Jordan Thomas & one of the children he serves
Written by: Katie Christ
For Jordan Thomas, volunteering is not something he does on the side, it is a way of life. At the age of sixteen, Jordan suffered a horrible accident that completely changed his life as well as his perspective on life. This accident resulted in the loss of both of his legs, and it also resulted in the creation of The Jordan Thomas Foundation.
The foundation provides prosthetics to children whose families don’t have the means to do so due to the incredibly high cost of prosthetics. They are able to supply the kids with prosthetics until they reach the age of eighteen. Jordan explains seeing the children who benefit from his foundation running, playing, and living “normal lives” reaffirms their nonprofit mission, that they are doing something good and his hard work is completely worth it. He believes volunteering gives him a sense of meaning, purpose, and perspective in his life.
Marilin, Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month, with some of the people she serves at Possibility Place
Marilin Kelley is spreading love in Nashville. A recent Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) mathematics graduate, Marilin is preparing for graduate school at Virginia Tech in the Fall of 2019. In conversation with Marilin, her pursuit of knowledge is apparent, however her love for others shines more clearly than anything else. From nonprofit service with businesses such as Possibility Place and The Experience Community Church, Marilin consistently works to show others love; she is a clear example that volunteerism can give to the volunteer.
In high school, Marilin was a member and then officer of a service club. Working with organizations such as Salvation Army, Feed America First, and the Special Kids Therapy and Nursing Center encouraged her more serious involvement with volunteerism. She now works as a research assistant and substitute teacher at MTSU. Despite her aptitude for more technical studies, the social aspect of volunteering does not discourage Marilin. Rather, the diversity of volunteering inspires Marilin to learn more about her community and herself.
At Possibility Place Marilin helps developmentally disabled adults grow into independence. She also volunteers at The Experience Community Church, leading part of their middle school ministry. Marilin strives to bring love into her community, albeit in the classroom, church, or learning center. Service opens doors to see people and places one might not normally experience, and Marilin is constantly working to bring love into those unreached places.
Written by: Ryan Wilson
Written by: Anna Lopez
Tommy Wolosin is Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month. The Director of Technical Sales and Marketing started his volunteer work around ten years ago with the organization Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as well as various work with children’s camps and after school programs. Tommy’s journey with the Nashville community began in 1999 after serving in the Air Force for ten years. Once out of the Air Force, Tommy decided to stay with a friend in Nashville and use Nashville as a hub for finding jobs in other areas. Almost twenty years later, and Tommy not only calls Nashville home, but he also works hard to help Nashville become a better place.
Teaching the kids at Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing about internet safety was how Tommy’s volunteerism began, and through that experience he realized the need for an IT director that would help organizations navigate technological challenges they face. Now Tommy helps businesses and individuals figure out the best moves to ensure the success of their companies. He spends time teaching others what he has learned in the field of IT and business. His passion, however, also resides within working with children.
Tommy’s advice for those wanting to volunteer? It’s easy to find a place to volunteer, especially in a city like Nashville. There are so many different types of volunteer work; either working with children like Tommy, working with animals, businesses, or those who are homeless. The opportunities are out there, the hard part is making them priority. Tommy does this by scheduling time every Monday, and if he is able to do that, others can, too.
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.”
By: 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.
The Harbin Family
Michele Harbin began volunteering in 5th grade, continues today, and is passing it on to her daughter. Michele grew up in a serving home as the daughter of two ministers where service had always been their way of life. Yet formal volunteerism was introduced to her in 5th grade at Beech Elementary School in Hendersonville. As she finished her school work, she was allowed to help with a special needs class through volunteer opportunities with 4-H, Beta Club, and other non-profits.
This introduction to a lifelong passion of working with people with disabilities. Not only did she meet her future husband while volunteering, yet also eventually founding Alliance for Recreational Empowerment Foundation (ARE) with a group of friends, and planning for the future by involving her 3 year old daughter. The proud mother is happy to say her daughter “has yet to ask ‘why is she in a wheelchair, or why does he have a feeding tube?’ To her, it is (all) still normal!” Michele also says, “It’s important to me (as her mother) to instill those values in her at a young age.”
By: Kingsley East
Families of disabled children and local communities believe this truth, but it takes workers and volunteers like Annah to set this statement into motion. Annah Slayton abides by these words as she works to bring therapy, growth, and hope to disabled children. Working with a nonprofit called Special Kids, Annah’s goal as a volunteer is to give back to the community and support an organization that makes the world a better place.
Special Kids operates out of love to meet the needs not only of disabled or medically fragile kids, but also to treat entire families in Murfreesboro and eighteen surrounding counties.
“I loved going and working with the kids and seeing them smile.”
Annah serves Special Kids to make children’s lives better, and she is inspired every day by their smiles and growth. Annah is passionate about children and artwork. At Special Kids, she gets to fulfill both of these desires through service and creativity. From desk work to artwork, Annah uses her own skills and passions to help Special Kids change hundreds of lives.
Annah never thought she would be a dedicated volunteer, but three years later, her time with Special Kids proves otherwise. Annah now loves working alongside the Special Kids team to invest in children’s futures. Giving a few hours of her time each week to this organization provides Annah with a sense of purpose and joy in seeing a child grow while working with an uplifting team that lives to carry out a mission of service.
VSA Tennessee Ambassadors
Asha Patel, a junior at MTSU, was encouraged by MTSU Communications Professor Lori Kissinger to look into the collegiate chapter of VSA Tennessee. She is one of many VSA Ambassadors who serve children, teenagers and young adults with disabilities. “This past fall, the group has had more student participants than at any time in the four year history of the group. They have also had more programs and activities to reach out to the community. It has been wonderful to see the group thrive and grow. Its success is greatly due to Asha,” says Lori Kissinger, Executive Director.
A native of India, Asha is trilingual! She is achieving a double major at MTSU in Political Science and International Relations. Prior to VSA Tennessee, she had not previously volunteered. Yet one person suggested she get look into VSA Tennessee. She did, and she “decided to stay.”
Asha considers Ghandi an educational role model. As he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”