We are very excited here at HOC to welcome three new members to the staff!

Sara comes to us through The Mission Continues.  The Mission Continues empowers veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home to find new missions. The program redeploys veterans in their communities, so that their shared legacy will be one of action and service.

Sara A. Yon separated from the U.S. Army in 2013. Served as an Army Officer in support 20141017_105709of Operation Enduring Freedom 2012-2013 and a platoon leader to a First Responder team in support of a humanitarian mission in Haiti. She enlisted in the Armed Forced in 2001 and served her time as a paratrooper and rigger to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. Sara moved to Charlotte, NC to pursue her Masters in Social Work at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Sara is motivated and dedicated to making a change in society and imprinting hope in the live of others. Sara is a Fellow thru the Mission Continues; which gives her the opportunity to transition from the military by continuing her mission in our community.

Rob and Tiara are AmeriCorps members and will be focusing on many things including emergency preparedness for Hands On Charlotte.


Hi, y’all! My name is Rob Coy, and I could not be more excited to be joining Hands On Charlotte as a Community Emergency Preparedness Manager. I grew up in Cramerton, just west of Charlotte, and graduated from American University in Washington, DC, in May2013. I moved to the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte in February, and I am honored and excited to be working with such an amazing nonprofit here on Central Avenue. After attending our AmeriCorps national training last week in Hampton, GA, I am looking forward to and cannot wait to see all we are able to accomplish in the next year!


“Hi there! My name is Tiara Henderson and I moved to Charlotte about a year ago.I came from St. Petersburg, Florida with my fiancé and two rescue dogs- Stevie Nycks and Jimi Hendryx. I’m a self-taught artist who is passionate about working with non-profits; one dayI plan to start my own organization that will provide art therapy to disabled adults and children. For now though, I’m perfectly happy being welcomed into the Hands on Charlotte family, and I hope to stay a while!”

12th Annual Playground Build

On October 8th the children of Shamrock Gardens Elementary School will host over 100 volunteers from businesses throughout the Charlotte area to build a brand new, state of the art playground!  This effort could not have taken place without the extensive support of the Charlotte business community.  We would like to take this time to thank each and every one of them for their support.

Sponsors - Final

12th Annual Playground Build

2014 Logo

On October 8, 2014, over 100 corporate volunteers throughout Charlotte will join forces at Shamrock Gardens Elementary School where they will teardown the old outdated playground and construct a brand new, state of the art playground that the children of Shamrock Gardens helped design.

There’s nothing like watching children’s faces as they see their dream literally rise up from the ground before their eyes. When volunteers construct a playground in just eight hours.

Those who will be taking part in this project will greatly enriche the lives of young children who otherwise might never have the chance to play to their heart’s content within a safe environment.

Thank you to all our sponsors:

  • Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Charlotte Center City Partners
  • Wells Fargo
  • Charlotte Community Affairs Professionals
  • Red Ventures
  • US Airways/American Airlines
  • Bonsal American-Sakrete
  • Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
  • UTC Aerospace Systems
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Novant Health
  • Turner Construction Company
  • UNC Charlotte
  • All the Right Grooves
  • The Art Institute of Charlotte
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Cunningham Recreation
  • Hands On Charlotte
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Snyder’s-Lance
  • United Way of Central Carolinas

Friday’s Food for Thought…

The 9 Nana’s

Truly one of the most inspiring stories I’ve read about paying it forward.  Do something nice.


The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades

–by Lori Weiss, syndicated from huffingtonpost.com, Jun 29, 2012

Somewhere in West Tennessee, not far from Graceland, nine women — or “The 9 Nanas,”

as they prefer to be called — gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine — a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods.

“One of us starts sifting the flour and another washing the eggs,” explained Nana Mary Ellen, the appointed spokesperson for their secret society. “And someone else makes sure the pans are all ready. We switch off, depending on what we feel like doing that day.

“But you make sure to say Nana Pearl is in charge, because she’s the oldest!” she added with a wink and a smile.

Over the next three hours, The 9 Nanas (who all consider themselves sisters, despite what some of their birth certificates say) will whip up hundreds of pound cakes, as part of a grand scheme to help those in need. And then, before anyone gets as much as a glimpse of them, they’ll disappear back into their daily lives. The only hint that may remain is the heavenly scent of vanilla, lemon and lime, lingering in the air.

Even the UPS driver, who picks up hundreds of packages at a time, has no clue what these women, who range in age from 54 to 72, are doing. He’s just happy to get a hug and a bag filled with special treats. What he doesn’t know is that he’s part of their master plan. A plan that began 35 years ago — when the “sisters” got together for their weekly card game — something their husbands referred to as “Broads and Bridge.”

