Tag Archives: Volunteerism

Hands On Nashville announces 2023 Strobel Volunteer Awards recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 12, 2023) – Middle Tennesseans were honored today for their volunteerism during Hands On Nashville’s 37th annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Jackson®). Recipients were announced at Marathon Music Works in a ceremony that was also live-streamed on social media.

The Strobel Awards honor volunteers of all ages and backgrounds for their inspirational service to their communities, and celebrate Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian who displayed an outstanding dedication to service throughout her life.

“It’s easy to see the challenges that face our community every day when you look at the news. Rising housing costs are contributing to homelessness, unsupported youth are engaging in crime, and people are facing injustice in our community. It’s important to see the flip side of that, too, — the incredible work that volunteers are doing every day to make our city better, said Lori Shinton, president and CEO of Hands On Nashville.

One of our nominees has been volunteering for more than fifty years, but we also see young people who are just getting started creating change. Some people wonder what can be done to fix the issues that we see every day. These volunteers are showing us how, and I hope that featuring their stories through the Mary Catherine Strobel Awards will inspire others to join them.”

Community members nominated more than 160 volunteers who demonstrated the spirit of service. After the public voted for their favorite stories, a panel of judges selected the seven award recipients, who will each receive $1,000 to donate to the nonprofit of their choice. The other 13 finalists will receive $250 to donate to an organization they care about.

“Volunteers, more than most, are acutely aware of the deep community that is cultivated through service, and how important volunteers are to the impactful work of nonprofits,” said Susannah Berry, corporate philanthropy director at Jackson. “I’d like to express my gratitude to each of these honorees for their incredible commitment and to everyone who has resumed their own volunteerism after the pandemic. With every hour and day, volunteers are rebuilding our community.” 

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Capacity-Building Volunteer Award presented by Regions: Ingrid Campbell
  • Direct Service Volunteer – Youth Award presented by Asurion: Mary Meacham
  • Direct Service Volunteer – Adult Award presented by Piedmont Natural Gas: Hugh Trimble
  • Direct Service Volunteer – Older Adult Award presented by Advanced Financial: David Joseph Weir
  • Disaster Preparedness and Response Award presented by Kroger: Sherry Nicholson
  • Group Volunteer Service Award presented by Frazier and Deeter: Give Black, Give Back
  • Social Justice Impact Award presented by HCA Healthcare: Emily Jenkins

For more information on this year’s Strobel Awards and the award recipient stories, visit hon.org/strobel2023.  

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 unhoused, underserved, and disenfranchised communities. The annual awards ceremony celebrates her service and recognizes those who continue her legacy. For more information, visit HON.org/strobel_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 200-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. HON also partners with the city to coordinate volunteers whenever there is a disaster. For more information, visit HON.org or call 615-298-1108.

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Jackson returns as 2023 Strobel Volunteer Awards Presenting Sponsor 

Hands On Nashville is thrilled to welcome back community-champion Jackson® for its fourth consecutive year as our presenting sponsor for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards

As a financial services organization, Jackson is committed to clarifying the complexity of retirement planning. However, there’s more to Jackson than helping Americans achieve financial freedom for life – the organization has been a longtime supporter in addressing Middle Tennessee’s greatest needs. 

“Volunteerism is a core value at Jackson, and we pride ourselves on our employees’ commitment to their communities. Our associates volunteered more than 16,700 hours last year, and each year we’re excited to see their efforts reflected in the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards nominees,” says Niya Moon, corporate philanthropy manager at Jackson. “We are honored to support this celebration of service and highlight the important stories of these volunteers.” 

Hands On Nashville is incredibly grateful for Jackson’s commitment to service and promoting volunteerism in the community, as well as in the workplace.  

