Cooking The World

Cooking The World By Molly Pollaty 

I love to cook, but I have never gotten the hang of how to cook just for me.  In fact, my neighbors have grown to love my ability to make generous servings of favorite dishes! Knowing this, my friend, Sarah Petschonek, offered me a fun yet daunting opportunity. She asked me to teach a cooking class to a group of folks at the Neighborhood Christian Center in Orange Mound. I’ve never taught a cooking class before, much less to women on a very limited budget. It was a challenge that excited me – sharing my love of food and cooking with people who perhaps were tasting some of these things for the first time. My picky-eater nieces will tell you I am constantly trying to expand their palates.

Immediately I started thinking about what dish I could share. It shouldn’t be too fancy or exotic as I wanted everyone attending, despite their level of cooking ability, to enjoy it so much that they would want to recreate the dish at home and not be intimidated by the ingredients or cost. After considering several ideas and rejecting them for a variety of reasons – time, cost and complexity, I settled on stir fry. It was just interesting enough without being too weird, and the recipe can be broken into three basic componentsNCC Cooking Class 1whatever protein you have or want, whatever vegetables you have or want and whatever sauce/seasonings you have or want. It can be served with rice, noodles or just by itself.

On the day of the cooking class. I did most of my prep ahead of time since I knew I had only an hour to cook and serve the group. I started with marinated pork, my cheater veggie – broccoli slaw mix, mushrooms, fresh baby kale (because it was on manager markdown), onions, peppers, fresh cilantro and frozen edamame (salted and steamable). I also brought an example of a store brand frozen stir fry veggie blend to show that fresh isn’t required. Some of the attendees hadn’t heard of edamame and didn’t realize it was a great source of protein- in fact, we discussed a lot about sources of protein. I let them taste a plain bean and some fresh cilantro- and loved them! We sniffed toasted sesame oil and Chinese five spice. They were a little unsure of both until they tasted the finished product.

NCC Cooking Class 3We talked about substitutions and cooking vehicles, Asian markets and Kroger manager markdowns. We chatted about the smoke point of various cooking oils and the benefits of one over another- I used peanut oil because of the high smoke point. Using my well-loved wok, we worked through my (embarrassingly) large collection of Asian condiments for them to taste and try. The hits out of the lot were the Sriracha and the Thai sweet chili sauce.

At the end of our time together, the smell had enticed additional visitors and employees who got to enjoy a plate since we made a LOT of stir fry. I gave away all the leftovers and promised to share the Asian flavors list I had put together.  We had a great time exploring a new dish, breaking down the ingredients and flavors, and enjoying the product of our success together. I hope they ask me back. I’ve already decided that next time I would cook something Latin. I make a mean fish tostada.

Volunteer at VolunCheers, our monthly volunteer happy hour!

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: our very own, VolunCheers benefitting Shelby Farms Park!

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 guys!

Oftentimes we spend so much money going to dinner or grabbing drinks with our friends, but with this activity you can spend time with your friends, get free drinks and snacks, AND help out your community! For this event I brought my husband along and we had a great time spending time together while also helping out the great organization, Shelby Farms.

At this VolunCheers we made American flag pins to help Shelby Farms prepare for their upcoming Star-Spangled Celebration! This is an Independence Day celebration, taking place on July 1st, that will include an all-day music line up, family-friendly activities, and Tennessee’s largest laser show!

If you want to go to the next VolunCheers event or volunteer in another way, go to!

Give Back with Burritos and a Bicycle | Volunteer with Urban Bicycle Food Ministry

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: Urban Bicycle Food Ministry!

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!


I went to Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM)  last Saturday morning to help them make breakfast burritos! UBFM takes these burritos along with other drinks and snacks on a bike ride down Main Street where they hand them out to homeless people. What was most amazing about this group is they not only provide the homeless with a meal, but also make it a point to provide companionship. Most people who are homeless get ignored all day and have no family or friends to rely on, so UBFM tries their best to take the time to listen and talk with these people in need.

While this group does meet at First United Methodist Church, the participants come from all different backgrounds. UBFM meets every Wednesday night and Saturday morning. You can help out by making burritos, going on the bike rides, or both! Be sure to sign up for this great event by going to!

Volunteer Odyssey Launches City-wide Volunteer Hub for Memphis

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Today we’re excited to announce VolunteerCompass – a city-wide resource where you can discover your ideal volunteer opportunities in Memphis.

