Tag Archives: volunteer

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Civic Volunteer Group

This category of the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards recognizes representatives of civic, membership, faith-based or non-corporate groups that volunteer together for a specific cause or issue. 

This year’s finalists are:

Chicktime

Chicktime 

Volunteers at Youth Villages 

During their visits to the Youth Villages Wallace Group Home, Chicktime members spend their time getting to know the girls, providing emotional support, love, and life skills — paired with a little bit of fun.  

There are 10 young women at Wallace Group Home who have been separated from their families by the State of Tennessee and are awaiting reunification or a foster home placement. Each month, Chicktime volunteers visit the girls, and provide all of the supplies, food, and their “chick power” to brighten the girls’ day. Activites range from crafts and poetry, to karaoke nights and visits to local farms.  

“The Chicktime members are dedicated to not just serving foster youth, but they are dedicated to serving teens in the foster care system that have a history of abuse, neglect, and/or trauma, and that do not generally trust or respect adults,” said Julie Abbott, the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator with Youth Villages. “The members come back month after month to a revolving group of youth and continue to shower the girls with love, understanding, and patience.” 

Holly Stewart and Stephanie Mullenax, Co-founders of the Chicktime Nashville chapter, serve to lay the path for everyone who wants to make a difference in children’s lives by bringing women together to serve. 

“We enter these girls’ lives as caring members of the community focused on restoration and just doing what we can to bring a bright spot into their lives,” Stewart says.  

Friends Life Community

Friends Life Community 

Volunteers at FiftyForward 

Every Thursday and Friday, a smiling, energized group from Friends Life Community delivers meals, provides safety checks, and socializes with homebound senior adults through FiftyForward’s Fresh/Meals on Wheels program. 

Through their weekly service, Friends Life Community members are delivering more than food — they’re offering a friendly face, andbuilding a relationship with FiftyForward’s clients. 

Friends Life Community members are teenagers and adults with disabilities who participate in service-learning activities in order tobuild valuable employment skills and share their talents and time with local nonprofits.  

For 80-year-old Alberta, Friday is one of the most exciting days of the week.  

“The beautiful group that delivers my meals on Fridays is a joy in my life,” Alberta said. “I always give them a peppermint and let them know how much I look forward to them delivering my meal each Friday. I’ve even found myself getting up earlier to get dressed nicely so I can spend time talking with them!”  

The consistency and dependability shown by Friends Life Communitymembers gives Meals On Wheels participants an abundance ofjoy and encouragement, as well as show that they are not alone.  

Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy

Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy 

Volunteers at the American Liver Foundation-Mid South Division 

When at the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy (TNVCA) cadets learned what it meant to be a part of the Volunteer State through discipline, structure, education, and service.  

The mission of the TNVCA was to intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth and produce program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens of Tennessee. 

During the 2018 and 2019 Liver Life Walks for the American Liver Foundation (ALF), cadets proved to themselves and to their mentors that they were ready and willing to serve. 

Cadets helped with a variety of tasks, from setup and teardown to parking cars and refilling water stations. One thing most appreciated about these cadets was their willingness to help with a variety of tasks, even things other volunteers didn’t care to do.  

“They are always courteous and willing to do the work, which makde them a delight to have as a volunteer group,” said Teresa Davidson, the National Director of Engagement at ALF-Mid-South.  

Cadets at the TNVCA are not only helping with the Liver Life Walk but learning how to be a part of their community and serve other nonprofits in the future.  

Note: Unfortunately, due to funding restrictions in light of COVID-19, TNVCA has been permanently shuttered. Learn more here. 

Join Hands On Nashville for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards on Sept. 14, 15, and 16.

Volunteer Andrew Befante trims tree debris.

After losing friends in the March 3 tornado, local musician and bartender turns to service to help others

By Ben Piñon HON Disaster Response Coordinator AmeriCorps member

Thousands of Nashvillians rushed to volunteer in the wake of the March 3 tornado. Andrew Benfante wasn’t one of them. 

“I didn’t have the emotional energy to do it,” Benfante says. “Normally I do — I like volunteering, I like helping people, but the time wasn’t right. Then COVID happened and the time really wasn’t right. It was kind of a hectic time for me, so I stayed away from everything.” 

