Faces of Success: Michelle Augusty
Think back to the first day of school. Maybe there was an uneasiness about transitioning to a new school or meeting a new teacher. Imagine how children adjusting to these scenarios must feel without a support system in place.
“It’s sad and heartbreaking when you see children show up on the first day, and they have nothing,” said Michelle Augusty. “Sometimes their parents aren’t even with them for registration.”
Augusty serves on United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Young Leaders Society (YLS) Steering Committee as vice chair. The committee aims at advocating in the community to help provide strategic direction and increase awareness of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville programs and initiatives like Stuff the Bus Days o f Action. Stuff the Bus is United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s largest volunteer opportunity of the year. It brings together corporate and community partners through a series of five opportunities (Collection Drives, Corporate Challenge, Field Day, Sort-a-Thon and Backpack Delivery). Augusty will always remember last year’s Backpack Delivery — her first United Way volunteer opportunity — at Tom Joy Elementary School.
“The first day seemed like such an easy task, but it meant so much to the children at Tom Joy Elementary School. It made them feel comfortable and confident.”
Last year, 870 volunteers — including Augusty — from 79 different corporations partnered to provide backpacks full of school supplies to 8,000 at-risk Nashville children at eight different Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, 18 United Way Family Resource Centers and 31 partner agencies through Stuff the Bus. Bridgestone served as presenting sponsor, and UPS was United Way’s delivery partner. Augusty is thankful she had the opportunity to get involved.
“It was incredibly rewarding and moving. At first, many of the children weren’t prepared to go into their environment ready to learn. When we gave them backpacks and walked them to their classrooms, it set the tone for the entire school year. It tells them their community cares and wants them realize their educational goals and dreams.”
From 2010-2015, Stuff the Bus has set a successful tone to the beginning of the school year for 28,600 at-risk Nashville students and 396 teachers by furnishing them with backpacks and school supplies. The supplies help students begin the year with confidence and dignity. They also allow teachers at benefiting schools to begin teaching students on the first day. Augusty has an even greater appreciation for this tremendous outpouring of support from the Nashville community, thanks to her involvement in Stuff the Bus. She’s hopeful it will address the educational needs of a greater number of vulnerable children this year.
“I encourage my colleagues to get out there and try it. Stuff the Bus demonstrates what is possible when United Way, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, corporate and community partners come together to improve community conditions; it is an extremely worthwhile experience.”
United Way is grateful for all of our effective and committed partners, as well as our dedicated volunteers. They help us improve conditions and change the lives of Nashville’s children in need through opportunities like Stuff the Bus Days of Action.
To get involved in Stuff the Bus Days of Action, please visit: unitedwaynashville.org/stuffthebus