Now you can search by a cause, skill, date and even area of town. It’s easier than ever to make your mark on Memphis. Are you ready to volunteer? Start here!

We’re launching with 10 nonprofit partners and will grow to 60 nonprofits by the end of 2017.

Our VolunteerCompass is also a way for nonprofits to recruit and manage volunteers. With our system, volunteer coordinators can spend less time managing the process and more time engaging volunteers. If you want to include your nonprofit, please email us for an invitation.

Our goal is to log 30,000 volunteer hours by the end of 2017. Join us! Start today.

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Pop Up Volunteer Parties In Memphis

Pop In & Volunteer at a Pop Up Volunteer Party. It’s the fastest, easiest way to Volunteer in Memphis.

Pop in on your lunch break. Visit us on your way to the Grizzlies game or join us for happy hour! Here’s a great way to volunteer and give back to Memphis.
We have volunteer projects as short as 101 seconds.

Join us for Pop Up Volunteer Parties presented by CBIZ MHM at The 101 on South Main:

  • Monday, November 21st from 11-2pm
  • Tuesday, November 29th from 11-2pm
  • Tuesday, November 29th from 5-8pm
  • Tuesday, December 6th from 5-8pm











Volunteer on your Lunch Break:

Pop in on November 21st and 29th from 11:00-2:00 – we have volunteer projects as short as 101 seconds. Make holiday card, care packages, or wrap gifts.

Volunteer during Happy Hour:

Pop in November 29th (GivingTuesday) and December 6th when you’re leaving work on your way to a Grizzlies game. We’ll even throw in some beer and food while you volunteer. Memphis, we know you love beer & food!


On #GivingTuesday (November 29th), we have 901 Rocks! We’re partnering with the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence to host 901 Rocks Painting Party. On the 29th from 11-2pm or 5-8pm, pop in and paint a rock for your favorite non-profit. These rocks will then be hidden in Memphis for volunteers to find.

What to Expect: 

  • Selfie station in front our our “Make your Mark” wall sponsored by First Tennessee
  • I Love Memphis will be on site taking pictures and selling t-shirts.
  • Memphis themed volunteer projects with 901 Rocks, Carpenter Art Garden, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Catholic Charities, and LITE Memphis just to name a few.
  • Snapchat Pop Up Party filter

Social Media
Facebook: Volunteer Odyssey
Twitter: @VolOdyssey
Instagram: Volunteer Odyssey

It’s free. It’s fun. RSVP today:

Thank you to our Sponsors and Partners

Presenting Sponsor:
















Justin Timberlake Volunteers to Rock the Vote in Memphis!

How far would you go to #rockthevote? In case you missed it, Memphis’ own Justin Timberlake flew all the way from California to cast his vote in Shelby County. On October 24th, Justin was spotted at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church by many others who were also at the polling location performing their civic duty. The election is just a few weeks away, and it’s a great time to volunteer in support of your city. In the words of Justin himself, “Choose to have a voice”.


Volunteer to Rock the Vote!

For more information on how to vote, voting registration restrictions, and where to vote, click here!

A Volunteer Opportunity Worth Buzzing About

By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

As an MBA Student, Joslyn is always looking to get involved in the Memphis community. In undergrad, there were always volunteer opportunities available; however, it has become increasingly difficult for Joslyn to find meaningful ways to volunteer.

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Whit, Madge, and Joslyn (left to right) at Thistle & Bee’s booth at the Overton Park Farmers Market.

Back in June, Joslyn attended Volunteer Odyssey’s Minute Match event as a representative of Christian Brothers University’s MBA team, a sponsor of the event. Joslyn’s role, at Minute Match, was to educate the event’s attendees on CBU’s MBA program; little did she know this event would lead her to finding her perfect volunteer opportunity and help her become more invested in the Memphis community.

While working the event, Joslyn decided to take a look around and see which nonprofits were in attendance. She recognized some of the names of the bigger organizations, but she wanted to learn more about the smaller organizations where she felt she could really make an impact.

In looking around the room and visiting with different non-profits, Joslyn came across the budding nonprofit called Thistle & Bee, whose mission is “to aid survivors of human trafficking through holistic workforce preparedness.”   The name Thistle & Bee is very symbolic of the community the organization supports.  The thistle represents the survivors of human trafficking as the thistle is a rugged plant but a beautiful flower just as these women are rugged yet beautiful.  The bee is also representative of these women.  Worker bees spread pollen from flower to flower, and all worker bees are female.  These bees in turn make the most delicious honey. Therefore, although these women have been through very tough times, the honey is representative of the sweetness that will come after the hardship.