“Pearl says it was all her idea,” Mary Ellen teased, “but as I remember it, we were sitting around reminiscing about MaMaw and PaPaw and all the different ways they would lend a hand in the community.” MaMaw and PaPaw are the grandparents who raised four of the women, Mary Ellen included, when their mother passed away; and they took in Pearl as their own, when her parents needed some help.

“MaMaw Ruth would read in the paper that someone had died,” Mary Ellen remembered, “and she’d send off one of her special pound cakes. She didn’t have to know the family. She just wanted to put a little smile on their faces. And we started thinking about what we could do to make a difference like that. What if we had a million dollars? How would we spend it?

So the ladies began brainstorming.

“One of the sisters suggested that we should all start doing our own laundry and put the money we saved to good use. I admit, I protested at first. There’s just something about laundering that I don’t like. But I was outnumbered! So among the nine of us, we’d put aside about $400 a month and our husbands never noticed a thing. Their shirts looked just fine.”

And then the women started listening. They’d eavesdrop — all with good intentions, of course — at the local beauty shop or when they were picking up groceries. And when they heard about a widow or a single mom who needed a little help, they’d step in and anonymously pay a utility bill or buy some new clothes for the children.

“We wanted to help as much as we could,” Mary Ellen said, “without taking away from our own families, so we became coupon clippers. And we’d use green stamps. Remember those? We’d use green stamps and we’d make sure to go to Goldsmith’s department store on Wednesdays. Every week they’d have a big sale and you could spend $100 and walk away with $700 worth of merchandise.”

The Nanas would find out where the person lived and send a package with a note that simply said, “Somebody loves you” — and they’d be sure to include one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes.

The more people they helped, the bolder they became.

“We gave new meaning to the term drive-by,” Mary Ellen said with delight. “We’d drive through low-income neighborhoods and look for homes that had fans in the window. That told us that the people who lived there didn’t have air-conditioning. Or we’d see that there were no lights on at night, which meant there was a good chance their utilities had been turned off. Then we’d return before the sun came up, like cat burglars, and drop off a little care package.”

For three decades, the ladies’ good deeds went undetected — that is, until five years ago, when Mary Ellen’s husband, whom she lovingly calls “Southern Charmer,” started noticing extra mileage on the car and large amounts of cash being withdrawn from their savings account.

“He brought out bank statements and they were highlighted!” Mary Ellen said, recalling the horror she felt. “I tried to explain that I had bought some things, but he had this look on his face that I’d never seen before — and I realized what he must have been thinking. I called the sisters and said, ‘You all need to get over here right away.’”

So 30 years into their secret mission, the 9 Nanas and their husbands gathered in Mary Ellen’s living room and the sisters came clean. They told the husbands about the laundry and the eavesdropping — even the drive-bys. And that’s where their story gets even better — because the husbands offered to help.

“They were amazed that we were doing this and even more amazed that they never knew. We can keep a good secret! All but three of them are retired now, so sometimes they come with us on our drive-bys. In our area, all you need is an address to pay someone’s utility bill, so we keep the men busy jotting down numbers.”

It wasn’t long before the couples decided it was also time to tell their grown children. And that’s when happiness began to happen in an even bigger way. The children encouraged their mothers to start selling MaMaw Ruth’s pound cakes online, so they could raise money to help even more people. And it wasn’t long before they were receiving more than 100 orders in a day.

“The first time we saw those orders roll in, we were jumping up and down,” Mary Ellen said with a laugh. “We were so excited that we did a ring-around-the-rosie! Then we called all the children and said, ‘What do we do next?’”

That’s when the 9 Nanas moved their covert baking operation out of their homes and into the commercial kitchen of a restaurant owned by one of their sons, where they can sneak in before sunrise and sneak out before the staff comes in. They even hired a “happiness coordinator” (whose code name is “Sunny,” of course). Her identity needs to be a secret, too, so she can help out with the eavesdropping.

“We swore her to secrecy — her parents think she works in marketing. And, really, if you think about it, she is doing public relations and spends a lot of time looking for people to help at the supermarket!”

These days, The 9 Nanas are able to take on even bigger projects, given their online success. Recently they donated more than $5,000 of pillows and linens and personal care products to a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. And this August, they’ll celebrate their second consecutive “Happiness Happens Month” by sending tokens of their appreciation to one person in every state who has made a difference in their own community.

