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| LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER
This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the local level, including information for cities, counties, boards, commissions, and districts.
A Dynamic Volunteer Program Takes Cooperation and Work
The City of Plano, Texas, has enjoyed the benefits of a dynamic volunteer program for two decades. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but the two that stand out are: 1) cooperation from staff and, 2) hard work by the volunteer team. Recruiting volunteers does not seem to be the problem here in Plano; we have found that most people volunteer at some time in their lives. Whether or not a person wishes to provide volunteer services is not based on demographics, income, or education. Rather, the deciding factors are commitment to family and job constraints. Volunteering time seems to depend on where people are in their life cycle.
Cooperation, dialogue, and rapport between the volunteer manager and staff seem to be what is essential. Conversations on assessing needs, creating job descriptions, and placing volunteers have to demonstrate a direct benefit to the employee supervising the volunteer as well as to their department.
Since municipal government volunteer programs are not meant to take the place of government, but rather to enhance services while building a spirit of community, it is our job as volunteer managers to help identify where volunteers can and should be placed. With a shared vision of sustainable communities, city employees can lead volunteers in a myriad of activities that will help make your city a better place to live, work, and play. We need to help staff see that volunteers can improve the quality of life by:
In Plano, volunteers have proven to be a valuable resource for most City departments. When evaluating the need for additional personnel, many department heads consider the use of volunteers first to help with work overload, events, and special projects. Here are some steps to consider when:
Since we are not a non-profit organization dependent on volunteers, we have the added duty of reminding staff that volunteers do add value to our workforce. Employees and volunteers working together are our greatest resources. We, as volunteer managers, exist to serve both our internal and external customers, and the cooperation we give each other will lead to productive and retentive volunteers.
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 Disater) 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.
ASSOCIATION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER MANAGERS SEEKS MEMBERS
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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