Tag Archives: volunteers

How to help Kentucky flood survivors

With historic flood damage and brutal heat affecting those in Eastern Kentucky, we know Nashville is looking for ways to help.

YAIPack Outreach, a member of the Nashville VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), is collecting donations for survivors and first responders at 1255 Paradise Hill Road, Clarksville, TN.

Inspiritus, also active in the Nashville VOAD, is looking for volunteers willing to travel to Kentucky to offer aid. Those interested in this opportunity can contact Sherry Buresh at 859-353-2243 or email her at sherry.buresh@weinspirit.org.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (center) met with Inspiritus volunteers at the Volunteer Reception Center in Wayland Floyd County to provide encouragement to responders and survivors alike. (Photo by Inspiritus)

The Inspiritus Disaster Response team is currently on the ground in Eastern Kentucky running the Volunteer Reception Center and coordinating volunteer efforts.

Other local organizations offering relief are The FootPrint Project, Kentucky Red Cross, and the Christian Appalachian Project. They need monetary donations, as well as volunteers.

This is a reminder that disasters can occur without warning. Hands On Nashville and our partners are always preparing for whatever may come our way.

Volunteer to support student success this school year!

Davidson County students are heading back to school next week, and our education partners could use your help! Mentor students, lead field trips, or organize classrooms — there are all kinds of ways to help! Keep scrolling for just a few of our suggestions, and learn how you can help make this school year the best one yet!

Read with preschoolers during a weekly storytime
King’s Daughters Child Development Center

When: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through November

Visit preschoolers at a local child development center and read them stories! This quick volunteer opportunity only takes about 30 minutes. Volunteers can spend a quick visit with the kids, or read for multiple classes.

Create informative videos to educate students virtually
PENCIL
When:
Ongoing through December

Pick a topic surrounding elementary-level reading, middle school STEAM classes, or high school career readiness and preparation, and using your cell phone create a short, informative video for students! Videos can be between five and 15 minutes, and be simple and fun. Help PENCIL keep students engaged through virtual learning.

Educate kids during field study visits to the farm
The Land Trust for Tennessee
When:
9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13

Attend orientation with The Land Trust for Tennessee to begin hosting field trips when kids visit the farm! Volunteers will lead activities stations about trees, the history of the farm, gardening, the animals, and how to compost.

Offer field trip support to school groups visiting the museum
National Museum of African American Music
(NMAAM)
When: Ongoing through December

NMAAM volunteers will assist with chaperoning school-age students during field trips to the museum. Volunteers will engage with students and support logistics, group management, and enforcing safety protocols. Field trip support volunteers may help with facilitating school lunches and providing cleanup after.  

Provide academic and social-emotional support to elementary school students
FiftyForward
When:
Ongoing through December

FiftyForward is looking for adult volunteers age 55 and older to assist with their Friends Learning in Pairs (FLIP) tutoring program. Volunteers will serve as tutors and lunch buddies at partner schools and are an important part of helping students succeed.  FLIP tutors serve once or twice a week for approximately two hours at a time, meeting one-on-one with up to four students. 

Oversee play time and help with children’s homework
Begin Anew
When:
Ongoing through November

Volunteer as a children’s program volunteer and help children with their homework when needed; oversee playtime and facilitate enrichment activities, and lead bible study programming. Volunteers are needed at the Franklin and Nashville locations.

Tutor students through an accelerated scholars program
PENCIL
When:
Ongoing through December

The Accelerating Scholars program is recruiting community volunteers to tutor more than 7,000 MNPS students who need a little extra help and personalized support, especially in elementary reading or middle school and high school math. Volunteers provide support in three, 30-minute-long virtual tutoring sessions every week ​​during the fall semester beginning September 19.

Help with light maintenance and storage organization projects at a local center
YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee
When: Ongoing through January 2023

Help the YWCA with cleaning, maintaining the grounds, storage organization, donation sorting, and more! The YWCA helps families leave abusive households and start new lives. We provide free HiSET education to men and women and mentor middle & high school girls and boys in some of Nashville’s toughest neighborhoods. 

Tutor students to take the GED
Begin Anew
When:
Ongoing through November

Begin Anew is looking for volunteers to commit to a one-hour weekly tutoring session with adult learners preparing to take their GED! Subjects include math, reading, writing, social studies, and science.  Instruction is offered one-on-one or in small groups. 

