Kristina Brown

Kristina Brown

Are you looking for useful ways to volunteer?  Do you want to invest in your community, but are unsure where your donations will do the most good?  Would you like to know more about the services non-profit organizations in your community provide?  Read on to discover how you can make a difference in Rutherford County.

January Focus: SE-YA BOOK FESTIVAL   |  March 12-14

The Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival (SE-YA) is March 12-14 at MTSU. The festival features over 40 authors of middle grade and young adult literature. Readers have the opportunity to connect with a diverse lineup of New York Times best-selling and award-winning authors from around the country.

March 12-13 are reserved for school field trips, but the festival is open to the public on Saturday, March 14 and will offer writing workshops at 9 a.m., followed by a full day of panels and book signings. 

SE-YA is currently in need of volunteers to assist with registration, serve as panel hosts, hospitality and more. Volunteers need to be age 18 or older. Sign up on the website between now and Feb. 12 and receive a free T-shirt. The festival is sponsored by Follett, Rotary, the Richard Siegel Foundation, Sharing Change, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Tennessee Association of School Librarians. 

SE-YA is seeking additional partnerships with local businesses. Sponsorship information is available on the SE-YA website. 

The festival is celebrating its fifth year and is run by numerous librarians and educators from the middle Tennessee area. The mission of SE-YA is to encourage and develop literacy in young adults by connecting them with authors, thereby advancing education in the community. 

For the Community Day schedule to volunteer, become a sponsor, and more go to



Donations Needed:  bottled water, individually wrapped snacks, Lysol and toilet paper. If you can help, call (615) 867-9000 or go to


Volunteers Needed:  Life Coaches are needed (no experience necessary). Responsibilities include meeting once a week with the assigned client for a guided conversation and to support for them as they work through their recovery. 

Donations Needed:  cleaning supplies and kitchen trash bags

If you are interested in being a Life Coach or can donate needed items, call (615) 900-0634 or go to



Donations Needed for Food Pantry:  jelly, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, mac & cheese and instant potatoes.  

Volunteers Needed:  Groups or individuals are needed to host a food drive and collect nonperishables items needed for the Food Pantry. Greenhouse is also looking for volunteers to help sort the large amount clothing donated during the holidays. Hours will be extended to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and the second and fourth Saturday mornings to accommodate volunteer schedules. 

In addition, volunteer counselors are needed. Training is provided.  If you are interested, contact Ginny at (615) 494-0499, ext. 115 or at  Go to the website to learn more about the work at Greenhouse Ministries at  



Save the Date:  Thursday, April 16 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. a benefit for Mindful Care Adult Day Services will be held at Hop Springs Beer Park, located at 6790 John Bragg Highway. There will be live music, dancing, appetizers and door prizes. For information, go to  


Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency (MCHRA)

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for the rights of thousands of residents in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and homes for the aged in Rutherford County. Trained, certified Ombudsman volunteers pay regular visits to these facilities where they spend time with residents, monitor conditions, investigate complaints, educate regarding abuse and neglect and protect residents’ rights. 

The program offers mediation, complaint resolution, and public education for residents and their families. Volunteer applicants must pass a background check and attend a 16-hour in-house training. The next training session will be held March 11-12 in Nashville. Contact Cindy Rudolph by Monday, Feb. 24 at or by calling (615) 850-3918.



One Book is an initiative to promote reading and unity. This year’s book, “It’s All Relative” by A. J. Jacobs, can be found throughout Rutherford County at “Book Crossing” locations. This book is free to borrow; once you’re finished reading, return the book and join the discussion. 

February is Unplug & Read Month! This is a community wide initiative encouraging adults, families, and children to unplug from televisions, computers, and video games and enjoy the pleasures and educational enrichments of reading. Read To Succeed is planning literacy events during this month. For more information and ideas on activities focused around reading, go to

Volunteers Needed:  Volunteers are needed to tutor adult learners, along with a need for a volunteer to teach the weekly ESL (English Second Language) class in Smyrna. Read To Succeed provides training for anyone interested in teaching/tutoring. The next teacher training is scheduled for Jan. 21 and Jan. 28 from 5:30-8 p.m. at 415 N. Maple St. Call (615)738-7323 or email for more information.



The 9th Annual Special Kids Race will be held on Saturday, March 7 at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic.  The race is an annual fundraiser for the local nonprofit Special Kids Therapy & Nursing Center. For the ninth straight year, all event expenses have been covered by sponsors, allowing 100 percent of the money contributed by contestants in each run to directly benefit children with special needs at Special Kids.

Registration is now open at for the 5K ($45), 10K ($50), 15K ($55), or One-Mile “Fun Run” ($25). All levels of participants are encouraged to take part, including the entire family, regardless of age or physical experience. A “virtual runner” donation option is also available for those not able to be present on race day for $25. 

Race participants, teams, supporters and even spectators can provide additional help for the children benefited by joining “Impact Special Kids”. This online fundraising community helps supporters turn their creative fundraising ideas into reality, encouraging members take part either as individuals or, similar to the actual race, as a team. 

Special Kids is a Christian therapy and nursing center for children with special needs. The Murfreesboro-based ministry started with one child in 1998, and has grown to serve over 4,500 children from 19 counties across middle Tennessee. For information about its mission and services, go to or call (615) 893-4892.

Contact Kristina Brown at for information about the Community Matters column.

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