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Advocating for his community

Keith McLeanKeith McLean
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.

“All children deserve the same opportunities, regardless of disabilities.”

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.

Karen Shayne is Transforming a Mood into a Movement

ImageWhen Karen Shayne finished her last chemotherapy treatment for cancer she was declared “in remission” and a “survivor.” She looked in the mirror and asked herself “What next?”  She realized that surviving cancer has more impact on one’s life than simply returning to the way things were. Instead, there are many questions, we feel different and experiences are new again.  There is a “new normal.”

Karen dealt with her questions and her “new normal” by participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and began volunteering for the American Cancer Society beginning in 1998.  She also formed her first non-profit organization for children, called Billy’s Wish, which created materials for children with cancer in 2001.

But Karen still sensed a need to help other women cancer survivors and envisioned the beginnings of Women Survivors Alliance with an annual convention to be held in Nashville.  She went to work organizing the first-ever National Women’s Survivors Convention held in 2013 – bringing together 846 women from 49 states and 5 countries who had survived cancer with 112 cancer organizations from around the world.

The convention program was anything but conventional. It was designed to help women address issues related to their “new normal” – issues such as lingering or undetected side effects caused by chemotherapy, hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and significant self-image issues etc.  It also provided an environment to empower and give a voice to the survivors who have been given a second chance in life to advocate for themselves and others.

“I volunteer my time with my non-profit – usually 12-16 hours a day – basically all the time – to manage all the working parts with survivors from around the globe. It’s hard work,” Karen says, “but when you realize you’re changing lives, it becomes the drive that keeps you going – even through the tough times.  I volunteer to not just give back, but to honor,” she added.

“I was greatly influenced by my grandmother, Charlotte (Mama) Spivey.  She was a remarkable women and my hero.  Her hard work and philosophy of giving back were my models,” Karen said. “When I volunteer, somehow it makes me feel like I am honoring her life.  My work keeps her alive in my heart.”

Karen is living her life with a new normal and is transforming survivorship from a mood to a movement by empowering, educating and connection women whose lives have been touched by cancer.  And she’s hard at work on the next National Women’s Survivors Convention to be held at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Resort in Nashville July 31-August 2, 2014.  For more information see www.survivorville.org.

Doing Good is proud to recognize Karen Shayne as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for February.

Join the Conversation:  What cause has a personal meaning for you?  What are you doing to honor the heroes in your life?  What legacy do you want to leave?

Blog Written by:  Karen E. Williams, 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 which educates and inspires others to volunteer by sharing stories of local volunteers through media partners.

Passion Drives Cancer Survivor Navita Gunter

Navita Gunter Educates & Encourages

Navita Gunter Educates & Encourages

Fifteen years ago Navita Gunter was “attacked” by cervical cancer.  It was a very hard time but she fought the good fight, and today, by the grace of God, she is a survivor.  She thrives by volunteering her time to encourage those who are suffering from the horrific disease, and by educating women and young girls about how they can prevent it.  “My ordeal so changed my life that I did not want ANY woman to have to go through what I had to go through at that time,” Navita says.

Cervical cancer can be triggered by the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and it’s preventable. “Women of color have a greater chance of DYING from this illness because it is generally found in later stages for us,” Navita exclaims.  “Plus, surprisingly, in 2013 and 2014 there are still women who have not been to a doctor for female health care since they had a baby.  This even applies to those women with insurance.”

By telling her story Navita is able to provide encouragement and education. She believes the solution to eliminating this preventable disease lies in “Helping the Woman from the Inside Out!”  This is the motto of the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee, the organization she founded following her recovery.  In addition to her own foundation Navita works with the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program in the State of Tennessee’s Department of Health, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and she is a member of Gilda’s Club.

Navita volunteers at health fairs and speaks at churches, civic centers and other places interested in learning more about how to fight cancer.  She passionately delivers the message that HPV and cervical cancer have a good chance of being eliminated with regular health screenings and use of the HPV vaccine in young women and now in young males.

When asked about why she volunteers she says she hopes to show women how they can take their power back by becoming a voice for better health care and education in the communities where they live.  In some cases she’s doing this one woman at a time.

“The volunteer work feeds my spirit!” she exclaims.  “I am a better person because of the opportunity to share my story, knowing that perhaps one life, or maybe more, will be spared or improved by taking my message to heart.”

