During the spring and summer, Nashville is blooming with community service opportunities. The enthusiasm and pride that our city takes in improving one another’s quality of life is without a doubt one of the reasons we became the “It City.” The big question is, how do you choose which service projects to commit your time to? Team Green Adventures is no stranger to the world of Nashville non-profits. We work closely with nearly every non-profit that puts an emphasis on improving our environment, feeding the hungry, and building lifetime skills for both volunteers and beneficiaries. This week’s blog spotlights some of our favorite non-profits and community projects we’ll team up on throughout the year!
Building: Habitat for Humanity
We work with both the Williamson-Maury County and Davidson County Habitat for Humanity programs. All Habitat for Humanity homes are built using LEED-certified practices. Families who receive these homes go through a rigorous application process, and spend time volunteering to build their own homes, therefore learning how to take better care and pride in it. As volunteers, we learn how to make our own homes more energy efficient and structurally sound. In one day, you can learn how to insulate your walls, seal your windows and doors, frame a new wall, install siding, or paint!
We’ll be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Williamson-Maury County on Saturday, May 9th. Register HERE to get involved.
Bike Refurbishing: Hands On Nashville
Hands On Nashville is a hub for non-profits to post their volunteer events, but they also have their own official HON Programs, like ReCYCLE for Kids. Throughout the month of December, Hands On Nashville collected pre-loved kids’ bikes with a wheel diameter of 20” or less, and now they’re working to refurbish these bikes in order to give them to under-served Metro Nashville school-aged kids during Bike Month (May). Volunteers who help refurbish these bikes will not only give the gift of mobility and health to these kids, they’ll also learn some basic bike mechanic skills and hopefully build up their own confidence to ride a bike.
We’ll be volunteering with Hands On Nashville’s ReCYCLE for Kids program on Friday, May 1st, and interested volunteers can register HERE.
Tree Planting: Hands On Nashville, Nashville Tree Foundation & Tennessee Environmental Council
Volunteering to help plant trees not only teaches you, the volunteer, how to establish a sustainable environment for saplings to take root, it also addresses some major Nashville issues like flooding, air pollution, and the urban heat island effect. Trees planted in riparian zones—areas where water meets land—can absorb water quickly and therefore reduce the impact of heavy rain. Trees provide shade, absorb heat, and consume CO2 which also helps to offset our city’s carbon footprint and can literally save lives during TN heat waves.
We formed a team for the TEC 50k Tree Day on Saturday, March 14th and will be planting trees with Hands On Nashville the following weekend, Saturday, March 21st. Register HERE to lend a hand. We’ll also form a team for ReLeafing Nashville Day on Saturday, November 21st, so be on the lookout!
Community Gardens: Hands On Nashville & Nashville Food Project
We volunteer through two great community garden programs in Nashville. A community garden is typically a plot of land in which members of the community work to till the soil, plant the seeds, pull the weeds, and share the bounty of their efforts. Hands On Nashville manages their own Urban Farm which volunteers help to maintain, then local youth are given the opportunity to harvest, prepare, taste and learn where healthy food comes from. Nashville Food Project knows that 1 in 4 adults suffer from hunger in our community, and 40% of our fresh produce goes to waste. They have several community gardens that teach individuals how to grow and harvest their own food.
We’ll be volunteering at a Nashville Food Project community garden on Saturday, May 2nd, and you can register HERE to help!
Food Sorting & Distribution: Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee collects donated food from individuals, organizations, and grocery stores. They also sort the food at their warehouse, distributing it to schools through their “backpacks program” and to under-served communities through their “mobile pantry” program. Volunteers are needed every step of the way, and in 2014 Team Green Adventures lent a hand through the entire process! We scheduled a Food Sorting Day for Saturday, March 14th, which filled up quickly. Don’t worry; it won’t be the last! In the meantime, contact the Second Harvest Food Bank volunteer coordinator to see how you or your group can get involved in existing Second Harvest volunteer opportunities.
IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT
Stream Cleanups: Cumberland River Compact
Nashville-area creeks and rivers are constantly polluted by litter, and it’s not because Nashvillians are throwing trash directly into our waterways. Heavy rains (stormwater) carry debris from lawns, roadsides, and littered sections of waterway hundreds of miles away, and deposits it along riverbeds and narrow sections of creek. Previously difficult-to-access riparian zones also never received the attention they needed after the May 2010 flooding, and the collected debris is causing congestion in our waterways, which results in neighborhood flooding. Volunteers can help to prevent flooding and improve the natural habitat offered by our blueways by walking along the creekbeds and collecting trash. We adopted a section of Mill Creek nearly two years ago through the Cumberland River Compact’s Adopt-a-Stream program, and will be posting three stream cleanups in 2015.
Our first Adopt-a-Stream Cleanup is on Saturday, April 11th. Register HERE to help out.
Canoe Float Cleanups: Bridgestone Americas Tires4ward
Bridgestone Americas may not be a non-profit organization, but they provide an invaluable resource to volunteer groups and non-profits who make an effort to remove used tires from our trails and waterways. Their Tires4ward program allows groups to register their cleanup effort, identify the number of tires they expect to remove during the cleanup, schedule a tire recycling partner to pick up these tires (no matter which brand of tire), and give them a new use. Recycled tires can be retreaded, used as fuel, reused in civic engineering projects, and converted into ground rubber-modified asphalt or playground mulch. We’ll post three Canoe Float Cleanups, in which we enjoy a full day of floating along nearby rivers, take in the scenery, hang with friends, get in a great workout, and most important of all – compete to win prizes by collecting the most bags of trash and tires! Volunteers get steeply-discounted rental rates on canoes, are provided with cleanup supplies, and can choose how vigorously they compete for the prizes! Look for these events in June, July, and August at TeamGreenAdventures.com.
Trail Building: Natchez Trace Parkway Association, Cumberland Trail Conference & Local Parks
Becoming a trail building volunteer not only means you make it possible for yourself and other outdoors enthusiasts to enjoy the trails, you also prevent the effects of erosion caused by off-trail use, and learn how to maintain future trails you walk or ride along. Natchez Trace Parkway Association needs volunteers to help maintain existing sections of hiking trails along the Natchez Trace Parkway, hoping to someday connect each section of trail to create a 444-mile parallel hiking trail from Nashville to Natchez, MS. The Cumberland Trail is in East Tennessee and has been in-progress for over 15 years. 190 miles of trail have been completed 100% by the effort of volunteers through the Cumberland Trail Conference. When completed, this trail will extend roughly 300 miles from its northern terminus at the TN/KY boarder to its southern terminus on Signal Mountain near Chattanooga. Our local parks, like Radnor Lake State Park, Long Hunter State Park, and Bells Bend also offer trail building opportunities. We currently do not have any trail building volunteer events scheduled in 2015, but are looking to hopefully add some in the late summer/early fall!
We also encourage Team Greeners to look into individual volunteer opportunities with our non-profit partners. Instead of getting your hands dirty, you can work directly with the people in our community who need help, or provide direct resources to them. At the top of our list includes the American Cancer Society Nashville Chapter, Safe Haven Family Shelter, and the American Red Cross Tennessee Valley Chapter. Several of our favorite community festivals and events also need volunteers in order to make them possible, like the Nashville Earth Day Festival coming up Saturday, April 18th. Learn how to become a Nashville Earth Day Festival volunteer HERE.
We want to hear about your favorite Nashville-area non-profits and volunteer opportunities too. Post a comment, then share the link to this blog on your social media and help spread the word!
– Keeley (Team Green’s Director)