Volunteer Andrew Benfante
removes storm debris from a
home.

Six months and a global pandemic later, Benfante is more than ready. He has now volunteered on four of HON’s debris-removal workdays since cleanup projects resumed in late June. Some days he has worked both the morning and afternoon shifts — cutting apart a mangled fence or moving heavy logs that came down in the storm. All for fellow Nashvillians he’s never met. 

Back in March, Benfante narrowly missed the worst of the damage where he lives in Germantown. He was out of power for four days. But that was just the beginning. The tornado had also taken not only his job, but two of his friends. 

Benfante worked at Attaboy, an East Nashville bar damaged by the tornado, which is still undergoing repairs. It’s also where he met his friends and co-workers, Michael Dolfini and his fiancée, Albree Sexton. They were all hanging out together shortly before the couple lost their lives in the tornado.

“He called her his hippie wife,” Benfante remembers fondly, “they had been together for so long.” 

“It was a tough night,” Benfante recalls, describing the Attaboy staff as a small, tight-knit group. He had left the bar only 30 minutes before the tornado touched down. “Those were some sad phone calls to make in the middle of the night. Calling just to see how everything was going, finding out that it wasn’t going well.”  

Volunteer Andrew Benfante
removes a wheelbarrow full
of storm debris from a home.

Benfante moved to Nashville four years ago. Like many, he came chasing music dreams. Just last year, he walked away from a band he had played with for eight years. Doing so led to a more recent reassessment of several aspects of his own life. Volunteering has been a really healthy part of that process, he says. 

Through his struggles over the past few months — navigating a pandemic, scraping by on unemployment, grieving friends — Benfante remains grateful for what he has to give.  

“I feel like if I have the time that others may not, I should freely give that time to the community while I’m being taken care of, at least temporarily,” he says. 

Giving back has left Benfante hopeful and inspired, humbled undoubtedly by the way he’s seen the Nashville community persevere in the face of tremendous challenges. 

“I think the less afraid we are of new things, of change, and each other… I think the more we trust each other, trust that everything balances out when it’s all said and done, the more joy we can find together as a community,” he says. “That’s most apparent to me right now in the kind of volunteer work that Hands On Nashville does. I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

Visit hon.org to find volunteer projects that meet critical needs in our community.

Sponsor spotlight: Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group

When a tornado devastated parts of Nashville on March 3, 2020, leaders at the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group knew they wanted to do something big to help with the recovery effort. The company donated $120,000 — its largest ever one-time gift — to Hands On Nashville to support its mission to meet community needs through volunteerism. 

“We have been following along with Hands On Nashville’s efforts for years,” says John Gallagher, Vice President and Executive General Manager of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group. “And knowing that recovery from the devastating tornados would take months — if not years —we knew it would require lots of volunteer hours. Hands On Nashville seemed like the perfect fit for our donation.” 

The donation directly supports ongoing tornado-relief efforts, including paying for supplies and staff salaries spent on disaster-recovery activities. 

“The support from the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group is a game-changer for our tornado-relief efforts,” says HON President and CEO Lori Shinton. “Those funds are going directly to recruit and manage volunteers who are doing the important work of helping people put their lives back together after a major disaster.” 

For more than 25 years, Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group has had an active role supporting Middle Tennessee charities.  

From being the first corporation to enroll in Waves Office Recycling Program, to assisting those who lost their vehicles in the 2010 flood, to now supplying personal protective equipment to Williamson Medical Center – DWAG aims to be a company that cares about helping others.  

Gallagher says the company focuses much of its outreach and resources into two major programs, Hometown Heroes and Darrell Waltrip Automotive’s Drive Away Hunger Challenge

Hometown Heroes is a program honoring those who have shown a commitment to serving others and making a difference in their community. Community members nominate individuals, and each month a new hero is selected by DWAG, which makes a $500 donation to the charity of that hero’s choice.  

Volunteers of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group participate in a breast cancer awareness fundraiser.

“One thing we learned through our Hometown Heroes event is just how many amazing people are at work in our communities, and how they are making a difference in big ways,” Gallagher says.  