In addition to funding nonprofit causes, Jackson’s philanthropy approach calls employees to action. Recently, Jackson’s corporate philanthropy team undertook its largest service project ever, with more than 170 volunteers supporting five local nonprofits: Special Olympics Tennessee, Shower Up, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, Youth Villages, and the Oasis Center. The team assembled more than 5,000 program kits that provide hygiene supplies for individuals experiencing homelessness, welcome items for women entering the Weaver domestic violence shelter, snack packs for youth outreach, healthy athlete materials and much more. The next day Jackson associates delivered these kits across Nashville, supplying their nonprofit colleagues with fresh program supplies for the spring.  
This volunteer event is just one of the many ways that Jackson’s employee engagement program, Jackson in Action, empowers team members to donate their skills and time through volunteerism. Through Jackson’s renewed approach to philanthropy, Jackson is forming meaningful partnerships with nonprofits that build the foundation for helping people achieve financial freedom for life.  The organization is increasing its investments in financial education and coaching with Financial Empowerment Centers across the country, including its local partnership with United Way of Greater Nashville. This support is bolstered by related service projects. In 2022 alone, more than 160 associates volunteered 884 hours to support financial education with 31 nonprofits. Of these volunteer hours, 436 volunteered with Junior Achievement chapters across the country to provide direct financial education to K-12 students.

Jackson team members assemble hygiene kits at a recent service project. [Photo submitted by Jackson]
Jackson team members assemble hygiene kits at a recent service project. [Photo submitted by Jackson]

It’s corporate philanthropy like Jackson’s that drives our community forward. Thank you, Jackson, for creating positive change in our community and celebrating volunteerism! Together, we can serve the broader Nashville nonprofit community and ensure our community’s needs are met for the long term.  For more information about Jackson and their dedication to service, click here

We know that the work isn’t done yet though. Like Jackson, your company can also make a difference. To learn more about employee volunteer opportunities, visit hon.org/CorporatePartnerProgram

Jackson’s Impact:

  • Annually, Jackson’s community impact totals more than $5.3 million.  
  • Jackson has given more than $80 million since 2007. 
  • In 2022, the company and its generous associates contributed more than $2.15 million through the associate matching program. 
  • Jackson supports more than 170 charities annually in its local communities.  
  • Annually, Jackson invests nearly $1.2 million in Middle Tennessee nonprofit and community causes through its award-winning corporate philanthropy program.  
  • 33% of associates volunteered through Jackson’s employee volunteer program. 
  • Associates volunteered more than 16,700 hours in local communities in 2022. 
  • 77 associates currently serve on nonprofit boards (as of December 2022). 

Stories of Service: Teresa Hargrove, volunteer instructor at W.O. Smith Music School

This feature celebrates Global Volunteer Month, a movement to recognize volunteers who actively support their communities through volunteerism. Hands On Nashville is honored to highlight volunteer stories across Middle Tennessee, and celebrate the changemakers in our communities. Have a story you’d like to share? Email us here!

“When you teach, you also get so much in return. It’s all about passing on what you know to the next generation.” 

—Teresa hargrove

Teresa Hargrove has been a volunteer violin, viola, and piano instructor at W.O. Smith Music School since 1984. For almost 40 years, she has consistently donated at least an hour a week to two students a semester. Teresa is a wonderful teacher and has even kept close relationships with several of her W.O. students over the years. She has high expectations for her students, but they are always well-prepared and motivated for whatever challenges she may present.  

Teresa has taught several generations of families at W.O. Smith. Her newest student is the child of a former violin student she taught during the mid-1990s. When the former student heard that Teresa was still teaching at the music school, she changed her schedule entirely to ensure her daughter could take lessons with the instructor who had taught her so much.  

During the COVID-19 quarantine, Teresa seamlessly transitioned all her lessons onto Zoom. This was a very challenging time for everyone, especially teachers with no former training in virtual education, but she simply rolled with the program and made accommodations wherever needed.   

