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 Loundenback
When it comes to superpowers, Kaitlyn Jolley doesn’t have just one. She’s a middle school teacher, an advocate for health and wellness in the Nashville community, and she comes to the rescue in times of need, whether it’s helping the hungry, finding assistance for students who want better opportunities for their future, or, most recently, being on the frontlines for relief from the tornado that devastated the community on March 2nd of this year.
Drawing on her personal faith and natural talents, as well as her education and drive to create a better world, Kaitlyn never stops. She began her career as a teacher but saw that teachers in her district were overworked, as were administrators. So she found ways to implement initiatives that relieved them of difficulties that sometimes stood in the way of their duties. She helped alleviate hunger among students and created wellness programs by partnering with local volunteer organizations. This paved the way for a stronger student body who could work more passionately toward their goals. Kaitlyn created college preparation and tutoring services to assist students in achieving their goals.
During the tornado relief efforts, Kaitlyn implemented unique ways to organize and deliver supplies to those in need. Working with McGruder Family Resource Center, Gideon’s Army and Corner to Corner, Kaitlyn helped make a big difference in the lives of those who thought they might have lost everything.
As Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month, Kaitlyn says, “I always have had a passion for helping and serving people who have been in underserved areas and populations.” She continues to serve and better the lives of others, and this is what brings happiness to her own life.
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
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
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
Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month: Lauranette Ford
Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” She has found a way to put a deep truth of life to a poetic tune: no matter what we think we are saying or doing at any given moment, the way people perceive what we do is what they will remember. This quote is a central part of Lauranette Ford’s life as a volunteer in our beautiful city, one that deeply values music education.
Lauranette has found creative and impactful ways to touch people’s lives. She serves with many organizations in town, a highlight of which is the forthcoming National Museum of African American Music, which hasn’t opened its doors yet, but the entire team (of which Lauranette is both on staff in one department and volunteering for others) has been working for months to prepare a pivotal educational experience in the city where the pulse of music never ends. This undertaking requires many hours and work that is multi-faceted in its requirements, and Lauranette works hard to make sure people feel truly heard and loved through it all.
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.
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