Where to Volunteer in Memphis

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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:

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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!

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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

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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
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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:
http://voliovolunteers.com/dorothy-day-house
You can either reach out through the platform or we can connect you directly.
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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

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

Via WREG

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!

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“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

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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

  • 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

  • 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.

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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:
Assemble!

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:
Donate!

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.

 

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

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Find Volunteer Opportunities

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Virtual Volunteer Fair Connect with a Cause

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

Putting the “I” in Service

By Dannon Eubanks
Emerging Leader
University of Memphis

Volunteering at the Carpenter Art Garden in Memphis

Volunteering at the Carpenter Art Garden in Memphis

As an Emerging Leader at the University of Memphis, volunteering is a requirement. It’s easy to involve yourself in something when your scholarship is dependent on it. What’s not so easy is to transition yourself from doing something as a chore to doing something because you got more out of it than just a signature. They say doing something for twenty-one days makes it become a habit, but I don’t think it takes twenty-one volunteer experiences for that to become a habit. It takes something much simpler yet not often enough grasped. All it takes to make a habit out of volunteering is heart. What I have found is that when you put love into serving, you get love out of it. You get out what you put in. With that being said, being a college athlete trying to find time to volunteer, no matter how much heart for serving I have, can be extremely difficult. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without the Volunteer Odyssey calendar this semester. I can sit down with my personal calendar and pull up the volunteer calendar and easily be able to tell what I am free to do. Along with that, I have access to contact information and details about the posted events. Because of the Volunteer Odyssey Calendar, I have had the blessing of working with the Carpenter Art Garden, the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Urban Bicycle Food Ministry and Jacob’s Well. These opportunities have not only helped me maintain my scholarship by fulfilling my hours, they have given me experiences I will never forget with people I never would have had the privilege to meet otherwise. I have been blessed not only by the calendar and the peace of mind it gives me, but also by every hour I have served. These hours don’t just go towards my scholarship, they go towards my life lessons. As Gandhi once said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Another great way to find yourself is with fellowship with others. Being able to experience these things with people I know and love makes it all the much better. I have recommended the Volunteer Odyssey Calendar to fellow Emerging Leaders who need the hours, to my peers who simply want to be more involved around Memphis, and to church organizations who want to spread God’s love by serving, All in all, no matter what the cause, the Volunteer Odyssey Calendar is a blessing to all those grateful enough to have found it.

Dannon Eubanks is a freshman Emerging Leader at the University of Memphis. She is a distance runner for the University of Memphis Track and Field team and an active participant in the school’s Presbyterian collegiate ministry UKirk. She is from Brownsville, TN.

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Are you ready to volunteer? Start with these:

1) Visit our Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities

2) Check out our Virtual Volunteer Fair – Volio

3) Get updates

4) Or connect with us on Facebook

The prettiest flower you all brought today

Guest blog post by Julie Platten Long

I have always enjoyed serving and learning about my community through service. ALWAYS. My parents brought my sisters and me up in this way. My mom fondly recalls going on her Meals on Wheels route with me in the carseat. My husband and I have gone on many service “dates” and even went to a VolunCheers event when we were nine months pregnant. We have always talked about teaching our children the importance of serving others. We also decided that the earlier we can start bringing our children into this important aspect of our lives, the better.

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When she was 4 months, I carried/wore Elaina in an awareness walk for the Church Health Center.

She has a very pleasant disposition and smiles constantly! My husband and I are involved with Aspire and we took Elaina to an Aspire event in which we took flowers that had been used for a wedding and repurposed them into little Bouquets of Hope to be delivered to people in nursing homes. Before we left the event, I had already signed up to help deliver the bouquets the next day. I was so excited about the ministry and I was thrilled to bring Elaina to share her joy with the residents as we brought their flowers.

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We were greeted by Christine and Yoswae, the Memphis Catholic Student that works for Catholic Charities on Tuesday. We filled our carts with small vases and began taking them into the rooms of the residents. Over and over again, I heard the residents say, “Look at that baby! She’s the prettiest flower you all brought today!” The residents wanted to squeeze her baby hands and tickle her tiny feet. They smiled so brightly at her and she cooed right back at them. I had a revelation about how open Elaina is to loving everyone regardless of age, race, ability, or anything else. I realized that if I waited until she was school-aged, she might not be used to seeing people who are confined to a bed, or people who are missing teeth, or people with tubes helping them to breathe and she might feel scared or confused in that setting.

t3Because she is so young, she feels comfortable everywhere we go as long as she is in my arms. Men and women alike were eager to share parenting stories with me and tell me about all their children. Christine and I were delivering the bouquets on opposite sides of the hall but there were a few times where she would stop me and say, “Julie, can you bring Elaina in here? There’s someone in here that would love to meet her.” I also heard one of the residents say to Christine, “Excuse me, do you have a baby with you today? I need to see her!” It warmed my heart to see that just her baby presence was doing more for these residents than I could possibly do on my own. Elaina learned to wave very early (around 5 months) and each room that we went into, she would wave and smile. Everyone smiled and waved back at her and many people exclaimed things like, “OH! Look at her waving at me!” or “Hi, baby! Thank you for coming to see me today!”

t4            There are many volunteer opportunities that would be more difficult with a baby present and it can be overwhelming to think about bringing a baby into a setting where many people are not well. However, the experience was going so well that Elaina and I stayed late and delivered a whole extra cart after Christine and Yoswae needed to leave! My husband heard so much about our experience that he was eager to come with us the next time we went. We are in full agreement that we will absolutely continue to expose our daughter to these kinds of experiences and we hope to continue to volunteer as a family frequently in the future!

 

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Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.

Prelude: James O’Toole

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

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It’s strange how this quote from Socrates popped into my head as I sat down to write the prelude to my Volunteer Odyssey week. My college Philosophy professors would be so pleased that I remembered this quote from my days at CBU many, MANY years ago! I’m not sure what made me think of it, but after I reflected for a bit, I thought it was quite appropriate. I have had a lot of time recently to examine my life, and through much discernment, came to the conclusion that it was time for a change. After being laid off from a successful career spanning over 27 years with a marketing services company, I decided to take the opportunity to move back to my hometown of Memphis, and work on a career change. While I was grateful for my experience in the corporate world, my job had gotten to the point where it was just a job, and was lacking – lacking depth, lacking reward, and lacking a sense of fulfillment. I wanted a career that at the end of the day, I knew I made a difference in someone’s life, and helped my community. But how do I accomplish this,

after being away from Memphis for over 18 years? That’s when I learned about Volunteer Odyssey. I am so thankful for getting connected with this organization, and I am excited to see what I learn from the experiences during the next week. I look forward to learning about the many non-profit organizations in town, and hope to find the perfect place to start a new volunteer relationship, and who knows, maybe even find a new career.

I hope you will follow me on this journey!

– James O’Toole

If you like our work, please DONATE to keep it going!


Want the insider story and more pictures about James’s journey? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.