During this virtual COVID programming, a shy, young student Teresa had been instructing for three years began to affirm his gender. Teresa understood the student’s need for support and worked hard to remember his new pronouns. His relationship with the school and Teresa’s acceptance helped him evolve into a delightful, proactive, and expressive young man who takes every music class he can find.   

This is just one example of how Teresa has impacted the lives of countless students in her nearly 40 years with W.O. Smith. Many students studied their instruments with her typically for two to four years, and now excel in their understanding of music, and consistently perform in recitals.  Very few volunteers could top the number of years or match the hours of service Teresa has committed to educating Nashville youth and giving back to her community. 

Are you interested in joining the global volunteer movement of volunteerism? Sign up for a volunteer project today at hon.org

Please note: Hands On Nashville is committed to developing our organization and programs to reflect our belief that Nashville is powered by people of all ages, races, ethnicities, skin tones, sexes, genders, sexualities, religions, abilities, and socioeconomic statuses engaging in service together. Any comment disrespecting volunteers or the communities they support will be removed.  

Announcing the 2023 Strobel Volunteer Awards finalists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 3, 2023) – Hands On Nashville (HON) has unveiled the finalists for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company. The 2023 Strobel Awards honor volunteers of all ages for outstanding investments of time and talents to benefit Middle Tennessee over the past year. Award recipients will be announced May 12 in a celebration at Marathon Music Works. Each recipient will receive $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

“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. “Nashville has been through so much in the past few years, but it’s amazing to see how our community responds. They come together, support one another and then set out to make our city and world a better place to live. Each of these inspiring volunteers demonstrates that we have the power to make a difference.”

Volunteers from local businesses, churches and community organizations considered more than 160 nominations. Community members are invited to visit hon.org/strobel2023 to show support and vote for their favorite stories of service through April 15. The 20 finalists include:

Direct Service Volunteer — Youth (sponsored by Asurion)

  • Asia Bigsbee
  • Harlan Ray
  • Mary Meacham

Click here to read the Direct Service — Youth stories of service

Direct Service Volunteer — Adult (sponsored by Piedmont Natural Gas)

  • Amelia Young
  • Emily Bratton
  • Hugh Trimble

Click here to read the Direct Service — Adult stories of service

Direct Service Volunteer — Older Adult (sponsored by Advance Financial)

  • Donald Han Lee
  • David Joseph Weir
  • Charlotte Thomas West

Click here to read the Direct Service — Older Adult stories of service

Capacity-building Volunteer (sponsored by Regions Bank)

  • Charu Balamurugan
  • Ingrid Campbell

Click here to read the Capacity-building Volunteer stories of service

Group Volunteer Service (sponsored by Frazier and Deeter)

  • Give Black, Give Back
  • Ravenwood Girls Cotillion
  • Trish Smith and Nancy Hopwood

Click here to read the Group Volunteer Service stories of service

Social Justice Impact Volunteer (sponsored by HCA Healthcare)

  • Emily Jenkins
  • Mary Randle
  • Ray Emanuel

Click here to read the Social Justice Impact Volunteer stories of service

Disaster Preparedness and Response Volunteer (sponsored by Kroger)

  • Nissan of North America
  • Sherry Nicholson
  • Sonny Nichols

Click here to read the Disaster Preparedness and Response stories of service

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Strobel Finalists 2023: Capacity-building Volunteer

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Capacity-building Volunteer category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 at the button below!

Charu Balamurugan 
Volunteers with Dismas House

Charu Balamurugan is a volunteer at Dismas House, a residential reentry program for men leaving Tennessee state prisons and county jails. The men who arrive at the organization have experienced trauma, either due to their incarceration or from their lives prior to incarceration. Using her talents, Charu built a curriculum for a Music and Wellness Program that guides residents through the creative process in order to promote healing. The impressive program she created accommodates participants’ varying levels of musical and technological experience and structures the class so that residents with no musical ability would be able to not only participate but succeed.  

“It gives our residents the opportunity to create something truly unique that they can share with others. Residents are always beaming in the class and are proud to show off their finished song,” Charu’s nominator said about the Music Program. 