And that million dollars they once wished for? They’re almost there. In the last 35 years, the 9 Nanas have contributed nearly $900,000 of happiness to their local community.

But that doesn’t mean they’re too busy to continue doing the little things that make life a bit happier. Sometimes they just pull out the phone book and send off pound cakes to complete strangers. And if the Nanas spot someone at the grocery store who appears to need a little help, it’s not unusual for them to start filling a stranger’s cart.

“Not everyone is as lucky as we were to have MaMaw and PaPaw to take care of them, to fix all those things that are wrong.

“So this is our way of giving back,” Mary Ellen said. “We want people to know that someone out there cares enough to do something. We want to make sure that happiness happens.”


To learn more about The 9 Nanas and Happiness Happens or to purchase one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes, you can visit their website: Happiness-Happens.com  .This article is reprinted with permission from the Huffington Post’s Good News Channel.

Friday’s Food for Thought….

We hear so many wonderful stories from our volunteers, our Partner Agencies and others that we want to start sharing some of them with you with the hopes that you will get a glimpse of not only what we do here at HOC but the meaningful impact is makes on the recipient as well as the volunteer.

If you have a story about HOC and volunteering you’d like to share, we would love to hear it.  Simply email your story to Beth Addison at beth@handsoncharlotte.org


This story comes from one of our favorite volunteers who simply wanted to share what it is like to volunteer:

Through volunteering, I have the opportunity to meet many diverse and interesting people that I do not have the chance to meet in my normal, everyday life. My interactions with them have a profound and lasting affect on me. I have lived in Charlotte for many years, but it is only now, through volunteering, that I have the opportunity to go to parts of the city, where I have never been, to interact with people in those communities. I have seen a whole other side of the community and enjoy talking to people who provide me with new insights and give me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with them as well.  I am so happy to know that, when I volunteer, I am helping others, and my efforts really do mean something in the community. Not only do I have the opportunity to help people in the community, I am forever thankful that, they help me, as volunteering positively influences my life and contributes to my personal growth. Volunteering is mutually beneficial for the community and me. 


Friday’s Food for Thought…

Getting to know Hands On Charlotte

HOC’s Volunteer Connections Committee (VCONN)

You probably know that Hands On Charlotte (HOC) helps connect volunteers with more than 100 partner agencies in our community, but you may not know that quite a few folks volunteer at Hands On Charlotte itself!

One of our favorite groups is VCONN, the Volunteer Connections Committee. VCONN works with HOC staff to promote the organization at community events like Festival in the Park and the Kings Drive Art Walk, and provides support at signature events like HOC Day.

y7TD5QqcV_11jd_s9mHGWLwDAz5EfqnS23EsRCBM_ig h1XZF3IxhYGWe80lSKesrk9oeVEC7RUwpSa3qYmhhWEIn addition, VCONN is going to take a more prominent role in planning HOC’s popular Mix & Mingle volunteer socials. Mix & Mingles are six times a year (in odd-numbered months) and are designed to provide an informal setting where prospective volunteers can learn more about HOC and current volunteers can connect with each other, HOC staff and board members.

Earlier this summer, the VCONN conducted a survey of active volunteers to get feedback on how the Mix & Mingles could be improved. Based on that feedback, we’ll be alternating nights of the week for Mix & Mingle events (because Mondays alone didn’t work for everyone) and tweaking the food set-up so there are refreshments available for guests who arrive later. We’re also adding more icebreaker activities to stimulate conversation, as well as a brief program with activities such as testimonials from volunteers and project leaders, guest speakers from our partner agencies and community organizations, and HOC volunteer recognition.

We hope you’ll join us at the upcoming Mix & Mingle on Thursday, Sept. 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. We’ll be returning to our favorite Mix & Mingle spot – VGBG at the N.C. Music Factory – with thanks for their support and hospitality!

To RSVP for the event, visit our Eventbrite page. Hope to see you in a few weeks!

Friday’s Food for Thought…We Need YOU!

Now it’s HOC’s turn to ask for volunteers to help us.

In order to give the community a true insight and understanding of what HOC does and the importance of volunteering, we are seeking volunteers for three key positions:  Photography, Social Media and Blogger.

Please review the position descriptions below. If interested, contact Beth Addison at beth@handsoncharlotte.org

Thank you for all you do!


Position Summary——————————————————————————


The Photography Volunteer will provide support for Hands On Charlotte by volunteering at project sites to capture HOC volunteer efforts at our partner agencies through photography.

