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.”
July Volunteer of the Month: Patricia Leonard
Patricia Leonard is extremely passionate about empowering women. In her corporate, volunteer, and personal life her goal is to “inspire women to break through any glass ceilings through leadership and contribution.” She believes that talk is not enough – we have to act in order to empower. This is played out specifically in her volunteer life through her work with Nashville Women in Film & Television where she serves on the board and Dress for Success where she volunteers as a coach.
A unique characteristic about Patricia is her ability to listen to other people’s desires and to help make those desires a reality. Whether is it giving someone an avenue to perform or by coaching someone through starting her dream business, Patricia is excited and ready to help anyone willing to step up and ask. She inspires people to chase their dreams and to pursue what they want out of life through sharing her talents and life experiences and encouraging others to share theirs.
Written by: Katie Christ
Written By: Meg Provenzale
Jeremy Bradford has been nominated as July’s Volunteer of Month. His desire to give back to the community goes unnoticed in the many organizations he volunteers for. These organizations include, The Nashville Sports Council, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, The Country Music Hall of Fame, and Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jeremy’s drive to help others began at a young age when he started volunteering at his family’s church. Working as a youth leader as well as worship leader Jeremy emphasized how important the group of thirty students was to him, “I tried my best. It wasn’t because I wanted money it’s because I cared about those 22 or 25 and I wanted them to have an experience. I wanted to take the initiative and give, even at that early age, give to that church.”
His childhood and the circumstances he grew up in inspired him to give back to others. “There are a lot of great people that have invested into my life whether it was in middle school, high school, my church or my parents so I just felt like it was time for me to give back as much as I could into the community of Nashville and to other people’s lives. I really felt that calling and that responsibility.”
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 Jeremy, Doing Good, or other volunteers, visit the website www.DoingGood.tv or @DoingGoodTV on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube
Doing Good is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides marketing and public relations tools, resources, and opportunities to nonprofit and government agencies to celebrate their volunteers. www.DoingGood.tv
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.
Sheyla Paz Hicks
With a growing and increasingly influential Hispanic community in Middle Tennessee, it’s essential to have someone who can facilitate communication in both Spanish and English. Sheyla Paz Hicks has been filling that role and helping others achieve their goals in the film industry as a volunteer board member for Women in Film and Television, Nashville, Inc. (WIFTNa). She spends at least 50 percent of her time volunteering as the organization’s Communications Director. She spends the other 50 percent of her time operating her video production company, Paz Communications.
“I don’t look at my activities with WIFTNa as volunteerism,” Sheyla says, “but rather I see them as a way to help others achieve their goals. Volunteering is also a way to be involved in the things that matter in our community so we have a better society.” While working with others who share the same goals Sheyla has learned new ways of doing things that help other people, and she has made great friends along the way. She believes her efforts in helping others will pay back in the form of additional business for herself in the future.
As Communications Director for WIFTNa Sheyla uses all of her skills to get the organization’s messages out to the filmmaking and television community. She recently completed a video that helped attract seven attendees to a three-day filmmaking academy. Her next project is to prepare the social media and organize the media relations for the WIFTNa’s First Annual drive-in film screening and fundraiser. “I use almost all of my skills as a communicator to spread the word about WIFT, including event planning, fundraising, photography, social media and press releases to attract new members, volunteers and sponsors,” she says.
Sheyla is a native of Cuba who came to the Nashville 14 years ago because her husband (a Kentucky native), brought her here. In addition to her work with the Women in Film and Television, Sheyla has volunteered with the American Cancer Society, Go Red for Women, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville Film Festival. She says that the WiFT and American Cancer Society are her favorites, particularly since her mother is a breast cancer survivor. She is passionate about her culture, her work, health and education. She makes the time to support all her interests while using her expertise to benefit others.
Doing Good is proud to recognize Sheyla Paz Hicks as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for July 2014.
Join the Conversation: What talents do you use to help others? What organizations do you help? Where’s your passion for volunteering?
Blog Written by: Karen E. Williams. She is a volunteer with Doing Good, an organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism. The website is www.DoingGood.tv. Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month is a free program celebrating those who make a difference and inspiring others to volunteer by sharing stories of local volunteers through media partners.