In addition to her work on the course, Charu has made great administrative contributions to Dismas House. She has helped to streamline its documentation process, creating an easy-to-use system for checking program attendance for individual residents. Through trial and error, she has refined the previous documentation system by doing the difficult and tedious task of identifying where data has been duplicated in the system and correct it. This has saved case manager’s precious time that could be better spent with residents. In conjunction with this, Charu also helped develop a handout for residents to help ensure that they stay on track for graduation from the program. 

“Charu is always supportive to our residents, has an amazing attitude every day, and has truly gone above and beyond in her service to Dismas,” Charu’s nominator said. 

Ingrid Campbell 
Volunteers with McNeilly Center for Children

Ingrid Campbell is an integral part of the team at McNeilly Center for Children. Since becoming a board member, she has taken the organization to new heights. Not only does she attend every single event, but her commitment and enthusiasm have inspired others to get involved with the clients the Center serves. Whether she is dropping off a pair of shoes, helping coordinate tree plantings, reading with children or lighting a fire under the community for McNeilly, she consistently holds steady and true. 

With Ingrid’s guidance, McNeilly Center for Children has been able to partner with several organizations throughout the community to increase involvement and double its fundraising. Ingrid connected McNeilly with Patchwork Nashville to provide 200 meals to families per week and worked with Root Nashville to plant 75 new trees on the organization’s campus. She helped McNeilly reach new levels of excellence, introducing new partnerships that doubled fundraising and helped bring diversity to the board. The organization is also in the process of becoming recognized as a historical site with Ingrid’s help. “Ingrid is the most humble, hardworking and dedicated person I have ever met,” Ingrid’s nominator said. “She is passionate about her community, is clear on her goals, and is consistent. She uses her platform to help elevate every person in her community. She makes me believe that the work I do matters to those we serve and the community at large.”  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2023: Direct Service — Adult

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Adult category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 at the button below!

Amelia Young 
Volunteers with multiple area organizations

Amelia Young is a volunteer who lends her time and talents to a number of organizations around the Nashville area, including Shower Up, The Bridge, Zeal Church, Nashville Rescue Mission, Mission 615, and The Laundry Project. With these organizations, Amelia helps to provide showers to unhoused people, run cameras at church, provide free laundry services to low-income communities, organize game days and Bible lessons for two low-income neighborhoods with Zeal, feed the unhoused and low-income, and prepare food boxes, and spends time serving and fellowshipping with residents at the Nashville Rescue Mission. 

Amelia is described as a kind and loving soul, and many individuals in the community are vocal about the compassion that Amelia shows to everyone. Her leadership and joyful commitment to the Nashville community have encouraged other young people to serve. Amelia consistently builds relationships with people by volunteering multiple times a week.  

“Amelia’s service in the Nashville community has been an inspiration for those around her, but especially for me,” shared Amelia’s nominator. “She is teaching me what it is to truly serve, not only with her time but with her heart.” 

Emily Bratton 
Volunteers with MOVE Inclusive Dance

Emily Bratton is a volunteer at MOVE Inclusive Dance, an organization that strives to teach life skills to individuals of all ability levels through dance. As a volunteer at MOVE Inclusive Dance, Emily has played a crucial role in creating an environment that makes one student, Nathan, who is non-verbal, feel comfortable. She is known to show up and serve at MOVE even when it might be extremely challenging or messy but continues to do so with a positive attitude and patience. She constantly is looking at how to connect with others and generously give donations and continues to serve as a one-on-one buddy with Nathan. 

At MOVE Inclusive Dance, Emily not only creates relationships with Nathan, but also helps connect other organizations with MOVE in order to ensure they are serving as many people in the community as possible. Last month, Emily took the initiative to find an $85,000 grant opportunity that MOVE Inclusive was awarded, which allowed them to hire their first full-time employee. In all, she has logged more than 1,000 hours in all capacities – board, volunteer, event support and advisement. 