Doing Good is proud to recognize Navita Gunter as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for January.  “Navita’s belief in one person’s ability to help many is inspirational,” says Megan McInnis, founder of Doing Good.  January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

Join the Conversation:  What are you passionate about?  Where do you volunteer?  How does volunteering feed your spirit?  What cause has a personal meaning for you?

Blog Written by:  Karen E. Williams, 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 which educates and inspires others to volunteer by sharing stories of local volunteers through media partners.

Felicia Anchor Volunteers to Eradicate Injustice

Felicia Anchor

Felicia Anchor 

As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Felicia Anchor has come to understand that we live in a world where the random circumstances of our birth, location or class may have a significant influence on the outcome of our lives.  Life isn’t always fair.  As a result, she says, “I volunteer because I have no patience for injustice.  I believe it is the obligation of those who have overcome challenges to work to level the playing field for all.”

Felicia has volunteered with numerous Nashville and national organizations in leadership positions to create a better life for all of us by using her strategic planning and advocacy skills to assess community needs, educate the greater community about the challenge and develop programs to meet those needs.  “I have used my voice and organizational skills to develop networks and advocate for women, children and the memory of those lost in the Holocaust.   My priority has been to help girls and women learn to empower themselves so they make positive, healthy, constructive decisions for themselves,” she says.  “The purpose of my work with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and the Anne Frank in the World Exhibit has been to give a face to the people who died in the Holocaust and to remember they were real people with real hopes and dreams who were subjected to unthinkable atrocities. We must never forget them.

“It’s easy to not speak up, easy to make excuses and tolerate different standards for ourselves and others,” Felicia added.  “Everyone deserves justice and dignity.  Providing justice and dignity for those who can’t speak for themselves has been my goal ever since I can remember.  I hope that my work has been a catalyst in creating a better life for all of us.”

Local organizations benefiting from Felicia’s leadership include the Nashville Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, President of Crittenton Services, President of Jewish Family Services, Chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission, Chair of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and Chair of the Anne Frank in the World Exhibit.  She has also served on the Boards of the United Way of Middle Tennessee, National Conference of Community and Justice, Tennessee Women’s Economic Council Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Nashville. She was a founding member of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Nashville and helped create the “Children’s First” license plate for child abuse prevention.   Felicia is also involved in several national and international organizations.

Personal Benefits of Volunteering

Felicia says that she has gained much more from volunteering than she has ever given.  She credits her mentors who trained her with the skills to see herself as a leader, and has accepted that role with determination and humility.  Her husband has even suggested that she has received a free MBA as a result of on-the-job training and experiences.  “I feel that I am a dedicated stakeholder in working for the future success of our community,” Felicia added.

Doing Good is proud to recognize Felicia Anchor as November’s Volunteer of the Month.  Megan McInnis, founder of Doing Good, says “Felicia’s talent and executive leadership skills are as important to the success of a non-profit agency as executive leadership skills are to the success of a large or small corporation.”

Join the Conversation:  What are you doing to eliminate injustice, to add dignity and to make life better in and around Nashville?  Please add your comments.

Blog Written by:  Karen E. Williams, 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 which educates and inspires others to volunteer by sharing stories of local volunteers through media partners. 

Giving through Volunteering Brings Healing and Blessings in Return

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Jocelyn McCoy

First her mother died from cancer. Eighteen months later her father died.  Jocelyn McCoy was devastated.  But with time and the sage advice of a wise woman, Jocelyn found her way out of the devastating grief by volunteering.

“I was looking for a way out of the valley I was in following the deaths of my parents when a smart lady suggested that I think about taking on some of the things my mother was passionate about and that would have made her happy. That was the best advice I ever received,” Jocelyn said. “Mother had instilled in all seven of us children the value of giving and the notion of doing something to make others happy.  We were a ‘family of givers’ so it wasn’t hard to get involved.  And giving to others helped me heal.”

Jocelyn volunteers in Davidson and Rutherford Counties, Tennessee.  Her primary focus has been leading and volunteering in ministries at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, a congregation of more than 20,000 members. She is proud to be a core member of the leadership team at Mt. Zion that was the first faith-based organization to hold a Relay For Life event for the American Cancer Society (ACS).  The Congregation is still the largest faith-based Relay For Life organization in the U.S., raising nearly $49,000 in an overnight event held in early June.

Relay For Life events held throughout the country honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost – like Jocelyn’s mother – and help fight back against a disease that has already taken too many.  Jocelyn currently serves on the ACS Tennessee Relay For Life State Leadership Council to provide guidance and input for Relay For Life events across Tennessee, and works with ACS state leadership to ensure Relay events are poised for success each year.