This spring DWAG had planned to celebrate their 100th hero, but, due to COVID-19, plans have been tentatively postponed until May 2021.  

The company created Drive Away Hunger in 2013 as a fundraising event partnering with Williamson County high schools and GraceWorks. Through Drive Away Hunger, hundreds of thousands of pounds of food have been collected and donated to food pantries throughout Williamson County. The initiative has since expanded to include the Franklin Special School District and Williamson County elementary and middle schools.  

“We are so proud of all we have done in the community, and thankful for our customers who make it all possible,” Gallagher said.  

The automotive group’s first dealership – Darrell Waltrip Honda – opened in 1986. Since then, they’ve opened three more dealerships across Middle Tennessee.  

For more information about Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group’s history of service, click here

Darrell Waltrip Automotive – Disaster Relief Donation To Hands On Nashville

Darrell Waltrip Cares logo

Project Connect continues efforts to feed hungry families in North Nashville

When a tornado touched down March 3 and left a 60-mile path of devastation through Middle Tennessee,  Project Connect Nashville knew what it had to do: Serve hot meals to North Nashville residents whose neighborhoods had been badly damaged.

The day after the storm, PCN — whose mission is to build relationships with individuals stuck in a cycle of poverty and connect them to the faith community, living wage jobs, and stable housing — established a central command for recovery, food, and supplies distribution.

PCN employees Quanita Thomas and the Rev. Ella Clay were essential in startup operations. Clay offered the church at which she pastors, the Historic First Community Church at 1815 Knowles St., and Thomas assisted with making connections in the neighborhood, helping even though her own home was damaged by the storm.

PC_6
Volunteers feed those in North Nashville following the March 3 tornado. [Project Connect Nashville]
Volunteers immediately began tracking of the needs of the neighborhood’s residents: Who lived where, how many meals each house needed, and even whether a home had names to add to their ongoing prayer list. The first two weeks after the storm were the most demanding because many of the homes did not have power, said Laura Ingram, PCN’s North Nashville Location Manager.

“We have about 400 addresses of people who we try to feed multiple times a week,” Ingram said. Those residents include families and those whose mobility is limited, such as seniors and individuals with disabilities, who otherwise would not have been able to access food in the wake of the disaster.

PCN, in partnership with Just the Crumbs — a faith-based mobile food unit from Columbia, Miss. — now serves and delivers meals five days a week, and offers essential resources to the community two hours a day at its North Nashville Resource Center at 1811 Knowles Street.

PC_4 (1)
Just The Crumbs is a disaster relief ministry that has been aiding PCN with food distribution efforts in North Nashville. [Project Connect Nashville]
When COVID-19 got a foothold in Middle Tennessee two weeks after the tornado and more people began staying at home, Ingram says PCN’s volunteer numbers began to dwindle. But she and her colleagues continued their efforts.

“Serving people food was something we really felt we needed to keep doing as it’s too risky for the elderly and disabled to get out and shop for fresh foods,” Ingram says.

As a precaution, PCN is limiting volunteer groups to six people, who are asked to maintain a safe distance when delivering meals. The organization provides gloves, and volunteers are asked to bring their own masks if possible.

“These volunteers are invaluable to us because PCN feels it does take a village to love this wide variety of people and neighborhoods,” Ingram says. “It’s something we can’t do alone, but together we are able to check on everybody and make sure no one is falling through the cracks.”

The idea for Project Connect Nashville was birthed out of the 2010 flood, when PCN’s executive director, Alan Murdock, coordinated recovery in partnership with the East Nashville community through his garden center in Five Points. The organization has now opened campuses in South and North Nashville, and offers classes to provide knowledge, skills, and encouragement, while offering a faith community to support individuals through life’s joys and struggles.

To volunteer with Project Connect Nashville, sign up here. For a list of needed donations, click here.

For the Community Resource Center, volunteers are key to meeting critical needs

The days since a tornado tore through Middle Tennessee just over a month ago have been long and exhausting for Tina Doniger and Maria Amado, who serve as the executive director and board chair, respectively, of the Community Resource Center. The CRC, which regularly supplies basic essentials to agencies serving vulnerable populations in more than 24 counties, was activated following the storm to serve as Metro Nashville’s collection and distribution point for donations deployed to survivors throughout the region.

