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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the federal government level.

~ April 2010 ~


While at the train station (and for once having down time of about all five minutes – a rarity), I browsed photos still trapped on my phone. There – in perfect memory – remained photos:  my nephew hours after he was born, my cats as kittens – sleeping, getting into trouble, and just being darn cute, perfect roses from my (now) fiancé, a dress I thought I wanted to buy which I sent to my best friend for an opinion, and the chair where my grandmother, Geraldine, gave me advice and reminisced of days past.

It is amazing how pictures truly do tell a story, resurface memories, make us laugh or cry, or just simply say “remember when.”  It is no different from the pictures we take of our work with volunteers – special events, fundraisers, the “in action” shots, luncheons , the endless smiles, the volunteer uniforms.  There is nothing more rewarding than looking back on photos from your time as an administrator of volunteers and remembering the hard work which brought in those great volunteers to fulfill the organization’s mission.  Photos give us the opportunity to look back – and at the same time look forward to new volunteers, new events, and new memories.

I encourage you be creative with recognizing volunteers.  The simple “thank you’s” over coffee and donuts and getting to know your volunteers is priceless.  But recognition goes beyond the annual luncheon, doesn’t it?  It goes all year long!  And don’t forget to encourage staff to acknowledge and thank volunteers for all they do…whether serving as a greeter or stuffing envelopes for that very important mailing.  Check out Energize’s website for recognition ideas - http://www.energizeinc.com/ideas.html or Thanks Company - http://www.thankscompany.com.  Both have good resources for recognizing volunteers.

Keep in mind that generations also wish to be recognized differently.  High school students wish to have that little gift while baby boomers may be content with a simple handwritten card of thanks.

Photos are a great source to aid in your recruitment materials.  Nothing speaks louder than “volunteer here” when a potential volunteer candidate sees volunteers in action, smiling, and having fun.  As my phone continues to fill up of photos, there is nothing more that I wish to be reminded of than happy times and build memories.  We can look back on the many volunteers we’ve worked with over the years and remember all the hard work that was put into recruiting, retaining, and recognizing them.

I wish you much success for another National Volunteer Recognition Week!

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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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