“For a child with special needs, consistency is incredibly important, and Emily has been that consistent person for Nathan – always there, and ready to cheer him on, every step of the way,” shared Emily’s nominator. “Because of her partnership with MOVE, and Nate specifically, he has been able to accomplish things we never knew he could.” 

Hugh Trimble 
Volunteers with Open Table Nashville

Hugh Trimble is an active volunteer of Open Table Nashville (OTN), and his efforts with this organization have been fully aligned with their mission to have a relational, rather than transactional, approach to those who are unhoused. Hugh spends time with OTN by accompanying outreach workers and passing out water bottles, camping supplies, Narcan and fresh meals from Patchwork Nashville. He also has led OTN’s winter canvassing efforts, in which volunteers go around the downtown area on nights that Metro’s Emergency Overflow Shelter opens. Hugh educates people about their options for finding shelter, offers rides to the shelter and distributes warming supplies. 

Hugh has also contributed not only his time, but a number of his personal resources. He has used his car and gas to transport people to medical appointments, the Emergency Room and winter shelters. Hugh continues to help those by sharing sit-down meals with people experiencing homelessness and personally donates supplies to bolster the winter canvassing efforts. He has also utilized his musical talents to make a difference in the lives of people he serves. Earlier this year, he went above and beyond to put on a concert so one of the Nashville Rescue Mission residents could showcase their talents. Proceeds from the event went directly to the resident so they could have access to food and supplies. 

“Hugh helps us foster a sense of community that prides itself on collective care, radical empathy, justice and dignity,” said his nominator. “He also shows a deep attunement to people’s emotional and spiritual states, and he listens to people’s stories, offering a listening ear rather than a rushed solution. Hugh’s heart goes out to people, and he truly views people as fellow human beings.”

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2023: Direct Service — Older Adult

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Older Adult category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 using the button below!

Charlotte Thomas West 
Volunteers with Delta Sigma Theta sorority and St. John AME Church

Charlotte Thomas West is a natural-born volunteer. For more than 50 years, she has volunteered with various committees of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Nashville Alumnae Chapter. Through this organization, she has prepared and distributed lunches to the community, collected pharmaceuticals and supplies for Temple Church Mission Trips, helped citizens register to vote, and is currently participating in activities to benefit at-risk youth. She also consistently shows her passion for caring for the elderly, supporting homeless populations and educating underserved communities. 

Within the St. John AME Church, Charlotte is an active leader for their Meals on Wheels and Innkeeper programs. In March 2020, the church was destroyed by the tornadoes that struck the Nashville area. Charlotte worked tirelessly to ensure that the residents of the North Nashville community had access to physical resources like canned goods as well as information about home repairs and protecting their property investments. One year following the tornado, she volunteered with other community leaders to create the North Nashville Community Garden, planning the layout, planting the soil, preparing the ground-breaking and overall helping to execute the vision.  

“Charlotte is a beacon of light in the community with the vision to support the success of North Nashville through volunteer service and leadership in any way possible,” said her nominator. 

David Joseph Weir 
Volunteers with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council

At nearly 80 years old, David Joseph Weir has spent his last 13 years volunteering to help Nashville adults live fuller, more independent lives through his work as a tutor with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council. After retiring from his career in the healthcare industry, David returned to the love of language and the written word that he developed in college and began working with adults in both one-on-one and group classroom settings. David has worked with more than 50 students, both through volunteering for the NALC and those he finds in his daily life. 

David also works with several students outside of any organization and goes the extra mile to care for those he teaches. When the pandemic hit, David learned how to use Zoom, earned his TEFL certification and was one of the first tutors at NALC to convert to online tutoring. 