For Doniger and Amado, even though the days sometimes blur together, it’s the acts of kindness and generosity that stand out.

Amado shares the story of Levi, a 3-year-old boy who came to the center with his grandmother to drop off donations.

“Levi is about 3 and a half, 4 years old, and he is sucking his thumb,” Amado recalls, retrieving a sandwich bag of coins and dollar bills from across the room. “And he had emptied out his piggy bank. For the kids who lost their homes.”

89606135_10156553595441442_4762251259539357696_o
Joe Pollard, left, hands the keys of his newly donated truck to the Community Resource Center’s Maria Amado, center, and Tina Doniger, right.

Then there’s Joe Pollard, president of the Bank of Odessa, Mo., who, upon realizing the CRC didn’t have a box truck of their own, donated the one he had driven down to donate supplies. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that left Doniger and Amado speechless.

The stories of generosity add up — volunteers who came for two hours and stayed for two weeks, those who took time off from their own jobs to volunteer, those who donated knowledge and skills to help the CRC expand its reach — and take the shape of a community pulling together to make an impact far greater than could have been made by one or two individuals.

As COVID-19 sent shock waves through the region, complicating tornado relief efforts and compounding community needs, Doniger says the CRC has continued to evolve its disaster response to meet those rapidly shifting needs.

“The service we provide is essential for people moving forward,” says Doniger — who is the CRC’s sole paid employee. “There’s now even more added pressure on the people who have been serving, and more added pressure on us to find people to help.”

Keeping volunteers healthy is top of mind for Doniger, who says she provides every safety measure she can for volunteers. She provides gloves, masks, and disinfectant. Within the warehouse, volunteers stay apart, sorting their donations on their respective shelves. Donation drop-offs are now conducted without any person-to-person contact.

“The only way to keep going is for people to help us do the work,” Doniger said. “If we don’t continue doing what we do, we won’t be prepared to service the people. As long as we are healthy, and we can open this door, we are going to serve people no matter what.”

To aid the CRC in its mission of serving those in need, sign up to volunteer here.

A day on, not a day off: Spend your MLK Day helping others

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20 marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Below we’ve rounded up a list of MLK Day service projects led by HON AmeriCorps members. (To view a full list of HON’s January opportunities, click here.)

If you serve on MLK Day, we want to know! Share your stories on social media using the hashtags #MLKDay and #DayON25.

Pick up litter to keep waterways clean
Richland Creek Watershed Alliance
Minimum age: 18, or 12 with an adult
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Collect your free, reusable #grabthelitter bag and volunteer with Richland Creek Watershed Alliance (RCWA) and pick up litter along the Richland Creek Greenway or in your local neighborhood. Learn how to prevent litter from washing into local streams, creeks, and rivers, and reuse your #grabthelitter bag to continue volunteering all year long.

Assemble furniture for McGruder Family Resource Center
Hands On Nashville
Minimum age: 18
When: 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 20

Build lounge and rocking chairs, side tables, and storage units to help McGruder Family Resource Center spruce up their patio and computer lab areas. These items will allow for easy organization of supplies and offer families that frequent McGruder comfortable places to relax and work. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes and dress comfortably.

Plant a tree and beautify an assisted living center
Cumberland River Compact
Minimum age: 18 or 1 with an adult
When: 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 20

Get ready to get a little dirty and plant some trees with the Cumberland River Compact. Gloves, tools and snacks will be provided. Volunteers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes and bring reusable water bottles.

Round up and recycle with Oak Hill residents
Tennessee Environmental Council
Minimum age: 18 or 12 with an adult
When: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Help educate and assist residents of Oak Hill in recycling at The Tennessee Environmental Council’s recycle round up. Residents will learn about their community’s recycling policies and help residents sort their hard-to-recycle materials (like computers, clothes, and phones.) Volunteers will monitor the recycling and composting stations, and help participants unload recyclables from their vehicles.

