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Nebraska Huskers Provide Hope for Middle Tennessee Students

June.2017.cEmily with her mom, Julie
Written by: Cole Gray

     Doing Good’s Nashville Volunteer of the Month Emily Fay is passionate about the University of Nebraska and serving others. In 2007, two years after moving to Nashville, she decided to combine her passions by founding Nashville Huskers, a nonprofit alumni association that has used member dues and merchandise sales to raise $18,000 in scholarship for Tennessee high school students looking to attend the University of Nebraska.
“I just wanted to watch football with other Nebraskans. That’s what it was when I started,” said Fay. She missed being surrounded by other Cornhuskers after growing up in a University of Nebraska household in Loveland, Colo., then attending Nebraska, and finally ending up in a sea of SEC fans in Nashville. So, back in 2007, Fay sent out some Facebook message cold-calls and 80 fans showed up to watch a football game.
Fast-forward eight seasons, and Nashville Huskers has hosted over 100 watch parties and over 10,000 guests. Though it started on Facebook, it’s now an official Nebraska Alumni chapter, and the community Fay started is supporting Middle Tennessee’s students.
“We want to send more people to the Big Ten, and we want to send more people to Nebraska because it’s one of the flyover states. People forget about it. It’s a beautiful campus with so much opportunity there. They’re doing amazing research, they’re doing wonderful things on campus, and to be able to send someone here in that direction just excites me. There’s so much opportunity.”

Learning through Service


photo-roopa-smiling-smallerRoopa packing books for low-income children at Book’em
Written by: Kingsley East

“Volunteering helps me to develop skills, learn more about career options, make friends, spend time, build confidence, and even just shake up my routine.” These are a few of Roopa Srinivasa Rao’s reasons for volunteering, and she encourages others to get involved in their communities as well. Roopa is passionate about helping others, finding solutions to meet people’s needs, and expanding her own network of people. Through volunteering, Roopa has found an outlet for each of these desires.

Roopa serves a non-profit called Book ‘Em that works to provide underprivileged children with books. Since its foundation in 1989, Book ‘Em has donated over one million books to various schools, camps, and programs throughout Middle Tennessee. When Roopa first went to Book ‘Em, she immediately felt appreciated by the staff, comfortable in Book ‘Em’s environment, and inspired by their mission. Having moved to America from India only a year ago, volunteering with Book ‘Em provides Roopa with a growing network of people and a way to spend her time so that it helps others. Additionally, Roopa believes that people gain knowledge through their experiences, and she encourages others to learn new skills through volunteer experiences.

Reading is Fundamental to a Nashville Volunteer

Students from Jennifer Ward's Pre-First classroom at Kirkpatrick Enhanced Option School

Students from Jennifer Ward’s Pre-First classroom at Kirkpatrick Enhanced Option School

Lynn Vincent has been a volunteer with Book’em since 2009 and is named Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for November for her hard work and dedication. For information about Lynn or nominating a friend for Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month, visit

Nominated by Martha Ann Pilcher, Coordinator of Volunteers for Book’em, “Each year, we ask our Reading Is FUNdamental (RIF) volunteers to visit an assigned classroom at a Title I school five (5) times throughout the school year to read to low-income students and distribute a book for every child in the classroom to keep as his or her own. For many children, this is the first book they have ever had. …Lynn is a RIF volunteer and reads to a kindergarten classroom at Caldwell Enhanced Option School, a Title I elementary school. Lynn, despite having a busy career as a successful graphic designer…, has visited her RIF classroom approximately 18 times this school year. That’s thirteen more visits than she committed to making.”

“For Lynn, reading with her children is all about opening doors and inspiring a love of reading.” Lynn explains, ”Education and the love of reading have been a strong message through my family dating back to my grandfather starting his own school at the turn of the century, to becoming a high school principal and eventually a state educator. His daughter, my mother, always stressed that reading was the road to success. The children I get to visit and bring books to in the schools in which I read don’t have the advantage of successful expectations, they just love having special moments with someone who cares. If they do pick up the passion and share that love with their brothers and sisters, even their parents, then the word spreads and everyone benefits.” One way she expresses this passion is through an example Pilcher shared as a great idea for the upcoming holiday season. “Lynn supplements the five books the children receive from our program with additional books she purchases specifically for them. For Christmas, each child received a stuffed Velveteen Rabbit or Toto from the Wizard of Oz and the accompanying book.”

Pilcher says, “Lynn has made her time volunteering in this program…(with) loads of fun and laughter. … She stands apart from other volunteers based on her willingness to always ask, “What else can I do? How can I do more?” These simple questions lead to the children in her classrooms really beginning to connect the dots. They see that reading leads to learning.

“We talk about writing and authors. Being a designer, we pick books with different illustrator types and what each drawing style brings to the story. I work with printer friends to supply journals for the second half of the year so they can start writing and drawing their own stories. We read chapter books, like Charlotte’s Web and talk about the characters and the imagery the author weaves into each line. It is also fun to remember back and define each character and where we were when we stopped the last chapter…like a dramatic cliffhanger. By the end of the year, the children are fully engaged and tuned into books they pick and the stories they read. Book’em provides the opportunity to bring books to kids to have for their very own, to take home, oftentimes the only books they have in their home. It provides us the time to read and share, to learn each child and make a human connection. This distinguishes Book’em to not only provide the books but to also take the time with our readers to really sit in the classroom and make connections with the kids and the teachers and see what their needs are,” says Lynn.

-The above is from the press release and not an interview. Karen, the Doing Good blogger, will return for future blogs soon. Thank you for understanding.