Work in the gardens at Glencliff High School
Metro Nashville Public Schools
When: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24

Learn techniques for growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and other common vegetables, install drip irrigation, sow and harvest the plants, and more at Glencliff High School. All produce is harvested and distributed to local families or marketed and sold by students as part of their school-based enterprise. Proceeds benefit activities and trips for the school’s FFA chapter.

Become a volunteer reading tutor for students grades K-5
Y-CAP YMCA
When:
Ongoing through December

Virtually tutor young readers who are currently reading below their grade level. Volunteers will work with children in kindergarten through fifth grade to improve their literacy and comprehension skills. The YMCA offers a straightforward training process to ensure volunteers are ready to get reading.

Cut out materials for teachers to use in the classroom
PENCIL
When:
Morning and afternoon shifts available on Wednesdays

Use die-cut machines to create flashcards and other resources for teachers to use this coming school year. PENCIL provides a free resource center for teachers to shop and help stock their classrooms for a year of learning.

Encourage and mentor students through multiple learning programs
Begin Anew
When:
Ongoing through November

Work with students on a weekly basis to build relationships and encourage them as they work through HSE (High School Equivalency) programs, learn English, or complete computer and job skills training.
(Mentors also needed in Madison or Franklin!)

Improving the community is the heart of Jackson’s commitment to service

At Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Jackson®), volunteerism is an integral part of this company’s mission and culture. Through their corporate philanthropy efforts of prioritizing employee volunteerism, Jackson and Hands On Nashville have a longtime partnership supporting Middle Tennessee’s greatest needs. This is the third consecutive year Jackson is serving as the Presenting Sponsor for the annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards.

Their dedication to the Strobel Awards aligns with one of Jackson’s core values, to positively impact the community. 

“At Jackson, service is an important part of our culture,” says Niya Moon, Corporate Philanthropy Manager at Jackson. “Our employee-engagement program, Jackson in Action, empowers team members to donate their skills and time through volunteerism, and the Strobel volunteer stories of what amazing things can come from a year of service are truly inspiring. We’re honored to be the presenting sponsor for such a wonderful event.”

A group of Jackson team members volunteer at a local park.

In addition to championing volunteerism, both with the Strobel Awards and among their employees, Jackson explored different ways to collaborate with others and help change communities for the better over the past year.

  • In 2021, Jackson invested more than $4.88 million in communities where their associates work and live, with $1.19 million being invested in Tennessee.
  • The company and its associates donated $2.19 million through its matching gifts program.
  • Associates volunteered 11,535 hours nationally last year. (Keeping in mind adjusted volunteer engagement due to covid precautions.)
  • Jackson awarded $100,000 over two years to Conexión Américas to fund and support its financial empowerment programs, as well as supporting Conexión’s commitment to providing direct services to the Latino community throughout the pandemic.

April is Financial Literacy Month, as well as National Volunteer Month, two pillars of Jackson’s strong service commitment. In 2017, the Jackson Charitable Foundation was established with a mission to advance financial education across the United States. They began working with Junior Achievement USA and Discovery Education to encourage financial education at an early age. Jackson engages with students across the country through their signature program, Cha-ChingTM Money Smart Kids

Jackson volunteers sort toys for a local nonprofit.

Entering their five-year anniversary, the Foundation has educated more than 10 million students and continues to sponsor 100 high schools annually to utilize finEDge, an educational initiative developed by the University of Chicago. Read more about the foundation’s work here

“It’s a great privilege for the Foundation to continue our mission, listening, learning and supporting the important work of our partners, advancing financial education across the United States,” says Danielle Robinson, Executive Director at Jackson Charitable Foundation. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to help educate young minds and allow these students to get a head start in planning for a successful financial future.”

Hands On Nashville also thanks Jackson for their support and dedication to meeting our community’s needs. 

For more information about Jackson and their commitment to service, click here.

About Jackson

Jackson National Life Insurance Company is committed to helping clarify the complexity of retirement planning for its customers. Jackson’s range of annuity products, financial know-how, history of award-winning service, and streamlined experiences strive to reduce the confusion that complicates retirement plans. As part of their award-winning Corporate Philanthropy program, Jackson invests nearly $1.2 million annually in nonprofit and community causes in Middle Tennessee.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Direct Service — Youth

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Youth category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 using the button below!

