$10,000 Award Gives Memphians Chance To Enjoy Unique Volunteering Experience



  • Volunteer Odyssey

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from popular seafood packaging company Chicken of the Sea, five job-seeking Memphians will get a chance at a unique volunteer experience and possibly even a new gig.

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Chicken of the Sea is providing $10,000 Great American Gratitude Awards to 100 organizations and individuals who have contributed to the progression of their communities. Volunteer Odyssey, a Memphis-based agency that meshes job-seeking individuals with local nonprofits, is among the recipients.

Volunteer Odyssey is using its $10,000 award to launch “Odyssey Forward,” a program that will enable five job seekers to volunteer for seven different organizations over the course of seven days, blogging daily about each experience. The unique program is designed to distinguish them from competitors in the job market, increasing the likelihood of them securing employment.

“We know this program isn’t for everyone, and we are looking for a specific group of people," said Volunteer Odyssey’s Amanda Chisholm. "We need people who are go-getters and comfortable with sharing their experience but also people who are looking to move forward in the life and their career.”

Odyssey Forward differs from previous Volunteer Odyssey endeavors. Instead of welcoming individuals who are fresh out of college or new to Memphis and looking to volunteer and find a job, the organization is looking for applicants with a college degree and three to five years of job experience who don’t mind documenting their experiences and sharing them with the public.

Applicants are asked to fill out a detailed form online, including a 250- to 400-word prelude, by July 11th. A committee will peruse the applications and select five out of the bunch. The people chosen will be announced on Monday, July 21st.

During their seven-day journey, the five selected participants will receive assistance. They’ll be assigned a mentor, a one-on-one life coach, be paired with a Volunteer Odyssey alumnus, and receive media exposure.

"Our main goal is to help these five people find a perfect place to volunteer," Chisholm said. "We are also hoping that they can use this experience to find a great job in Memphis. We want these five participants to help change the community but also change their path."

Since March 2013, 20 participants have collectively donated more than 1,000 hours of labor to local nonprofits. By doing this, volunteers are able to obtain community service credit and also develop relationships with associations that may become future employers.

For more information on Volunteer Odyssey, click here.

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