Volunteer from Home on Thanksgiving

How to volunteer in MemphisAt Home Volunteer Project

A simple project + interviews with our homeless neighbors.

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular days of the year to volunteer and many volunteer opportunities for Thanksgiving Day fill up far in advance. So what’s a well-meaning Memphian to do? You can still make a difference!

Our local outreach agencies need survival kits (also known as gift bags or blessing bags) for the people they serve throughout the year. A great way to do that is to meet some people who have experienced homelessness. We’re including their stories here, in their own words so you can hear about the lives. Even though you can’t meet them directly, we hope you find a connection.

You can collect the materials and assemble these bags at your home while watching videos about those who have experienced homelessness in Memphis. You can include as many people as you’d like.

What should these bags include? Things like:

  • Snacks (shelf stable)
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Warm hats
  • Toothbrushes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Chap stick
  • Bus passes

Hear the stories:

Listen to Jerry’s story

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 4.44.56 PM

Listen to Pat’s story

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 4.45.37 PM

Listen to Tarvis’s story

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 4.45.49 PM

I hope you found something that resonated with you and challenged how you envision homelessness. I hope you feel inspired to help.

Drop off your gift bags at:

  1. Volunteer Odyssey, 60 South Main, Suite 102, Memphis TN
  2. Contact sarah@volunteerodyssey.com and we’ll connect you to an organization that needs your donation.

Volunteer Year Round

Memphis needs your help at Thanksgiving and 364 other days of the year. Pick a day that’s special to you and make that a tradition for volunteering. Maybe it’s your birthday, a memorial, or your anniversary. Check out Volunteer Odyssey’s VolunteerCompass for ideas throughout the rest of the year.

Do you want to help make the world more awesome? So do we!

At Volunteer Odyssey we believe that everyone can use their special talents to become a volunteer superhero. Whatever your skills or interests, we can help you find a place to make a difference.

Want to get started? Here you go!
1) Discover your ideal place to volunteer using our VolunteerCompass
2) We want to hear from you! Email sarah@volunteerodyssey.com

Like our work? Keep it going!


Revolutionize our Food System | Volunteer with Memphis Tilth

Discover your perfect place to volunteer in Memphis. Visit our VolunteerCompass and start today!

Join Alexis on her vlogging tour of volunteer opportunities in Memphis. Up today: Memphis Tilth!

Volunteer Odyssey’s Vlog-unteering series will have a new video each week so you can learn about great organizations in Memphis where you can volunteer. Our vlogger, Alexis Lynn, is excited to share her journey with you!

Hey everyone! Today I volunteered at Memphis Tilth. Memphis Tilth an organization that promotes community development, increases access to local foods, and strengthens farmer livelihoods. Tilth is an English word that means the quality of soil and the cultivation of wisdom and spirit.

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 10.43.28 PMToday I helped pack bags of produce that are going to a nearby hospital. These bags will help staff, families, and patients have better access to fresh and local food while helping over 30 farmers stay in business.

I had such a great time volunteering at Memphis Tilth! Everyone was very kind and passionate about what they do. I even met two other Volunteer Odyssey volunteers!Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 10.44.08 PM
Memphis Tilth has under 10 employees so they really need volunteers like you to help them revolutionize the food system. To sign up or look for other volunteer opportunities go to VolunteerCompass.com. I know I’ll definitely be back!

Pick a volunteer opportunity with Memphis Tilth and sign up today!



Join Us for Memphis Volunteer Week

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.01.59 PM

Make Your Mark during Memphis Volunteer Week

Join us April 24th – 30th for Memphis Volunteer Week. Come to one thing or come to everything! We’ll be making burritos, hosting a Pop Up Volunteer Party, making flower bouquets for seniors, reading to kids, and more. Choose your adventure and we’ll see you there.