When a young Hispanic woman whom David was teaching was unfortunately and unjustly arrested, she called David from jail to inform him she couldn’t attend class. David was aware of the difficulties that come with navigating the criminal justice system as a member of the minority group, and accompanied the woman to meetings with her lawyer and court appearances. He visited her in jail, helped her with English and even brightened her spirits with well-timed jokes. After the woman was released from prison and with David’s support, the woman got her job back and finished her semester at Nashville State Community College with all A’s. 

“David honors Mary Catherine Strobel’s legacy of joyfully committing to those in need through his work with the immigrant community in Nashville,” said his nominator. “He tirelessly and selflessly dedicates his time, expertise and privilege to improving the lives of others.” 

Donald Han Lee
Volunteers with Vanderbilt Orthopedics Outreach Day

In 2017, Dr. Donald Han Lee founded an annual orthopedics Outreach Day at Vanderbilt, and for the past six years, he has provided 76 surgeries free of charge for Nashville’s uninsured and underinsured patients. He has fully built and championed the Outreach Day, which demonstrates the significant impact of subspecialized surgical care for charity care patients, who often face debilitating and painful orthopedic conditions. Dr. Lee works closely with Vanderbilt and Nashville community clinic providers to coordinate the best possible equipment and treatment, and is integrally involved in pre-operative, operative and post-operative care. Through these surgeries, patients are finally able to relieve chronic or subacute painful and debilitating conditions that have often been troubling them for years.  

Dr. Lee’s leadership and dedication to his outreach program are inspirational. One year, no other surgeons were able to volunteer, so Dr. Lee attended to each patient and performed every surgery himself. In addition to the direct patient care he provides, he encourages, advises and guides other surgeons planning their own outreach programs at their respective institutions or practice sites. Within his own organization, Dr. Lee holds the same influence and was able to empower many members of a multidisciplinary Vanderbilt team to help among the 60 volunteers at last year’s event. 

“Dr. Lee is an excellent model of someone who uses their unique talents and training to provide a very specialized but very necessary service in the community,” said his nominator. 

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2023: Group Volunteer Service

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Group Volunteer Service category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 at the button below!

Give Black, Give Back
Volunteers with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

Kia Jarmon and Lisa Swift-Young have redefined the concepts of philanthropy and charity through their roles as co-chairs at Give Black, Give Back, a nine-member volunteer philanthropic initiative at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The organization’s mission is to motivate and involve Black philanthropists in efforts to maintain the vibrancy of communities of color.  

With Kia, Lisa and the entire advisory council leading the charge, Give Black, Give Back strives to achieve this by acting as a resource to amplify Black-led funds, encourage new collaborations between Black philanthropists, and provide access and education to the community at large to assist in bridging the racial gap. In the past year, through their work at Give Black, Give Back, Kia and Lisa alone have donated more than 264 hours of their time to local nonprofits and civic organizations. This initiative has managed to link the past, present and future of Black philanthropy together not only for Nashville but also across the state. The group also sheds light on topics and conversations that are usually avoided by the public, by creating a platform to document stories in their own words through online discussions titled “Changemakers.” The Changemakers platform honors exceptional people so that their truths and stories can be told and amplified. 

“Give Black, Give Back was and is a resource of information to the Black community!” A colleague said. “Kia, Lisa and the entire council’s work on Give Black, Give Back sets it apart to give voice to this valuable constituency in our beloved community. Give Black, Give Back was and is a resource of information to the Black community!” 

Ravenwood Girls Cotillion
Volunteers with The Next Door

More than 100 young women from Ravenwood Girls Cotillion have been consistently great volunteers for The Next Door nonprofit organization, a treatment program for women struggling with addiction, mental illness, trauma and/or incarceration. The volunteers from Ravenwood are deeply rooted in Next Door’s mission to educate people on the dangers of drugs and the growing epidemic of fentanyl. 

The girls constantly go out of their way to help this organization in any way they can, from cleaning out the organization’s closet to helping them raise over $30,000. They also interact with the clients and make them feel heard, seen and even loved. 

