There’s a reason Tennesseans take pride in the state’s nickname: “The Volunteer State.” Every year, people across the state selflessly give of their time, goods and services to communities in need. With excellent opportunities in a wide range of service areas to help children and their families, volunteers can strengthen our communities as a whole. Some opportunities, such as those at our state parks, offer a great way to get the whole family involved. Here are a few ideas.
Tennessee Promise: Mentors are crucial to the Tennessee Promise program, which helps students earn a college degree at eligible state institutions. Mentors work with students as they navigate the college admissions process and ensure the students complete Tennessee Promise program requirements in order to receive a scholarship.
Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS): A public child welfare agency, DCS needs mentors and other caring volunteers. To donate your time, materials or professional services, call a DCS resource linkage coordinator in your area, or contact your local DCS office to see how your talents can be put to use.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI Tennessee could not function without volunteers, whose time, efforts and talents are used to help families and loved ones experiencing mental illness. Please contact your local affiliate.
Tennessee State Parks: Volunteers are needed to help keep Tennessee’s state parks and natural areas clean and beautiful. Opportunities are available for trail work, planting native species, removing exotic plants, cleaning up litter and serving as campground hosts.
United Way/Raise Your Hand Tennessee: Raise Your Hand Tennessee is a statewide effort by the United Ways of Tennessee to recruit volunteers to read, tutor and mentor children. Anyone with passion and commitment can help children and youth succeed in school and in life.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children: This nonprofit organization consists of volunteers who serve as trained advocates for abused and neglected kids in state custody. Volunteers conduct case research, appear at hearings, monitor plans and much more. By 2020, Tennessee CASA aims to provide a volunteer for every child in Tennessee who needs one.
Tennessee Community Resource Centers (CRCs): CRCs provide household goods, furniture and appliances to people in desperate need. CRCs, such as the ones listed below, also raise public awareness about various nonprofits’ needs for volunteers in your area.
Volunteer Tennessee: By serving through local nonprofits and schools, volunteers tutor children, coordinate service-learning programs and after-school programs, build homes, organize neighborhood watch groups and do other things to strengthen communities in Tennessee.
Use your unique experience to help individuals and families in Tennessee.
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS): CPRSs use their own recovery experience to help others with mental illness and/or substance abuse. CPRSs promote self-determination, personal responsibility and empowerment.
Certified Family Support Specialist: The opportunity to get certified as a family support specialist can be beneficial for families with a child experiencing emotional, mental or behavioral disturbances. Family Support Specialist training from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services offers an opportunity for loved ones to draw upon their experience.
Advisory Council Opportunities
Attend meetings or volunteer to join a council and provide your input.
Special Education Advisory Council: The Department of Education’s Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities advises the state on unmet needs and initiatives of the Council. Interested citizens are invited to attend Advisory Council Meetings, which offer the opportunity for public input. Contact the Secretary of the Council at (615) 532-6310 or the Council Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) Regional Council: The commission’s objective is to improve the quality of life for children and families while providing leadership and support for child advocates. Professionals and volunteers can join one of TCCY's nine regional councils. Go to the TCCY website and click on the regional council name to contact the regional coordinator and obtain membership information.
Tennessee Young Child Wellness Council (YCWC): Charged with improving the wellness of children in Tennessee, this Council includes parents of children age 8 and younger. Contact Program Director Cory Bradford for more details on how you can get involved at email@example.com.