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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the local level, including information for cities, counties, boards, commissions, and districts.

~ December 2007 ~ Topics

City of Plano Employees Volunteer to Ring in the Holidays


How do your seniors stay active? Do they help with Senior Center functions?

"It's not just about being active participants - it's also about being active volunteers," says one of Plano's seniors.

In our active Senior Center we have over 150 volunteers who give their time to help others at the Center and in the community, contributing 13,829 volunteer hours this past year. These hours represent a dollar value of $258,602.30 to Plano.

Many activities simply would not exist without committed volunteers who provide the extra manpower that allows us to offer additional classes and services to the community. Staff can set up and coordinate classes and events, but cannot be everywhere at once to make them happen. This is what the volunteers do - they make it happen. "The volunteers made a positive impact on Plano's seniors, giving them an opportunity to have fun, feel valued, learn, stay fit and share with others," explained Dell Kaplan, Senior Center Supervisor.

Volunteer greeters and front desk assistants provide information to the 300-400 daily visitors and callers.
Volunteer librarians stock books, videos and magazines and help find that special book or explain how to use the Optelec ClearView magnifier to patrons with vision problems.
Need a gift? The Yellow Rose volunteers will show you what the local senior crafters have in their shop.
Hungry? The 42 Snack Bar volunteers make and serve over 1,000 lunches monthly, costing diners as little as $1. Morning coffee, snacks and a delicious lunch are prepared by some, while other volunteers gather baked products from local supermarkets to share with the senior community.

One all around volunteer, helping in the kitchen, greeting visitors, singing and even knitting says, "I enjoy my work and being with everyone. I lost my husband a while back and everyone has been so supportive and helpful. I just go where I'm needed."

Seniors are leading active and more independent lives because Senior Net volunteers have taught them how to access the Internet and send emails to friends and family.

Performing groups sing and dance at senior facilities in the community.

SeniorKnit volunteers furnished over 2,200 handmade items to medical facilities in the area, from blankets to baby hats, sweaters and booties.
Social, Fitness and Educational volunteers organize weekly dances, lead exercise classes and teach defensive driving.
Social groups headed up by senior volunteers include the Red Hat Honeys, Pacesetters and Amity Club--they give members a chance to socialize with old and new friends.
Volunteers coordinate bingo games, bridge tournaments, and golf and bowling events.
AARP volunteers trained in tax aide help seniors fill out and file their Income Tax forms annually.
Plano Senior Center Advisory Council volunteers serve in an advisory capacity to staff, conducting fundraisers to buy equipment for the center and present fun activities for seniors such as spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts.
Retired and semi-retired people utilize the life and work skills and knowledge they have developed over the decades by volunteering at the Plano Senior Center.

The diverse range of opportunities gives anyone 50 and older a choice of activities appropriate to their age, interests and capabilities. Many volunteers are busier now than they were before retiring, volunteering at hospitals, mentoring children, and helping City staff accomplish more with less cost to taxpayers. They are helping raise grandchildren, and some are still working in order to maintain independent lifestyles. But still they volunteer, their goal being to give back to the community what they have gained in life. They are committed, dependable and reliable, touching lives and helping others wherever they go. The kitchen volunteer coordinator says, "Volunteering gives me an outing I enjoy and the camaraderie of helping where I can. It gets me out of the house and a way to be with my friends."

If you would like to share what seniors are doing for your community and how you think it will change when the Baby Boomers start retiring, please send me an email at robinp@plano.gov. Thanks, Robin

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City of Plano Employees Volunteer to Ring in the Holidays

For the past 10 years, City of Plano employees have rung in the holidays, literally, through the City's Workplace CARES program. City employees have donated time and elbow grease to ring the Salvation Army's kettle bell at the Collin Creek Mall.

Each year Workplace CARES coordinates with the Plano Salvation Army's local Kettle Coordinator to make sure the two JCPenney store entrances have bellringers the four Saturdays before Christmas. City of Plano employees ring in two-hour shifts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

While the Salvation Army provides the kettle, bells and aprons, it is the City employees who provide the smiles and enthusiasm.

"It is hard to express all the personal satisfaction I get from bellringing each year," says City employee Paula Greer. Paula rings the bell each year with her grandson who is in high school. "This is a special, one-on-one time for me to share with my grandson. I feel it is imperative that we pass on values such as this to our children and grandchildren and I could not imagine a more rewarding way!"

While Paula rings the bell with her grandson, some employees team up with coworkers or other family members to ring the bell. Married City employees Susan and Chester Helt have rung the bell as a couple since they married several years ago. Parks and Recreation employee John Knight rings with his two sons each year. Then there is Fire Department employee Calvin Cook who rings each year in character, dressed as his alter-ego Patches the Clown. Fire Department employee Peggy Harrell rings with Sparky the Fire Dog.

"Watching people walk from the parking lot toward the door and hear the bell ringing and then see that it is Sparky the Fire Dog who is actually wearing the apron and ringing the bell is really fun," said Peggy. "Most folks stop right there and dig out some money to put into the kettle. It is tough to walk by Sparky and not smile and donate!"

The City employees have collected several thousands of dollars during their shifts as bellringers, breaking their record each year.

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Short description of this series: "Organizations are successful at achieving their mission when volunteers and staff are a team. Evaluate the elements of the relationships in your organization and outline the strategies to make things better."

Purchase this package by clicking on either of the following links, which will redirect you to a secure shopping site. Evaluation Only $25.00 and Evaluation & Consultation Package - Best Deal! $99.95 (Resource List not available on this package.)

The author of the Local Government Volunteer Programs page is Robin Popik. Robin has been the Volunteer Resources Supervisor for the City of Plano for over 17 years. Under her direction, the Volunteer Resources Group now has grown to encompass 3 programs. The original program VIP has grown to approx. 5000 volunteers per year, with an average of 1000 individuals a month, with a value of over $1.2 million a year. The program has been recognized as a model and has won numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Volunteer Administration, the Civic and Leadership group award and the Texas Governors Leadership Award. Robin is President of Collin County VOAD (Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster) and is the Citizen Corp Council representative for Plano. She has been a trainer and has written articles on many topics related to Volunteer Management. She is the past president the National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government, and member of ARNOVA, an international membership organization dedicated to fostering through research an understanding of the nonprofit sector, philanthropy and volunteerism. She has a Masters in Management from the University of Texas at Dallas and a certification in Volunteer Management from the University of Colorado, and in the past few years, has taking numerous courses in Emergency Volunteer Management including FEMA courses: 1) Emergency Operation Center; 2) Incident Command Systems; 3) Donations Management; 4) Volunteer Management in Disaster; 5) CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Program, 6) Public Information Officer course (4/04) and Integrated Emergency Management Course at EMI (8/04), NIMS 700, 100, and 200 and American Red Cross Shelter Management.


The National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) is an association of administrators, coordinators and directors of volunteer programs in local government. Its purpose is to strengthen volunteer programs in local government through leadership, advocacy, networking and information exchange. NAVPLG is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties and is seeking affiliate status with the National League of Cities. Cost is $20 for individuals and $75 for group local government membership. An affiliate membership is $25 and is intended for those who are not local government members but may have an interest in the group. There is a quarterly newsletter, national network, and access to NACo's Volunteerism Project. For more information contact Robin Popik, who is a Volunteer Resource Supervisor. She can be reached by phone at 972-941-7114. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.

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