JohnThomas Atema

JohnThomas Atema
Volunteers with Best Buddies 

JohnThomas Atema began volunteering with the Best Buddies organization in the sixth grade. As a peer, lunch and a homework buddy, Atema has been a consistent friend to peers with special needs because of his passion for inclusivity.  

Atema has continued his services with the Best Buddies organization by serving as both vice president and president of the organization in middle school. While serving in these roles, he was recognized as the top fundraiser for the Best Buddies Walk that year and won the James C. Parker Service Award. As a high schooler, Atema has served as a peer buddy all three years and currently serves as the vice president of the high school-level organization. Moving into his senior year, he hopes to be president of the organization. He is also a part of Best Buddies International through providing videos for the organization and serving as the youngest Global Ambassador.  “JohnThomas does not have to do Best Buddies because he lives Best Buddies — he has a sister with Down syndrome and lives out the organization’s mission every day. However, he has passionately chosen to be involved with this organization because he knows how important it is and has been Buddies with the same student since the seventh grade,” shared a colleague of Atema’s.  


Riya Narayan

Riya Narayan
Founder of Treats and Tunes

Riya Narayan is the founder of Treats and Tunes, an organization with a mission to provide people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities with a platform to share their love for music. Through her organization, she has reached out to many assisted living centers, coordinated performances and logistics, and planned in-person and virtual events.  

When Narayan recognized the impact that music can have on members of senior living and long-term care facilities, she knew that she would be able to meet that need. At age 14, Narayan founded Treats and Tunes to provide engaging activities and entertainment for members of elderly communities. Based in Franklin, Tenn., Narayan has recruited performers from across the world to share the joy of music to over 1,500 residents in assisted living centers in not only the Nashville area, but also centers in New York, Michigan, California and Vancouver, Canada. Treats and Tunes has expanded to host over 30 virtual and eight in-person events in the span of two years. Narayan has found ways to involve participants from over 10 U.S. states and four different countries, including India and Venezuela.  

Despite the pandemic that affected a lot of her in-person efforts in 2020, Narayan continued to expand in ways that would be safe and still enjoyable to residents of the assisted living centers. Her heart and passion for helping serve others continues to impact many community centers and residents.   “The joy, twinkle in the eyes and the sense of bonding Riya felt from senior citizens after every performance made the efforts totally worth it,” shared a colleague of Narayan’s.


Maddie McDaniel

Maddie McDaniel
Volunteers with Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away 

Maddie McDaniel is no stranger to spreading the love when it comes to volunteer efforts in the Nashville area. As a student, McDaniel dedicates all her weekends and breaks to serving both Girl Scout Troop 6000 and One Generation Away. The two organizations are working to alleviate homelessness for women and hunger in Nashville.  

Even while attending school Monday through Friday, McDaniel has made the effort to log over 300 hours of community service to both organizations. Starting out as a Girl Scout herself, she first was introduced to Troop 6000 in her freshman year, when she immediately signed up to be a co-leader to provide support and activities to the young women experiencing homelessness. McDaniel felt led to serve this community because of the joy and resilience the women continued to emit, even while experiencing homelessness.  

McDaniel was introduced to One Generation Away through a joint mobile food pantry that was initiated by her church. One Generation Away seeks to help families struggling with food anxiety by providing food from local grocery stores. When serving, she helps unload 30,000 pounds of food and sorts through it. With all her dedicated time to the organization, McDaniel has taken on the responsibility of directing over 300 cars of traffic to the food pantry. She has continued to serve the organization in her personal life through her social media platforms, Girl Scout troops, her church youth group and clubs on campus.  

“Though these two organizations are different, I believe they called me to help for the same reason. They enable me to help someone directly, an opportunity to exchange a smile or a thank you. They allow me to learn from them and get back more than I give,” McDaniel shared.  

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Direct Service — Older Adult

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Older Adult category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 using the button below!

Carole Sergent

Carole Sergent
Volunteers with Tennessee Resettlement Aid, Nashville International Center for Empowerment, The Branch of Nashville, and individual refugee families

Carole Sergent was one of the few independent volunteers who saw a need and carved her own path to meet it. When the Afghan refugees began to arrive in Nashville, Sergent immediately acted by collecting donations needed for survival. Since then, she has recruited over 200 people who help to donate and deliver items to over 250 Afghan refugees who have arrived in the United States.  

When refugees began arriving in Nashville, official relief agencies were not fully staffed, which is when Sergent jumped in to provide crucial services to those in need. She began working with the Tennessee Resettlement Aid (TRA) to create a network of donors through word-of-mouth and social media to provide clothing, linens, household items, toiletries, toys, and more. The TRA now works alongside the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) to receive necessary information about new Afghan arrivals and volunteers. This system provides emergency boxes of food from The Branch of Nashville food bank to families two or three times per day.  

Through her service, Sergent has served many Afghans and has hundreds of success stories for providing resources and opportunity for refugees. She not only provides refugees with the items they need for survival, but has also helped them find schools for children, jobs, documentation needed for work, and even opened her home to those who need a place to do laundry.  “There are hundreds of success stories from Carole because she has created a huge volunteer network and is managing it to work efficiently and effectively. Every volunteer who has delivered emergency food or clothing or transportation can tell you a story that would make you cry,” shared a colleague of Sergent’s. 


Edward Arnell

Edward Arnell
Volunteers with Preston Taylor Ministries 

Edward Arnell has been a consistent and dependable face to many of the students at Preston Taylor Ministries. Serving the students of Mt. Nebo four days a week, Arnell has become not only a mentor to many of the students, but also a friend, tutor and spiritual adviser.  

Within Preston Taylor Ministries, many of the people who dedicate their time do not reflect the population of the surrounding neighborhood and the culture of the students. Arnell not only lives in the neighborhood but is also a volunteer of color. With Preston Taylor Ministries serving a majority African American population, students can relate and feel more connected to Arnell and his service. “When students see Mr. Edward serving, they can see themselves doing the same. This is what causes change in communities, people being inspired to be the difference,” shared a colleague of Arnell’s.  

He has become a role model and inspirational guide for many of the students at Preston Taylor Ministries by providing them with homework and reading tutoring that has allowed them to exponentially increase their grades in school. Arnell also provides meals to students once a week through his own income. His full-course meals with homemade desserts have become a favorite of the students at Mt. Nebo.  

As a deacon at Mt. Nebo, Arnell also acts as a spiritual adviser for the students at Preston Taylor Ministries. He is known to give truthful and inspiring advice to the students while also providing them with scripture that he encourages them to memorize and live out daily.   


Vera Coleman

Vera Coleman
Volunteers with FiftyForward 

As a National Community Engagement Partner for the All of Us Research Program, Vera Coleman joined the nonprofit organization FiftyForward to help advance precision medicine with the National Institutes of Health. 

As one of the All of Us Research Program’s first ambassadors, Coleman has been volunteering alongside the program since its launch in 2018. The newly founded program’s goal is to recruit 1 million volunteers from historically underrepresented communities in biomedical research to share their health information and transform the current one-size-fits-all health care system. Because of Coleman’s contribution, the All of Us Research Program has enrolled over 450,000 individuals so far, with over 80% of those representing historically underrepresented communities in biomedical research. The All of Us Research Program team helps staff community events and health fairs and speaks at in-person and virtual events. Vera has additionally gone the extra mile to sit on nationwide panel discussions on the need for diversity, including older adults, in medical research. The volunteer role requires a heavy amount of in-person interaction that requires a sense of trust from the potential program enrollees.

Coleman has been known to not only earn the trust of those enrollees, but also become a respected leader in her community as she is quick to address fears and concerns of those she’s created relationships with. She has been known to her team and program enrollees for her wisdom, expertise and compassion in her personal interactions.  

During the pandemic, Coleman continued her dedication and services to the All of Us Research Program as a virtual panelist on discussions of diversity and a podcast guest on FiftyForward’s new podcast, Squeeze the Day, where she discusses overcoming online barriers.   With a strong scientific background as the first African American woman in the field of research at Meharry University and Vanderbilt University, Coleman is a trusted source among many. “I’ve always believed in the merits of research. Now, I have an awesome opportunity to be involved in something that will prove beneficial not only for me, but for my family and community as well. The All of Us Research Program has become my passion,” she shared.


To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Capacity-building Volunteer

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Capacity-building Volunteer category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 at the button below!

