As the middle of the year approaches, Doing Good takes a moment to reflect on this year’s outstanding service-oriented volunteers in the Nashville area. Local Nashville volunteers continue to selflessly give back to their community while volunteering in unique ways that express their passions and philanthropic interests.
Sheila Habacker has been serving the Nashville community with her expertise in yoga for years. In addition, yoga has had a major impact on Habacker’s recovery process from her previous bone marrow transplant. She believes that volunteering is her way of giving back to the ones that helped her heal. Since her recovery, Sheila has been volunteering her time to Small World Yoga, where she teaches yoga to others that might not get the chance to experience it.
Inspired by her mother’s example, Zarita Fears has been actively volunteering since she was a child. She currently works as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist for the Employee Resource Group at Asurion and serves as a board member of the local chapter for the Lupus Foundation of America. Zarita says her inspiration for volunteering comes from knowing “the differences I have made will affect generations to come.” Additionally, she has served for over ten organizations in the Nashville area and continues to do so in her free time.
Camp Oasis and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation are two touchstones where Lauren Bellflower found her support when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 20. While she says that Crohn’s disease is a topic that isn’t often talked about, Camp Oasis, where Lauren volunteers as a counselor, allows her to encourage children to feel comfortable in their own skin. Lauren is also serving as a board member for Tennessee’s Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and continues to serve local organizations in the Nashville area.
Another hard working volunteer, Kaitlyn Jolley, has a passion for ensuring all students have equal opportunities for future success. As a middle school teacher, the root of her volunteer efforts is additionally shown through her professional career. Kaitlyn is diligently working to build bridges among nonprofit organizations, businesses, and the community in order to create a like-minded passion for providing for children in need.
Leah Kennedy is a young but treasured volunteer in the Nashville community, and especially the Williamson County Fair. Growing up, she raised her own chickens and was involved in 4H. Now she serves as the Secretary and Vice Chairman on the Williamson County Junior Fair Board. She loves to volunteer at the fair, because it affords her the opportunity to spend time with children and teach them about a topic she loves, agriculture. “I love working with little kids and seeing their faces light up. It is the most rewarding thing,” Leah says.
My Bag My Story, founded and run by Cara Finger, provides bags to children in the foster care system. Cara Finger, a mom of three, has a passion for giving a voice to the children in the foster care system and bringing more awareness to the system in general. She has always lived by the idea that “we can’t make all the difference, but we can make a difference,” and she encourages others to get involved wherever they can.
This year’s volunteers are celebrated by Doing Good, a local 501c3 nonprofit which celebrates those who do good. For more information or to nominate someone for Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month, visit DoingGood.tv.
Written by: Emerson Loudenback
“The good we do always comes back to us,” says Zarita Fears, this month’s Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month. Zarita has been a motivated volunteer since she was a child when she helped supply local shelters and even tutored other children. Just as her mother instilled in her the value of “small acts of kindness,” she has continued her family tradition by raising her daughter in service work around local shelters. Zarita has consistently made it a point to serve others.
She has been lucky, as she says, to turn her passion into her career. She currently works as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist for the Employee Resource Groups (ERG) at Asurion and volunteers as a board member for the local chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America. In addition, Zarita serves various nonprofits in the Nashville area on her own time. She remarks she is reminded of the work she has done by a remark someone makes or when running into someone she has helped. “Even if no one remembers my name,” she says, “the differences I have made will affect generations to come.”
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: 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.