A dollar bill doesn’t mentor a child, it’s the power of people physically showing up who make a real difference. Local nonprofit, Volunteer Odyssey, is no stranger to this ideology, which is why their mission is to create a pathway to volunteerism that enriches our lives and communities. The organization’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr, Sarah Petschonek, was raised in a family who introduced her to the importance of volunteerism at a young age, but it wasn’t until later in life that her idea for Volunteer Odyssey came to fruition. “After finishing graduate school and taking one of those ‘life is too short’ kind of jobs, I quit and went on a 30-day volunteer journey. I spent a month volunteering with 30 different nonprofits in 30 days. This experience really opened my eyes to all of the amazing opportunities in Memphis. It also proved how difficult it was to find those opportunities, as well as how hard it was for nonprofits to recruit volunteers. That’s where the idea for Volunteer Odyssey was formed” explains Petschonek.
Fast forward to 2020, Volunteer Odyssey’s platform has galvanized volunteers in Memphis to provide over 215,000 hours of service and more than 40,000 acts of service- resulting in almost $5,000,000 dollars of economic impact! The organization’s commitment to providing quality experiences in addition to using innovative volunteer programming to ensure everyone has access to volunteerism are what make it unique. One of the ways Volunteer Odyssey raises funds to support their efforts is through its flagship event, Mix-Odyssey. Hosted at Memphis Botanic Gardens, upon entering Mix-Odyssey guests are given a passport which throughout the evening will guide them on a journey to visit 7 different mixologists who will wow them with their creative cocktail concoctions. At the end of the night, judges will award 1st and 2nd place, and guests get to decide which mixologist goes home with People's Choice! This year’s participating mixologists come from notable restaurants such as Ecco on Overton Park, Lucky Cat Ramen, Hog & Hominy, Art Bar at Crosstown Concourse, Bari, PO Press and 3rd & Court Diner. In addition to food, drink, and music, guests can visit a “fortune teller” to predict where they will volunteer in the future using tarot cards.
Although there will be no shortage of fun to be had at this year’s event, Petschonek remains focused on the mission critical benefits of having so many new faces and potential volunteers in the room. “Our nonprofits are dramatically understaffed when it comes to volunteers. There are kids who have been waiting for mentors for years. There are seniors who need to have their meals delivered. There is a tremendous need in Memphis. When people learn that Volunteer Odyssey exists and what we do, they’re excited to learn that we’re a resource. Mix-Odyssey is a great way to get people engaged so we can connect them to their ideal volunteer opportunities.”
To purchase tickets for Mix-Odyssey 2020, visit volunteerodyssey.com, which will direct you to the event’s Eventbrite page. More information can also be found on the organization’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. Those who cannot attend Mix-Odyssey, but would like help being connected to their ideal volunteer experience can email Volunteer Odyssey’s Volunteer Experience Manager, Keji Kujjo, at Keji@volunteerodyssey.com to learn more.
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