10 Nashville nonprofits making a big impact

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In the wake of last year’s tornado, hordes of volunteers took to the streets of Nashville’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. Volunteer spots filled up as soon as they were posted. Parents and children dragged red wagons filled with food and water to feed the helpers. The same thing followed after the devastating 2010 flood as well as the Christmas Day bombingand the more recent Davidson County floods. #NashvilleStrong was no mere catchphrase; it was citizens in action.

While there are hundreds of worthy organizations in the area that allow you to keep that can-do spirit alive year-round, consider lending your time and talents to one of these 10 Nashville nonprofits and charities, working to make our community a better (and yes, stronger) place. 

General Service

Hands on Nashville

If you don’t know where to start, start here. Hands on Nashville (HON) works closely with city officials as well as more than 200+ local nonprofits, aggregating volunteer opportunities across various areas of need.

Food

Nashville Food Project

The Nashville Food Project is working to alleviate hunger, eliminate waste, disrupt poverty, and create a community centered around a common table filled with nourishing meals made utilizing fresh garden-grown or donated produce.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

Founded in 1978, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee serves 46 counties and last year, delivered 41 million pounds of food to children, families, and seniors in need with the help of more than 450 partner agencies and 263 mobile pantries.

The Store

This free community grocery store, founded by Kimberly and Brad Paisley, was open for just four days before the pandemic hit, forcing the brand-new non-profit to pivot, implementing at-home deliveries for seniors, and curbside pickup for young families.

Literacy

Book’em

Book ownership is central to the Book’em mission, which aims to create a more literate Nashville by sparking a passion for reading early. Last year, with the help of a team of classroom readers and volunteers, they distributed more than 100,000 free books to Nashville students.

Music 

W.O. Smith Music School

Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without music. Country, yes, but also, jazz, R&B, Americana, classical — you name it. Founded by W.O. Smith, a noted jazz bassist and TSU professor, the W.O. Smith Music School provides affordable first-rate instruction as well as instruments to children from low-income families.

Medical 

Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

When a child gets sick no parent should have to worry about whether or not they can afford to pay for treatment — at least that’s the mission at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, noted as being one of the nation’s best and the Southeast’s largest.

Housing

Room in the Inn

Started as a simple act of kindness in 1985 by Father Strobel, Room in the Inn is a network of more than 200 local congregations that shelter thousands of Nashville’s unhoused residents from November 1-March 31, each year. 

Launch Pad

The Launch Pad mission is to create a safe network of shelters for Nashville youth, ages 18-24, which are both welcoming and affirming to those within the LGBTQ community, that address temporary housing needs but also work to prevent homelessness and address larger issues surrounding the housing crisis in Davidson County.

Renewal House

Rather than separating families where mothers are struggling with addiction, the goal is to renew and restore these individuals and give them a second shot at being a family by providing the basic resources necessary for lasting recovery.