FiftyForward kicked off National Volunteer Month with a special visitor, AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith. On Monday, Smith stopped by FiftyForward Knowles Senior Center where he met with FiftyForward CEO Sallie Hussey and FiftyForward Volunteer Engagement Director Robin Johnson as well as other staff members. One of the highlights of his visit was a roundtable discussion with AmeriCorps Senior volunteers serving as Foster Grandparents. The volunteers described their service in child learning centers and schools and explained how the program positively impacted their lives. They emphasized the importance of their individualized work with students and were also quick to point out how much they gained from serving as volunteers.


After the roundtable discussion, Smith presented two FiftyForward AmeriCorps Senior volunteers with the President’s Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their outstanding volunteer efforts.


“The President’s Volunteer Service Award continues to highlight the enduring spirit of service that unites Americans and transforms lives,” Smith said in a statement on Monday. “I am honored to present Ed and Eliza with the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award and recognize the tremendous work they do to support children and older adults in their community.”


FiftyForward Fresh/Meals on Wheels delivery driver, Ed Batsel, was honored for his 25 years of dedicated service and more than 4,000 hours. Bastel began volunteering with FiftyForward Meals on Wheels as a daily delivery driver in the Hillsboro Village community. After a brief pause during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Batsel was one of the first volunteers back on his route. He has continued to serve when recruiting and retaining volunteers has proven difficult and is a comforting, constant presence in the lives of those he serves.


Foster Grandparent Eliza Eules, who serves at Eighteenth Avenue Family Enrichment Center, was honored for her 26 years of service and over 23,000 hours. She mentors children as young as two years old and as old as the third grade. Eules has taught many children to read, and according to the teacher she assisted, she is why they can transition to the next class. Eules serves as both a mentor to the children and a support to other volunteers, staff, and community members.


FiftyForward was thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome Mr. Smith to Nashville to honor these two outstanding volunteers.


“FiftyForward is honored to nominate AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers Eliza Eules and Ed Batsel for Presidential Volunteer Service Awards in recognition of their lifetime of service to the Nashville community. Serving as a Foster Grandparent volunteer and FiftyForward Fresh Meals on Wheels delivery volunteer respectively, Eliza and Ed represent the hundreds of older adults who give their time and talent to help others through FiftyForward volunteer programs,” Johnson said in a statement on Monday. “We are tremendously grateful both for their service and for AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith for personally awarding these outstanding volunteers with their certificates.”


As Smith wrapped up his visit to FiftyForward to celebrate our AmeriCorps Senior volunteers, he spent a little time with the next generation of volunteer leaders. Smith visited with FiftyForward’s AmeriCorps member Lauren Maynor who serves our agency through a partnership with Hands on Nashville, and then had the opportunity to meet one of FiftyForward Fresh/Meals on Wheel’s youngest delivery volunteers.  Winnie Haugen and her mother, Ashley, are weekly delivery drivers, and their service is part of their family’s commitment to giving back to the community.


Our Foster Grandparent Program is recruiting volunteers for service in the 2023/24 school year. To learn more about the Foster Grandparents Program: