At our annual Volunteer Celebration in October, we recognized some of the individuals who show up regularly to chop potatoes, weed the garden, cook and deliver food on our trucks. But as Executive Director Tallu Schuyler Quinn reminded us, the work is far from a singular effort. We’re all in this together as a connected team to help make the mission happen.
At TNFP, results translate into people being fed through the thousands of meals served each month as well as the camaraderie and sharing that comes back to those who give.
“I want to give for sure,” says Marirae Mathis, a volunteer recognized for her dedication to the kitchen. “But I feel like I’m getting so much more out of it than what I’m giving.”
The exchange of giving and receiving was a common theme among those recognizable faces that come to TNFP. Marirae started as a truck volunteer but knew as a trained chef, her strengths would lead her to the kitchen. She makes a meal every Friday with Joyce Jones.
Meanwhile, volunteer Doug Tommie, has kept the truck rolling. Having been a volunteer for eight years, he has seen TNFP evolve to serve higher quality, hot meals at less expense. He acknowledges that the line between those being served and serving remains blurred.
“They get a meal that sustains them for a night. But I get something here,” he said patting his heart, “that lasts longer.”
Guests mingled during lunch provided by TNFP corporate partner, Chipotle.
Then during the awards ceremony that followed, several groups, too, were recognized such as Friends Life. The nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities has been a regular participate at the Wedgewood Urban Garden. The group's energy charged the room with enthusiasm.
“It was so exciting for the Friends to learn just how appreciated they are and remember how fortunate they are. It was also a good opportunity for us to show the Friends just how much effort goes into making sure people have the nourishment they need to make it through the day,” says Jennifer Rosenberg, program specialist for Friends Life.
Other groups recognized for their work included Media Star as well as board member Judy Wright's cook team for their loyal participation and creativity. Over the years, they've added popular dishes to TNFP repertoire such as Judy's Mother's Meatloaf and Chicken Pot Pie.
“I grew up in a house where we had 10 for dinner at a minimum,” Judy said.
But she still appreciates that those in her group continue to learn from their experiences at The Nashville Food Project while also enjoying the camaraderie and resourcefulness of the work
“I love thinking about the people who are going to eat the food,” she says. “And everybody coming to the table.”
Here is a full list of volunteers recognized at this year's celebration.
Top Ten volunteers based on Sept 2014 through Sept 2015:
Volunteering at least 100 hours: Linda Bodfish, Jackie Jones, Marirae Mathias, Joyce Jones and Julie Blackwell
Volunteering at least 200 hours: Mary Dionne, Ann Fundis and Warren White
Volunteering at least 300 hours: Chester Higgins and Marilyn Lane
The 10 people listed above gave a combined total of 2,186 hours. When all volunteer hours in all programs were calculated for the first eight months of 2015, we have 4,401 volunteers generating 10,749 hours.
Outstanding Cook Team - Judy Wright and Friends
Outstanding Community Partner - Woodmont Christian Church
Outstanding Garden Group - Friends Life
Outstanding Intern - Abbie Tourbe-Tolon
Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer - Karen Rolen
Individuals who have served with us 5 years or longer: