Tag Archives: youth volunteers

Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps Receives Top Honor


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Nashville, Tenn. – Youth Volunteer Corps of Nashville was named a 2016 Gold Level YVC Affiliate, one of less than 15 YVC programs throughout the U.S. and Canada awarded this honor. The youth service program, hosted by Hands On Nashville, offers volunteer opportunities for nearly 1,000 youth who serve nearly 4,000 volunteer hours every year. Continue reading Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps Receives Top Honor

Reaching My True Potential: A Reflection of AmeriCorps Service

Ashleigh refurbishing
Ashleigh Barker refurbishing a bicycle during Hands On Nashville’s 2015 YVC Spring Break at Oasis Center.

Ashleigh Barker reflects on a year as a Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Member.

For the last year, Ashleigh Barker has served as Hands On Nashville’s YVC Outreach AmeriCorps Member. In this role, Ashleigh has poured her heart and energy into connecting Nashville youth and teens, many of whom attend Metro Nashville Public Schools, to meaningful service opportunities designed to help them grow as leaders in their own right. From guiding a team of Youth Volunteer Corps interns who develop and lead their own service projects at area nonprofits, to facilitating a dynamic service-learning Summer Camp educating young Nashvillians in multiple issue areas, to creating social-networking content and the regular youth newsletter, Ashleigh has made a lasting impact in the lives of youth leaders, and those they benefit.

During her final week at Hands On Nashville, Ashleigh offered this reflection of her time as an AmeriCorps Member. Continue reading Reaching My True Potential: A Reflection of AmeriCorps Service

Youth Volunteer Corps of Nashville Receives Top Honor


Hands On Nashville's Youth Volunteer Corp was named a Gold Level Aff
Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps was named a 2015 Gold Level Affiliate. #hypedonhelp

Nashville, Tenn. – Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps was named a 2015 Gold Level YVC Affiliate, one of only nine throughout the U.S. and Canada. The youth service program, hosted by Hands On Nashville, offers volunteer opportunities for more than 800 youth who serve more than 4,000 volunteer hours every year. Continue reading Youth Volunteer Corps of Nashville Receives Top Honor

Introducing our 2014-15 Urban Agriculture Communities & Food Interns!

We’d like to introduce you to a group of nine outstanding Urban Agriculture Communities & Food Interns who will be serving with us throughout the 2014-15 school year!

The Urban Agriculture Communities & Food internship is a service-learning opportunity for high school students who want to gain sustainable gardening and community development skills while working to address social justice. After a highly competitive application process, these youth were selected to serve.

We’re excited to introduce them to you now….

"I serve because I believe in the power of youth!" - Grace Bryant, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because I believe in the power of youth!” – Grace Bryant, HON Communities & Food Intern

Grace Bryant is a junior at Glencliff High School where she is a leader on the Garden Club each year. As a Communities & Food Intern this summer, Grace led the “Growing Station” at Hands On Nashville’s Crop City Youth Development Program. Through this internship, Grace’s goal is to learn more about food insecurity issues facing our community and how to help.

Fun Fact: Grace’s favorite hobby is knitting. She says she loves that she can make things for others.

"I serve because we've got work to do." - Simon Cooper,, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because we’ve got work to do.” – Simon Cooper, HON Communities & Food Intern

Simon Cooper is junior at Hume-Fogg  Academic High School where he is Class Vice President, a member of the environmental club, and is co-president of debate club. Simon is returning for his second consecutive year as a Communities & Food Intern. “I would like to learn as much about the food system as possible, so that I will be armed with the knowledge necessary to help remedy it,” he says.

Fun Fact: Simon’s favorite hobby is reading because, as he says, “one can learn anything” by reading.”

"I serve because it makes me happy!" - Emily Dunn, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because it makes me happy!” – Emily Dunn, HON Communities & Food Intern

Emily Dunn, a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic High School, has spent the past two summers making a difference as a Teaching Intern at Hands On Nashville’s Crop City Youth Development Program. Emily is also a Volunteer Leader at HON’s Urban Farm, and says she would like to gain more knowledge about food deserts so that she can better understand how the community can help resolve them.

Fun Fact: If Emily could have superpowers, she would be able to fly or breathe under water. “Just think about all the exploring you could do,” she says.

