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Inspiring Women

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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

How Sports Initiate Change


June Volunteer of the Month: Jimmy Pitts

Jimmy Pitts loves sports almost as much as he loves service. Between coaching basketball and serving on the corporate board of the Boys and Girls Club of Rutherford County, Jimmy constantly looks to improve the lives of those around him. The work of every Boys and Girls Club focuses on the underprivileged youth, surrounding them with positive influences in their most formative years.

From an early age, Jimmy remembers playing every sport from soccer to baseball with what was then his local Boys and Girls Club in Florida. He enjoyed the competition, excitement, and teamwork. Later in life the values instilled in him through the sports began shining through his life decisions. In late 2010, he became involved with the sports program at Boys and Girls Club of Rutherford County at the Smyrna location and has been coaching ever since. However, Jimmy’s passion for sports is often shadowed by his love for the children. His volunteerism is not solely focused on sharing his love for sports, but rather is an attempt to surround Smyrna youth with positive values during the years they discover themselves.


Written by: Ryan Wilson

Love in the Unreached Places


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


July Nashville Volunteer of the Month


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 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.


Service for a Larger Purpose

Jacky Gomez in library.cropped
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.

One Person at a Time

Pastor Marc Hewlett

Pastor Marc Hewlett Stopping Human Trafficking

Like many in Music City, Marc Hewlett began as a musician. Yet he was also an alcoholic, drug addict, and general trainwreck. On one particular morning, he woke up underneath a bush in the pouring rain. After hitting his rock bottom, he turned his life around.

Today, his life includes ending human trafficking, a global industry of over $249 billion. Yet his approach is to Prevent, Reach, Love, and Rescue each man and woman, one at a time. He achieves his goal by volunteering with several, local organizations including the INSPIRE Freedom Project, INSPIRE Kids Nashville, and MDHA, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, of Nashville.

“It is in my heart. I love everybody – I don’t pick and choose.”

He’s “seen it all,” from those who’ve been on the streets for years to children unknowingly being recruited as future drug dealers. It is only “the tip of the iceberg,” he says. It starts when a drug dealer befriends a group of children and coaches them to sell candy bars “for their basketball team” in a parking lot. Each child who brings in $100 is fed a meal and given $20. This seemingly simple treat is a proven recruiting tool to find, train, and gain the trust of future drug dealers.

To reach both children and adults, he is one of two men and two women with the INSPIRE Freedom Project who go out two nights each week to the most highly trafficked areas around – including Murfreesboro Pike, West Trinity Lane, and Harding Place. The four visit those who are most at risk of being trafficked, homeless, or addicts and build relationships through love. They arrive armed – with hand-written cards, words of encouragement, open hearts, and a rose.

Despite local dangers in this worldwide issue, Marc is one man in Nashville tackling this overwhelming issue right at home – one person at a time.

Protector & Defender

Photo.Lynn Ewing.headshot

Lynn Ewing

“We are our brother’s keeper. What we do matters because it (how we treat others) does affect others,” says Lynn Ewing.

In Hebrew, “keeper” means more than “protector” or “defender.” Fortunately, Lynn exemplifies this every day. She lives out her definition of “protector” and “defender” through her volunteerism.

Lynn is a local mediator who uses her gift of communication to serve children throughout the community. She volunteers as a hands-on volunteer for Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and CASA Nashville as well as on the citizen volunteer Board of Directors for the Davidson County Foster Care Review. While each agency is separate and different, they share the same cause – assisting children in crisis.

“I want to share and ignite a passion and encourage people to volunteer!” she happily says.

Sheyla Paz Hicks Talent Helps Others Achieve Their Goals


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  Nashvilles 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.

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

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  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.

Partying for Kids Makes Toby Lemley’s Heart Sing


When Toby Lemley moved to Nashville 17 years ago he saw the generosity of the Nashville community and began to understand the value of giving back.  Most recently he used his resources as a local representative of WorldVentures to build a DreamCourt for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee. 

Toby rallied his WorldVentures co-workers and his company’s foundation to raise $23,600 to build a DreamCourt for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.  Most of the money came from a “Dream Night” party he hosted at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville.

The sports court opened in October 2013 for at-risk youth who participate in programs at the Andrew Jackson Boys & Girls Club as well as the neighborhood kids.  The children can play basketball and other team sports, interact socially and learn valuable life lessons such as teamwork, good sportsmanship and competition.

“The DreamCourt will give our kids an opportunity to develop their basketball, tennis and volleyball skills and learn new ways to keep active and healthy,” says John D. Winnet, chief development & external affairs officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.

But DreamCourt is only one project that Toby has spearheaded.  One year on his birthday he hosted a Hollywood Studio54-themed party with 1000 guests benefiting Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs.  For a period of time he owned and operated a music venue on Eighth Avenue in Nashville where he hosted several different parties benefiting children, including a Revenge of the Nerds birthday party, music events and cook-offs for Make-A-Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots, Hands on Nashville and others.  He also incorporated an online campaign to add to the proceeds benefiting Hands On Nashville so they could help more people affected by the Nashville flood in 2010.

“I volunteer because it’s so rewarding and fulfilling,” says Toby.  “I’ve learned that most nonprofits survive because of volunteers.  Without volunteers things wouldn’t get done. And I want to do things where I can see and enjoy the local benefits of doing good. I didn’t realize just how much fulfillment one can get by volunteering,” he said.

The Nashville DreamCourt project was the sixth such project in the country.  It was such as success that WorldVentures teams in Denver duplicated the fundraising efforts of Toby and his colleagues to open the seventh DreamCourt.   The Foundation is planning five more DreamCourt openings in 2014.  “With Toby’s leadership, the Nashville team created the inspiration and momentum for so many other DreamCourt teams across the country!” exclaims Lori Streiff, Fundraising Director at the WorldVentures Foundation.

DreamCourts Nationwide Project is a partnership of the WorldVentures Foundation, Nancy Lieberman Foundation, NBA, NBACares and Connor Sport Court International.   WorldVentures Foundation Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd credits dedicated volunteers like Toby as the the driving force behind the Foundation.  They are making a huge impact on lives in communities close to home and around the world.

Doing Good is proud to recognize Toby Lemley as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for December.

Join the Conversation:  Why do you volunteer?  Have you helped build a sports court or a playground?  When? Where?  Where is your heart?  Helping children? Helping the elderly?  Advocating for the less fortunate? Supporting a cause that has personal meaning to you such as defeating cancer, ALS, MS, etc?

Blog Written by:  Karen E. Williams, a volunteer with Doing Good, an organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism.  The website is  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.