Spreading the Light

Photo.Brandi NunneryBy: Kingsley East

“By letting my light shine through volunteer work, I’m able to help others have a better quality of life- no matter where they are in their journey.” Brandi Nunnery lives to make the world a better place by meeting people where they are and serving them. Brandi is involved with a multitude of volunteer work that stems from her church, sorority involvement, and family life. Brandi says, “Whether I’m raising money for juvenile arthritis, serving my church on the board, organizing readers for Read Across America, or building a home for Habitat, I’m able to show enthusiasm and passion for helping others.”

Since 1993, Brandi has worked with her sorority Alpha Omicron Pi to raise support for the Arthritis Foundation. This philanthropy is dear to Brandi’s heart, as is her continued involvement with her sorority. Brandi currently serves as the President of the Nashville Area Alumnae Chapter for Alpha Omicron Pi. As she reflected on supporting arthritis research, Brandi said, “I’ve been able to raise money, organize teams for the Jingle Bell Run, walk in the Walk to Cure and, most importantly, hear the stories and MEET THE PEOPLE that we strive to support.”

At the Unity of Nashville Church, Brandi served as a board member for five years and as the Unity Build Coordinator for four builds. These positions enabled Brandi to play an active role in her church while reaching out to the community. For instance, Unity of Nashville works with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in the community. Some of Brandi’s best volunteering memories are from the work that she did with her daughter Parker at the Unity Build for Habitat for Humanity. Brandi includes her daughter in each of her volunteer efforts in order to instill a servant heart in Parker. She encourages others to let their lights shine because anything that you say or do has an impact on the community, your family, and even yourself. By volunteering, Brandi uses this power to make the lives that she encounters better.

Blessed to Serve

photo-martin-plumleeMartin Plumlee
Written by: Kingsley East

“To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Martin Plumlee says that he is blessed with a selfless wife, healthy and happy children, a growing business, and good health. Additionally, Martin has the honor and privilege of serving his country and wearing the uniform again in the Army Reserves in Nashville. Martin uses each of these blessings to give his time and talents to others. Martin said, “It is my sincerest belief that if more citizens would give back and pour their time and resources into their local communities, the nation would be better.”

Martin puts these words into action as he serves on the board of directors for REBOOT Combat Recovery and Habitat for Humanity. Martin is passionate about the military, and specifically about helping veterans transition from combat to civilian life. REBOOT works to build a community of support around vets while healing them both physically and spiritually. Martin’s other main passion is economic empowerment. Therefore, he serves underprivileged families by working to provide them with homes and opportunities through Habitat. Martin challenges himself and others by saying, “There are 165 hours in a week. How do you use those hours to make your little piece of the world better?”

Learning through Service

 

photo-roopa-smiling-smallerRoopa packing books for low-income children at Book’em
Written by: Kingsley East

“Volunteering helps me to develop skills, learn more about career options, make friends, spend time, build confidence, and even just shake up my routine.” These are a few of Roopa Srinivasa Rao’s reasons for volunteering, and she encourages others to get involved in their communities as well. Roopa is passionate about helping others, finding solutions to meet people’s needs, and expanding her own network of people. Through volunteering, Roopa has found an outlet for each of these desires.

Roopa serves a non-profit called Book ‘Em that works to provide underprivileged children with books. Since its foundation in 1989, Book ‘Em has donated over one million books to various schools, camps, and programs throughout Middle Tennessee. When Roopa first went to Book ‘Em, she immediately felt appreciated by the staff, comfortable in Book ‘Em’s environment, and inspired by their mission. Having moved to America from India only a year ago, volunteering with Book ‘Em provides Roopa with a growing network of people and a way to spend her time so that it helps others. Additionally, Roopa believes that people gain knowledge through their experiences, and she encourages others to learn new skills through volunteer experiences.

Do Something Good

photo-allison-sittingAllison showing the love letters written by volunteers
Photography by: William Fahrnbach Photography
Written by: Kingsley East

“I volunteer because I believe the meaning of life is to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Allison Plattsmier began volunteering when she was sixteen years old because she wanted to leave her imprint on the world. Since the day she realized her personal need to give back to the community, Allison has worked with a multitude of non-profits and volunteer organizations. Allison is the associate director for a non-profit called the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, and she volunteers weekly through DoSomething.org.

