Written by: Zac Cooper
November’s Nashville Volunteer of the Month is Jacky Gomez, a community leader who deals with Hispanic and immigrant issues. She works as a receptionist at the Hispanic Foundation, a Program Coordinator with YMCA Latino Achievers, and a volunteer with the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition.
An overarching theme in Jacky’s engagements is her will to support others to become their best selves. Her work at the YMCA, especially, is focused on the volunteer experience and how individuals can serve with their own sense of purpose.
In each of these endeavors, Jacky understands the opportunity she has to better her community. Jacky emigrated from Mexico at age two, and through her life, has engaged with the world through a bicultural lens. Despite growing up in a single parent household and dealing with financial struggles, Jacky was able to earn a scholarship to attend Lipscomb University, one of the first universities to offer scholarships to undocumented individuals.
As an immigrant herself, she has a unique perspective and grounding to drive her community work. She notes the importance of being “conscious and aware of the need of the community” and that she has been fortunate to work in places that do just that.
By: Annie Low
Carleigh Frazier, this month’s Nashville Volunteer of the Month, is a senior Biology major at Fisk University. She recently had the pleasure of running for Miss Fisk University and her platform was based on Deuteronomy 1:5-8. This verse reminds her that in the midst of struggle and grief, “that my purpose is promised to me and that all I need to do is persevere.”
Carleigh used her campaign as a way to help others grow closer to God. When she didn’t win the title, she remained happy for the woman who won. She was able to do this by remembering that her plan is not God’s plan.
She is able to incorporate this idea into her work with Project Transformation and the Nashville Rescue Mission. Carleigh works with children who don’t have the best opportunities and can be frustrated. She reminds them, “You are important, you are royalty. Your plan is already laid out for you, and it is good.”
Written by: Annie Low
Monica Cooley is this month’s honored volunteer because she posses the qualities it takes to be an excellent volunteer. John Wesley once said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Not only does Monica love and believe in this quote, she also strives to live by it everyday. Monica is kind, trustworthy, and an upstanding citizen in her community, which are all characteristics Monica believes a good volunteer should have.
Monica grew up with parents who valued loving and serving others and she has carried that into her adult life as well. Not only does she like serving, but she also enjoys being able to see the change she has made and to know she was part of making someone else’s life better.
Whether it is serving at the Global Education Center as a dance instructor or on the Board for the Global Education Center or even as a tour guide and host family for the Sri Ganesha Temple, Monica serves others without thinking of how it benefits her.
Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month Chuck Sclemm
Written by: Kingsley East
“I volunteer to help inspire students to pursue science and technology interests which will improve their lives and our culture, and to educate the public about space science and space exploration and the excitement of new possibilities.” This month’s honored volunteer is Chuck Schlemm, an engineer, astronomer, and space enthusiast. Chuck has been an engineer for forty years, astronomer for twenty years, and a volunteer for decades. Chuck volunteers with various space organizations like the Middle Tennessee Space Society, Vanderbilt University’s Dyer Observatory, and the Adventure Science Center. Through each of these groups, Chuck hopes to reach a young generation of students who can shape the world and be a part of new discoveries and technologies.
Chuck hopes that as the space program grows, it will offer more people hope for the future and a positive way to find new energy sources. His volunteer work centers on making space exhibits and talking to kids about their potential and passion for learning and exploration. He said that connecting with kids who are clearly passionate about a specific area of math or science makes volunteering worth it. Chuck encourages others to use their passions to reach children and help shape their futures, as he said, “In general, anyone who wants to share their passions or career fields ought to share that with kids to get them enthused and show them how to use what they’re learning in school.”
Written by: Cole Gray
Keith McLean of Franklin is Doing Good’s Nashville Volunteer of the Month for his work in advocating for the North Nashville community around Jefferson Street.
McLean, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, is involved with Jefferson Street United Merchants’ Partnership, Elam Mental Health Center at Meharry Medical College and The SONS Organization (Solving Our Negative Stereotypes), all of which focus on different aspects of advocacy around North Nashville, but ultimately relate to community development.
Where does his passion come from? McLean cites his mother as one of his biggest influences. A longtime social worker, she created a school-partnered backpack program for underprivileged children that enabled them to eat on weekends. But after college, he found himself in the for-profit worlds of the music, healthcare and finance industries.
Attending the Temple Church in North Nashville, however, caused McLean to adopt the North Nashville community, particularly Jefferson Street, a hub of minority-owned businesses and predominantly black residents.
“I was looking for something to be involved in in Nashville that spoke to people that looked like myself,” McLean said. “Me, myself, I am black. I wanted to speak to something that spoke to the black community.”
The many facets of McLean’s volunteer work are making him a pillar of his adopted North Nashville community.
Emily with her mom, Julie
Written by: Cole Gray
Doing Good’s Nashville Volunteer of the Month Emily Fay is passionate about the University of Nebraska and serving others. In 2007, two years after moving to Nashville, she decided to combine her passions by founding Nashville Huskers, a nonprofit alumni association that has used member dues and merchandise sales to raise $18,000 in scholarship for Tennessee high school students looking to attend the University of Nebraska.
“I just wanted to watch football with other Nebraskans. That’s what it was when I started,” said Fay. She missed being surrounded by other Cornhuskers after growing up in a University of Nebraska household in Loveland, Colo., then attending Nebraska, and finally ending up in a sea of SEC fans in Nashville. So, back in 2007, Fay sent out some Facebook message cold-calls and 80 fans showed up to watch a football game.
Fast-forward eight seasons, and Nashville Huskers has hosted over 100 watch parties and over 10,000 guests. Though it started on Facebook, it’s now an official Nebraska Alumni chapter, and the community Fay started is supporting Middle Tennessee’s students.
“We want to send more people to the Big Ten, and we want to send more people to Nebraska because it’s one of the flyover states. People forget about it. It’s a beautiful campus with so much opportunity there. They’re doing amazing research, they’re doing wonderful things on campus, and to be able to send someone here in that direction just excites me. There’s so much opportunity.”
Nick Gambill with Leah Burris
Written by: Cole Gray
Nick Gambill grew up working with his hands. Building decks and remodeling homes throughout college prepared him to give back to the community in an unexpected way: fabricating running prosthetics for amputees, and giving them away for free.
Gambill is Doing Good’s Nashville Volunteer of the Month for his work with Amputee Blade Runners, an organization that gives free running prosthetics to amputees that seek to return to an active lifestyle post-amputation.
Health insurance doesn’t cover the cost of running prosthetics, which are necessary for amputees that want to maintain a physically fulfilling lifestyle. That’s where Amputee Blade Runners comes in.
Gambill builds the prosthetics himself. Jeff Belcher, a former tennis pro who lost both legs below the knee in 2013, said Nick’s work was highly important, giving purpose back to his life. Belcher recently received running prosthetics from Amputee Blade Runners.
“Nick’s like the kind of guy that likes to just be in the back,” Belcher said. “He likes to do all the work, but he would rather give somebody else credit when the credit is actually due to him.”
Gambill refuses to brag on himself. But Belcher will.
“He’s a good guy. There are not too many of those guys. Take it from me, I’ve been around a lot of people who may have said that they’ll help, and then have no follow-through whatsoever,” Belcher said. “Nick’s the kind of guy that, if he says he’s going to do something, or says he’s going to help with this or that, he’ll do it.”