Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mayor praises Nashville's volunteer spirit during N.Y. visit

By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • July 1, 2010 Mayor Karl Dean spread the word about Nashville's volunteer-fueled response to devastating floods during a visit to New York on Wednesday. Dean participated in a panel discussion at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, which about 5,000 people attended. He also helped New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announce the latest group of cities to win $200,000 grants to boost volunteerism from Cities of Service, the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Nashville was in the first group of grant recipients in January. Dean said he talked about the city's agreement with Hands On Nashville, which has been responsible for recruiting and deploying volunteers in a crisis since 2007. The nonprofit group has put 18,341 volunteers in position to assist flood victims through 995 service projects since May 2, said Lisa Davis Purcell, director of external affairs. "We really benefited from the groundwork laid by Hands On Nashville and the (memorandum of understanding) with the city," Dean said by phone from New York. "They were ready." He said Bloomberg asked him to help announce the latest Cities of Service grant winners because the New York mayor and multibillionaire had heard about how Nashville handled the historic floods. "Our next speaker knows just what a powerful force volunteers can be, especially for a city in crisis," Bloom-berg said of Dean. " And he has done a really great job of leading his city through some very rough times." Grant helps fund plan In his own prepared remarks, Dean said, "Volunteers can play a big role in making a city a better place to live, and as in our case, they can be the difference between simply surviving a disaster and being able to recover from one." Metro is using its two-year, $200,000 Cities of Service grant to develop and implement a plan to increase volunteerism. Dean hired Laurel Creech to be the city's chief service officer; she happened to start work on May 3, the Monday after the flood. Creech is responsible for putting the plan together, with an emphasis on volunteer work that can make a difference in education, the environment and disaster preparedness. Dean's office said it should be ready sometime in September. Davis Purcell said Hands On Nashville won the 2010 George W. Romney Volunteer Center Excellence Award from the Points of Light Institute this week. Brian Williams, the organization's executive director, received the award at the volunteering and service conference in New York. Contact Michael Cass at 615-259-8838 or

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