Written by: Zac Cooper
When was the last time you flossed? Was it yesterday? Last month? Whenever it was, you probably understand why it is important. Flossing techniques are drilled into many of our heads, and we take it for granted as common knowledge. For individuals without such a background, gum infections and abscesses may be the standard way of life. Dr. Andy Flipse is one such individual who works towards equalizing this knowledge and access to dental care.
Initially trained to work in the music industry, Dr. Flipse went back to school in his mid-forties to become a dentist. He was the oldest student in his class at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. Dr. Flipse notes that his guitar experience and having strong finger dexterity gave him a leg up on dentist students without musical backgrounds. His musical training supported the physicality of surgical procedures, and it also added to the psychological dimension of dentistry.
“You develop your heart in music,” Dr. Flipse explains. “You develop compassion, you have an open heart,” which all contributes to a more loving relationship with his patients.
Dr. Flipse volunteers at the Interfaith Dental Clinic, a Murfreesboro nonprofit that provides affordable dental care to the working poor. The clinic’s volunteers and full time workers have used its state-of-the-art gear to contribute over $5 million in care to over 2,500 patients. Dr. Flipse is honored for his outstanding volunteer work, contributing over 80 hours to the Interfaith Dental Clinic. However, he wants to be clear that he is not alone: “I am just one of many dentists who are passionate and selfless about volunteering their time.”
Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month is a program of Doing Good, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization which educates and inspires people by celebrating the real stories of real people who volunteer. For additional information about Dr. Flipse, Doing Good, or other volunteers, visit the website www.DoingGood.tv or @DoingGoodTV on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube.
Written by Zac Cooper
When people hear the word “non-profit,” it is more than likely that one of the first comments will be about the low salaries involved in community work. January’s Volunteer of the Month, Keena Alexander, is an example of a selfless individual who not only powers this community-building, but also understands its dire financials.
Keena grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and took pride in her community and city from a young age. She started working with Habitat for Humanity in high school and went on to earn a Master’s in Accountancy from the University of Mississippi. She currently works as a Senior Tax Analyst at Asurion.
As her main volunteering activity, Keena supports the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, an organization which supports community development in the fields of education, financial stability, and health. To give you a sense of its magnitude within Nashville, United Way provided $7.5 million in community program investments in 2016.
Keena volunteers with the Allocations Board, so her job is to interview different Nashville nonprofits to find which ones would be the best fit for United Way’s funding. Her holistic understanding of organizational budgets, from an accounting mindset, has given her even more motivation to volunteer. After seeing the high expenses and low salaries in many of the nonprofits functioning in Nashville, Keena notes that we can all give back more; it’s just a matter of our priorities.
The legendary boxer Muhammed Ali inspired Keena when he said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” She says in paying this service, she has “learned how to cultivate a heart of gratitude.”
Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month is a program of Doing Good, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization which educates and inspires people by celebrating the real stories of real people who volunteer. For additional information about Keena, Doing Good, or other volunteers, visit the website www.DoingGood.tv or @DoingGoodTV on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube.
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.”