“This group could have chosen any nonprofit to work with,” a team member from The Next Door commented. “They have soaked up what they’ve learned with us and are applying it in their lives by sharing with their high school friends the dangers of drugs, the growing epidemic of fentanyl and also changing lives through their volunteering.” 

Trish Smith and Nancy Hopwood 
Volunteers with Agape Animal Rescue and Training Center

For 25 years, love and passion have driven Trish Smith and Nancy Hopwood to continuously volunteer with Agape Animal Rescue and Training Center. They dedicate their work to helping animals find their forever homes and last year helped connect 46 animals with families.  

Trish and Nancy are always the first ones to step up and fill in whenever they are needed. The dedication Trish and Nancy have for the dogs in Agape’s program, for the organization itself and for the people they touch in the community is unparalleled by any other.   

For example, Trish and Nancy had a significant influence on the adoption of Leo, a very special dog who was saved in 2022 during Hurricane Ian. He was rescued by Agape from a flooded shelter in Orange County, Fla., and traveled 13 hours to Nashville to start his new life. Trish and Nancy were by his side at every step of the adoption procedure. This is just one example of the many lives these women have impacted by volunteering at Agape Animal Rescue and Training Center.    

“Trish and Nancy were, and always have been, superstar volunteers,” claims their nominator. “These two women are invaluable to the Agape Animal Rescue and Training Center, and we are honored to have them on our team.” 

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2023: Disaster Preparedness and Response

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Disaster Preparedness and Response category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 at the button below!

Nissan of North America 
Volunteers with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

For more than 30 years, Nissan of North America has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to provide food to those in need. During this time, they have donated more than 7.6 million meals – and in the last three years alone, Nissan employees have dedicated more than 2,400 service hours. Since they began funding Mobile Pantries in 2017, they have fed more than 10,000 people and sent 30–40 employees to each Mobile Pantry to help distribute food. 

Nowhere was Nissan’s dedication more apparent than in their response to Hurricane Ian. When the hurricane struck Florida, Nissan immediately answered the call. In response to relief efforts, FEMA requested that Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee provide 70 truckloads of disaster relief boxes to Florida. Fortunately, the nonprofit was able to rely on Nissan to accomplish this herculean task quickly and efficiently. Within 10 minutes of the storm’s hitting the coast, Nissan of North America had already committed to their first volunteer shift. Ultimately, they ended up filling six shifts – each with 20–30 volunteers – and packed 3,484 boxes. 

“When we needed their help for disaster relief,” a colleague at Second Harvest said, “whether at home or in another part of the country, Nissan responded. This goes beyond just making a donation; clearly community service is part of their culture.”  

Sherry Nicholson 
Volunteers with YAIPak Outreach

Sherry Nicholson, founder of YAIPak Outreach, an organization that impacts communities across the nation through providing basic life necessities, has led her organization in impacting over 810,000 people in 2022, with 258,100 of those individuals impacted because of disaster relief efforts. Since YAIPak is a mobile organization, Sherry and other volunteers were able to set up mobile units for operation and distribution sites around Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida.  

After the flash flood of August 2021, YAIPak Outreach was the first organization on the ground in Waverly, Tenn. Sherry still has a strong presence there, and over the last few years, she has donated rebuilding supplies, coordinated “muck out” teams and equipped local organizations with what they need to rebuild over 487 homes.  

Sherry founded YAIPak Outreach after going through a difficult life experience. After a domestic violence situation left her and her two small children homeless, Sherry was determined to provide the very best for her kids. She was inspired by her homelessness, and after seeing miracles in her own life, she started Project Rebuild Hope. Project Rebuild Hope was YAIPak’s disaster relief arm, created after encampments were destroyed by Nashville tornadoes.  

“There are so many stories I could share of the faithfulness, compassion, generosity and kindness of Sherry,” said a colleague. “She honestly goes above and beyond what could ever be asked of her in any moment.” 