Emma Fischer, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because through service comes greatness.” – Emma Fischer, HON Communities & Food Intern

Emma Fischer is a senior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School who is no stranger to the Hands On Nashville team. Emma is currently a Volunteer Leader at Hands On Nashville’s Urban Farm, has helped lead youth community service events, like Global Youth Service Day 2014, and served as a Communities & Food Intern during the 2013-14 school year.

Fun Fact: If Emma could travel anywhere, she would go to the moon.

"I serve because I enoy the feeling of helping others!" - Cameron Jackson, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because I enjoy the feeling of helping others!” – Cameron Jackson, HON Communities & Food Intern

Cameron Jackson is a junior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. Cameron’s goal for this internship is to improve the food system in her community while working with people who want to do the same. Cameron is currently a member of Mayor’s Youth Council, is on the Board of Directors at Epicenter Nashville, and is a Student Government Association representative at her school.

Fun Fact: If Cameron could only listen to one CD/album forever, it would be My Everything by Ariana Grande. “It has a song for every emotion,” she says.

Rachel Langley, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
Rachel Langley, HON Communities & Food Intern

Rachel Langley is a junior at Nashville School of the Arts. As a Communities & Food Intern, Rachel’s goal is to help other people achieve their goals of growing their own food and making better food choices to enhance positive lifestyles. She says raising and caring for her nephew and cousin has been an important leadership role in her life, and she looks to apply her knowledge throughout this internship.

Fun Fact: If Rachel could have any superpower it would be to fly so she could go anywhere at any time.

"I serve because I believe I can make a difference in the world." Rachel Tuggle, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because I believe I can make a difference in the world.” – Rachel Tuggle, HON Communities & Food Intern

Rachel Tuggle is a senior at Donelson Christian Academy where she is the President of Interact Club, a Student Ambassador, and helps lead the school’s Chemistry Club. As a Communities & Food Intern, Rachel wants to learn ways to help integrate better methods of food production and distribution into the community.

Fun Fact: Rachel’s favorite hobby is painting. “It helps me relax and makes me feel better,” she says.

"I serve because it makes people happy!" Destiny Rainer, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because it makes people happy!” – Destiny Rainer, HON Communities & Food Intern

Destiny Rainer is a junior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. As a Communities & Food Intern, Destiny’s goal is to learn more about the community food system, and become a better leader.
Fun Fact: If Destiny could eat only one food forever, she would eat peaches – “they’re healthy and taste great,” she says!

"I serve because I love to help people." - Iyana Rainer, HON Urban Agriculture Intern
“I serve because I love to help people.” – Iyana Rainer, HON Communities & Food Intern

Iyana Rainer is a freshman at Nashville School of the Arts where she is in the Beta Club, and has served on the Student Council. As a Communities & Food Intern, Iyana’s goal is to try new and healthy foods, and bolster her communications skills.
Fun Fact: If Iyana could eat only one food forever, she would eat watermelon – it’s healthy!

A Great Summer of Youth Service!

We had a blast serving and learning with hundreds of outstanding youth this summer. We explored issues that impact our community, talked about sustainable eating and healthy food choices at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm, and worked alongside skilled youth interns and other future leaders. What can we say? We’re already looking forward to next summer! Here’s a recap of our 2014 summer.

Crop City 2014 Youth Development Program Recap:

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Youth from Sophia’s Heart harvest materials for Squash Slaw at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm!

Last week, Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture team wrapped up its six-week youth development program, Crop City, and it was a huge success! Over the past two months, 763 youth spent a total of 1,923 hours learning about nutrition, the social and environmental impacts of our food choices, and of course, gardening, at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm.

Each day, participants played educational games and harvested food from the garden, which they then used to create healthy, delicious snacks right at the Farm. Over the summer we harvested and ate 646 pounds of fresh fruits and veggies! This year’s partners included the Martha O’Bryan Center, Y-CAP, Nashville International Center for Empowerment, Watkins Park Community Center, Sofia’s Heart, and Youth Villages.

To see more pictures of the Crop City 2014, click here.

To learn more about our outstanding Urban Agriculture Teaching Interns who led Crop City this summer, click here.

Youth Volunteer Corps Summer Camp Recap

2014 YVC Summer Youth Camp Week 3
Youth serving at The Nashville Food Project during week three of YVC Summer Camp.

This summer, Hands On Nashville also launched YVC Summer Camp, a brand new summer camp for youth ages 14-18. Each week, campers explored an issue that impacts our community.