DoSomething.org is a website that offers people easy access to volunteer opportunities based on their interests and availability. Allison tries to volunteer with one organization or event each week, where she creates a network of people who open the door for her to take new volunteer opportunities. Allison said, “I have learned the value of learning from people with a variety of backgrounds and gained the ability to work with many different personalities.”

Allison loves volunteering because she gets to impact her community and meet new people. Among the multitude of non-profits and events that Allison volunteers with, she also works with Doing Good. Allison is known at Doing Good as a proven, professional, and passionate volunteer. We are thrilled to recognize her as this month’s honored volunteer.

 

 

Fighting for Joy

joyce-sunny-day-club-singingJoyce Wisby volunteering at the Sunny Day Club
Written by: Kingsley East

Joyce Wisby is this month’s honored volunteer. From the age of sixty-one, Joyce spent a decade of her life fighting against and educating herself about Alzheimer’s disease because of her husband Jim’s diagnosis. Since Jim’s passing, Joyce continues to serve her community by educating others about Alzheimer’s, leading a support group, and heading up a fundraising organization through Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Joyce said, “When Jim passed away, I felt compelled to give back and help others grow in their faith as well as ease their life as they are on the Alzheimer’s journey.”

Joyce learned with Jim that no hardship has to ruin a relationship, and joy can be found in any circumstances. Now, she works every day to help others find hope and happiness in the midst of great trials. As a support group leader, Joyce is a resource to many, and she gets to be a part of a family that encourages one another to press on through hardships with a positive attitude. Joyce said, “I find much satisfaction in reaching out to others to help make their lives easier, rather than focusing on my needs. By helping others, I find contentment.”

Bringing Life to the Radio

photo-justin-singleton
Justin’s passion of music
Written by: Kingsley East

“I volunteer because it brings joy to my heart to give back. I was always taught to give back because sharing your time and talents can bring life to the world.” Justin Singleton brings joy to himself and others as a co-host for a non-profit radio station. He, along with two others, hosts the radio segment “Noize” on a station called “Radio Free Nashville.” From three to five on Saturday afternoons, Justin teams up with his friends to create an atmosphere full of laughter and independent music.

Justin describes his team like family, which makes volunteering such a joy to each of them. They are always trying to bring smiles to their listeners through their own passion for current events and music. Not only does “Noize” consist of discussions and humor, but it also features independent musicians. Justin explained that the artists really enjoy coming on the show because their music is broadcasted, and it’s not always easy for independent artists to be heard. “Noize” makes great musicians feel appreciated for their talent and accomplishments.

 Justin said that his family motto is to give back. He believes that a million smiles is far better than one million dollars. “Noize” offers Justin an outlet to live out these ideas as he gets to help independent artists and bring joy to local listeners. Justin is passionate about making the world a better place, as he says, “I really do enjoy serving the people. Service is the greatest gift you can give back to the people. Doing good feels good!”

 

 

 

Through the Fire

photo-ndume-w-drum
Ndume Olatushani
By: Kingsley East

“No matter where we’re at, we can still help someone less fortunate than ourselves.” Many people claim this statement, but few have twenty-eight years of imprisonment to stand behind it. Ndume Olatushani spent over half of his life in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit, yet he never saw himself as worse off than the people around him. Not only that, but Ndume spent his jail time putting this statement into action, as he reached out to help his fellow inmates and educate himself about the legal system.

A harsh environment and a series of bad choices growing up led Ndume into the wrong circumstances, which incarcerated him for a murder-robbery that occurred in Tennessee. Before his trial date, Ndume had never even stepped foot in Tennessee. While the legal system failed Ndume in many ways, it did not defeat him. Ndume believes, Whatever fires we go through in life, if we get through to the other side, that adversity is not meant for us, it is meant for other people.”

Ndume used his time in jail to serve others and show people that we all have a responsibility to help those around us. Now, Ndume uses his experiences to reach out to men in jail and youths who are subject to follow his path into prison. He does this by volunteering at after school programs for local high schools and partnering with organizations like Project Return and the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Looking back, Ndume sees that his home life was a foundational place for his life of service, but his social environment failed to encourage him to rise above stereotypes and keep away from the pathway to jail. Now, Ndume strives to give children and incarcerated men hope. His story is proof that anything is possible, and any situation can be turned into an opportunity to care for others.