Schedule of Volunteer Events

Monday | April 24th
Time: 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Event: Bouquets of Hope with Catholic Charities
Description: Create bundles of flowers for seniors in nursing homes.
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

Tuesday | April 25th
Time: 8:30 am – 12:45 pm
Event: World of Plants with Memphis Botanic Garden
Description: Work at a “discovery station” and teach kids about plants around the world.
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

Wednesday | April 26th
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Event: Burrito Prep with Urban Bicycle Food Ministry
Description: Come make burritos that we’ll deliver by bike to the hungry people in downtown Memphis.
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

Thursday | April 27th
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Event: Read to Me at St Jude
Description: Read to the kids at St. Jude during your lunch break. Spanish speaker a plus!
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

Friday | April 28th
Time: 11:00 – 1:00 (Pop in anytime)
Event: Pop Up Volunteer Party with Volunteer Odyssey
Description: Pop in and volunteer! We have projects as short as 60 seconds.
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

Saturday | April 29th
Time: 9:00 am  – 12:00 pm
Event: Shine the Line with Clean Memphis
Description: Beautify a neighborhood. Great for groups!
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

Sunday | April 30th
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Event: Prayer & Dessert with Dorothy Day House
Description: Everyone welcome! Dorothy Day House keeps homeless families together. Come meet the moms, dads, and kids that are building a future and working towards a new home.
Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.46.37 PM

On-going Volunteer Opportunities

If you can’t join us for one of these, you can still get involved! Here are two great options:

1) Become a Trail Scout with Shelby Farms | Learn more

2) Deliver Meals on Wheels with MIFA | Learn more

Explore All Opportunities

Visit our VolunteerCompass and discover your perfect place to volunteer.


Where to Volunteer in Memphis

Megan_CAG_VO bannerAre you looking for volunteer opportunities in Memphis? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking for something easy that fits your schedule or something meaningful where you can make a big impact, we’re here to help!

Memphis needs dedicated volunteers like YOU! Deliver meals, tutor kids, help homeless families, become a docent, plan special events, respond in a crisis – the opportunities are endless. We’re inviting you to get involved.

Here’s how to get started with Volunteer Odyssey:

1) Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities
Our calendar has the most comprehensive listing of volunteer opportunities in Memphis. We feature events every day of the week – evenings and weekends included.
Visit the Calendar

2) Virtual Volunteer Fair – Volio
We built and launched the country’s first Virtual Volunteer Fair. Take a 90 second tour of opportunities and find your perfect fit. You’ll meet the volunteer coordinator and hear from other volunteers so you know exactly what to expect.
Visit Volio

3) Find Opportunities On Facebook
We post Memphis-based volunteer opportunities daily! Join our page to get events and stories.
Visit Us on Facebook

4) Get Volunteer Odyssey’s Top Opportunities
Every month we’ll send you a list of 10 featured volunteer opportunities. Be the first to know when we open sign ups for our top picks.
Get Our Top Picks

5) Get a Custom Match
Are you looking for the perfect fit? We can help! We’ll ask you questions about what’s important to you so we can hand-pick a great opportunity. Ready to get started?
Email Caroline@volunteerodyssey.com

If you’re looking for the best places to volunteer in Memphis, we’ve got you covered! Email Caroline@volunteerodyssey.com if you’re ready to start.

It’s time to make your mark on Memphis!






Home for the Holidays? Volunteer in Memphis!

Volunteer In Memphis over the holidays
Volunteer Odyssey in Memphis
Welcome home to Memphis! Whether you’re home from college or on vacation from work, here are great options for volunteering in Memphis over your break.