During the months of June and July, campers learned about environmental issues, homelessness and hunger, health and wellness, and youth education, and served the Nashville community through experiential service-learning projects. Campers served at the Nashville Rescue Mission, gardened at BELL Garden, sorted medical supplies at Project C.U.R.E. and served and learned with many other community organizations.

2014 YVC Summer Camp Week 4
Youth serving at Fannie Battle during week four of HON’s YVC Summer Camp.

Huge thanks to our 2014 Summer Youth Leaders, Ben, Cecilia, Emily, and Conor, for helping make YVC Summer Camp a success!

Interested in serving as a youth leader? Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps is now recruiting passionate, dedicated youth to serve as leaders for our ongoing, monthly volunteer projects. Email Ashleigh at hon.org for more information.

Nominations Now Open for 2014 Strobel Volunteer Awards

Hands On Nashville Asks Community To Nominate Volunteer Heroes by Feb. 14

January 27, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hands On Nashville is asking the community to nominate individuals and groups for the 2014 Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards presented by HCA/TriStar Health.

“We all know incredible people – everyday heroes – who give of their time and talents to make our community better,” said Brian Williams, Hands On Nashville president and CEO. “Each spring, the Strobel Awards luncheon gives our community an opportunity to lift up these inspiring stories of volunteerism that happen around us every day.”


The nomination deadline is Feb. 14, and nomination forms can be found at www.HON.org/strobel_awards. Nashvillians are encouraged to nominate outstanding volunteers within six categories of service:

  • Civic Volunteer Group Award recognizes representatives of civic, membership, faith-based or noncorporate groups that volunteer together for a specific cause or issue.
  • Capacity-building Volunteer Award honors individuals who provide significant operational or administrative support to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization.
  • Corporate Volunteerism Award pays tribute to businesses that have robust employee volunteer programs with high levels of participation and impact.
  • Direct Service Volunteer Award recognizes individuals who have participated in hands-on, direct service with a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization.
  • Volunteer Innovator Award honors individuals or groups that have directly identified a community need and responded to it by developing and implementing an innovative solution, or improved an existing program or effort through creative problem-solving.
  • Youth Volunteer Award recognizes youth, teens and young adults ages 5 to 22 who have gone above and beyond to incorporate volunteerism into their lives.

Three finalists for five of the six categories will be selected by two groups of independent assessors, composed of community volunteers, volunteer administrators, business leaders and civic leaders. The exception is the Volunteer Innovator Award category. Finalists in this category will be selected by a panel of judges convened by TN Media. To encourage broad community participation, volunteers in this category will be invited to vote for an award recipient via the Tennessean.com website.  All award recipients will be announced at the luncheon.

The Awards luncheon, now in its 28th year, will be held on April 22 at the Marriott Cool Springs Conference Center. All nominees receive special recognition and a complimentary seat at the luncheon.

More than 700 volunteers and agency representatives are expected to attend the luncheon. Award luncheon tickets will be available for purchase at HON.org in March.

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 homeless, impoverished and less fortunate populations. The annual awards ceremony celebrates Strobel’s service and recognizes those who continue her legacy.

About Hands On Nashville
Since 1991, Hands On Nashville has been connecting volunteers to critical needs facing the Middle Tennessee community, such as hunger, homelessness and environmental protection. Offering more than 400 volunteer opportunities to the community each month at HON.org, Hands On Nashville challenges everyone to find a way to give back and to … Be the Change. Volunteer.

Media Contact: 
Becca Wilson
(615) 298-1108 Ext. 406


Nashville youth conduct coat drive to help homeless community

mlkNashville teens are heading up a community coat drive this winter to help women and children experiencing homelessness, and they need your help. The goal is to collect 200 coats by January 17. The coats will be given to women and children who are participating in the Life Recovery program at the Nashville Rescue Mission on Monday, Jan. 20, as part of Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps MLK Day of Service effort.

During MLK Day of Service 2013, Hands On Nashville youth volunteers worked with women and children experiencing homelessness, including doing fun crafts projects with the kids.
During MLK Day of Service 2013, Hands On Nashville youth volunteers worked with women and children experiencing homelessness, including doing fun crafts projects with the kids.

Several local high school students are coordinating coat drives at their schools, including Zack Grady, a senior at Hunters Lane High School.

“The coat drive is a small way we can reach out to the homeless community and show them we care,” said Grady. “It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness around homelessness and to get more students involved in volunteering.”

