VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
Archives Search
Ask Connie
Boards & Committees
Calendar of Events
Local Government
Internet Resources
Recruitment and Organization of Volunteers
Reviews: Books and Resources
Tech Tips
Volunteer Training and Professional Development
Volunteer Program Evaluation Series
Who We Are
Email Us

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

~ August 2008 ~

Recognizing Our Volunteers

This month I was delayed in sitting down and writing my article.  I lost one of my most dedicated volunteers the end of June – June 29th to be exact – and I just couldn’t bring myself to writing anything.  But last night, while I was working on an assignment for one of my PhD courses, I realized that I needed photos of volunteers.   So out came my CDs of photographs from previous events and actions shots of volunteers doing their great work for our veterans.  In searching for photos, I came across a photo of Adele.  The photo was taken about 1 ½ years ago while she was working in my office.  She was with me every Thursday, along with her husband, Walt, when I started on March 7, 2005.  When I looked at her photo, she seemed so happy and I knew that she’s looking down on me and saying “Melissa, why are you not getting this done?”

So, this brings me to writing about recognition of our volunteers.

We know how short life can be.  Walt and Adele celebrated their 50th wedding and shortly after, Adele passed away.  I can see how someone tells us that life is too short.  Even 50 years is not enough time to spend with someone.  One of the challenges we face as a manager of volunteers is not recognizing our volunteers enough.  I just hosted a pizza party for the volunteers as a mid-week break.  They loved it.  Two of my volunteers working in our Community Living Center were recently recognized for the time and compassion they give to our residents.  Our office will call and send e-mails to volunteers we haven’t seen in a while, as well as send birthday cards.  Of course, our annual recognition luncheon is held in the Spring, but we need to do more. 

I feel like I don’t recognize our volunteers enough.  After Adele passed away, I keep wondering what else could I have done to let her know how much she was appreciated and how much I miss her.  I’m eating lunch more with the volunteers.  Adele would always tell me about her grandchildren.  She was so proud of them.  I loved having lunch with her on Thursdays.  It was probably the only time I ate lunch during the week.  She allowed me to breathe and take time for the volunteers and for myself.  Walt said she always worried about me. 

I attended Adele’s viewing and funeral.  This is a task I hate about my job.  Other than medical professions and hospice, our profession will never become accustomed to losing those we work with.  I don’t want to see my volunteers pass away when I’m their Director of Volunteers.  But while they are volunteering, I will do what I can to recognize them and let them know how much they are loved.



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 Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is melissa.heinlein@va.gov, MA, MS, CAVS. Melissa is the Chief of Voluntary Service at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, (215) 823-5868. Before venturing to the nonprofit sector, Melissa Heinlein spent time working for financial, IT, and pharmaceutical companies. With her business and marketing background, she took those skills and worked for Junior Achievement and structured a formal volunteer program at Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy before going into healthcare at Abington Memorial Hospital as the Assistant Director of Volunteer Resources. Her latest adventure is Chief, Voluntary Service at Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Melissa is past president and current board member of the Delaware Valley of Association for Volunteer Administration and current member-at-large for PSDVS, Eastern Chapter. She serves as an advisor for a grassroots organization “Spark the Wave” to encourage youth volunteerism. She holds a MA in Communications from West Chester University, MS in Administration of Human Services from Chestnut Hill College, and is a certified administrator of volunteer services through ASDVS. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Development at Marywood University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, writing, sports, and exploring the outdoors. She prides herself when she talks about interacting with volunteers 5-99 years old – horses and dogs included.


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.

Return to Top

A Service of MBA Publishing-A subsidiary of Macduff/Bunt Associates All materials copyright protected ©2011
821 Lincoln Street, Walla Walla, WA 99362 (509) 529-0244 FAX: (509) 526-5595 EMAIL: editor@volunteertoday.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/NLMacduff

The content of all linked sites are beyond the control Volunteer Today and the newsletter assumes no responsibility for their content.