It is with much joy that we share the news that three TNFP volunteers were recognized during at the 2018 Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards -- two as awardees, and one as a nominee! Cheri Ferrari received the Capacity-building Volunteer award, Media Star Promotions was awarded the Corporate Volunteerism award, and Warren White was a nominee for the Direct Service Volunteer award. The Strobel awards are always a highly competitive process, and we are thrilled for our volunteers to receive this well-deserved recognition!
Learn more about the incredible work of Cheri Ferrari, Media Star Promotions and Warren White below.
2018 Capacity-Building Volunteer Award
Cheri Ferrari has touched every aspect of The Nashville Food Project (TNFP) through hours of intentional and comprehensive service. In 2015, she began volunteering as a Meal Prep volunteer, then quickly became a member of our team of committed volunteer cooks. Since then, Cheri has become an integral part of the meals team. She helps staff members prep and cook meals, she delivers the food to some of our 27 partner organizations, she helps facilitate volunteer groups of up to 10 people several times per week, recovers food from grocery stores and farms, and helps with organizing and cleaning our kitchens. Even our most regular volunteers are only able to commit to one of these activities -- Cheri does them all with a smile on her face and through a lens of supporting the staff and overall operations.
Cheri lives and serves by her motto of “whenever I can support anyone on this team, I do it.” She provided a minimum of 1000 hours tending to the operational needs of the TNFP Meal Program staff in 2017 alone. Cheri took it upon herself to learn all of the supporting roles in the TNFP Meals Programs so that she can fill in for staff members who are out sick, taking time off, or need general support.
In 2017, Cheri covered an employee’s delivery route for 6 weeks in order to understand The Nashville Food Project better and to learn every process from receiving food donations to preparing and serving a meal, allowing that staff member to follow her dreams of learning Spanish in an immersion program and to learn how to better serve TNFP. She even volunteered several hours when she was “off the clock” after spending 8 hour days delivering meals to our 27 partner organizations.
We are able to ask Cheri to fill in for staff in times of need without additional training which saves time, money and effort for staff members. Cheri’s time spent leading volunteer groups has enabled our Kitchen Manager to spend Friday’s as a planning period to more effectively plan meals, schedules and build relationships with meal partners. She even came into the office the day after Christmas to prepare for the first meal after the holidays while the office was closed and most employees were out of town. Cheri also took over the role as cook support so that David, a recently hired meals team member, could learn how to prepare the main dish. Then she offered the same experience to Nick, the meals assistant, so that he could learn how to prepare the side dish. Cheri’s training allowed our team to gain knowledge and experience, and ensures coworkers can gracefully cover for each other in the event of an emergency, illness or unforeseen event.
Finally, Cheri’s work has led to an increase in work satisfaction because TNFP staff knows that there is someone to support them. As oft is the case in non-profit organizations, many responsibilities are assigned to few people which can feel overwhelming. Cheri’s contributions, presence, and fundamental support have led to a peace of mind that all TNFP staff members, community members, and program participants reap the benefit of.
We love you, Cheri!
Media Star Promotions
2018 Corporate Volunteerism Award
Media Star Promotions began volunteering with the Nashville Food Project in 2015. Since then Media Star employees and clients have served hundreds of hours and implemented countless projects in four of The Nashville Food Project’s urban gardens. In 2017, Media Star Promotions donated 790 volunteer hours towards garden projects. Each month, Media Star employees focus on a new project, always asking TNFP what needs we have so that their service is truly supporting TNFP’s mission. Their 2017 projects included building a tool shed and shelving; building a roof for outdoor produce washing area; setting up tomato stakes and insect netting; creating a small gathering space for community gardeners including building picnic tables and a portable shade tent; and installing electric fencing for urban garden chickens.