In addition to giving the coats to the women and children, Hands On Nashville’s teen volunteers will spend Martin Luther King Day at the Rescue Mission and nearby Morgan Park Community Center getting to know each other and helping to facilitate enriching activities with the women and their children. These activities will include completing arts and craft projects; serving lunches; treating women and their children to haircuts – offered at no cost by salon professionals who will volunteer alongside the teens; and creating resumes. The teens will also have the opportunity to dialogue about the issues surrounding homelessness in Nashville.

A volunteer works with a participant of the Nashville Rescue Mission’s Life Recovery program to create a resume during Hands On Nashville’s youth MLK Day of Service in 2013.
A volunteer works with a participant of the Nashville Rescue Mission’s Life Recovery program to create a resume during Hands On Nashville’s youth MLK Day of Service in 2013.

This is the second year Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps has rallied the community around giving coats to help women and children experiencing homelessness during the winter season.

Interested in donating a coat?

  • New and pre-loved coats are accepted.
  • All coats should be clean.
  • This is a wonderful opportunity for families, individuals, or school groups to conduct a coat drive to support this effort.
  • Drop coats off at: Hands On Nashville (37 Peabody Street, Suite 206) during the weeks of January 6-10 and 13-17, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Questions? Contact Audrey at Audrey@hon.org or (615) 298-1108 Ext. 416, or visit www.hon.org/YVCmlk.

Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps offers year-round service-learning opportunities to inspire and empower youth ages 11 to 18 to create meaningful community change. Learn more at www.hon.org/teen

Media contact:
Becca Wilson
(615) 426-1428



Introducing the 2013 YVC Interns

Meet our 2013 Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) interns! These twelve outstanding teens will serve as part of a leadership team that works with Hands On Nashville staff to develop and lead youth projects that impact the community. Each Intern has chosen one of the following three concentrations – Arts, Fitness and Nutrition, and Technology – and will design and facilitate educational and skill-building lessons for youth served by area nonprofits. All of these Interns have proven themselves to be truly kind and hardworking individuals, so without further ado…
ArthurArthur Liu loves to go fishing and set up aquariums. Now in his senior year of high school, he wanted to become a YVC intern because he saw it as an opportunity to make a difference in his community while practicing some teaching skills.
BrittanyBrittany Taylor Paschall, a senior at MNPS Middle College High School, enjoys reading, writing, singing, good football, and spending time with the people she loves. Being part of the YVC will allow Brittany to serve her community while exploring her passion for health and fitness. Brittany is very excited to work with HON, the YVC, and to serve the clients of Preston Taylor Ministries!
Caroline DruryCaroline Drury is a Junior at Hume Fogg High School. She is very excited to be working as a YVC intern. She loves teaching, encouraging, and motivating others!
Esther PhambuEsther Phamabu is a junior at Martin Luther King Magnet school. Her passions include traveling, dancing, and volunteering. Esther wanted to be a YVC intern because she felt it was an opportunity to help out in her community and grow as a person in something that she loves to do. Esther is very excited to be a part of the YVC family this year!
Jenny Head ShotJenny Sai is a senior at Hume-Fogg High School, and this will be her 3rd year as a YVC intern in the arts track. She enjoys sharing her love of music with others and exposing students to new musical varieties, which was her inspiration to start teaching. Community service has been a huge part of her high school career, and Jenny aspires to keep it up during college and beyond!
Julian TurnerJulian Turner is a senior at Mt. Juliet High School. He believes that everyone has a duty to contribute to the betterment of their communities. Julian saw the YVC internship as an opportunity to elevate his involvement in the Nashville community and to make that contribution.
Kara CobbKara Cobb is currently a junior at Hume-Fogg. Kara wanted to be a YVC intern because she wanted a chance to give back to the community and help others.
LaurelLaurel Cunningham is a junior at Harpeth Hall High School. Laurel wanted to be an intern with YVC in order to work with kids and teach them about healthy lifestyles so they are set for the rest of their lives. She also wanted the experience of working with and meeting new people her age to solve issues in our community.
LaurenLauren Levy is currently a senior at Brentwood High School and is an active member of the Interact club as well as the tennis team. Becoming a YVC intern is more than a leadership opportunity for her. It is also a chance to lead in the community and directly help and impact the lives of youth throughout Nashville.
Rachel WestRachel West attends Brentwood High School. She enjoys running cross country, playing lacrosse, and helping run the Habitat for Humanity chapter at her school! Rachel joined YVC because she really wanted to make a positive impact in the community, and thought it would be a great opportunity to do so!
RuiqiRuiqi Chen (pronounced Ricky) is a sophomore at Hume-Fogg. She really loves anything to do with the arts, and is especially into music. Ruiqi wanted to be a YVC intern because it seemed like a lot of fun and a good way to give back to the community at the same time.
Zach GradyZach Grady wanted to become an intern for Hands On Nashville to help the community and become a more well-rounded leader. He enjoys helping others & making new discoveries. Zach feels that there’s always an opportunity for change if you’re willing to apply yourself.
Learn more about HON’s youth programs here!