Sonny Nichols 
Volunteers with Disaster Recovery Connection

For three years, Sonny Nichols has been working with Disaster Recovery Connection as a volunteer in several roles. He has volunteered during community walkabouts, worked as a third party between disaster case managers and survivors, and called identified survivors when a disaster struck to learn their needs and connect them with community resources.  

Sonny volunteered at the first walkabout in Wilson County in July 2020 following the March 2020 tornado. He returned for the October 2020 walkabout and continued to volunteer after the March 2021 and August 2021 floods. Most recently, Sonny worked for the Long-Term Recovery Groups after the December 2021 tornadoes, an extensive process that has continued into 2023. Part of Sonny’s job is also to call survivors and identify their needs. In a short amount of time, he has reached out to nearly 650 individual survivors, offering them assistance and compassion.  

Through his work in these myriad roles, Sonny has been identified by colleagues as one of their strongest case workers, ensuring that survivors’ needs are always met during times of crisis and chaos.  

“We know Long-Term Recovery Groups and the community are in good hands and stronger with Sonny Nichols volunteering,” said a colleague.  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2023: Social Justice Impact

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Social Justice Impact category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 at the button below!

Emily Jenkins
Volunteers with Williamson County Court Appointed Special Advocates

Local attorney Emily Jenkins uses her law degree to provide pro bono labor at the national, state and county levels. Since 2017, Emily has volunteered for Williamson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization that advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children, where she represents children in the juvenile court system. Aside from representation, she also serves on the Tennessee State CASA board, creates training resources and speaks as an advocate for the organization. Most recently, she served on the Williamson County DCS Task Force to establish solutions that will improve the outcomes for youth – solutions with the goal of achieving short- and long-term impacts. 

Emily has reunited children with their families, ensured that people will be able to remain in their Section 8 housing, and provided comfort and resources to families who risk deportation. She is an activist in the community, as well as within all her organizations. 

“Emily is passionate about this cause, and it is evident in everything she does,” says her nominator. “As an attorney and a mother of adopted children and an extremely experienced CASA advocate, she is uniquely equipped to be a social justice warrior in this space on behalf of these children.” 

Mary Randle 
Volunteers with Nashville Inner City Ministry

Mary Randle has devoted over 32 years volunteering her time to Nashville Inner City Ministry. Beginning during her time at Lipscomb University, Mary spends her time during the holidays feeding the homeless and elderly. She provides over 5,000 meals each year, and coordinates drivers for the elderly and sick populations – all without expectation of recognition.  

Mary has not only helped with providing meals and transportation, but she has also helped find housing for members of the homeless community, led those suffering from addiction to treatment and increased faith within her community. A vital part of the Nashville Inner City Ministry, Mary has devoted her life to transforming this organization and, in doing so, transforming the lives of the people it serves.  

“[Mary] strives to be an example of a virtuous woman and show other youth that they can make it no matter the struggle they go through,” says her daughter. 

Ray Emanuel 
Volunteers with the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee

Ray Emanuel is an integral part of the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee (NAIA). A founding member and executive director, he has spent the past 41 years volunteering for the organization. He has devoted his time to NAIA – leading educational sessions to teach Tennesseans about Native American culture – as well as resources, providing rent, food and medical bill assistance. 

Ray has also devoted himself to tireless fundraising on behalf of NAIA, obtaining countless donations to support the needs of Native Americans. The Annual Pow Wow, which is NAIA’s marquee event, brings a lot of business to Tennessee. In spearheading this event, Ray has been able to bring in millions of dollars in state and federal grants for the betterment of the organization and people it serves. In all he does for NAIA, Ray has shown himself to be a diligent leader with a servant heart.  

Ray’s nominator says, “He has spent his life dedicated to serving and supporting Native Americans and educating Tennesseans about our First Peoples. He is incredibly deserving of this potential award for his lifetime of volunteerism.” 

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.