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Joslyn packing up tea as the evening dies down.

After hearing about Thistle & Bee and their mission, Joslyn wanted to get involved right away. They contacted her immediately and said they needed help with any and everything. In discussing ways in which Joslyn could be of value to the organization, Joslyn told them about her business skills, and Thistle & Bee knew exactly where her help was needed most. Now she helps Thistle & Bee with developing their business model and pricing their products.

Because Thistle & Bee in Memphis is very young, Joslyn is helping them get a head start on success.  At Thistle & Bee, Joslyn feels needed. She takes her business skills and applies them to make an impact on others’ lives. By developing their business model, Joslyn is able to accurately price their wide range of products – from herbal rubs and teas to dog biscuits and lavender lemonade and mint/lemon-balm tea, with much more to come. When describing her experience with Thistle & Bee, Joslyn says they are “working with me to help me work for them” so they can be successful now and in the future.


Joslyn serving tea to farmers market attendees.

Thistle and Bee provides its “workers” with both life skills and job skills. Delving into the workforce after such traumatic human trafficking experiences is extremely difficult, but Thistle & Bee has a gentle way of easing these ladies back into the workforce. Learning these job and life skills will be needed for the survivors’ successful futures. Thistle & Bee is there to provide this pathway to success.

Thistle & Bee has a volunteer opportunity for everyone. Whether you enjoy gardening, packaging, developing business models, conversing with victims, or donating money, there’s an opportunity for you to get involved at Thistle & Bee.  Joslyn exclaims, “Thistle & Bee is a grit and grind sort of nonprofit.” If you’d like to be like Joslyn and help Thistle & Bee build their volunteer network in hopes for a better life for survivors of human trafficking, sign up for our newsletter.

Finding Refuge in Midtown Memphis

By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

On a Sunday night around dinner time, Cindy Shainberg pulled into the driveway of a historic Midtown house. The outside this house looked normal but on the inside amazing things were stirring.

IMG_1789In this Midtown house, homeless families find refuge. The Dorothy Day House allows families to stay together to rebuild their lives. Each Sunday volunteers bring a dessert and join the current family for prayer. This special Sunday, Cindy was able to provide a delicious “lemon cake from an old family recipe” for the Dorothy Day families.

The night started off with introductions and small talk then led into prayer and dessert. Cindy says, “My kids and I visited with the family, including talking over mom stuff with the mom, playing ball with the toddler, trying to engage the teenager in conversation and holding the second cutest twin babies ever (mine were the cutest!) We also prayed together and, of course, ate some lemon cake!”ddh blog pic

As the night wound down, Cindy was able to reflect on her experience at the Dorothy Day House. “Volunteering with a family at Dorothy Day House made me feel so blessed and thankful that I could spread some sunshine to another family going through tough times.  It seems like some of us have gobs of extra sunshine to offer and it feels great to have an outlet to share our blessings,” she says.  “We would never have met had it not been for the occasion of volunteering.”

Families at the Dorothy Day House are strong-willed and strive for a better life for their families. For Cindy, volunteering at the Dorothy Day House was an incredible learning experience. “I learned that it doesn’t take much to make someone else’s day or even life a little or maybe a lot better.  I also learned that people can be really resilient,” Cindy shares. With the help of volunteers, “gobs of extra sunshine” can be provided to these families as they continue on their course to a better life.

Watch this 90-second tour of Dorothy Day House to help families stay together and rebuild their lives.

Land Your Dream Job through Volunteering

By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

Genevieve found her dream job through volunteering. Her teaching job had just finished and she was looking for work in a nonprofit setting. Having interned and worked at a nonprofit, she knew that’s where she wanted to go next; however, because there are countless nonprofits in the Memphis area, she did not know where to begin.

All through June and July, Genevieve was job searching and looking for ways to get involved in the community. Her friend told her about Volunteer Odyssey, and she attended Volunteer Odyssey’s Minute Match event in mid June. She fell in love with World Relief, an organization that helps refugee families acclimate to Memphis.

Genevieve loved volunteering with World Relief weekly and knew she wanted to be in a helping profession, so she continued to search for a job that fit her interests. She joined Volunteer Odyssey’s Job Seekers program, a 7-day volunteering journey that is designed for job-seeking professionals with interests in volunteer work. She met with Sarah Petschonek, the founder and CEO of Volunteer Odyssey, to talk about her skills and interests and to seek out the perfect job.