Media Star Promotions provides their service through a national corporate service program allowing staff members to volunteer during a regular paid work day. The original purpose of the program was to serve six individual nonprofits within Nashville. However, Media Star Promotions leadership decided that they wanted to focus their attention solely on supporting The Nashville Food Project and providing the resources and labor that would allow TNFP to thrive. Media Star Promotions is so dedicated to TNFP that they influenced the entire national program so that every city focused on only one nonprofit for an entire year.
Media Star Promotions is set apart from other corporate volunteer groups because they are dedicated to seeing a project through from beginning to completion. For example, in May 2017 we approached Media Star Promotions with the project of building a permanent canopy over the vegetable washing station at our New American Market Garden. This wash station is where farmers process their harvest and prepare them for sale, improving both the shelf life of produce and the working conditions for the farmers. Media Star Promotions team members began building the tent, but quickly realized that there were missing parts. Upon recognizing this problem, Loren, the group lead, went to the local hardware store and purchased the missing parts while the remaining team members worked on putting together what they could. This story exemplifies Media Star’s work with TNFP. The team continuously provides comprehensive service seeing a project through and helping TNFP overcome barriers before and during all service projects.
Media Star also spent time creating a community gathering space in one of our gardens. They provided and assembled picnic tables and small portable shade tents. Building community is a part of the TNFP mission statement. This community area provides a space for garden trainings, potlucks, and a multitude of other community events. The space is also the only source of shade and seating in the garden.
Further, Media Star has contributed significantly to soil building and erosion control over multiple projects at several gardens. The soil in our gardens are the foundation of every seed, plant, and creature that is impacted by the garden. In collaboration with Cumberland River Compact, Media Star created and planted a riparian buffer that provided erosion control using native plants. This ensures the health of the soil for future farming seasons, as well as stabilizing the waterway banks, improving water quality in our watershed and providing habitat for wildlife.
We're so grateful for the team at Media Star Promotions!
Nominee for the 2018 Direct Service Volunteer Award
Warren has a passion for serving others driven by his interests in food and people. He combines these two motivators in his service at The Nashville Food Project where he regularly volunteers three times each week for a total of 7.5 hours. He also volunteers at other organizations throughout the week.
Let’s take a walk into a regular week of service with Warren White!
Warren’s Tuesday schedule shows how committed he is to his service TNFP. Warren starts his day by walking 3 miles to TNFP, arriving at 9 am to spend 2 hours in an active shift preparing for meals by chopping fruits and vegetables, cleaning dishes and equipment, and building relationships between himself, TNFP staff, and other volunteers. Warren takes a quick lunch then returns for an afternoon volunteer shift in the kitchen with more meal prep and kitchen support. He finally leaves around 3 pm and walks 3 miles to home.
Wednesday mornings he cooks at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville and spends the afternoon volunteering in TNFP’s kitchen at St. Luke’s Community House. After his shift at St. Luke’s, he returns to First Unitarian Universalist Church where he cooks dinner from 3pm-7pm.
Thursday afternoons Warren returns to TNFP’s Green Hills kitchen for another 2-hour meal prep session, washing and chopping vegetables and preparing fruit salads.
On Saturday mornings, the volunteering continues when Warren bakes cookies and muffins for 6 hours to support the Unitarian Church and residents of Villa Maria Senior Citizen Complex.
On Sundays he sells half of those baked goods at the church where the profits go to scholarships supporting students without the means to attend summer camp and other special church programs. Also on Sunday mornings, Warren spends 1.5 hours making coffee and tea for church goers before the first service at 8am and also in between services.
There are other ways he aids others as well. Warren supports Safe Haven Family Shelter twice a month by cooking and serving meals to 10 families housed there, a Room In the Inn Winter shelter location 12/hrs a month through the winter, and he makes baked goods for the residents of Villa Maria Manor. Warren’s volunteer schedule may appear to be just a list of consistent service opportunities, but when viewed together, it is evident that Warren’s passion is to support people in poverty with a nutritious meal, believing that good food builds people, and people create strong communities.
Thank you, Warren, for all you do to support our community!