Prelude: Bonnie Hopkins

Explore. Embrace. Learn. Live!!

Explore. Embrace. Learn. Live!!

“Every story has an end, but in life, every end is just a new beginning!”

I honestly didn’t know what to expect after my college graduation last May, but I knew the key was to keep an open mind. I want to be creative and persistent during my job search while continuing to do what I love! Art serves as a wonderful outlet for personal growth, providing opportunities to experience and create special moments with others. When I was a child, I had dreams of being an artist of some kind. That “Bohemian” dream will always live in part of my soul! While I want to use my skills to teach and entertain, I also feel that art can be a spark for optimism and gratitude.

With my Odyssey Week, I want to get out of my comfort zone while learning more about how to use my creativity for good. During my years working as a summer camp counselor, I enjoyed leading art activities and noticed how the children benefitted from the projects. In college, I volunteered with various non-profits in New Orleans and led the TOMS Campus Club at Loyola University. I even went on a Giving Trip to Peru with TOMS Shoes and gained valuable insight on how social entrepreneurship works. My own Bonnie Company Greeting Cards has served as a meaningful and unique way to connect with others. More importantly, I enjoy putting that extra pep in the recipient’s step with the nontraditional, wacky holidays that each card honors! I can’t wait to begin a new chapter with Volunteer Odyssey! I eagerly anticipate exploring my skills and interests while learning how to use them to give back to my hometown.

Adventure awaits! I encourage you to join me as I turn the page on this story of transition!

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Prelude: Kristine Pierce


As a recent transplant to Memphis, I am excited to get to know the natural places, secret spots, wonders, and quirks of my new city. Since I graduated from college in California, I have made at least 5 big moves, following new opportunities, completing my master’s degree and serving in the Peace Corps in the Philippines. Each move has given me the opportunity to expand my perspective, meet new people, learn about different cultures, and grow as a person. Most recently, I moved from Portland, Oregon with my fiancé so he could attend graduate school here in Memphis. While he is giving his all in school, I am exploring the city with our dog while I look for a meaningful and fulfilling job that allows me to give back to my new community.

During my time in Portland, I was lucky enough to work for the Audubon Society of Portland as the community camps coordinator and an environmental educator. This gave me the opportunity to do some of my favorite things: hang out with kids, spend my days outside in nature, teach others about the flora and fauna around Portland, and foster the important relationship between kids and their environment. I am very passionate about helping others to love and appreciate nature as well as connect their own lives to the environment. I want to continue to share my love of the outdoors with others and encourage each individual to develop a personal bond with the world around them.

Some of the things I love to do: hiking with my fiancé and dog, canoeing, swimming, cooking, trying new recipes, reading, exploring different places, trying new things and embarking on new adventures.

I am very excited about my upcoming week with Volunteer Odyssey and thankful for the wonderful people I have met and this awesome opportunity. I look forward to my next adventure!

Prelude: I see every ending as a new beginning.

Greetings I’m Cristalynne Dupree or Crista.  I’m a Memphis “re-transplant” by choice because I admire the city’s drive for success.  I previously lived in Memphis, several years ago.  At that time, I was Marketing Administrative Assistant at Wolfchase Galleria.  Here I planned our annual Evening of Giving, bringing together Memphis non-profits in fundraising efforts, raising over $20,000.  Still, I continued to volunteer at the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM), my first job after initially moving to the city.

I was involved in a traumatic automobile accident, tearing me away from Memphis to be under the care of family, in Jackson, TN.  Memphis remained in my heart, as my family ensured that I continued my physical therapy in Memphis, traveling between cities.

In addition to my full-time job in Jackson as an Admissions Counselor and Recruiter for Lane College – I continued being a staff writer for Memphis’ Grace Magazine.   Still, I was also an events volunteer for the NCRM and being a freelance marketing and public relations consultant for events and independent musicians, here in Memphis.

