Hands on Nashville & VOAD

Hands On Nashville meets community needs through volunteerism.

Host Jeremy C. Park talks with Lori Shinton, President and CEO of Hands on Nashville and Chair of Nashville VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), who highlights the structure that provides a mechanism for representatives of voluntary agencies and organizations that have a role, purpose or function in disaster response and recovery to network and share information. VOAD is dedicated to whole community engagement and recognizes that all sectors of society must work together to foster more resilient communities. During the interview, Lori talks about the focus and goals for Nashville VOAD, the VOAD Emergency Management Cycle, the organizations involved, lessons learned, how the community can help, and much more.

What is VOAD?
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or “VOAD” is a structure that provides a mechanism for representatives of voluntary agencies and organizations that have a role, purpose or function in disaster response and recovery to network and share information.

VOAD is dedicated to whole community engagement and recognize that all sectors of society must work together to foster more resilient communities.

What is the Nashville VOAD Emergency Management Cycle?

  • Mitigation – Minimizing the effects of disasters
  • Preparedness – Planning how to respond
  • Response – Protecting the public and meeting survivors’ immediate needs
  • Recovery – Returning the community to normal

What are some of the goals of the Nashville VOAD?

  • Increase capacity to provide more efficient services to survivors of disasters;
  • Better response to disasters through cooperation, communication, coordination, and collaboration;
  • Networking and sharing best practices with individuals and organizations active in disaster response;
  • Reduce or eliminate the adverse effect of natural, technological, and human-caused hazards on our socio-economic and physical environments through preparedness, mitigation, and education.

Why is the Nashville VOAD beneficial to our communities?  Because it:

  • Builds relationships and trust between organizations and community partners;
  • Brings diverse groups together around an issue to create solutions;
  • Increases community resiliency through collaborative preparedness and training efforts;
  • Creates a responsive structure that can be deployed immediately upon disaster;
  • Increases coordination among partnering organizations which leads to a reduction in duplication of services;
  • Provides points of contact for emergency managers and allows for a smooth information flow in a disaster;
  • Can support the development of long-term recovery by supporting Long-Term Recovery Groups and their activities;
  • It’s an educational resource to residents of a community.

How many organizations are involved in the Nashville VOAD?

  • There are currently 51 member organizations who have committed to being a member of the Nashville VOAD.
  • Many organizations have taken on more active roles in ensuring the procedures are in place and there are plans to tap into neighborhoods and/or the community as a whole depending on the level of disaster.
  • Other organizations will take more active roles when training and also provide hands on service at the time of a disaster.
  • We are currently made up of nonprofits, community organizations, and faith-based institutions.
  • Representatives from several city-affiliated groups are also involved in preparation and response to disasters.

What is the relationship between the city and VOAD when it comes to disaster response?

  • The relationship between the Nashville VOAD and Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is a critical component to a successful VOAD.
  • Metro Nashville OEM expertise in disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery is an important resource.
  • OEM will provide disaster training and education to all VOAD members and is committed to collaborating with the Nashville VOAD to ensure a coordinated response between the city and the VOAD members.
  • In addition to the Nashville VOAD’s relationship with OEM, several other disaster preparedness and response partners will help to provide training to our members.

Nashville VOAD’s current structure has unfolded over the course of the past 18 months due to disasters in Nashville

  • Tornado – March 3, 2020
    • The reconvening of the Nashville VOAD was in its earliest stages when the tornado hit March of 2020
    • Conversations were happening around how to recognize the 10th anniversary of the May 2010 floods, and several of us thought the re-establishing the work of the Nashville VOAD was the most impactful way to do so.
    • Since no formal group was in place, organizations followed Nashville’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan as a blueprint to responding to those in need.
    • Shortly after, the Davidson Co. Long-Term Recovery Group was formed to ensure tornado survivors could receive the help they needed.
  • Christmas Day Bombing, 2020
    • With tornado recovery well on its way, the Nashville VOAD steering committee had been put in place to determine best foot forward in the shape of the Nashville VOAD and the organizations willing to be at the table.
    • Because of the steering committee and active Long-Term Recovery Group, the city and soon-to-be functioning VOAD were able to respond alongside each other, with additional help at the federal level due to the nature of the disaster.
    • Within several weeks, the Christmas Day Bombing Long-Term Recovery Group was stood up to assist residents, employees, and businesses affected by the bomb.
  • Flood & Severe Storms – March 2021
    • By the time the Spring floods and severe storms hit our community in late March and early April, the Nashville VOAD had 51 organizations signed up and actively meeting.
    • Due to the prior two disasters, we were aware of which organizations could step into the roles needed, as well as which organizations had the capacity to take on the extra workload
    • This disaster also put into light the need to connect with our neighbors who did not speak English as their primary language, and we worked to put together a volunteer task force to help guide us on best practices for outreach and effective connections.
  • Today
    • All three Long-Term Recovery Groups that have been established out of the work of the Nashville VOAD and actively work with community members on becoming whole again.
    • While each group is seated at a different point in the timeline of recovery, we continue to learn and grow from active response while we build stronger relationships with each other as a collaborative group.

Who is leading the efforts of the Nashville VOAD?

  • From the work of Tornado recovery and the roles laid out in the CEMP, the following organizations have been actively planning and executing this new chapter of the Nashville VOAD.
    • Gifts of Money – Amy Fair of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is the current Nashville VOAD secretary / treasurer.
      • Not only does CFMT stand up charitable funds for donors to make gifts to in response to disasters, it also allows the Nashville VOAD to fundraise to help absorb the cost of preparing for the next disaster
    • Gifts of Stuff – Tina Doniger of the Community Resource Center is active as the Vice Chair of Nashville VOAD, as she comes with the knowledge of soliciting the items survivors need in both the immediate and long-term recovery from disaster
    • Gifts of Time – Lori Shinton of Hands On Nashville currently leads the efforts as the Chair of the Nashville VOAD, as her organization not only stands up organization and execution of volunteer needs, but also has a team that can provide expertise in the many facets of disaster response.
    • Additional brain trusts come from Red Cross of Tennessee, Neighbor to Neighbor, United Way of Greater Nashville, Family & Children Service, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Westminster Home Connection, Salvation Army – Nashville Area Command, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and more.

Together, we’re building stronger communities through service. Browse hundreds of volunteer projects — or find out how your nonprofit or business can become a partner.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HONashville/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HONashville
Website: https://www.hon.org/
Other: Nashville VOAD — nashvilleresponds.com and @NashvilleVOAD on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
List of members can be found at www.nashvilleresponds.com/about

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