Having an interest in outdoor education, female empowerment, and social work, Sarah matched Genevieve with Clean Memphis, World Relief, the H*Art Gallery, Shelby Farms, Thistle & Bee, and Dorothy Day House. Each day Genevieve went to a different nonprofit to volunteer and experienced a new part of Memphis which she had not known while also learning more about herself.

When she volunteered at these organizations, it created a sense of community to her. Volunteering allowed her to make connections with people and deepened the meaning of Memphis to her. “Through volunteering I could see Memphis through different lenses,” Genevieve said.

image1On the last day of her Job Seekers journey, Genevieve volunteered at Dorothy Day House, which serves as a haven for keeping homeless families together. She did not know much about the organization, but right when she walked in the door she felt very connected. “There was a unique and irreplaceable culture happening in the home,” Genevieve said. She fell in love with the small, intimate work environment while spending time with the family, playing with the kids, and chatting with visitors over dessert. A couple days later she received a job offer from Dorothy Day House!

Although Genevieve is going to begin working at Dorothy Day House September 1st, she wants to continue to volunteer with World Relief and in the Memphis community. Volunteering is an important part of Genevieve’s life, so she is excited to begin this journey as a volunteer coordinator and educator. She is also is very thankful to Volunteer Odyssey’s Job Seeker’s program. Genevieve describes the Job Seekers program as a great example of the wonderful, sustainable community Memphis has, and she was so grateful to have the chance to make stronger connections with her community.

If you’d like to volunteer at the Dorothy Day House, take a 90-second tour of them on Volio, the world’s first virtual volunteer fair. You might even see Genevieve there!

Volunteer in Memphis with VolunCheers

By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

It’s 5pm on a Tuesday night, and you’re just getting off work. You’re looking for a quick bite to eat and a chance to hang with some friends, so you decide to go to VolunCheers, Volunteer Odyssey’s monthly happy hour! Each month about fifteen to twenty volunteers attend this event where they sip on beer, munch on snacks, and socialize with peers while they help complete a task for a different non-profit. This makes VolunCheers the perfect way to take some time out of your month to volunteer. Occurring in

VolunCheers attendees putting together mailers for DeNeuville.

VolunCheers attendees putting together mailers for DeNeuville.

the evenings, volunteers can pack in an hour and a half of helping others while also enjoying drinks and snacks. It’s a great way to “unprofessionally network,” Kenn Gibbs says. his month, VolunCheers was held at the DeNeuville Learning Center on South Cooper in Midtown. DeNeuville is a center for women that has activities ranging from computer basics to English as a Second Language. At VolunCheers, volunteers learned about the many programs that DeNeuville offers and helped put marketing materials together to send out to the community.

Very often, VolunCheers attendees desire to return to the non-profit featured at the event and volunteer on a regular basis. Luckily, this was exactly the case at this month’s VolunCheers!  Kenn Gibbs, a frequent VolunCheers attendee, realized he could use his skills to further his passion for helping others at DeNeuville.  Kenn majored in computer science and has a love for volunteering and giving back, so when he heard that DeNeuville holds computer classes for their students, he knew he had to return to assist with tutoring and teaching these classes.

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Kenn Gibbs and Executive Director of DeNeuville, Lori Bramlett, discussing future volunteer opportunities for Kenn at DeNeuville.

For Kenn, volunteering is important because he’s interested in giving back to organizations that are invested in helping the city of Memphis – “drinks and snacks make this even better,” he says. Kenn, a Memphian for over 20 years, loves the city and has been volunteering in Memphis for four years. In Kenn’s 4 years of experience with volunteering, he has found that people love to give back to Memphis – “even people who aren’t from here. People want great things for this city,” he states.

Even if you don’t currently volunteer but have thought about it, Kenn says there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you. If you like to watch TV, there’s a volunteer opportunity for that; if you like to do art, there’s a volunteer opportunity for that; if you like cooking, there’s a volunteer opportunity for that. In this vibrant city, there’s a way to volunteer for things that you care about. You can even match your current hobbies or job skills to volunteer opportunities.


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All the great volunteers at June’s VolunCheers benefitting DeNeuville Learning Center.

Kenn saw a need and took action. You can do the same.

Go to for more information.

Check out the upcoming VolunCheers dates.

If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity that will fit in your schedule, check out Volunteer Odyssey’s Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities.