Tim Stewart, director of service-learning at Belmont University, and Leigh Holdsambeck, a graduate student in Belmont’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, are both recipients of a 2021 Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award. The awards were created and named for late Representative Harold Love, Sr. to celebrate and honor students, faculty and staff in higher education across Tennessee who have demonstrated exemplary service in their communities.
Each year, five awards are given to students, and five awards are given to faculty/staff, and each individual recipient receives a cash prize of $1,000. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission was given the charge to implement this recognition, and a task force of institutional and board representatives convenes annually to review submitted proposals.
Elected to the General Assembly in 1968, Rep. Love was known for his compassion and good humor. With the welfare of his community as his primary concern, Rep. Love went to any lengths to help a constituent in need, even if it meant giving from his own pocket. Because of his generosity in spirit and large heart, whenever he was present during a session of the House of Representatives, it was said, “Love is in the House!”
Stewart said as a child, he had the opportunity to meet Love, for whom the award is named. “I was so impressed by his kindness and his dedication to the community. It is truly an honor to be given this recognition associated with Representative Love and to follow in the footsteps of other great servant-leaders from Belmont who’ve received this recognition over the years,” he said. “It is very affirming of the work that I, and so many others, do to try and make our community and our world a better place.”
Stewart has served the community for 40 years in numerous capacities and job functions, including his current role at Belmont as well as community-oriented positions at Vanderbilt University and the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. In his role at Belmont, Stewart has initiated, engaged and built relationships with hundreds of organizations in the greater Nashville area and encouraged members of the community to help make Nashville an even better place to live and work through service. Likewise, his work with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), non-profit entities, state and local agencies, schools and individuals has provided an enormous number of opportunities to connect Belmont students to the Nashville community, thereby allowing them to utilize their own unique skill sets to best serve Nashville’s needs. These opportunities serve not only Nashville; they have also encouraged and mentored college students into lives of service and commitment, while simultaneously encouraging them to discover the world around them.
In a letter of recommendation, Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns commented that Stewart’s work at Belmont is among the strongest personal embodiments of the University’s motto “from here to anywhere.” He said, “His work continues to provide our students with practical, real-world examples of ways they can engage and impact their world through a life of service. He serves as a bridge between the local and University communities, and many individuals have been enriched through the services he has helped cultivate.”
A few highlights mentioned by his nominators include his work every fall to lead the MLK Jr. Joint Day of Service, a collaboration of eight Nashville Universities where their students come together to serve the city in honor of MLK Day; his efforts to have Belmont University attain the status of a voter-friendly campus; his help for students to recognize the vast number of opportunities to serve the community, leading to more than 45,000 hours of service being provided this past year by Belmont students; being instrumental in establishing Belmont’s annual Family Literacy Day more than 20 years ago; and his commitment to foster a robust connection between Belmont students and community members through his planning of the annual Belmont Service-Learning Fair, among others.
Leigh Holdsambeck was recognized by Belmont School of Nursing faculty as the unanimous nominee for this year’s Harold Love Community Service Award based on her consistent exemplary military and volunteer service, her servant spirit and her continuous pursuit of excellence in the discipline of nursing. A family nurse practitioner student at Belmont, Holdsambeck is also an Air Force flight nurse, an emergency room nurse and a member of an International Disaster Response Team. Her passion for caring for the physical, mental and spiritual needs of others has taken her across the globe. Over the past few years she has been privileged to serve at her church, a homeless ministry in Nashville, local COVID responses, a children’s hospital in Zambia, military installations throughout the Middle East and a COVID facility in New York City. Not one to seek the spotlight, untold hundreds, if not thousands of patients have benefitted from her quiet and selfless contributions locally and around the world. She leads by quiet example and inspires others to serve.
As one of her nominators, Burns wrote about Holdsambeck’s devout faith, top-notch academic performance and extraordinary leadership in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, demonstrated all while facing her second military deployment. He explained that while being stationed in Afghanistan, she worked ahead on assignments and used her passion for the care of military personnel and veterans to begin a research project to aid in addressing untreated mental health issues in her comrades. “Using her findings, Leigh anticipates dissemination to audiences who can leverage improvements not only in military primary care providers, but also in civilian primary care providers,” he wrote. “While her accomplishments during her time at Belmont have been amazing, her potential is even more incredible. The graduate nursing faculty is very excited to see where her servant heart, resilience and leadership ability take her.”