What we are looking for:

  • Images may used on our website, in print material, and through our social media outlets
  • Photos of volunteers at work and in posed shots
  • Photos with diversity of volunteers (age, race, gender, etc)
  • Photos with variety of tasks being completed and locations
  • Bonus points if you can take photos with your smartphone and immediately share over our social media channels


  • A passion for volunteer service and interest in community leadership/development.
  • Past experience in HOC volunteering
  • Capable of working independently as well as serving as a member of a team.
  • Skilled experience in basic photography


Position Summary——————————————————————————images-1

The Social Media Volunteer will provide support for Hands On Charlotte by volunteering to help us grow our social media presence.

What we are looking for:

  • Diverse content and developing strategies to improve user engagement and drive action across all major channels
  • Content to appeal to the diversity of volunteers (age, race, gender, etc)
  • Create campaigns to engage our volunteers, Partner Agencies and the community.
  • Bonus points if you can take photos and create content with your smartphone and immediately share over our social media channels at special events or at volunteer projects.


  • A passion for volunteer service and interest in community leadership/development.
  • Past experience in HOC volunteering
  • Capable of working independently as well as serving as a member of a team.
  • Skilled experience and basic knowledge of the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, YouTube)


Position Summary——————————————————————————

The Blogger Volunteer will provide support for Hands On Charlotte by submitting/posting occasional blog posts to our charlottevolunteer.org site with content pertaining to the focus of volunteering. Unknown

What we are looking for:

  • Stories of HOC volunteers and their work in the community
  • Posts highlighting the efforts of our Partner Agencies
  • Interviews with our diverse volunteers (age, race, gender, etc)


  • A passion for volunteer service and interest in community leadership/development.
  • Past experience in HOC volunteering
  • Capable of working independently as well as serving as a member of a team.
  • Excellent proofreading and editing skills
  • Ability to create, compose and edit written material
  • Ability to write simply with a conversational style
  • Knowledge of WordPress




Friday’s Food for Thought…

Helping Hands

A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets to a performance by the great Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski. When the evening arrived, imagesthey found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on the stage. Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away.

At eight o’clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy – up on the piano bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” His mother gasped in shock and embarassment but, before she could retrieve her son, the master himself appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard.

He whispered gently to the boy, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side and improvised a delightful obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with their blended and beautiful music.

In all our lives, we receive helping hands – some we notice, some we don’t. Equally we ourselves have countless opportunites to provide helping hands – sometimes we would like our assistance to be noticed, sometimes we don’t. Little of what we all achieve is without learning from others and without support from others and what we receive we should hand out.

Friday’s Food for Thought

According to the Oxford Dictionaries:  Food Insecurity is–The state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food:more than 800 million people live every day with hunger or food insecurity as their constant companion

This isn’t just happening in our economically disadvantaged areas around Charlotte, it’s happening everywhere and in places you may not think–  coworkers,  neighbors,  children’s friends and family members.

There are many organizations that are helping: Friendship Trays, Friendship Gardens, Second Harvest Food Bank, Crisis Assistance and many more.  Please visit www.handsoncharlotte.org to see some of our partner agencies that are making a difference and volunteer.

In 2012, NC ranked #10 for food hardship in the US



Volunteering for Work Experience


Skills-based volunteering will allow you to enhance your resume and make valuable connections in your chosen industry. These experiences allow you to establish contacts for networking, receive letters of recommendation from professionals in the field, and make a substantial contribution to overall job potential.

cncs-infographic6Many employers give preference in hiring individuals who have previous experiences in their respective fields.

Here are some reasons why giving back to the community will give your job search some extra oomph:

It builds your resume

Programs for skills-based volunteering are all the rage these days. If you’re volunteering your professional expertise to a charity, include it in your resume. Write it as you would any other position in your resume by describing your role and achievements, highlighting the skills that are most relevant to your current career goals.

It exposes you to new career paths

Before you commit to a new career path, take it for a test drive. Volunteering is a great way to learn more about a specific function or industry, especially if you’re considering a move to the government or non-profit sector.

It develops new skills

If you are switching careers or seeking a promotion to the management level, chances are you have some skill gaps to fill. Identify volunteer opportunities that will allow you to fill these gaps by exposing you to a new industry or giving you the chance to head a committee or project.

It grows your network

Whether you’re attending charity events or volunteering your time, charitable work is a great way to meet new people and expand your network. There’s no better way to form a real connection with someone than through a shared interest. Even if the organization is unrelated to your profession, there’s no telling who you might meet.


Hands On Charlotte offers many different skills-based opportunities every month.  To find out what they are click here