Memphis Volunteer Opportunities

IMG_39591) Deliver Meals on Wheels
They need lots of help and you’ll meet amazing people on  your route! Here’s how it works: http://voliovolunteers.com/mifa-meals-on-wheels
You can also email Isaiah directly Isaiah Swanson <iswanson@mifa.org>.
There’s also a Meals on Wheels satellite site in Germantown that you can ask about!
2) Urban Bicycle Food Ministry
This is a great, eye-opening experience. They can make burritos for the homeless AND can deliver the food by bike. It’s a great group and a very rewarding volunteer experience. Here’s how that works: http://voliovolunteers.com/urban-bicycle-food-ministry.
You can also email Lyle directly Lyle Udell <lyle.udell@gmail.com>
3) Dorothy Day House
This amazing place houses three homeless families.  You will meet kids and teens who are homeless (or who would be homeless if not for Dorothy Day House). It’s a wonderful organization and it’s something your family can all do together. Here’s more about them: voliovolunteers.com/dorothy-day-house. You can also email Genevieve directly Genevieve Spears <gspears@dorothydaymemphis.org>
4) Room in the Inn
This organization house homeless guests at congregations around Memphis during the winter months. There are sites all across Memphis. You can help serve dinner, make beds, welcome guests, help with breakfast, etc.
Regardless of your religious beliefs or home congregation, all are welcome to serve at these sites.
Here’s a list of the congregations and when they serve: http://www.roomintheinn-memphis.org/congregational-sites.html
In addition to the contact listed for each site, you can contact Whitney and/or Lisa who oversee Room in the Inn. Their contact info:
Thank you for volunteering in Memphis and making an impact on our community!

More Ways to Volunteer in Memphis

If you want more ways to volunteer, try these things:
1) Visit our Virtual Volunteer Fair, Volio and take a 90 second tour of volunteer opportunities in Memphis: http://voliovolunteers.com/
2) Sign up for our newsletter. Every month you’ll get a list of our 10 featured volunteer opportunities
3) Follow us on Facebook. We’re constantly updating and sharing great opportunities.
4) Need more ideas? Email us!
Volunteer Odyssey in Memphis

Memphis volunteer opportunities your kids can do during winter break

People often ask how soon they can take their kids to volunteer. We have good news: It’s never too early to start volunteering with your kids! There are several great volunteer opportunities in Memphis where your whole family can get involved.
Your winter break is the perfect time to get involved and to start volunteering as a family.
Here are our top picks:
1) Meals on Wheels
You deliver meals to home-bound seniors. These folks light up when they see kids and it will definitely be the highlight of their day.
Here’s a 90 second video about how it works: voliovolunteers.com/mifa-meals-on-wheels
If you’re interested, just click the “Tell me more” button and Isaiah will get right back to you! We can also connect you personally, just email sarah@volunteerodyssey.com
2) Dorothy Day House
This amazing place keeps homeless families together. Your children will meet other children who are homeless and it’s an incredible volunteer experience. Families are welcome. Here’s a 90 second video about how families can volunteer at the Dorothy Day House:
You can either reach out through the platform or we can connect you directly.
3) Room in the Inn
They house homeless guests during the at congregations all across Memphis. There’s likely one close to you. Kids can help with simple tasks like making the beds for the guests. Here’s more info about them: http://www.roomintheinn-memphis.org/
Get your kids involved early with volunteering and it will become part of your family’s life. If you need specific information about specific causes or areas of Memphis, Volunteer Odyssey is here to help.
You can also check our Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities or visit our Virtual Volunteer Fair Volio and take a tour of 7 great options.
Email us sarah@volunteerodyssey.com for more information about these sites or other volunteer opportunities in Memphis.

How to Help Fire Victims in East Tennessee

Via WREG: http://wreg.com/2016/11/30/fire-devastates-east-tennessee-leaving-multiple-dead-dozens-injured/


The wildfires in East Tennessee have claimed seven lives and damages homes in the Gaitlinburg area. If you’d like to help, here’s what you can do:

First, please do not self-deploy to this area. If you want to help or volunteer, please coordinate those efforts through Volunteer East Tennessee or the Red Cross.

One of the biggest needs right now is monetary contributions. Red Cross has asked for a pause on in-kind donations and is requesting financial support.