Relay For Life involvement isn’t her only volunteer activity at Mt. Zion.  Jocelyn is also involved as a lead servant, or mentor, in the Congregation’s “Bridge Ministry” – bridging members from membership to discipleship.  “Through the Bridge Ministry program we seek to help each member find her or his passion, purpose and ministry,” Jocelyn says.

When asked about the benefits of all her involvement, Jocelyn humbly says, “I have come to understand that when I’m able to help and bless others, there is always something said or done that blesses me in return.  It’s not about my gaining anything.  Everyone needs attention, and I am drawn to the shy, to the marginalized and to the underdog.  It’s amazing the life lessons I’ve learned just by being serving others,” she says.

Some of the lessons she’s learned include the understanding that all people are different. We must respect each person and accept her or him wherever they are in their lives, she says. She also has come to realize the importance of modeling a positive attitude to those she comes in contact with, in spite of the circumstances she and they are facing.

In addition to her work at Mt. Zion Jocelyn volunteers for community events benefiting her alma mater, Trevecca Nazarene University, where she is employed as an Adult Degree Completion Recruiter. She is also President of the Smyrna Cemetery Organization, dedicated to continuing revitalization efforts of one of the oldest African-American cemeteries in Rutherford County, and has volunteered for the heart walk and other fundraising events.

Doing Good is pleased to recognize Jocelyn McCoy, a resident of Rutherford County, as the Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for July.

 How are you blessed by volunteering?  Please join the conversation.

 Doing Good is a new organization committed to promoting volunteerism in Metro Nashville by telling the stories of local volunteers through various media, including radio, television, print and the Internet. By educating and inspiring others about volunteerism, Doing Good seeks to increase volunteer involvement.

Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month is a free program produced by Doing Good. Nominations may be submitted to recognize any Nashville area volunteer for the good they do in the community.

Doing Good services are free to non-profit and government agencies.

Volunteer of the Month nominations and donations to Doing Good are accepted at www.DoingGood.tv.

Why do you volunteer?

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Rachel Moore

What leads someone to become a volunteer? 

For Rachel Moore it started early.  While still in school in Hickman County, Tennessee, she liked to read so she volunteered at her local library.  And her mother always told her “You need to help someone whenever you can, because you may need help sometime, too.”

For Rachel, that sometime came three years ago when she lost her husband to suicide.  She turned to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network for help, and then became a volunteer.  “It was a chance for me to learn about suicide so other people don’t have to go through what I did,” she says.

Rachel says that volunteering has helped immensely in her recovery.  She is able to relate her personal story to help others who are in a similar, or even in worse circumstances than her own.

“I have met some of the most amazing people while volunteering.  I know I have gone through periods of strife myself, but to see some of these people makes me feel ashamed of ever complaining about my life.”  She has also learned that you can’t judge people by what you see.  She always gains inspiration from the people she is working with.

“They teach me that it’s all about attitude.”  For example, through her volunteer work Rachel has met a high school athletics coach who is missing both of his arms.  She’s seen people with MS who spend hours at a park helping a benefit walk.  And she says, “I’m VERY lucky to have met a lady who began volunteering three weeks after losing her spouse to suicide. “

While she does most of her volunteering for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee, Rachel often teams up with colleagues at United Healthcare to volunteer.  The company encourages employees to post volunteer opportunities on weekly email and recruit others to help on their projects. When an employee completes 30 hours of community service in a year the company will donate $200 to the employee’s charity of choice.

Rachel has participated in a wide range of volunteer activities including answering phones and entering data, helping package food for a mobile food pantry and distributing it to the public.  She has spoken to high school classes, helped organize benefit walks, tended booths at numerous events, rounded up volunteers for a 5K race, sorted food at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and helped build a home for an amazing family with the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity.

She’s excited about her next volunteer gig helping an organization that donates pet food to owners who can’t afford it.

“I love volunteering,” Rachel says.  “To me, it’s a rush to help others.  I’m in awe of all the people I’ve met through volunteering, and I count myself blessed to call them my friends.”

And she offers advice for anyone looking to volunteer. “It’s easy,” she says.  “Find something you’re passionate about and just ask what you can do to help.”

Doing Good is thrilled to recognize Rachel Moore as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for May 2013.

What are you passionate about?  Why do you volunteer?  What kind of rush do you get from volunteering?