Carole Purkey

Carole Purkey
Volunteers with WOW Transition House

Carole Purkey started volunteering with Women of Worth (WOW) Recovery Home in 2020. Through her work with WOW, she’s built relationships with many women who are transistioning out of incarceration and are looking for a fresh start, helping them make it to dentist and doctors’ appointments and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to celebrate their sobriety.

WOW aims to serve the needs of women in recovery who are transitioning out of incarceration. Purkey was introduced to the organization through her church, Donelson Church of Christ, and has served as an active board member and volunteer since 2020. She’s spread the word about the organization throughout the community, gaining consistent financial support from several groups and individuals. By advocating for the organization to her church, Purkey expanded the capabilities of WOW with a roughly $60,000 property renovation in 2021 that opened the doors to their second recovery house, increasing their capacity from five beds to 11 beds.

“I was introduced to Women of Worth Recovery Home through a class at my church when we began providing dinner for their weekly community meeting,” Purkey said. “After meeting and getting to know them, they have become my friends and have shown me that they just want a second chance.”

Purkey knows each client by name as she volunteers to provide them with transportation to appointments and leads Bible studies with them. Several women even found transportation to her 70th birthday party.

Purkey has shown through her consistent work that she believes in the philosophy, purpose and goals of WOW. “This organization, under the direction of Kristy Pomeroy, gives women who need a support system after incarceration a safe, comfortable and loving environment as they find their path to independence.”


Sunny Fleming and her dog, Elise

Sunny Fleming
Volunteers with Friends of Shelby Park & Bottoms

When Sunny Fleming volunteered with Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms in the summer of 2021, she was able to use her expertise as a national solutions engineer to expand the maintenance capabilities of the nonprofit that maintains the park.

With 1,300 acres of space with varying biomes, the small, dedicated Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms maintenance crew has their work cut out for them in improving and protecting the park. With limited staffing, it was important that they find a way to monitor maintenance needs around the property.

Thanks to Fleming’s knowledge of ArcGIS, a geographical information system, she was able to create and set up a survey that enables park maintenance needs to be easily flagged on a map. She also took the time to train volunteers to use the survey, expediting the maintenance and improvement process.

Several members of the public were mobilized to document areas in the park in need of improvement, and Fleming trained members of the nonprofit to use the program to stay on top of maintenance needs.

Through Fleming’s efforts, Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms can now track their progress on removing invasive species, which trails need maintenance and the urgency of the maintenance. She has volunteered many hours to train members of the nonprofit to use the ArcGIS software, increasing their capacity to maintain the sprawling park grounds for visitors to enjoy.


Susanne Shepherd Post

Susanne Shepherd Post
Founder of Shear Haven with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

As a hair stylist, Susanne Shepherd Post knows how easy it is to be a listening and supportive ear for her clients. As a survivor of domestic violence, she also knows that her job puts her in a position to recognize many of the signs of abuse. Many stylists, however, don’t know what to look for to determine whether their client is a victim of abuse.

Combining her career and her calling, Shepherd Post co-founded the Shear Haven initiative with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee in 2017 to train cosmetologists to recognize their role in identifying and reporting domestic violence. Shepherd Post and YWCA advocated for legislation requiring all licensed beauty professionals in Tennessee to complete a domestic violence education course. Through a unique partnership with the Barbicide company, a short, online video was created and shared at no cost on the Barbicide website, paving the way for the legislation to pass unanimously in the Tennessee Senate and overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives.

Shepherd Post’s work with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee has given the 124-year-old nonprofit a brand-new way to reach and assist women in need. To date, more than 40,000 cosmetologists have completed the Shear Haven training on the Barbicide website, giving them the tools they need to recognize and report domestic abuse. Included in that number are not only cosmetologists from Tennessee, but those stretching to various states and 101 countries. “I am deeply honored to be nominated,” Shepherd Post said. “I am inspired by the work of each of my fellow nominees, and I hope this helps shine a light on the amazing work the YWCA does in our community. Because of my experience as a domestic violence survivor, I feel a calling and a responsibility to spread awareness about the signs of domestic violence. I hope to help open a deeper conversation around the issue and believe that reducing the stigma and sharing resources can help save lives.”

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Strobel Finalists 2022: Disaster Relief

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Disaster Relief category of the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 30 at the button below!

