The Community Impact Award recognizes individuals who are involved in a variety of activities or are deeply engaged in the operation or administration of one agency.
Nominated by Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee
For many who live with mental illness, there is a lifelong struggle filled with exhilarating peaks and devastating valleys. For every step forward, there can be several steps backward. The experience can be overwhelming.
As a survivor of schizoaffective disorder, Susan Hatfield lives these challenges and provides hope for many. She works tirelessly to erase the stigma of mental illness as a dedicated Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee volunteer.
For nearly six years, Susan has served as a board member for Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee, gifting thousands of volunteer hours to help the agency achieve its mission. No task is too big or small for her. She does everything from entering data gleaned from children’s presentations on topics like bullying, stress, and body image to registering racers for the agency’s signature event, Runnin’ to Beat the Blues. Perhaps most significantly, Susan is an active member of the Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee Speaker’s Bureau. Through her presentations, she shares mental health and wellness tips, as well as her personal success story.
Prior to volunteering with Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee, Susan was hospitalized 24 times in 25 years. She lived in a group residential facility for three years before “graduating” to her own apartment and employment. About this transformation, she says, “I was a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.”
Today, Susan is a productive, independent, whole person and a tenacious champion for mental health as a leading Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee volunteer.
Nominated by Christian Women’s Job Corps of Middle Tennessee
“My motto is ‘What can you say yes to’,” says an enthusiastic Creely Wilson.
By saying “yes” to founding the Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) of Middle Tennessee, she’s helped participants end the cycle of poverty through faith, rehabilitation, education, and job training.
In 1997, CWJC of Middle Tennessee opened its doors at Lockeland Baptist Church in East Nashville. Ten women participated in the first class, receiving the invaluable support required to earn their GEDs and learn computer skills. They grew spiritually through Bible studies and faithful mentoring by volunteers.
Over the past 15 years, CWJC of Middle Tennessee has extended these same opportunities to over 3,000 women, offering them new confidence, hope, and faith. Many have obtained good jobs with benefits, left the welfare rolls, pursued higher education, become first-time homeowners, and more. Some have been so moved by the help they received, they have returned as volunteers, tutoring in the classroom and encouraging other women to achieve their goals.
As CWJC of Middle Tennessee became established under the direction of executive director Becky Sumrall, Creely extended her vision statewide. She served for several years as Tennessee’s CWJC coordinator and started many of the 22 sites that are currently operating.
In total, CWJC has helped over 6,000 Tennesseans struggling in poverty to get the education and job skills needed to make positive life changes. This would not be possible without Creely’s volunteer leadership.
Rob Crittenden (1943-2012)
Nominated by Nashville CARES
After retiring from his career as an educator and principal, Robert Crittenden made community service his fulltime job. He frequently volunteered with his church and with Nashville CARES, a nonprofit that promotes and participates in a comprehensive and compassionate response to HIV/AIDS in Middle Tennessee.
For five years, Robert empathetically served Nashville CARES’ clients. He realized that a stigma was often associated with HIV/AIDS, and he committed himself to teaching others tolerance and understanding. In doing so, Robert expanded the agency’s reach and brought people together for the common good – improving the quality of life for those with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Robert’s support of Nashville CARES and its clients was far-reaching and meaningful. Last year alone, he logged over 600 volunteer hours. From catering meals and providing decorations for special events to packing food bags for the 700 clients served each month through Nashville CARES’ food pantry program, he led by action. He also completed tedious but critical administrative tasks, like organizing and updating insurance and dental files for over 1,700 clients whose medical costs were reduced with CARES’ assistance.
Robert was in the business of keeping people healthy and saving lives. He worked tirelessly as a Nashville CARES volunteer until his recent and untimely death in December 2012. About Robert’s life and legacy, the CARES’ staff says, “There are many people whose lives he’s touched that will always be the better for it.”