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Hands on Memphis.

If asked what agency makes the biggest impact on the quality of life in Memphis, most Memphians might be at a loss for an answer. Yet, there is an agency that works with over 90 other agencies in the Memphis area alone. Hands on Memphis recruits and trains volunteers to serve a vast list of community service agencies. Business Perspectives asked Hands on Memphis Executive Director Ken Hall about his agency's contribution to the quality of life in Memphis.

Business Perspectives: Briefly, what is the history of Hands on Memphis and how many Mid-Southerners are active volunteers for the organization?

Hands on Memphis: Hands on Memphis is a five-year-old, non-profit organization that recruits volunteers for team-based projects with other non-profit agencies. Started by Philip McCaull, Hands on Memphis has grown from three dozen volunteers serving a couple of agencies to approximately 1,800 active volunteers serving over 90 agencies, with new volunteer prospects being trained at weekly orientation sessions. At present, Hands on Memphis is focused entirely on Shelby County.

Business Perspectives: What is the relationship of Hands on Memphis with similar organizations in other major cities?

Hands on Memphis: Hands on Memphis is one of 26 cities affiliated with City Cares of America. The cities communicate regularly to create and relate "best practices." The national board is involved in expanding the network to additional markets. City Cares of America's goal is to have 50 cities by 2001.

Business Perspectives: What type person do you look for in a volunteer?

Hands on Memphis: Hands on Memphis' volunteers come from every neighborhood, from every race, from all age ranges, from all backgrounds. Hands on Memphis wants any person who is able and willing to give his time in helping others. While there is no standard profile for the volunteers, Hands on Memphis finds that many of the volunteers are young adults, and people relocating to the community are drawn to the program. In both instances, Hands on Memphis believes that the immediacy of the model for allowing them to become involved in the community is a strong attraction.

Business Perspectives: To which agencies in the Mid-South do you provide volunteers?

Hands on Memphis: Hands on Memphis serves over 90 agencies in Shelby County. These agencies represent various areas of need in the Memphis area, such as the arts, AIDS, animals, children and youth, homeless/meals, community/environmental, building, seniors, medical, disabilities, education, and drug/alcohol. Some familiar names from these groups include Theatre Memphis, Loving Arms, the Children's Museum of Memphis, Genesis House, MIFA, Youth Villages, the Center City Commission, Habitat for Humanity, St. Peter's Villa, The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, United Cerebral Palsy, the Bodine School, the Salvation Army, and the Crisis Center.

Business Perspectives: How does Hands on Memphis impact the quality of life in the Memphis area?

Hands on Memphis: On one level, Hands on Memphis simply offers service. It augments the efforts of organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, the Memphis Humane Society, Final Net Tutoring, the Memphis Literacy Council, and many more. Hands on Memphis mobilizes skilled and unskilled labor to bolster existing programs.

On another level, Hands on Memphis is using service as a strategy to promote civic engagement. It affords opportunities for people to see parts of the city they might otherwise never see, to see the problems and challenges that they might otherwise never encounter, to meet people they might otherwise never meet. Hands on Memphis offers a forum for community involvement for people who are fourth-generation Memphians and for people who have relocated because of their job and may move again in a year or two.

Volunteering is an amazingly unifying force for a community and, Hands on Memphis thinks, a force that fosters a very progressive spirit.

Business Perspectives: Is your agency currently sponsoring any public events?

Hands on Memphis: At 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, 1999, Audubon Park will be the kick-off site for the fifth annual Hands on Memphis Day Servathon. What is Servathon? It is a day to serve as a volunteer on an assigned project with one of a multitude of Memphis-area community organizations. To participate, simply register in advance by April 7, 1999 (with a minimum pledge of $12).

Business Perspectives: How would an individual or company apply to serve as a volunteer?

Hands on Memphis: Any individual may volunteer simply by calling 523-1377 to register for the next available orientation. Hands on Memphis will come on site - whenever or wherever that may be - for any company or organization that can muster 10 or more people for an orientation meeting.

Business Perspectives: What is the greatest contribution that Hands on Memphis is making to the community?

Hands on Memphis: Hands on Memphis' greatest contribution is mobilizing people for the betterment of the whole community.
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Title Annotation:interview with Hands on Memphis executive director Ken Hall
Publication:Business Perspectives
Article Type:Interview
Date:Mar 22, 1999
Previous Article:Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, Inc.
Next Article:Quality of life includes access to health care.

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