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

~January 2010~


I’ve been reading By the People: A History of Americans as Volunteers (Ellis and Campbell, 2005) and Social Work with Volunteers (Sherr, 2008) for a paper that is due in February.  As a federal employee, it seems that most of what we do dates back to some “history” – history of the organization, the field, the department.  But do you know about the history of volunteers?  What about the history of the profession as administrators of volunteers?

If I tell you about these two books, provided you with some type of cliff notes, you may not be inclined or curious to pick either of them up and browse through the pages.  But I will share with you that By the People will leave you with a sense of satisfaction that we are part of a long lineage of volunteers who helped make what we do everyday – a profession.  In Social Work with Volunteers, you may not know that social work broke away from volunteerism to start their own profession.  You may not know that Abraham Flexner, an authority on the study of professions presented a case on why social work was a profession or not.  This could serve as justification for the profession of administration of volunteers. 

The mission of volunteerism has not changed since our country was founded.  The profession of paid administrators of volunteers has really only been around since the 1960’s and it is ever changing. As the New Year begins, how will you change what you do as an administrator of volunteers?  What traditions will you carry on?  What new visions will you share?  History tells us that it may repeat.  I believe that history allows us to learn, grow, and improve only what has been done before us – to make things better.  There is a reason for everything and working in a federal agency, we know this so well.  Yet having the history behind the reason will only reinforce and motivate you to continue on. 

What will you do this year to move the profession forward? Read a few books?  Study best practices?  Write an article?  One day, someone will look at what you did in the field and appreciate it as a valuable piece of history and contribution to the field of volunteerism. 

Happy New Year! 

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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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