The 2020 Strobel Awards have been postponed

In light of Centers for Disease Control recommendations regarding suspending large-scale gatherings to help combat the spread of COVID-19, Hands On Nashville will postpone the Strobel Awards. Click here to learn more.


Congratulations to this year's finalists! 

Nashville is full of incredible helpers and we are honored to help tell their stories at the 34th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Awards. We received an incredible number of nominations this year. The finalists in each category are listed below. View all nominees here. Winners will be announced at the Strobel luncheon!

Capacity-Building Volunteer: 1) Paige Atchley  2) Sherri Mitchell-Snider  3) Susanne Post 

Civic Volunteer Group: 1) Chicktime  2) Friends Life Community  3) Tennessee Volunteer Challenge Academy

Corporate Volunteerism: 1) Creative Arts Agency Nashville  2) Comcast of Nashville  3) The Surgical Clinic

Direct Service 5-20: 1) Emily Phan  2) Elizabeth Graham Pistole  3) La Rhonda Potts

Direct Service 21-49: 1) Adam Crookston  2) Aidan Pace  3) Ellen Wolfe and Copland

Direct Service 50+: 1) James Doran  2) Martha Johnson  3) Claudia Prange



Hands On Nashville's 10,000 for 10

The 2020 Strobel Awards are part of Hands On Nashville’s 10,000 for 10 — a monthlong call to action for volunteerism co-chaired by Mayor John Cooper and former Mayor Karl Dean. This initiative, held in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the city's devastating flood, invites 10,000 Nashville natives and newcomers to reflectserve, and celebrate the spirit of service displayed by our community in the flood's aftermath. We hope you'll join us in this important initiative! 




Our Generous Strobel Awards Partners

About the Strobel Awards

The Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards recognize Middle Tennessee volunteers who give their time and talents to improve the community. Now in its 34th year, the event celebrates nominees at a luncheon attended by 600-plus guests.

The event is held in partnership with the family of Mary Catherine Strobel, a community volunteer best remembered and honored for her tireless, joyful commitment to those in need.


Award Categories

Capacity-building Volunteer

Honors individuals who provide significant operational or administrative support to a nonprofit agency, faith-based ministry or community organization, or developed an innovative approach to significantly improve an existing program.

Civic Volunteer Group

Recognizes representatives of civic, membership, faith-based or non-corporate groups that volunteer together for a specific cause or issue. 

Corporate Volunteerism

Pays tribute to businesses that have robust employee volunteer programs with high levels of participation and impact. 

Direct Service Volunteer (ages 5-20, 21-49, 50+)

Recognizes individuals who have contributed significant volunteer time, energy, and/or resources to help an agency’s constituents.


About Mary Catherine Strobel

Mary Catherine Schweiss Strobel was born in Nashville on August 20, 1912, and grew up in the city’s old Germantown neighborhood – a humble, close knit community where people took care of one another. She is best remembered and honored in Middle Tennessee for her tireless, joyful commitment to those in need: the poor, the sick, the homeless and the helpless.

Mary Catherine was the daughter of Mary Magdalene Sullivan and Henry Charles Schweiss, Jr. When she was just a baby a gas stove exploded in the family home while her father was away. Her mother was killed in the blaze, but Mary Catherine was saved by a neighbor. She and her father moved in with his family – a cadre of German-American aunts, uncles and cousins. In this way, an only child became a cherished member of a large, boisterous and giving clan.

These early experiences were powerful influences. Naturally gregarious and open, Mary Catherine came to see everyone she encountered as “family,” and never met a stranger. She grew up among people without power or influence. Yet in her eyes, the life of her community was overflowing with abundance because those who surrounded her were willing to give everything they had to one another.

She was keen to follow their example. As a very young child, she would ask her father for money to buy food for poor neighbors, and collected useful items to deliver around the neighborhood. Mary Catherine’s approach to giving throughout her life was exclusively hands on. Her car was a rolling general store with supplies of food, clothes, funeral wreaths, shoes, books, newspapers for paper drives and other goods for the needy. Her typical day might involve visiting several hospitals, assisting at a soup kitchen, attending a funeral, and taking clothing to people in need, whom she always referred to as “friends.”

A lifelong and devout Catholic, Mary Catherine’s good works were not confined to a single religion or race. She opened her arms to the human race, yet her approach was always personal, always one-to-one. And she gave her greatest gifts freely: her time; her love; her faith; and her good humor.

Mary Catherine also made Nashville history. In 1937, she married Martin George Strobel, an employee of the Nashville Fire Department. Ten years later, when she was 35 and a mother of four young children, Martin died of a heart attack. Knowing that Mary Catherine now faced providing for the children and two elderly aunts alone, Chief Henry Demonbruen broke precedent and offered her a job in the Fire Marshal’s office. She thus became the first female employee of the Nashville Fire Department, and the only one for the next 29 years.

On a cold December afternoon in 1986 while shopping at a department store in downtown Nashville, Mary Catherine was kidnapped and murdered by a convict escaped from a prison in the Midwest. In the aftermath came a profound outpouring of love and appreciation from the Nashville community she had cherished. In 1987, the Metro Council renamed its Fire Prevention Hall the “Mary Catherine Schweiss Strobel Fire Prevention Bureau Building.” And in April 1987, Nashville’s United Way honored her memory with the first annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer of the Year Award. Now run by Hands On Nashville, and having been a community staple for more than 30 years, the awards honor volunteers from throughout Middle Tennessee who quietly and selflessly give to others every day of their lives.

Mary Catherine would have been so proud of the many extraordinary volunteers who have been nominated for and presented with the award given in her name - and so grateful to everyone at Hands On Nashville. And she would no doubt have considered them part of her family, that ever-widening circle of Nashvillians whose greatest desire in life is to extend a hand to others.