Tag Archives: volunteering

NIC Inc. specialists assist Alive Hospice in increasing capacity for health care students

GeekCause matches Nashville’s most talented techies with community partners in need of their services. From tech consultation to solution implementation, GeekCause provides a low-cost platform for agencies to solve tech-based challenges through the support of skilled volunteers. The HON team periodically shares GeekCause project highlights to help show how skilled volunteers are having an impact in the community. 

Alive Hospice is a Middle Tennessee-based nonprofit that provides compassionate end-of-life care, palliative care, bereavement support, and community education. Each year, they engage hundreds of college students studying healthcare to help them learn about end-of-life care and gain real-life work experience.  

Prior to this year, members of the Alive team manually scheduled and tracked students’ progress within their Institute, and spent weeks compiling student data at the end of each semester. 

But they knew there had to be a better way. So they reached out to GeekCause to see if  skilled volunteers could help them find a solution. 

GeekCause paired Alive with volunteers from NIC Inc., the nation’s largest provider of government websites and digital services. NIC volunteers brought expansive knowledge of data storage and management solutions to the table — a great fit for Alive’s needs.  

The team of volunteers worked with the hospice provider to envision a solution for registering students and creating an all-in-one platform for them to enroll and assist with a variety of roles within the company. 

The registration portal feeds into a database that stores students’ data, allowing them to sign agreement forms virtually, sign up for shifts, and log other relevant information in the database. Volunteers were able to build a cloud-based storage system, which Alive can maintain for a low monthly fee. 

“With our complex needs, they were able to deliver an automated student onboarding platform that we’ll start using for fall registrations,” says Debbra Warden, Director of Contracting, Quality and Data Analytics at Alive Hospice. “The GeekCause team was wonderful to work with and accommodated our multiple requests for changes while we worked through our needs. They did everything with a smile every single time.” 

Deb Kilpatrick, a Project Manager with NIC Inc., led the volunteer team through the project. She and her team are proud of what they have been able to accomplish despite this year’s challenging circumstances.  

“We’re really just grateful the MSP (Microservice Platform) team had the opportunity to give back to our community,” Kilpatrick says. “Alive Hospice does so much to support those in unimaginable situations, and they handle themselves with such care and grace. We sincerely hope the effort our team has provided is a benefit and helps to simplify scheduling student experiences so they can focus on what they do best.” 

By tracking students’ progress through the Alive Institute, Alive staff will be able to more easily give educated, informative feedback to students’ professors, and use their data to apply for future funding opportunities. 

More about the Alive Hospice Institute 

Currently, Alive Hospice offers observational experiences for students enrolled in professional health care programs at Belmont University, Lipscomb University, Meharry Medical College, Middle Tennessee State University, Motlow Community College, Vanderbilt University, and University of Tennessee. 

While working with the Institute, students are under the direct supervision of a health care professional at Alive Hospice. This provides students the opportunity to begin understanding how Alive provides care to those with life-threatening illnesses, supporting patients’ families, and how Alive Hospice provides service to the community in a spirit of enriching lives. 

Did you know? Skilled tech volunteers have contributed 1,368 hours of service so far this year and provided the equivalent of $144,000 in services and support to our community partners! 🤯🤯🤯 

Could your nonprofit use some tech help? Does your tech-savvy work team want to give back to the community? Learn more about GeekCause here. 

How to request HON assistance with debris cleanup

Earlier this year, tornado cleanup efforts were paused in light of recommendations to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many residential areas affected by the tornado are still dealing with debris cleanup needs. We want to do our part in alleviating some of that unwanted waste, with the help of volunteers!

If you’re still dealing with fallen trees and debris on your property from the March 3 tornado, volunteers may be able to help you clear the debris and get it to the curb for city pickup! Visit hubNashville online or via the hubNashville app to report the debris and a Hands On Nashville team member will reach out for more details. Got questions? Email us at hon@hon.org

As an added resource, if you were affected by the Middle Tennessee tornado and require further assistance beyond debris cleanup, call the Tornado Recovery Connection at (615) 270-9255.

Survey shows volunteers want to help, but are concerned about exposure to COVID-19

In June, Hands On Nashville invited community members to take a survey gauging their thoughts and attitudes toward volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope was to get a clearer picture of how volunteers felt about weighing the risks of volunteering against the expanding needs in our community, so that we can work with our nonprofit partners to carve out safe and impactful ways volunteers can help Nashville get through this tough time.

Thank you to everyone who took the survey and shared their thoughts with us! 

The survey was completed by 223 individuals, the majority of whom identify as having volunteered through HON before.