Prior to the aforementioned experiences, I developed and implemented a strategy to get back to the Crista that I knew, prior to my accident, active in my profession and in the community.  I jotted notes and brainstormed ideas for a Memphis non-profit.  These were ideas that focused on broad community engagement and adding to its national connection, as well as fundraising.  Overtime, I thought to myself that I owed that organization a lot.  That organization was there for me to brainstorm; I put those ideas on paper and it played a huge part in getting me back to the active self that I know.  The organization knows nothing of these thoughts or ideas.  Along my Volunteer Odyssey Forward, I hope to reconnect with these organizations – The Stax Museum of American Soul Music and The Stax Music Academy.

A job as a Marketing Specialist, for a MAAC, Inc. property, brought me back to Memphis. Ironically however, my property has been sold.  Therefore, I am on a job quest.  As a member, of Volunteer Odyssey Forward, I will be able to remain committed to my goal of being an active reliable community resource, while on my job search.  I’m on a mission to work on marketing, public relations and branding efforts to attract both volunteers and donors.  My passion is writing compelling communications that relays the story of a community organization, in efforts to make people aware of its successes and its needs.

My goal is to is to acclimate myself to the city and become an empowering community force.  I told Beverly Robertson, Executive Director of the NCRM, about my plan.  In turn, she nominated me to become a New Memphis Institute Fellow.  As a Fellow I have met some dynamic people with a drive to connect to the city as well as being positive and encouraging members of the community.

Come back and check out my blog, keep me company along my Volunteer Odyssey Forward journey.  Leave a comment; tell me what you think about my journey, it will be inspiring.


Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target.  Contact her at or


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“Prelude” Michelle Harp

"Prelude" Michelle Harp

My name is Michelle Harp.  I am the mother of three children who I have raised and home educated for the last 23 years. My children are my claim to fame. One is in flight school to become an aviator, another just left for Air Force basic training, and my youngest recently started college to study nursing. They have been my life, and I am very proud of each one.  My lifelong dream was to be a mother, and now I am an empty-nester trying to figure out what I want to be “when I grow up!”  I received my Associates Degree in Religious Studies at the ripe old age of 39, and I have a passion for volunteering and helping others. That’s what has me so excited about the opportunities my week with Volunteer Odyssey could bring.

I love working with and being around children of all ages. For the last few years I have been a nanny, substitute teacher and a private tutor.  I have been an active youth leader, mentoring and teaching children how to be successful, as well as working in nurseries with babies for over ten years.   I was a brownie troop leader for two years, a soccer coach, a tee-ball coach, and a cheer coach.  In addition to volunteering with children I was President and Vice President for Marine Officer’s Wives Club for two years.  I have volunteered for Navy/Marine Corps Relief and a Key Volunteer, helping spouses of deployed Marines.  During my time serving in all these areas, I set-up, planned, and hosted events with up to two hundred guests, as well as prepared and presented speeches to the guests.

As I prepare to start my odyssey, I have all these thoughts and hopes racing through my mind: Will I discover my niche where I find myself completely at home?  Will I be able to definitively say, “This is the kind of job I see in my future”?  My dream would be to find a job where doing what I love – helping others and working with children – makes a tangible difference.  I know that if I do not find my path this week, I will have gained so much knowledge and been on a wonderful adventure learning about all the dedicated non-profits in Memphis.  It is really a win-win, and who would not want that?

I am thrilled to share my journey with all of you this week.  I will be posting my daily blogs so you can follow along and be a part of this exciting experience.

Thank you for reading!  Know an employer that’s looking for someone who’s great with kids? Need an event planner, organizer, or fundraiser?  Send an email our way: or


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Prelude: Everything has a Beginning!

