We had the good fortune of connecting with Dannon Eubanks and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dannon, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
The way that Volunteer Odyssey helps the Memphis community is two-fold.

As a volunteer center, we support local nonprofits. Our work extends from there and differs from other volunteer centers as we provide wrap-around support for our partners. We onboard partners in a way that focuses on the quality of their programs, relationship building, and ensuring we are capable of meeting their needs. We vet our partners in a multi-step process that allows us to learn about their mission, their goals, and their needs. We value quality over quantity.

Volunteer Odyssey wants every person in Memphis to have had a volunteer experience that fits their schedule, matches their interests, and makes them feel valued. We achieve this by having strong relationships with our partners. When a volunteer has an experience they enjoy, they have seen the second half of our work come to life. We support our communities by promoting volunteerism so anyone can access the benefits of service.

Volunteering can take you to parts of your community you haven’t seen. It shows you what communities are most in need of, and it teaches you about yourself. When you volunteer, whether you’re packing food boxes, pulling weeds, organizing cabinets, or walking dogs, you are gaining a deeper understanding of your personal interests. You are also pouring your time and talents back into the community. Every hour volunteered contributes $26.02 into the Memphis community.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Volunteer Odyssey was started at intersection of two ideas. One was a Doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and the other was the concept that volunteerism should be accessible and enjoyable. This mashup came to life when our Founder & CEO felt firsthand the difficulties of finding and signing up for high quality volunteer experiences. She then travelled the country researching and learning about volunteer centers before coming home to Memphis to put it to the test. Volunteer Odyssey originated as a job-seekers program, allowing individuals to try out different nonprofits with the hopes of making connections or finding personal interests that would lead to a job. As we evolved, we kept the idea of matching individuals to nonprofits, with a heavier focus on nonprofit volunteer programs. One of the lessons we’ve tried to carry through in our work is the idea that volunteerism should feel the slightest bit selfish. While the concept of volunteerism, and the act of carrying it out, is selfless, the activity you are doing should be enjoyable. It might be physically or even mentally challenging. It might push you outside of your comfort zone either because of where the nonprofit is located, or the clients you’re serving, or just because it’s something new. With all that, you can still enjoy it. And if you enjoy it, you’re much more likely to come back. A repeat volunteer is a nonprofit’s dream. We value the drop in volunteer because they are donating their time and talents just the same. A repeat volunteer shows investment and shows potential to become a lead volunteer, an ambassador, a donor, and maybe one day an employee.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would have them visit some of Memphis’ charms- the Wolf River, Shelby Farms Park, the Memphis Botanic Garden, and Memphis Rox Climbing. We wouldn’t miss a show at the Overton Park Shell and we’d also suggest making the trek out to the Germantown Performing Arts Center. They would definitely need to eat some BBQ, but we would also invite them to eat at Inspire Community Cafe, a yummy cafe that creates meaningful living wage jobs, healthy and delicious food and a gathering place for local change makers to connect and collaborate for a more just and compassionate community. A trip to Memphis is not complete without a visit to Crosstown Concourse where they can pick up a treat from Lucy J’s bakery, which intentionally hires parents who are or have transitioned out of a period of homelessness. Their belief is that all people should be able to earn a living wage and support their families. Of course we wouldn’t end the trip without having them volunteer at some of our most beloved nonprofit partners. To give some range, we’d suggest Catholic Charities of West TN, WYXR, and Memphis Animal Services.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The nonprofits in Memphis. Our work is only possible due to the organizations we work alongside. Volunteer Odyssey partners with agencies that work in every facet of our city, closing gaps in resources, building community where one lacks, and meeting the most urgent needs. From a new radio station to one of the largest city parks to the daily food missions, our nonprofits ensure our city and our neighbors will thrive.

Website: volunteerodyssey.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/volunteerodyssey

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VolunteerOdyssey

Other: serve.volunteerodyssey.com/search

Image Credits
Latino Memphis, CCWTN, International Paper, WYXR 91.7 FM, Overton Park Shell

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.