Empowerment through Art

It was a rainy start to my third day of volunteering. Luckily, I had the perfect rainy day activity scheduled — making art! I spent the morning volunteering in an art class run by the Hart Gallery. Hart Gallery is a nonprofit that offers homeless and non-traditional artists an opportunity to create and sell their artwork. The class was held at the Outreach Housing & Community, which works with homeless and formerly homeless people. Katie, the art teacher with the Hart Gallery, had an abundance of energy, art supplies, and projects. As we set the room up for the art class, she shared with me her passion for this type of therapeutic work.

As class began, I saw how meaningful Katie’s job is and how therapeutic this space is for its participants. As everyone dove into their individual art projects, there was a calming presence in the room. Participants shared stories. Some were as simple as missing the bus that morning and others more complex, delving into the hardships they faced on the streets. While I’ve never been in an art therapy session, the atmosphere in the room made it feel like a safe space to express oneself. I see the value in providing people living in difficult situations with spaces to engage in work they are passionate about and the opportunity to share their compassion for one another. Katie, the Hart Gallery, and the Outreach Housing & Community do wonderful work. I feel so lucky to have joined them today!

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The Secret’s Out

It was a Friday morning, and the weekend was fast approaching. Tim Flack was looking for volunteer opportunities where he and his 6-year-old daughter, Susanna, could volunteer together. He found the perfect listing on Volunteer Odyssey’s Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities. The event was Tile Making Day hosted by Carpenter Art Garden.

tim pic 2 Tim was excited to find an opportunity to give back that he can include his daughter in because, “Volunteer opportunities like this help us to instill our values of helping others and of being of service in the community along with introducing our kids to the realities of life that many people in our community face each day.” This outing for Tim and Susanna was very different from their usual weekend trip to the zoo, park, or pool because it allowed them to spend time together while also helping others in their city.

By volunteering at places such as the Carpenter Art Garden, Tim says they hope “that they [our children] will grow up to be people who make a difference and who make an impact for good in the world.”

Tim and his daughter greatly enjoyed interacting with the children of the Binghampton area in helping them to build their new mosaic sculpture garden, yet Tim understands most people’s hesitations towards volunteering. Before Tim became a regular volunteer at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, he too was hesitant to make a commitment to volunteer. He explains, “It seemed like I was always reading about someone who was recognized for volunteering for some unbelievable number of hours, and I figured there was no way I had time to take on something like that!”

What Tim came to realize, however, is that there are so many organizations in Memphis that need help even if you only have a few hours to give.  Volunteer Odyssey takes into acctim pic 3ount your schedule, interests, and abilities in order to connect you with your perfect volunteer opportunity. You can have a huge impact with just a few hours, and as Susanna learned, you can have fun at the same time.

Here’s some 6-year old wisdom: Susanna said to her dad,“Daddy, I wasn’t volunteering. I was just having a lot of fun!” The secret’s out: you can volunteer and have fun at the same time.  Tim and Susanna’s experience shows making a difference in the community can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience because as Tim puts it, “ I can honestly say that there are few things that I have done in my life that have been as rewarding as the time I have spent as a volunteer.”

So what are you waiting for? If you want to become a volunteer at Carpenter Art Garden like Tim and Susanna, take a 90 second tour of the organization.

If you’re looking for something to fit your schedule, check out Volunteer Odyssey’s Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities. Start today!



5 Ways to Volunteer while Playing Pokémon Go

11UntitledHow much time do you spend searching looking for Pokémon? While you’re at it, use your Poké Powers for good!

Volunteer Odyssey has 5 ways you can make an impact in your community while playing Pokémon. Talk about two birds one Poké Ball!

5 Ways to give back while hunting for Pokémon:


  1. Donate a Poké Lure. Donate a lure at your local children’s hospital so the kids can catch ‘em while they get better! Thanks to your generosity, these kids can play from their hospital bed since they can’t go catch Pokmon outside. In Memphis, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital would love to have you donate a Poké Lure for the kids. (Note: For obvious reasons you can’t wander into a children’s hospital! Drop your Poké Lure outside and be on your way! If you want to become a volunteer at Le Bonheur, email Timorie to get started)
  2. Earn Real Money to Donate. As you wander the wild streets searching for Pokémon, use the Charity Miles app to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Leave the app open while playing Pokémon Go and sponsors donate money to your charity for every mile you walk/run.
  3. Clean the Sidewalks. While searching for those elusive Pokémon, you can pick up trash along your walk. You’ll be making the city cleaner while also having fun. As with hunting Pokémon, please don’t wander into traffic to grab a piece of littler. Use your noggin. If you’re in Memphis, email Janet at Clean Memphis for great places to start.
  4. Walk a Dog! There are tons of dogs that need to be walked at your local animal shelter, so why not FullSizeRenderhelp these pups get exercise since you’ll be walking around town anyway. Just ask the shelter first if they have any “Pokédogs” (dogs that you are allowed to walk while searching for Pokémon) available to walk. Become a dog walker at Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County or your local shelter. (Remember to keep yourself and the animal safe while playing!)
  5. Tend a Garden. Visit your local garden or community park and help them to plant, pull weeds, or maintain the trails while catching Pokémon. There are bound to be tons of Pokémon rustling behind the leaves for you to find. In Memphis, email Irene to volunteer with Shelby Farms.

You can catch ‘em all and give back at the same time! Start today by visiting our website or finding Volunteer Odyssey on Facebook.