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Respondents indicate an increased desire to volunteer in part because of events including the March 3 tornado. However, more than half of respondents also report worrying that volunteering will increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Respondents also report that they don’t necessarily have more time to volunteer now than they did earlier in the year, before the tornado and pandemic hit. A solid majority indicated they would volunteer more once the pandemic was over.

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We asked respondents to evaluate a handful of volunteer scenarios and and gauge their comfort levels with each. Overall they reported greater comfort levels with outdoor projects and projects capped at 10 people. Their comfort levels fell the larger the project attendance grew. Respondents also report feeling much more comfortable volunteering at a project where all the other volunteers are known, as opposed to volunteering with a group of strangers. (To create a volunteer team that can sign up for projects together, click here.)

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We asked respondents to share any additional thoughts they had on volunteering during the pandemic, and several respondents replied that they are in a high-risk category — either through their age, their baseline health status, or both — and do not feel comfortable volunteering. A good portion of Nashville’s volunteer base is retirement age, so we anticipate this consideration is having a substantial impact on the number of overall volunteers serving at this time. Some respondents also replied that they are a caretaker for someone in a high-risk category, and do not want to expose themselves for fear of transmitting the virus to the high-risk person in their care.

Several respondents also commented about how they would prefer to volunteer remotely — from home or delivering things in their car — during this time. (To see a roundup of virtual volunteer projects, click here.)

Some other comments:

I’m more than willing to volunteer as long as I am protected and those around me are as well. If proper guidelines are being followed and there aren’t a mass of people on top of each other, I would also feel comfortable.

I would absolutely love to help, but until the pandemic is over, I am extremely uncomfortable participating in any volunteering event where I’d be in close proximity to anyone else, especially if they aren’t required to wear a mask at all times.

I, like many, am unsure of what to do. Really want to volunteer, but unsure if bringing myself into a scenario will put others at risk. Also, unsure if I will need to limit my exposure to my workplace or to family, etc. as a result.

There is no question that fear of COVID-19 is limiting my willingness to volunteer these days though I have made some food deliveries and done a few solo clean-up projects.

I am reluctant to be around individuals I do not know. I am learning more and more that many people are being quite cavalier about their exposure to COVID-19.

I have less time with kids home and a son with a mild heart condition. So, I can possibly do things out of my house or where I can run around in my car (with some of my kids possibly). My kids would like to help as well, just worry about Covid right now.

Local software company Acklen Avenue volunteers time to develop Nashville Launch Pad app

GeekCause matches Nashville’s most talented techies with community partners in need of their services. From tech consultation to solution implementation, GeekCause provides a low-cost platform for agencies to solve tech-based challenges through the support of skilled volunteers. The HON team periodically shares fun GeekCause project highlights to help show how skilled volunteers are having an impact in the community. 

Nashville Launch Pad, an LGBTQ-affirming shelter for young adults experiencing homelessness, came to GeekCause looking for an easy way for guests to make reservations online and to begin collecting data about their visitors’ needs.

After a consultation with the GeekCause team, the nonprofit was paired with Acklen Avenue, a local software development company with a heart for service.

“Acklen Avenue treated us as they would the highest of high-end clients,” says Nashville Launch Pad Executive Director Ty Brown. “No question was unimportant, no detail too small. Everyone was friendly and able to make an extremely complex process feel simple and even fun.”

After Launch Pad and Acklen connected, the volunteer team began by assessing the nonprofit’s needs, formulating a plan, and then set to work creating a solution. The app launched in December, and volunteers have continued to make adjustments to the app as needed.

“The experience with Launch Pad was extraordinary,” says Rony Vidaur, a software engineer at Acklen. “Working on the project felt good not only because it was something we were all interested in creating, but also because we knew the project was going to be open-source, meaning our work had the potential to reach an even greater number of people.”

The AA team showed a phenomenal level of commitment to the project, Brown said. Now, it takes only a few minutes to show volunteers and clients how to use the app, and to utilize the data to continue serving clients to the best of Launch Pad’s ability.

Could your nonprofit use some tech help? Does your tech-savvy work team want to give back to the community? Learn more about GeekCause here.

Show of Hands Week Day 6: Virtual Volunteering

Between May 1-7, Hands On Nashville will highlight ways to stay connected and serve your neighbors even as our community honors social distancing guidelines. Check back here and on our social media channels to join in our #ShowOfHandsWeek: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

For Nashville’s nonprofit organizations, it has become increasingly important to continue meeting community needs while supporting volunteers and keeping them as safe and healthy as possible. Many organizations have come up with creative ways people can volunteer from the comfort of their own homes.

TODAY’S ACTIVITIES (MAY 6): Find a Virtual Volunteer Opportunity

These activities support organizations working to meet the needs of their communities here and afar through virtual volunteerism.

