, civic, membership, and corporate.
Alamada Christian Church
Blair and Robin Gilley
Catholic Charities Diocese of Nashville – First Impressions Unit
Co-Historians for the Cordell Hull Chapter of the United Nations Association
Come To the Table
Connect Us Outreach Ministry
Cross Point Church
Designed Conveyor Systems, LLC
Dr. Robert Stein’s Group
ELL Teachers: Brian Disney, Karen Disney, Lisa Mosley, Lu Smith, & Paula Stephens
Feeding Music City
Founding Members of the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
Friends Life Community
Greater Nashville Chapter of National Charity League
Keith and Meryl Kraft
Legacy Mission Village
Melissa Kaiser and Chandler Anderson
My Friend’s House
Nashville Angels Volunteer Board Members
Open Hands Nashville
People Loving Nashville
The Greater Nashville Church
Tractor Supply Company
Disaster Relief Volunteer
Recognizes those who made a significant contribution to helping Nashville recover from the tornado, pandemic, or bombing in 2020.
Hispanic Outreach Task Force
Maria Elena Amado
Nashville OEM Emergency Support Unit
Social Justice Impact Volunteer
Recognizes individuals whose volunteer work in 2020 was centered on dismantling or calling out systemic injustice or oppression and lifting up disenfranchised communities.
Amy Hodges Hamilton
Rocio Zenon Honorato
Direct Service Volunteer — Youth
Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2020 to help the community. Volunteers ages 5-20 are eligible for this award.
Sterling Gale Lekki
Sydnee Elizabeth Floyd
Direct Service Volunteer — Adult
Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2020 to help the community. Volunteers ages 21-49 are eligible for this award.
Brittany Parker Short
Kari Leigh Ames
Lina Londoño Tinsley
Walter Enrique Polanco Díaz
Direct Service Volunteer — Older Adult
Recognizes individuals who contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources in 2020 to help the community. Volunteers ages 50 and up are eligible for this award.
Biars Davis, Jr.
Doris Ann Hendrix
Teresa “Terri” Smith
Thank you to our generous Strobel Volunteer Awards sponsors
After a year of significant challenges, we are SO READY to hear some amazing stories of service. We’re very excited to share that the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards will feature fun prizes and categories that honor the unique service of Nashville volunteers.
Plus, the public will get a chance to vote for their favorite story of service!
ACT FAST! The first 25 nominators will receive a $50 giftcard to Hattie B’s!
Award recipients will receive a $1,000 gift card from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and finalists will receive a $250 gift card to donate to the charity of their choice. The public will get a chance to vote on their favorite story of service before the recipients are announced May 13.
The Strobel Volunteer Awards were created to honor the memory of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashville volunteer known for her compassion and generosity. The ceremony, now in its 36th year, has grown to become Middle Tennessee’s largest celebration of service. Learn more here.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 1, 2021) – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 35th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company. Recipients were announced on HON’s website, social media channels, and featured on Lightning 100.
The annual event recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community, and celebrates the life of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian with an outstanding dedication to service. Winners are typically honored during a luncheon at the Music City Center; however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit opted to recognize recipients virtually.
“Last year presented challenges that could only be met by the unbreakable spirit of this community and its volunteers,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “We are so honored to celebrate that incredible spirit and some outstanding individuals through the Strobel Volunteer Awards.”
Community members submitted more than 160 nominations for the 2021 Strobel Volunteer Awards. The public was invited to vote for their favorite stories of service, and a panel of judges selected the recipients, who will receive $1,000 to give to the charity of their choice. Finalists will receive $250 to give to charity.
“Congratulations to all Strobel Awards recipients,” said Aimee DeCamillo, Chief Commercial Officer and President, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC. “This has truly been a shared celebration of service, and we are honored to join Hands On Nashville and others in our community to acknowledge the resilience of volunteers during one of the most challenging years for our city.”
HON introduced two new categories this year — Social Justice Impact Volunteer and Disaster Volunteer — to acknowledge the extraordinary volunteer work that took place in 2020.
The award recipients are as follows:
Direct Service — Youth Volunteer: Sydnee Floyd, Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives
Direct Service — Adult Volunteer: Teaka Jackson, Love Thy Neighbors
Direct Service — Older Adult Volunteer: Dennis Caffrey, Siloam Health
Group Volunteer Service Award: Bridge Builder’s Program, Inc.
Capacity-building Volunteer Award: Corrie Anderson, Community Resource Center
Social Justice Impact Award: Greta McClain, Silent No Longer
Disaster Relief Volunteer Award: Maria Amado, Community Resource Center
About the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards
The Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards are named in memory of the late Mary Catherine Strobel, known for her extensive and charitable efforts toward improving the lives of Middle Tennessee’s homeless, impoverished and less fortunate populations. The annual awards ceremony celebrates her service and recognizes those who continue her legacy. View all nominees for the 2020 awards.
About Hands On Nashville
Hands On Nashville (HON) builds capacity for individuals and agencies to meet needs through service. Its programs connect volunteers to opportunities supporting 140-plus nonprofits, schools and other civic organizations; help these partners reimagine volunteer potential; and bring awareness to the challenges facing the people and places in our community. For more information, visit HON.org or call (615) 298-1108.