Here are several other ways you can offer support (via The Tennessean):

  • The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has also set up a support fund to distribute donations directly to the affected communities and the nonprofits on the ground helping victims and addressing their needs. Donate here: cfmt.org.
  • The Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association and the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association are accepting donations to assist victims. Contact Jessica Cardwell at jessica@tnhta.net or Greg Adkins at greg@tnhta. You can also call 615-385-9970. Checks can be mailed to the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association, 475 Craighead St., Nashville, TN 37204.
  • Kroger has joined with the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross to provide financial aid. Donations will be accepted at all Middle and East Tennessee Kroger stores, Northern Alabama Kroger stores, and Southern Kentucky Kroger locations. All money will be forwarded directly to the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross. The company will also make a $10,000 corporate contribution.
  • First Tennessee Bank will match donations from the public to East Tennessee Red Cross, up to $50,000. People can donate at any First Tennessee financial center. You can find locations here. First Tennessee is also matching donations for those affected by the Chattanooga bus tragedy.

Please support the efforts to help our neighbors in East Tennessee.


Volunteer Odyssey
Memphis, TN


Volunteering – Easy as Pie!

“I can’t wait to come back – I already told them that!”

DeVante Woodson volunteered for the first time at the Carpenter Art Garden for Thanksgiving.

30280_origDeVante is a writer for Choose901 and that’s how he found this opportunity. His supervisor, Amanda hill, told him about Volunteer Odyssey’s calendar. Next thing you know, he’s signed up to volunteer at the Carpenter Art Garden.

When he pulled up to the garden, he wasn’t sure what to expect. The house is bright purple and adorned with the kids’ artwork. And when he walked up? “I was almost overwhelmed by how welcoming and friendly everyone was. Every person I met was incredibly genuine and you could tell they really care about the kids. All of the adults knew every kid by name.”

DeVante’s role for the day? Slicing pumpkin pie. How easy is that? It was easy for DeVante, but it made a huge difference to the kids – many of whom have never had a traditional Thanksgiving celebration before.  img_1751

The Carpenter Art Garden gained a great new volunteer. In addition to being an expert pie slicer, DeVante is also a talented artist. He’s planning to take his skills from Designs by DeVante and apply them at the garden.

We love this sentiment from DeVante: “I wanted to take the things I love about my family and give them to someone else.” Big bowtie and big heart!

Would you like to volunteer at the Carpenter Art Garden? Here are their upcoming opportunities.

Would you like to know more about Volunteer Odyssey and how you can make your mark on Memphis? Come volunteer with us! Sign up for our newsletter or join us for our Pop Up Volunteer Parties.

Volunteer to help Louisiana Flood Victims

Volunteer Odyssey-Louisiana Flood Relief

Southern Louisiana is experiencing devastating flooding and they need your help.

You can be a hero to families in need. Can you travel to Louisiana to help? Whether you have time or money to give, you can make a huge impact starting today.

Take the step today to help those in need. Here’s how to start:


  • Volunteer with the Red Cross. The American Red Cross of the Mid-South is recruiting volunteers from the general public who are willing to deploy to Southern Louisiana to assist with relief efforts in response to unprecedented flooding. Attend a Disaster Service Overview & Shelter Fundamentals class next week.
  • UPDATE (8/24) “Red Cross will be holding a training class related to the volunteer effort on Thursday, August 25th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Red Cross offices (1399 Madison Ave, Memphis). This training program is required to be considered for deployment in addition to the Volunteer Application Process.  If you have not started this process, please click this link. If you have questions, contact tiffany.crumpton@redcross.org to get started.
    If you are already in the flood-affected area, register with Volunteer Louisiana. There is a dire need of volunteers to help staff shelters, to clean up schools, etc (Note: If you live outside of this area, please do not travel on your own to volunteer. Sign up through the Red Cross. Email WestTN@redcross.org).
  • If you want to volunteer your time, we strongly encourage you to do this through the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. Please do not mobilize a grassroots effort. Red Cross is the safest and most effective way to help if you want to travel to this area. As we learn of others, we will add them to this list.


