Donyelle McCord’s, 25, first time away from Nashville was her college experience at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky.
After graduating, the mother and future entrepreneur started as a 911 dispatcher in July of last year with dreams of starting her own business called Party with Marley, a party-hosting startup organization that focusing on throwing private and public parties for children.
GROWING UP DONNIE
Donnie, as most people call her, grew up in between East Nashville and North Nashville in the Bordeaux area. She graduated from Whites Creek High School in 2008.
In high school, she was a cheerleader, a member of the honor society, on the prom committee and more.
When it came time to graduate, her mother wanted her to stay close, but Donnie had her sights set outside of the state.
“I really wanted to go outside of Tennessee just to see what it’s like to venture out. I’ve never really left the city at all,” she said. “It was a big change going from here to Bowling Green.”
Upon her mother’s request, Donnie also applied for MTSU and was accepted but ultimately decided that Western Kentucky was going to be the next chapter for her.
“I’ve never really left the city at all, ” she said. “It was a big change going from here to Bowling Green.”
Donnie started out as an English major and always told herself she would become a teacher, but her perspective changed after working with the Salvation Army in WKU. With a year left on her route to graduation, she decided she wanted to change her major.
She said the best option for her, without having to add three years was to major in interdisciplinary studies.
Donnie hesitated about it at first.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to do interdisciplinary studies because it’s not a specific field, but my advisor was really helpful, and so my emphasis was behavior and social science so it kind of worked itself out,” she said.
She tacked on another year of school and graduated in 2014.
Donnie said she’s relieved to be out of school but definitely misses the college experience. She had her son, Kameron, 3, while she was at WKU and said she was ready to be done.
“It feels good to not have to go to class and have deadlines but I do miss the people, and I do miss the college experience. It was definitely something I wouldn’t trade. I think everyone should experience it,” she said.
the RETURN HOME
Donnie wasn’t planning on coming back to Nashville after graduation.
“I always said I would move to Texas or Florida or somewhere farther south, but I’m really glad I came back,” she said.”It’s a big change from 2008 to now. I get lost now trying to figure out where everything is.”
She said she loves this city and is really proud of the growth that’s been happening over the last few years.
After graduating from Western, Donnie was looking for jobs in town.
She wanted to work for a nonprofit but she couldn’t find the position or the pay she wanted.
She said one day she was searching the Internet and came across a job positing as a 911 dispatcher. She saw the qualifications and applied.
“The post had been open for a month, and I found it less than 24 hours before it closed. I think it was definitely meant to be for now,” she said. Donnie got the job, and started the training process.
“It’s different. It’s hectic,” she said modestly. She explained that the training is in-depth and extensive, taking almost a full year to complete with a different schedule every month.
She said some calls people asking for the number to the jail while other sometimes she having to give CPR instructions while trying to stay calm.
As a dispatcher, Donnie also works with officer which she said can be easier because she’s doing dealing people’s emotions, but she said things with the officers can get hectic as well.
“You have stay mentally sane and try to keep calm because it can get you riled up very quickly,” she said.
Donnie currently works from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
PARTY with MARLEY
Party with Marley is a party-hosting startup organization in which parents or sponsors buy tickets for children to attend a one night event themed party.
“I always go overboard with Kameron’s birthday parties just because he’s the only child,” she said.
She said because he’s the only child, he doesn’t really have anyone to play with unless they go to the park or hang with his cousins.
“It’s just good to bring the kids together,” she said also saying that Party with Marley is geared toward toddlers through preteens. “It’s also a good time for the parents to talk to each other and meet up and plan playdates.”
At times, she said she can get stressed out with the planning and preparation but after talking to her friends with children, she realized she’s good at finding the right things at the right places and the most important thing: bargains.
Her son Kameron’s middle name is Marley and that’s where the name comes from.
“Right now my main thing is just throwing parties for kids in general,” she said.”We had a masquerade ball last month. It just something for the kids to do. We had a photo booth, a balloon man, a DJ and food. The kids dressed up in masks, and it was really fun.”
Tickets were $10, and Donnie gave away ten tickets to help boost the event.
“We had about 25 kids at the Southeast Community Center, and we were suppose to have it on the rooftop but we got rained on so they let us move the party inside,” she said.
As her frist event, Donnie said most of the preparations and funding came out of her personal pocket with profit from ticket sales helping. For her next party, Donnie and a friend are creating a budget, setting up a bank account and getting brochures printed.
She said she plans on asking local businesses for sponsorships to help offset the cost.
Donnie, now living in Antioch, loves Nashville, but she thinks there are a lot of new opportunities for the community to grow together.
She said her main concern with Nashville was the youth and teenagers who don’t want to take part in things.
“There’s always room for growth,” she said. “There are some programs for kids after school but I think there should be more, and more involvement from the community.”
She said at first she didn’t know of too much going on but when she started looking, she was amazed at what the community offers, especially free events.
“When I’m off and I’m trying to find something for Kameron to do, I can easily go on a website like the Parent magazine and they have all these free activities for the kids and families,” she said.
She said she’s a big fan of the Parent magazine.
“I’m always looking for kid friendly things and in the back of those magazines they have a list of things like events,” she said.
“Working as a 911 dispatcher, especially in the summer months when the kids are out of school, you see more of the younger kids getting into things that they shouldn’t get into, and it’s because they’re not involved in things,” she said.
Donnie said if these kids were involved involved in more things, it would keep them out of trouble and out of things they shouldn’t be in.
When she isn’t a 911 dispatcher Donnie enjoys yoga, meditating, poetry and spoken word, reading and just relaxing. She also tries to make times for friends.
“I think friends are important. I know people say you make time for what you want to, but a lot of times, it gets away from you,” she said. “If I have an extra 30 minutes I try to visit or catch up with at least one or two of my friends, even if it’s just a phone call or a FaceTime.”