Hi! I’m Stephanie and I’m a graduate of Jackson State University and Florida State University. I’m happy to be home in Memphis but soon realized my lack of local knowledge. I searched for ways to get involved and meet those who are really making a difference in our beloved city. I’ve interviewed, lunched, and had coffee with some of the most exciting professionals in the field. This has been really great, but I’m missing a big piece of the puzzle. I have not been able to really engage with local leaders and express my skills and talents. Most often, if people are unable to associate you with some network (ex. place of education or past work experiences) it can be very difficult to demonstrate your abilities. For example, I received my graduate degree from Florida State University. It took me 4 years to complete my degree because I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and completed a student exchange at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Upon my return, many things had changed within the city (of which was unfamiliar to me), and no one knew who I was. My experiences have been absolutely amazing, but there exist a gap between how my skill set can be best utilized for the betterment of Memphis and a network with those who are diligently working to make Memphis a thriving and prosperous city. This is why I would like to engage in a volunteer odyssey.

There are many benefits from the Volunteer Odyssey program. I will have the opportunity to broaden my network by volunteering 50+ hours at 7 or more different non-profits; work alongside some of the most influential professionals in the city; sharpen my writing skills by working with a writing coach and publishing blog posts; and explore my city from a completely different perspective.

My hope is to volunteer so that potential employers and experts may know the talent that exist in native and non-native young professional Memphians and to inspire others to choose volunteerism as a means for career advancement and personal growth.

I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences and become motivated to Stand Out. Give Back



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Prelude: Alexandra Samsell

The traditional first step of any introduction begins with stating your name.  My name is Alexandra. Why did my parents give such a petite girl such a big name? Well, it’s not just a preludename – It means “Protector of Mankind” and that’s who I strive to be. I was born and raised in Southeastern Virginia where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at Old Dominion University. Next Stop: Master of Arts in Communication Studies at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. So, how did this east coast gal end up in Memphis? The love of my life moved out here for a job straight out of undergrad (we met at ODU), so after my second degree, I followed him out here. It wasn’t an easy adjustment at first. I was desperate to gain employment so I picked the first company that offered me a job. I soon found out that it wasn’t the job for me and took some time off to evaluate myself and what I wanted to do with my life.

I became involved in multiple organizations including the Junior League of Memphis and built a solid social circle of great friends who have continued to support my journey. Why Volunteer Odyssey? I volunteer on a regular basis with many different organizations because it fulfills a part of my soul. I wanted to seek a job that gives me a similar feeling. The non-profit sector it is for me! I love event planning and writing, so my dream job would be anything that allows me to flex those muscles.  Not only am I a protector of mankind, I’m also a loyal friend to animals. I would probably hoard a house of rescues if I wasn’t allergic to them!

If I could describe how I feel how about Volunteer Odyssey thus far, I would easily state: GRATEFUL! My Volunteer Week has not even begun yet, and already I have met and networked with so many genuinely wonderful people who have offered their help and guidance to make my job finding experience run seamless and full of opportunities that fit my needs. I have been overwhelmed with support and cannot wait to see what this next week of volunteering brings! Thank you for following my journey – I am very excited to share this experience with you!

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in writing, event planning, or teaching. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: or


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Prelude: Blair Hayes

Hello my name is Blair Hayes.  I have lived in Memphis for most of my life and I am very proud to live in such a wonderful city surrounded by family and friends.  I graduated for the University of Memphis with a degree in Child Development.  I have always been passionate about working with kids and serving others.  I have had opportunities to serve others through mission trips and being a youth leader for six years ministering to high school students.  I am at that point of my life where I know I want to do more to help others not always on a volunteer basis but hopefully on a job basis.  When I read an article about Volunteer Odyssey, I was thrilled and knew this was the type of opportunity I had been searching for.

I am very excited to get to go to 7 different nonprofits that I am not familiar with.  From this experience with Volunteer Odyssey, I hope to have a better understanding of non-profits in Memphis and the positive benefits that I can share with others. I will be blogging daily about my experience with Volunteer Odyssey. I hope you will follow me on this adventure.  Thank you for your support through this unique and exciting adventure.  Volunteer Odyssey is one of the first of its kind to give people this opportunity to become more acquainted with the non-profit world.