  • Donate to Red Cross. To make a financial contribution go to redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text the words LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
  • To donate to a long-term recovery fund visit the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (http://disasterphilanthropy.org/) or their CrowdRise fund (https://www.crowdrise.com/cdp-flood-recovery).
  • To donate to a short-term relief fund focusing on shelter and needs assessments visit The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Louisiana Relief Fund (http://www.braf.org/louisiana-flood-relief).
  • For more information on how to donate cash, goods, or your time visit the Louisiana VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) website (http://lavoad.org/how-to-help/). They also have a list of approved organizations if you would like to give directly to an organization rather than through a fund (http://lavoad.org/membership-directory/).
  • Donate to Teach for America’s relief fund for impacted corps members and alumni to replace personal belongings and to help them address needs in their classrooms and schools. You can donate to that fund here.

On-going information

We will be updating this list with the most up to date information. To add service opportunities, please contact sarah@volunteerodyssey.com

Volunteer from Home on MLK Day

Volunteer from Home on Martin Luther King Day!

Many people want to give back on MLK Day and do something to help others.

However, many non-profits are closed in observance of the holiday.  Fortunately, there’s a great way to volunteer from home and to help those who are experiencing homelessness. It’s great for family, friends, any size group, and all ages!

With that in mind, here’s a special project for you and your family on MLK Day: make gift bags for the homeless.

Here’s how to make gift bags for the homeless with your family on MLK Day.

Step 1:

Meet the people you’ll helping: 

Homelessness can be a faceless, nameless problem that seems abstract. Fortunately, two wonderful organizations produced pictures and videos for this exact purpose.

Meet Jerry. At the time of this interview with Jerry, was homeless.  Here’s his story: Jerry’s story

Jerry. Image credit: Focus for the Good

Listen to Jerry’s story

This lady is named Pat. Does she fit your image of homelessness? Pat’s story

Pat. Image credit: Focus for the Good

Listen to Pat’s story

And this is Tarvis. What is his life like? Tarvis’s story

Tarvis. Image credit: Focus for the Good

Listen to Tarvis’s story

There are also a lot of families and children who are homeless. Dorothy Day House of Hospitality in Memphis is a refuge for these families.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 2.49.05 PM

Watch this video about the Dorothy Day House

Maybe you found some parts sad or shocking. I hope you found something that resonated with you and challenged how you envision homelessness. I hope you feel inspired to help.

Step 2:
Make a list of items to include

You can build your own gift bags with anything you like. We used gallon sized bags but quart sized bags are very common for this project as well. Here are some ideas of items to include:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Hand lotion
  • Gum
  • Healthy snacks (individual servings of peanut butter, applesauce, dried fruit, granola bars, tuna fish and crackers along with disposable utensils)
  • A list of places (addresses and phone numbers) that provide services for the homeless
  • Socks, gloves, hats
  • Gift cards for fast food restaurants and public transit
  • Bottled water
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Inspirational message or helpful information

When planning healthy snacks, consider that many of the homeless are missing teeth and cannot easily eat hard foods like peanuts. Fruit cocktail, applesauce and soft fruit bars are more accessible for everyone.

Step 3:
Collect or purchase materials for your gift bags

Open all of the packages and make your assembly line


photo3 (1)Step 4:

With your friends and family, form an assembly line and place one of each item into the bag.

The final product

The final product

Step 5:

You can donate these to one of the many wonderful organizations in Memphis that serve the homeless. Here are a few:
Urban Bicycle Food Ministry: Email Frank 
Room in the Inn Memphis: Email Lisa
St Mary’s Soup Kitchen: Email Martin
Need more ideas for places to donate in Memphis?  Email us!

Step 6:
Tell us about it!

We’d love to share your family’s project. Email us or share it on our Facebook page.

Looking at the pictures and watching the videos will give you and your family a better sense of who you would be helping and it reminds us to be thankful for our warm homes and our families. This is a great project for any age and any size group. Everyone can help with selecting the items and filling the bags.


If you’re looking for more way to get involved, Visit our Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities or our Virtual Volunteer Fair – Volio!

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 2.30.58 PM

Find Volunteer Opportunities


Virtual Volunteer Fair Connect with a Cause








Very special thank you to for helping us share how you can volunteer from home in Memphis:

  • Bill Piacesi and the Focus for the Good team
  • Beth Halldorson and Liz McKee of Baker Donelson