Notes from the Farm: Fall Work is Underway

PrintHappy September!

Fall is nearly here and you can almost feel the leaves beginning to change their colors. The foliage should be particularly remarkable this year given how much rain the Nashville area received this summer.

Things at the Farm are moving right along. Our summer crops are almost done producing, so we have been busy harvesting all the peppers, tomatoes, beans, and corn that we can before planting our fall crops and preparing for the winter. Most of the Farm will be in cover this fall and winter, which means that instead of primarily growing food, we will grow plants that help rebuild and protect our soil. However, we will still grow some food in one section of the Farm. This area will be dedicated to growing root crops (such as carrots, beets, and radishes) and greens (like spinach, kale, and lettuce.)

Farm visitors show off some delicious watermelons!

As far as programming out at the Farm, last week marked the beginning of our fall curriculum program. Over the next ten weeks, we’ll host groups of students a few times each week to teach them lessons on nutrition and gardening. This curriculum builds off the very successful Crop City programming we did over the summer and is a similar model.

Finally, we’re excited to announce that the greenway has been installed. We sincerely hope that visitors to the Farm and nearby neighbors will use this beautiful path often. Just be sure to say hello when you do!

That does it for now. Have a wonderful start to Fall and as always, feel free to email me with any questions about HON’s Urban Farm.


JC3Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Mid South Chapter, National MS Society

imageChances are, you probably know someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease affects an estimated 2.1 million people worldwide and does not discriminate between men and women or adults and youth. While great strides have been made in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of MS in recent years, the battle against this crippling disease continues.

Leading the fight in the U.S., the National MS Society works toward its organizational vision of a world free of multiple sclerosis by funding research initiatives, facilitating professional education and advocacy efforts, and providing programs and services that help those with MS and their families move their lives forward.

Our featured nonprofit, the Mid South Chapter of the MS Society, is based in Nashville and serves more than 9,000 individuals in Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Mississippi, and eastern Arkansas.

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An enthusiastic youngster shows support for the MS Society.

They offer an array of support services and educational programs for MS patients and their families, including a lending library of books and audio materials, empowerment seminars, employment programs, wellness and exercise program referrals, and much more. The Mid South Chapter oversees 25 different self-help groups, all of which are led by volunteers. Plus, they organize a number of events throughout the year that help raise awareness about the disease and the Society’s work.

Volunteers are a driving force in the movement to cure MS. For the Mid South Chapter, committed and dedicated volunteer help is an essential component of the group’s advocacy efforts, programming, and day-to-day activities. The Chapter has a variety of flexible volunteer opportunities available, both ongoing and short-term.

>Click here to volunteer with the National MS Society’s Mid South Chapter!

Three of the Chapter’s biggest annual events are right around the corner and volunteers are needed to assist with all of them.

Both recreational and serious riders alike can participate in the MS Society’s bike tours.

At Fall Crush, a unique wine tasting and auction that takes place in mid-September, individuals can volunteer to assist with guest registration, silent auctions, and wine pairing stations. During two separate bike tours – Bike MS: Bike to Jack and Back and Bike MS: Rock ‘N Roll – volunteers will help with registration, staffing rest stations, assisting with traffic flow, loading luggage, and setup and cleanup projects.

Individuals can also assist with in-office work, such as bulk mailings, phone calls, and event organizing. Those who are skilled at using programs like InDesign or Publisher are also needed to help with the group’s marketing and promotional efforts.

Be sure to visit the Mid South Chapter’s website to learn more about their outstanding work. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Michelle Stewart at michelle.stewart@nmss.org (event volunteer opportunities) or Abby Mullen at abby.mullen@nmss.org (in-office volunteer work).