Prelude: Ariana Glantz

yes, I generally do (poorly) photobomb my own snaps

yes, I generally do (poorly) photobomb my own snaps

Hello, web world friends, my name is Ariana Glantz and I am a recent transplant to the 901 community. I came to Memphis straight from college hoping to join a vibrant community full of thoughts, actions, and people ready to shake things up. All of the above are definitely present in Memphis and now its time for me to find where I fit in! Due to a man that was probably born networking, I had the great fortune to meet Sarah and learn more about Volunteer Odyssey (VO). For a recent resignee, the chance to make the newly freed time I have mean something more than catching up on shows on Netflix was like a godsend. I leapt at the chance. So, friends, here we are. Getting ready to embark on a Volunteer Odyssey.

My cousin Benji is always thrilled with me

My cousin Benji is always thrilled with me

The butterflies in my stomach are doubling every minute but I am beyond pumped. I can’t wait to see parts, people and programs of Memphis that I probably would have never had the chance to see. By participating in VO, I not only hope to find my where I belong in the community but to learn as much as possible so that I can turn the favor around and help others trying to figure out how they can contribute to the grit and grind of Memphis.

Prelude: Megan Waters


“What do you do?”

I hate that question.

I’ve never liked my answer. I always want to add a disclaimer. “I’m a paralegal. But I also write a TV blog! And I also bake cakes! And I’m also studying to be a clown!”

I wasn’t studying to be a clown, although I did take a class once. My point is that I can’t seem to do just one thing at a time. As a result, I’ve tried on several careers at a time, discarding some as too small, others as too big, none as just right. I’m like the Goldilocks of careers.

So here I am, trying on something new again. But this time it makes more sense. I’ve always been a helper. No matter what I ‘do,’ that’s what I end up doing. Helping people, and I love it. I also love having too much to do, which seems to be a requirement in the nonprofit world.

I believe with my whole heart that being a part of a community means being involved, doing for others. So this is what I’m doing now. I’m taking a leap.

Come see where I land!

Prelude: Dorothy Svgdik

As I sit here thinking about my Volunteer Odyssey, I feel as though I am mentally packing my bags and preparing to depart for some exotic location. While physically I may not be headed far from home, emotionally I feel that I will spend a week being transplanted into different worlds of service. I couldn’t be more excited! It will truly be an adventure not only into my community but into my own passions and goals. I can’t begin to fathom all that I will learn during my odyssey, but I do know that I am thrilled to begin it. Volunteering has never been one-sided for me, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been moved in indescribable ways through service. With this in mind, I am spending the time leading up to my week preparing myself to welcome this challenge with an open mind and heart, and see where the road I am on will take me!

However, the nervous anticipation that accompanies most journeys is also present. The excited restlessness that wonders: “What if I can’t speak the language well enough?” or “What if I get lost in an unfamiliar place?” except now I am wondering “How do I take this week and make the most of it?” I hope to embrace the unfamiliar and grow from it. In broadening my horizons personally and professionally, I know that I will find meaning and success in my journey!

I also can’t help but think about how grateful I am to have this opportunity and to be a part of Volunteer Odyssey, how important it is serve others. I look forward to making new connections with people employed at non-profits in the city, as well as the communities they serve. Volunteer Odyssey will allow me to help others, and in turn help myself. Hopefully, by the end of this week, I’ll have gained some insight into my skills, passions, and how to best apply them to a career where I can spend my time and energy improving the lives of others. I hope that you all will join me on my Volunteer Odyssey!

Dorothy is looking for a community outreach or partnerships position at a non-profit organization in Memphis that will allow her to connect with varied and diverse groups of people to make a difference.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a community outreach or partnerships position at a non-profit organization in Memphis. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: or
If you like our work, please consider making a contribution to keep it going!
Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!