Provide shade and filter pollution by planting trees
Nashville Tree Foundation
Minimum age: 16 or 6 with an adult
When: 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18

Trees are being planted at three different Metro Nashville Public School locations in East Nashville. (See the separate registration pages in the link above!) This event is an annual, family-friendly tree planting with the Nashville Tree Foundation. These trees make Nashville a greener community by creating an oxygen-rich environment, and reducing flooding by absorbing great amounts of ground water.

Donate needed items for young adults experiencing homelessness
Hands On Nashville
Minimum age: 18 or 1 with an adult
When: Ongoing though Jan. 17

It only takes a few minutes, but donating electronics, art supplies, personal care items, bottled water, and gift cards can have a big impact for those served by Nashville Launch Pad. Items can be donated at the Hands On Nashville office, 37 Peabody St., before Jan. 18. Read the full list of requested items here.

 

 

Resolve to Serve Stories: Shower The People

JohnSabo
John Sabo has been volunteering with Shower The People for a little over a year.

Every week, John Sabo drives across town and parks next to a big white bus. He packs bags of dirty towels into his car, brings them home, and plans when in his schedule he’ll fit four loads of laundry.

Sabo returns the clean, dried, and folded towels to the team at Shower The People, a nonprofit whose retrofitted retired school bus acts as a mobile shower facility for people experiencing homelessness. Sabo picks up another batch of towels, takes them home, and begins the wash cycle all over again. 

“I think it’s a necessity,” he says. “I might not be able to change the world, but I can change one situation.”   

shower the people logo

Sabo describes homelessness as a “challenging and lonely lifestyle.” His son, who experienced homelessness, died four years ago. To honor his son’s memory, Sabo dedicates time to multiple nonprofits that provide aid to people struggling with hunger and housing instability.

“John has been such an amazing blessing to our organization,” says Meredith MacLeod Jaulin, Shower the People’s Chief Administrator. “Our volunteers understand how much of a difference being clean and taking a shower can be to an individual.” 

Jaulin says those who utilize Shower The People’s mobile facilities often experience a renewed sense of dignity and self-worth. Access to better hygiene can also open doors to job opportunities and housing.

She adds that, without volunteers like Sabo, keeping operations running smoothly would be difficult.  

shower the people
Shower The People converted an old school bus into a mobile showering unit to aid people experiencing homelessness.

“My philosophy is that there are some people on the front line, like Shower The

People, that have direct contact with these individuals in need,” Sabo says, “and there are other people behind the scenes to make sure things work so the frontline people can do their jobs.” 

Sabo works closely with Jaulin to coordinate schedules, and between driving, washing, drying, and folding, Sabo gives as many as seven hours of his week to the organization.  

“It’s worth the effort to help other people,” he says. “I would just say look at what you have, then look at what other people don’t have, and see if you can make the world a little bit better place just by helping out.”   

Interested in volunteering with Shower The People? Check out their available volunteer opportunities here.

shower the people 2
Young volunteers pose for a photo after volunteering with Shower The People.

 Photos courtesy of Shower The People.

Check out these family-friendly Fall Break volunteer opportunities

fall break opps

Whether you’re a college student home for Fall Break, or a parent looking for a wholesome (and free!) way for your kiddos to pass the time, we’re here to connect you to volunteer opportunities at lots of great Nashville organizations. The opportunities highlighted below fall between Oct. 5-13, but many agencies have opportunities available all season long. Click the title of each opportunity to learn more and sign up.

Also: look for ways to give back to your community year-round on our calendar.

1. Learn to garden while prepping for the upcoming harvest

Bellevue Edible Learning Lab Inc.
Minimum age: 16, or 4 with an adult
When: Saturdays, Oct. 5 and Oct. 12

The Bell Garden serves as a teaching and learning lab for volunteers, students of Bellevue Middle Prep, and the community. Volunteers can do a variety of things, including sow seeds and harvest plants, water and weed, work in the greenhouse, tend the chicken flock, and can and preserve fruits and veggies. The garden runs on volunteer power, and no experience is necessary.

2. Serve meals to nourish those in need

St. John’s United Methodist Church
Minimum age: 18, or 13 with an adult
When: Thursday, Oct. 10

Thursday Night Community Meals at St. Johns UMC offer free, nutritious meals in a safe, friendly, and caring environment to a diverse group of clients at risk of hunger and some experiencing homelessness. Volunteers help with last-minute preparations, serving the meal, helping clean up, and socializing with diners.

3. Maintain a Nashville treasure while learning about history

The Nashville City Cemetery Association
Minimum age: 18, or 16 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 12

Enjoy the peacefulness of the Nashville City Cemetery while working to restore the grounds and prepare for winter. By clearing brush, weeding, and raking leaves, volunteers will help preserve a historical landmark, and show respect to an important piece of Nashville history. The Nashville City Cemetery Association, Inc., was formed in 1998 to protect, preserve, restore, and raise public awareness of the Nashville City Cemetery. Bring drinking water, gloves, and any gardening tools you have!

4. Take tickets at the Nashville Film Festival

The Nashville Film Festival
Minimum age: 16
When: Thursday, Oct. 3, through Saturday, Oct. 12

Lights, camera, action! The Nashville Film Festival is casting A-list volunteers to assist at its annual festival. Volunteers will usher guests to their seats, collect and distribute ballots for film judging, set up and tear down, check credentials for VIP areas and ticketed events, and provide light cleaning of theaters and VIP areas. Plus: Volunteers receive festival vouchers.

 5. Feed and socialize with school-aged children

Martha O’Bryan Center
Minimum age: 18, or 12 with an adult
When: Mondays, Oct. 7 through Nov. 18

Interact with children and families while serving a hot meal to those in the middle of a food desert. Martha O’Bryan’s Family Resource Center hosts Kid’s Café every Monday for those in need. Volunteers will help set up, serve food, and try and make the community comfortable while they share a meal together.

6. Advocate for recycling at the Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party

Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party
Minimum age: 15, or 12 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 5

Help make the Pickin’ Party waste free by assisting attendees in correctly sorting their food waste into the compost bin, and all recyclables into the recycling bin. With volunteers’ help,  80 percent of waste can be recycled into new materials. Training will be provided prior to the event. The Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party combines the tastes and talents of East Nashville to help preserve one of the city’s most unique landmarks, the Cornelia Fort AirPark.

7. Cheer on cyclists with Bike MS

Bike MS
Minimum age: 12
When: Saturday, Oct. 5

Smiling faces and encouragement are needed for the Bike to Jack & Back bicycle ride. Volunteers will also help with setup, teardown, and food service. Bike MS is the fundraising cycling series of the National MS Society, and to date, has raised more than $1.3 billion to end Multiple Sclerosis.

8. Offer support at the Nashville AIDS Walk

Nashville CARES
Minimum age: 18, or 5 with an adult
When: Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5

Offering a full day of activities, the 28th annual Nashville AIDS Walk needs event volunteers. In addition to celebrating the amazing work of Nashville CARES, volunteers are asked to help set up, register walkers, hand out water, and offer assistance as hundreds of supporters come out to bring awareness to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Middle Tennessee. The Nashville AIDS walk is a family-friendly event that has raised more than $3 million for the cause. Pre-registered volunteers receive a T-shirt and lunch.

9. Create crafts with The Family Center

The Family Center
Minimum age: 18, or 1 with an adult
When: Saturday, Oct. 5

Grab your glitter and start crafting with The Family Center to make calm-down bottles for their clients. Volunteers will fill bottles with water and glitter to act as a calming mechanism. The Family Center works to break multi-generational cycles of child abuse, neglect, and trauma by providing a safe, supportive space where parents and/or their children can connect and grow.

 

HON Community Partners: Do YOU have family-friendly volunteer opportunities during Fall Break (Oct. 5-13) that aren’t featured here? Let us know so we can add them!

Resolve to Serve Stories: Nonprofit Committee Opportunities

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at a nonprofit.

Fundraising, marketing, programming, outreach — all fueling the important business of serving clients and meeting needs in the community.

To make it all work, some Nashville nonprofits look to volunteers for help as committee members. These folks get a seat at the table — literally — to carve out the direction of the nonprofit and its programs.

Mary Margaret Randall, CEO of One Voice Nashville, says committee volunteers are crucial to OVN’s success and growth.