Hispanic Outreach Task Force
(Marcela Gomez)

Hispanic Outreach Task Force
Volunteers with Hands On Nashville, offers assistance to Latino community in need

In the aftermath of the March 2021 flood, south Nashville was in particular need of disaster relief. While there were many volunteer organizations making recovery efforts at the time, it was quickly realized that a task force of community members who could understand and navigate the cultural nuances of the largely Latino community was needed. This task force consisted of Diane Janbakhsh, Jennifer Novo, Veronica Selcedo, Wendy Silva, Karla Vazaquez and Veronica Zavaleta, all well-known and influential community members. The team immediately crafted a plan to reach members of the Latino community who were in need and let them know that relief was available.

Before the Hispanic Outreach Task Force was assembled, only a handful of Latino residents felt comfortable reaching out for help; after several outreach events and media pushes conducted by the team, over 300 requests for disaster relief from homeowners and renters in the area were received, allowing volunteers to mobilize and help residents. Without this task force, many members of the Latino community in south Nashville would not have had a trusted avenue to reach out for help with disaster recovery. Although the members of the task force didn’t expect any recognition for their work, they are honored to be nominated. “Offering the talents and skills life has given you for the service of others is an honor,” said Marcela Gomez, who was instrumental in assembling the task force. “You don’t volunteer with the mindset that you will get something back; you volunteer because you are grateful to be alive.”


Emergency Support Unit volunteers

Emergency Support Unit
Nashville Office of Emergency Management

During Nashville’s tremendous rainfall and historic flash flooding in March 2021, crews were quickly needed to help rescue residents who had been trapped in dangerous situations. That’s when the Emergency Support Unit (ESU), a team of roughly 30 community members ranging from CEOs to teachers, mobilized. This team volunteered their extensive training to help Nashvillians in need.

When Nashville started flooding, this team, several of whom are trained specifically in flood and swift-water response, put their skills to use and saved dozens of lives. The ESU conducted numerous home, vehicle and high-water rescues. When a Metro Nashville police officer was swept from his vehicle during the night and into rushing, debris-filled, 20-foot-deep water, the ESU team conducted an emergency rescue in the dark, saving the officer’s life.

“ESU volunteers are dedicated to serve their community and its citizens during their time of need during emergency and non-emergency incidents that affect our community,” said a representative from the Office of Emergency Management. “This is a great honor for us.”


Joe Gaines

Joe Gaines
Volunteers with Waverly Flood Survivors and Westminster Presbyterian Church

Joe Gaines has been an active disaster relief volunteer since Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005. He volunteered to help during Nashville’s 2010 flood, and after the 2020 tornadoes in Putnam and Davidson Counties. When flooding devastated Waverly, Tenn., Gaines’s actions were no different – he jumped in to help.

Since the August flooding, Gaines and his team have worked on 12 homes impacted by the storms. His team works on the most severely damaged homes, the ones many other teams walk away from. What makes Gaines’s work special is he recognizes these houses are more than damaged buildings, they’re people’s homes. When on site it’s a priority of his to introduce volunteers to the home owners to show just how important their work is.

“I feel that there is a call to help others in their time of need,” Gaines said. “I also enjoy hands-on labor and the fellowship of my fellow volunteers. My life has been rewarded by seeing the appreciation of those we help.”

Gaines is tireless, and works with a quiet determination and thorough knowledge of his skill set. After the attention has diverted from Waverly and the resources have dwindled, he’s remained dedicated to the flood victims. He continues to gather a crew two days a month to help those who have lost so much, and is often found working long after other volunteers have headed home.

He is the heart of his group, and the motivation to keep everyone positive throughout the day. He says he’s fortunate to work with his fellow members at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and continue their long tradition of service.

To see a full list of the nominees for the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

Spread a little love this Valentine’s Day

We all know Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate your loved ones. But, instead of flowers and chocolates, we thought we would share a few ways you can show some love to your community with those you love. These opportunities are great for your friends, family, or that special someone!  

