Tag Archives: Volunteerism

Hands On Nashville Announces 2020 Strobel Volunteer Award Recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 17, 2020) – Middle Tennesseans were honored for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 34th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Co. Recipients were unveiled during a multiday, virtual ceremony, which occurred Sept. 14–16.

The annual event recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community, and celebrates the life of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian who had 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.

“Mary Catherine Strobel was the living embodiment of generosity and service to others,” said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville. “In light of the recent events in our community – including the March tornado and pandemic currently impacting our country – it is more important now than ever to honor the amazing volunteers who do Mary Catherine’s legacy proud by giving back.”

Community members submitted 165 nominations for the 2020 Strobel Volunteer Awards.

“This event celebrates the spirit of giving that is so crucial to improving our city,” said Aimee DeCamillo, chief commercial officer and president, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC, the presenting sponsor for the awards. “We are thrilled to take part in such a proud tradition and help recognize all of these volunteers for their incredible dedication, in the hopes that they may inspire the next generation of givers to take up the cause.”

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Sherri Mitchell-Snider – Capacity-building Volunteer Award
  • Chicktime – Civic Volunteer Group Award
  • Creative Artists Agency Nashville – Corporate Volunteerism Award
  • Emily Phan – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 5 to 20)
  • Adam Crookston – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 21 to 49)
  • Claudia Prange – Direct Service Volunteer Award (Ages 50-plus)

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About the 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.

Photos by Nathan Morgan Photography

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Capacity-building Volunteer

This category of the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards honors individuals who provide significant operational or administrative support to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization, or developed an innovative approach to significantly improve an existing program. 

Here are the 2020 finalists:

Susanne Post 

Susanne Post

Volunteers at YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee 

In 2017, Susanne Post partnered with the YWCA to launch Shear Haven, a training program for local stylists to be able detect signs of domestic abuse among clients. 

As a victim of abuse herself, Post knew she wanted to help other women facing the same issue, and as a hair stylist, she knew she was in a unique position to be trusted by victims. 

“Often the victim is isolated from their closest family and friends and simply needs to speak their truth to a listening ear and to know that there is support available,” Post says. 

Since then, Post has provided significant operational support to the YWCA and has expanded their domestic violence education reach into a specialized community not previously on their radar. This has allowed them to reach victims of abuse with whom they hadn’t previously connected. 

She was instrumental in passing domestic violence legislation for stylists through the Tennessee House of Representatives, and continues her advocacy work today. 

She hopes to continue broadening this training to reach stylists across Tennessee. 

Paige Atchley 

Paige Atchley

Volunteers at Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle TN 

As part of the advisory board for Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, Paige Atchley is a leader dedicated to service. 

She founded Club Blue, the young professional association that supports BGC. With her drive, Atchley hosted 12 fundraising and networking events last year, and recruited 49 new members who are now monthly donors. She has built this new group of advocates and kept them engaged by driving social media interaction and inspiring volunteer events within the club. 

The mission of Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee is to enable young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. It’s a mission Atchley strives to embody.  

One of her most successful fundraising events is Dash to a Great Future. Not only did Atchley design the event, but she spearheaded the entire marketing and communications strategy to ensure its success.  

Because of her hard work, BGC expects to raise more than $1,000 through this campaign in 2020.  

“I love serving Club Blue because it is full of people that care about kids and who they turn into as people,” Atchley says. “They are kind and welcoming, and these are the people that I want mentoring Boys & Girls Club kids so they can grow up to also be successful and giving.” 

Sherri Mitchell-Snider 

Sherri Mitchell-Snider

Volunteers at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt 

Sherri Mitchell-Snider volunteers her time as Co-Director of Flashes of Hope at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Flashes of Hope is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating powerful, uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. 

Mitchell-Snider builds capacity for Flashes of Hope by organizing, planning, and coordinating monthly Flashes of Hope photo shoots at the children’s hospital. She partners with local salons, makeup artists, and photographers to create a seamless photoshoot experience for the families, and often organizes up to a dozen family photos in a day.  

These photos are then given to the family as a memento of the day. They provide a happy hospital memory for them to treasure forever. 

 “I love helping to bring some joy into the lives of these very brave children who are going through so much, and to recognize how special and beautiful each and every one of them is,” Mitchell-Snider says.  