“We’re just two years old as a nonprofit,” Randall says. “The committees really do help expand our reach. They help us think through strategically how we can grow as an organization.”

Randall notes that many people with nine-to-five job commitments find committee membership works well with their schedule. OVN committees meet once a month for an hour, then individuals can work independently on assignments between meetings.

Jim Hawk, Executive Director of Neighbor 2 Neighbor, says his organization is similarly looking for volunteers who can move his agency and its programming forward through independent — but collaborative — committee work. This is especially true for their Marketing & Fundraising Committee and Good Neighbor Day Festival Committees.

“For people who are entrepreneurial, the sky is the limit,” Hawk says. “We’ve had people just blow their component out of the water and after they’re done, we’re like, ‘Wow! We never knew it could be this good,’ because they took it to the next level.”

Valeri Otey-Nellis, Leadership Development Specialist at N2N, says joining a committee is a great way to meet people in the city whose paths you otherwise might not cross.

“[You] get an opportunity to interact with neighborhood folks from around the city,” she says. “The network is really positive.”

Hawk agrees: “One of the things about our community is that we’re pretty diverse. You’re going to meet people who aren’t like you.”

One Voice Nashville and N2N are currently looking for volunteers to join committees, as are other Nashville nonprofits. Throughout the year, HON’s Community Partners post committee slots as they come open. Assignments include fundraising, marketing, event planning, strategy, and more. For some nonprofits, committee membership is a pathway to joining the organization’s board of directors.

Click here to see where you could make an impact as part of a nonprofit committee.

One Voice Nashville builds bridges and closes gaps by valuing all voices through storytelling and narrative journalism. To see all available OVN volunteer opportunities, click here.

Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s mission is to equip residents and neighborhood organizations with the tools they need to build safer and more vibrant neighborhoods. To see all available N2N volunteer opportunities, click here.

Resolve to Serve Stories: Hope Lodge

Tangerine Zielinski is dressed in pink — bright pink. 

Bright pink wide-brimmed hat with lace. Bright pink glasses with pink lenses. Bright pink patterned tunic. She stands in dazzling contrast to the drizzly, gray October day outside. 

“By dressing up, it seems to brighten up people’s days one way or another somehow,” she says. 

Zielinski is a 14-year volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Nashville Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge, located just outside downtown, provides a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers while they are in town receiving treatment. The Hope Lodge provides lodging, transportation, and activities for its guests free of charge. Volunteer groups provide meals throughout the month. 

Zielinski got started as a volunteer at the Hope Lodge when the facility opened in 2004. She says her own battle with lymphoma of the intestines in 2001 led her to want to volunteer with cancer patients.  

“Cancer … awakened me to the value of life,” she says. “Having been through cancer, I know how rough it can be. I know what it can do to you and your body. I know some of the emotional sides to it.” 

Zielinski says it’s important to make guests feel as relaxed as possible while they’re staying at the Hope Lodge. As a shuttle driver, she takes guests to and from appointments at hospitals, treatment centers, and imaging centers. When there’s time, she says, she will take them to the grocery store. 

When a guest gets into her shuttle, Zielinski will often ask what kind of music they’d like to hear. She keeps nearly 3,000 songs on her phone. 

“To get their minds off of cancer for but even a few minutes is, for me, very gratifying,” she says. “It makes my heart sing when I hear them hum in the backseat or sing along with a song.” 

Michele Ryan, senior manager of the Hope Lodge, says that volunteer shuttle drivers are a crucial part of making a Hope Lodge guest’s stay more comfortable, as many of them come from out of town and are unfamiliar with how to get around Nashville. 

“After a long day of treatment,” Ryan says, “no one wants to tackle traffic. They just want a comfortable and safe ride back.” 

Zielinski says that throughout her 14 years as a Hope Lodge volunteer, what has really sustained her is knowing that she’s having an impact in the lives of people going through the most difficult challenge of their lives. 

“Just to see the gratefulness that comes from the guests that come through the Hope Lodge is what really keeps me coming back,” she says.   

The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge program mission is to provide a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. Browse all volunteer opportunities with the Hope Lodge here 

hope lodge volunteers
photos provided by Hope Lodge