by Barb Neligan
Twenty-three Nashville Human Rights Campaign (HRC) members spent Saturday, Sept., 17 sorting books, clearing storage areas, and sprucing up Robertson Academy as part of the 14th Annual Hands On Nashville Day.
During Hands on Nashville Day, more than 1,500 individuals and groups from all over the city paint, clean, and repair dozens of metro public schools.
HRC volunteers started the day by unpacking dozens of boxes of books and categorizing them by subject on the student library shelves. They worked under the guidance of Suzanne Bradford, project coordinator for the HRC team and Debra Thompson, Coordinator for the Metro Nashville Public Schools Gifted and Talented Program and principal of Robertson Academy where the program is based.
“Getting these books that have been in boxes for two years unpacked and organized will directly help our kids. It provides another resource they can use.” Thompson said.
Once the books were arranged neatly on their shelves, HRC members cleared unused furniture and supplies from the gym and cleaned it.
“This will give our pre-schoolers another clean, safe space to run and play,” said Thompson. From there, the group called upon their decorating skills to design teacher and student friendly work areas.
Project coordinator Bradford gave the level of participation high marks.
“We had a fabulous turnout with a lot of new people getting involved.” She added that the day also served to build relationships between the GLBT community and the rest of Nashville .
“An effort like this is so important in helping people outside of the GLBT community understand that we are their neighbors and the vast majority of us want the same things they want for our city. We all want better schools and safer neighborhoods.”
John Ogg, HRC Nashville Membership Coordinator agreed.
“I think it’s very important for us to become involved in the larger community and this is one way for us to do that.”
According to HRC member LaRhonda Williams the day was both rewarding and fun.
“I wanted to support both Hands On Nashville and HRC. Plus, how can you not have fun sorting books?”
The youngest participant, Bella Costanza worked alongside her mothers Armanda Costanza and Marissa Ide to tidy up the school. Bella who identified herself as being “five, but almost five and a half” gave the day high marks. “I’m having fun,” she said.
The final indicator of success came from Principal Thompson. At the end of the day, she gave HRC’s efforts an A+.
“It made me want to cry to see everyone pitching in to help,” she said.