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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.

~ April 2008 ~

Join a Local Volunteer Manager Association

April showers bring May flowers.  We go through highs and lows of our jobs as volunteer administrators just as we go through seasons of change. We have rainy days, sunny days, and of course, the big, unpredictable storms.

How many of you feel misunderstood in your job?  Do you often hear from non-volunteer managers “What do you do that makes you stressed?  You just work with volunteers.  How hard can that be?”  And the list goes on.  We wear many hats, put out many fires, and yet we continue to do amazing work.  I applaud all of you for taking the challenge to lead a workforce of our country’s finest members of society - volunteers.  The work we do is not easy.   At the end of the day, we wonder if anyone appreciates what we do.  Is there anyone who appreciates our work?  You bet.

After a week-long event in February, I felt a bit out of sorts.  I was tired, couldn’t concentrate, and didn’t feel like working.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.  But one of my volunteer administration colleagues offered the solution that the event was like planning a wedding.  “You plan for months,” she said. “You’re on this high before and during the actual event, but when it is over, you feel like there is nothing to look forward to.”  And she was right.

Soon after having this conversation, I attended one of my quarterly Pennsylvania Society of Directors of Volunteers in Healthcare meetings (PSDVS).  There was nothing that I needed more than to see my colleagues, grab a hug, and feel understood.   Even though I may only see these men and women once a quarter, their encouraging words and wisdom will keep me going until our next encounter.

I encourage my volunteer administration colleagues to participate in local, state, and national peer professional organizations – both in and outside your specialty field (healthcare, museums, prisons, parks, etc.).  While PSDVS is healthcare focused, I also participate in the Delaware Valley Association for Volunteer Administration (DVAVA).  I love this organization as it gives me a break from talking about infection control and all the regulations volunteers need in a hospital setting. DVAVA has members representing education, human services, and faith-based organizations.  The issues we share are universal – recruitment, retention, and recognition.  There are best practices in these settings that I adapt to the healthcare field.  Check to see if one of your local organizations will let you participate in their next meeting as a guest to see if you are interested before you commit. 

We are not betraying our specialty areas by participating in other professional organizations.  We are just expanding our knowledge, our practices, and our passion for volunteers.  Remember, there is strength in numbers.  The more our field can collaborate across disciplines, the more we professionalize the profession. 

While the flowers are getting ready to bloom, we shall start planting seeds for ourselves to grow professionally. 

Happy Spring!


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.

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