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Do you have a favorite art work at Cheekwood, or, if not, a favorite exhibition that Cheekwood has hosted? Is there a reason you like it?I really enjoyed Diana Al-Hadid: Sublimations art pieces ( May 24, 2019 – September 1, 2019). Her work is always so profound, and seeing it hosted in the beautiful gardens was striking.

In what ways have you been involved as a volunteer with Cheekwood so far?My biggest thing is Holiday LIGHTS! I did so many nights and consecutive shifts I lost count! (If you remember me for one thing I hope it’s that!) Since Holiday LIGHTS ended, I’ve done a lot of Cheekwood outreach booths like at farmer’s markets and fairs. I also got to enjoy Blooms at a booth during the Holi festival and a booth during a Wellness 360 event. Soon I want to get involved in the TOTS! program.

Why did you become a volunteer?I began volunteering last year because I was going through a very hard time. After a series of traumatic life events, I needed to find a way to spend my time doing something positive and distracting. I volunteered at Covid testing sites and food pantries, but when I finally started doing Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood that’s when everything changed. I found a place that made me happy and healed my soul. I am so grateful for Cheekwood.

What have you enjoyed the most about your volunteer experience?Cheekwood is a safe and happy environment. I know that whenever I’m having a bad week or going through a tough time, volunteering my time at Cheekwood always brightens my day. The guests are kind, the volunteers, staff, and docents are helpful, and the gardens are beautiful.

Is there a funny or inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience?During the Holiday LIGHTS months, I started dressing up as Mrs. Claus or wearing reindeer antlers. I had a few kiddos share their Christmas wishes with me which was adorable! I specifically remember a tiny girl named Harper who was dressed as an elf! Her mother let me hold her and she cried when I tried to give her back! Almost snatched her up to the North Pole with me .

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Cheekwood?Go for it! Cheekwood is a happy low-stakes volunteer opportunity with a lot of different options to fit your interests and perks. I’d love to meet you and volunteer alongside you!

Are you interested in volunteering at Cheekwood? Click here to learn more!Tell us a little about yourself and your background.I am a twenty-something-year-old Kurdish-American writer. I moved back to Nashville after living abroad (South Korea) for a year on a Fulbright grant and currently work as an IT Delivery Manager and freelance poet. I also have a background in teaching elementary school-aged children and in microbiological research.

What are your favorite hobbies, activities, or interests?Outside of volunteering, I enjoy figure skating, aerial silks, writing poetry, and traveling! I like to stay active and love doing sports and activities outdoors like kayaking, hiking, trail running, and swimming.

What is your favorite garden or area at Cheekwood and why?I love the Sculpture Trail! Especially the Lady Hare sculpture. It’s such a striking thing to see in the wooded area. Refreshing and shady on a hot day, yet cool and a little spooky on a cold night.

What is your favorite room or area in the Historic Mansion & Museum, Frist Learning Center, or Botanic Hall? Why?The Loggia is my favorite room in the mansion. There are always spectacular visuals in there.Cheekwood has wonderful volunteers, and this week we want to spotlight our incredible volunteer, Pel.

Pel joined Cheekwood as a volunteer during Holiday LIGHTS and has not stopped sharing her love of Cheekwood with guests ever since. She has embraced so many assignments at Cheekwood, and can be counted on when we have last minute needs. She truly embodies the spirit of service and we are so happy she’s part of our team!

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