Check out our list here:  

Sort and bundle baby clothes with There With Care Middle Tennessee 
When: Ongoing 

Organize donations, bundle baby clothes, and help create grocery support care bags with There with Care. Spread love to new families in your community! 👶💗 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000eFqZGEA0 

Deliver Care Packages to Families at local Children’s Hospitals 
When: Ongoing 

There with Care Middle Tennessee is looking for volunteers to deliver care kits to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and to The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial. Additional training and a background check is required. 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000eFqZaEAK 

Package hygiene kits with the Community Resource Center 
When: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14 

Everyone should have the ability to look and smell their best, especially on Valentine’s Day! Spend a few hours with a loved one packaging relief and hygiene kits at the CRC, which are delivered to eight counties across Middle Tennessee. 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000iO46lEAC 

Share a Hobby or Skill with the residents of Dismas House 
When: Ongoing 

Looking to show off a special skill with your significant other? Volunteering will surely impress them! You can share a hobby or skill together or individually with the residents of Dismas House. Activities can range from cooking a delicious meal together to singing, acting, or whatever your passion is! Activities can be shared in person or over Zoom.  

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C1H00001omHQfUAM 
 
Food Delivery to Afghan Refugees with The Branch 
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14 

Explore Nashville with your Valentine while doing good for our neighbors in need! The Branch of Nashville is looking for volunteers to pick up pre-made boxes of food and deliver them to Afghan families at local apartment complexes. 

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000iO3tAEAS 

Modify Homes for Children with Disabilities with Tucker’s House 
When: Ongoing 

Get your hands dirty with your Valentine by remodeling a home to meet specific needs for children with disabilities! Volunteers with construction experience are needed to help with demo, framing, trim, building ramps, and more. General volunteers are also needed to help with demolition, construction clean up, and painting.  

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C1H00001asz6nUAA 

Be a friendly face and provide assistance to guests at FiftyForward  
When: 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 

FiftyForward is looking for folks to assist with their adult day services! Volunteers will greet guests as they arrive, assist with meal services, and provide socialization and one-on-one support during activities. Show some love to the older adult community and warm your own heart in the process.  

Sign up here: hon.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000iO09CEAS 

Join us next week for the 36th Annual Strobel Volunteer Awards!

After a year of significant challenges, we are SO READY to hear some amazing stories of service. We’re very excited to share that the 36th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards will feature fun prizes and categories that honor the unique service of Nashville volunteers.

Plus, the public will get a chance to vote for their favorite story of service!

ACT FAST! The first 25 nominators will receive a $50 giftcard to Hattie B’s!



Award Categories 

Capacity-building Volunteer 

Disaster Relief Volunteer 

Group Volunteer Service

Social Justice Impact Volunteer

Direct Service Youth (Ages 5-20) 

Direct Service Adult (Ages 21-49)  

Direct Service Older Adult (Ages 50+)

 Learn more about categories and submission criteria.

Make a difference by nominating!

Award recipients will receive a $1,000 gift card from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and finalists will receive a $250 gift card to donate to the charity of their choice. The public will get a chance to vote on their favorite story of service before the recipients are announced May 13.


About the Awards  

The Strobel Volunteer Awards were created to honor the memory of Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashville volunteer known for her compassion and generosity. The ceremony, now in its 36th year, has grown to become Middle Tennessee’s largest celebration of service. 
Learn more here.


How to Help December Tornado Survivors

On December 10-11, a line of severe storms and tornadoes swept across the country and resulted in fatalities, damaged structures and residences in more than six states. This page offers resources for those recovering and will be updated regularly.

Volunteer
Volunteers can connect with Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster at www.tnvoad.org/volunteer, or the Kentucky Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster at voadkentucky.wpengine.com/volunteer.

To sign up as a Disaster Volunteer Leader with Hands On Nashville, click here.

Give
In times of disaster, financial donations are the best way to aid those in need. Cash can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

American Red Cross
The American Red Cross continues to serve those affected by the recent severe weather. Emergency assistance is available to individuals whose homes were destroyed or majorly impacted. For more information, please contact the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Crisis Cleanup
A Crisis Cleanup service is in place for Tennesseans who need help with debris removal and home cleanup from the recent severe weather. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the expected overwhelming need. Individuals needing assistance should call the hotline at 1-800-451-1954.

Tennessee Statewide Crisis Phone Line
Call 1-855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471) to speak with a caring, trained mental health professional, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, if you are experiencing a mental health emergency. You can also text TN to 741741.

Rx Open
Rx Open provides information on the operating status of healthcare facilities in areas impacted by a disaster. Visit their website at rxopen.org.