#ShowOfHandsWeek Activities

FRIDAY, MAY 1: Raise your hand and tell us why you choose to be a helper

SATURDAY, MAY 2: Sign up to serve as a volunteer in May

SUNDAY, MAY 3: Bring color and hope to a neighbor with flowers 

MONDAY, MAY 4: Join the local mask-making effort

TUESDAY, MAY 5: Give thanks for those on the front lines

TODAY: Find a virtual volunteer opportunity

THURSDAY, MAY 7: Support volunteerism and Hands On Nashville via The Big Payback

 

Show Of Hands Week Day 2: Help us fill 100% of volunteer projects this month

Between May 1-7, Hands On Nashville will highlight ways to stay connected and serve your neighbors even as our community honors social distancing guidelines. Check back here and on our social media channels to join in our #ShowOfHandsWeek

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the Nashville flood. We had hoped to commemorate this important milestone with Hands On Nashville Day, a day for thousands of volunteers across the city to come together to work on projects that addressed disaster preparedness and ongoing community needs, many of which had been born out of those tumultuous waters.

Then the tornado hit.

Then COVID-19.

So today, even though we can’t gather for HON Day as we had hoped, there are still thousands of volunteers needed right now to meet urgent needs in our city. Will you lend your helping hands to fill every volunteer spot during the month of May?  

It is through serving others that we as a community can heal from profound disasters — be it the disaster of 10 years ago, two months ago, or the kind that’s affecting many of us every day in our current situation. While circumstances are undeniably difficult, we know it’s more important than ever to do whatever we can to help our neighbors. Many of our neighbors need so much.

TODAY’S ACTIVITIES (MAY 2): Sign Up and Serve

The countdown starts now: Help us fill every available volunteer opportunity for the month of May today.

☞ ☞ ☞Click here to see a roundup this month’s volunteer opportunities on hon.org.   

Curious about volunteering in light of Nashville’s Safer At Home order? Volunteer Tennessee has put together some helpful guidelines here, and HON is working with our partners to ensure that volunteer projects meet public health and safety requirements.

#ShowOfHandsWeek Activities

Join the #ShowOfHandsWeek conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

FRIDAY, MAY 1: Raise your hand and tell us why you choose to be a helper

TODAY: Sign up to serve as a volunteer in May

SUNDAY, MAY 3: Bring color and hope to a neighbor with flowers

MONDAY, MAY 4: Join the local mask-making effort

TUESDAY, MAY 5: Give thanks for those on the front lines

WEDNESDAY, MAY 6: Find a virtual volunteer opportunity

THURSDAY, MAY 7: Support volunteerism and Hands On Nashville via The Big Payback

Check out these family-friendly Fall Break volunteer opportunities

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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.

Please Join us in Welcoming our Newest Team Members!

Over the last few months, we’ve welcomed three new AmeriCorps members to the Hands On Nashville team! Charlotte, Nicholas, and Ashleigh will all play leading roles in supporting Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC), which offers year-round service-learning opportunities to inspire and empower youth ages 11 to 18 to create meaningful community change. Continue reading Please Join us in Welcoming our Newest Team Members!

Back to School Tutor Fair Recap

The Salvation Army was just one of many nonprofits at the Tutor Fair.
The Salvation Army was just one of many nonprofits at the Tutor Fair.

The need for tutors who can assist both youth and adult students in Middle Tennessee is greater than ever. Believe it or not, there are usually more than 100 tutoring opportunities listed on the HON website at any given time. But while such a large number of openings provides potential tutors with a nice variety from which to choose, it can be overwhelming for them as well.

With a new school year underway, Hands On Nashville welcomed 18 local nonprofits and more than 75 volunteers to its offices for the inaugural Back to School Tutor Fair on September 5.

The goal of the event was to connect potential volunteer tutors with the nonprofits who need them most and simplify the process that matches individuals with tutor openings. The gathering also provided an opportunity for Hands On Nashville and its nonprofit partners to address some of the common questions and concerns individuals have about tutoring in general.

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A prospective volunteer learns more about tutoring opportunities.

Overall, the Back to School Tutor Fair was an enormous success. Individuals were able to meet a variety of nonprofits in a personal, face-to-face setting and learn about tutoring opportunities that they can fit into their busy schedules.

“It was fantastic to see such a large turnout for this important initiative,” said Kirsten Floyd, HON’s Nonprofit Program Manager, who helped organize the event. “Having nonprofits and potential tutors meet in person, rather than be connected over email, was a great way to start filling the many tutor openings available in the area.”

Hands On Nashville still has plenty of tutoring openings available throughout the Fall. If you missed the Back to School Tutor Fair but you’re interested in tutoring a local student, contact Kirsten directly, and she’ll help you out.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Back to School Tutor Fair!