Katie Beard, a Child Life Specialist at the hospital, says Mitchell-Snider is in a unique position to offer compassionate care for these children because of her own life experience. Mitchell-Snider lost her 1-year-old daughter to Leukemia. Mitchell-Snider recalls wishing she had had the opportunity for a family photoshoot when her daughter was alive. It brings her joy to offer that service to families today. 

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

Meet the 2020 Strobel Awards finalists: Direct Service (Ages 5-20)

This category of the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards recognizes individuals who have contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources to help an agency’s constituents. 

Emily Phan 

Volunteers at The Little Pantry That Could 

As guests arrive at The Little Pantry That Could, volunteers like Emily Phan are there to walk with them through the aisles and help them choose the foods they need for the week. Phan has been volunteering with The Little Pantry since she was 12 years old. 

The Little Pantry provides produce and shelf-stable items free of charge on a weekly basis to anyone in need, no questions asked. Their volunteers do a variety of tasks, from sorting donations and stocking the shelves to working one-on-one with guests.  

Since starting high school, Phan has served more than 200 hours and is a favorite among the guests of The Little Pantry, who often request that she be the one to shop with them.  

Working one-on-one with guests is personal and at times overwhelming as volunteers learn about guests’ lives and struggles with food security. However, Phan is always able to lend an ear and give her heart to each guest.  

“Talking with the people who come to the pantry for help extends my worldview and teaches me to be grateful for the things I have,” Phan says.  

Through her volunteering, Phan has become an incredible spokesperson for The Little Pantry, and is always trying to figure what else she can do for the community members it serves.  

Elizabeth Graham Pistole 

Volunteers at The Dancing Divas and Dudes 

At 13 years old, Elizabeth Pistole had many opportunities to learn teamwork, life skills, and achieve personal goals as a competitive dancer. However, her sister Natalie, who was born with Down Syndrome, was not given the same opportunities as there weren’t any programs that would fit her unique needs.  

Five years ago, Pistole recognized this reality after experiencing it secondhand through her sister. She created The Dancing Divas and Dudes, a nonprofit organization that serves the special needs community through dance.  

During a session with The Dancing Divas and Dudes, participants work on their physical fitness by improving their balance, technique, and strength. They also spend time learning and perfecting performance pieces that are shared at community events so audiences can experience the abilities and value of individuals with special needs. 

Although Pistole is now a full-time college student, she still manages to spend around 30 hours a week scheduling team events and activities, as well as coordinating volunteers.  

Pistole’s hard work has allowed for many people with special needs to find their place in society, develop the confidence to excel in life, and ultimately offer them a supportive community. 

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

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. 

Join us for an online celebration of outstanding volunteers!

Back in the spring, due to COVID-19, we postponed the 34th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards until September. Because coronavirus cases locally and nationally continue to rise, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Strobel luncheon. But don’t despair — we are still going to celebrate this year’s outstanding nominees and their impact! We’ll just be doing it digitally, which means you can celebrate those who go above and beyond from wherever you happen to be.

We hope you’ll join us!

When: Sept. 14, 15, 16 

Where: On hon.org and our social media channels: InstagramFacebookTwitterLinkedIn

What: We’ll honor this year’s nominees and finalists by sharing their stories of service through written stories and video. Plus we’ll announce the recipients in each of the six award categories. 

Are you a nominee? Or a general ticket holder?

If you did not receive an email from our team with information and next steps on what to do as a nominee or a ticket purchaser, feel free to check here, or reach out to us at hon@hon.org for further assistance. 

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.

New tornado recovery projects posted!

Photo Jun 24, 10 55 55 AM

Most tornado recovery volunteer projects were paused when COVID-19 hit Middle Tennessee in March, even though there was still much work to be done. Now that we’re in Phase 3 of the Mayor’s Roadmap for Reopening Nashville, projects are resuming and volunteers are very much needed to continue the recovery process! This Saturday, June 27, is looking to be a big day of tornado recovery-related activities. Here’s a roundup of what’s available. We’ll add to this list as more activities become available.

If you are personally still in need of support stemming from the tornado, please call the Tornado Recovery Hotline at 615-270-9255.

 

 

 

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.