by Leah Lomotey-Nakon

Kearstin Patterson is the Director of IT&S Communication & Design at HCA. What you may not know about Kearstin is that she serves as a board member for Safe Haven Family Shelter.

Kearstin also leads the organization responsible for all the volunteers that help make the Iroquois Steeplechase's race day a reality, in turn raising nearly $10 million for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. She serves with the The Nashville Symphony’s Crescendo Club to help bring a musical voice and outlet to our community. And, she volunteers with Hands On Nashville and the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Kearstin lends her marketing and communications experience to the community by planning events, recruiting new members, helping with media relations and creating media collateral and content for these nonprofits.In addition to her service in the community, Kearstin is involved in volunteer service on HCA’s corporate campus through blood drives, HCA’s Hope Fund, and Caring for the Community.

Kearstin began volunteering in Nashville with Safe Haven Family Shelter eight years ago. As an exemplary volunteer and board member, we asked Kearstin a few questions about her experiences.

What about the mission of Safe Haven Family Shelter compelled you to serve?

There are so many great organizations representing the city of Nashville and Middle Tennessee that it is difficult to decide to which you should dedicate your time. Safe Haven has 30 years of experience in the changing field of family homelessness providing proactive programs, evidence-based practices and trauma informed care. They increasingly play a leadership role in education and advocacy to address this community-wide issue. Safe Haven is the only shelter-to-housing program of its kind in Middle Tennessee that accepts the entire homeless family, keeping the family together. Their housing first model, coupled with wrap around services is designed to give families the necessary tools to achieve lasting self-sufficiency, stable employment and secured housing. Unlike other similar organizations, Safe Haven provides comprehensive services (budgeting courses, interview training, education etc.) that empower families to achieve lasting self-sufficiency and break the cycle of homelessness, rather than simply addressing their immediate needs of shelter (which they also do).

This long-term and educational approach is why Safe Haven’s mission resonates with me.

Why is volunteer service important to you?

I used to view volunteering as a chore required for graduation or to get a new job until I discovered a passion that matched my personal interests. I eventually saw an opportunity to really make a difference in the nonprofit sector and bridge the gap. For me, it became very important to give back to this community that has been so good to me.

"I believe that all people have the potential to impact their community. Whether it’s big or small, time or money, we all having something to give."

Every volunteer experience provides an opportunity to see your impact and to be inspired. You add to the lives of those you help and they add to yours without you even realizing it.

What would you tell other employees about why they should consider volunteering?

I think each person has to make their own decision for which organization they’d like to volunteer. There are many factors to consider when making that choice; the mission of the organization, the networking opportunities, and the impact on the community. Part of finding the right volunteer opportunity is being honest about what you hope to learn and accomplish.

"Whatever the reason, you should find a cause that lights you up. Volunteers work for passion. Period."

If you are not passionate enough about the vision of an organization, you can’t be of any help. But, if you are passionate about meeting like-minded people, exploring what the world outside is really up to and learning more than ever by giving while you receive, then volunteering is for you.

Volunteering is one of the best ways I know of to make a difference in your community. Whatever your passion, however you get involved, volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact on the world. But, volunteering can also be a great way to develop skills, learn more about career options, make friends, garner new professional contacts, get exercise, spend time outdoors/with animals/with kids, or even just shake up your routine.

If in the process of meeting your personal and professional goals, you are also serving as an effective volunteer, helping to meet the goals of your particular volunteer project or role, and helping to move an organization's mission forward, it's a win-win situation.

If you would like to support the mission of Safe Haven Family Center, contact