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

~ February 2011~


Cold, dreary months bring a bout of anxiety, frustration, and desire for warmer months.  With longer commutes, canceled weekend plans, and mounds of snow and ice (for those of us who live in areas prone to Mother Nature’s cruelest weather), how do you stay upbeat in your personal and professional life? 

For one, look around.  Even on the cloudiest day, volunteers bring sunshine and hope.  Even today while my staff is conducting new volunteer interviews and the weather reporters are calling for a mixture of snow and ice, potential volunteers young and old are keeping their appointments.  One young lady came from New Jersey – a 40-minute drive to get to our Medical Center during inclement weather.  Another young gentleman graduated with a BA in History and wants to record stories of our Veterans.  Still, trekking through slush and mounds of snow, he kept his appointment.
What are you doing for your current volunteers (who aren’t snow birds heading to Florida for the winter)?  Because of last year’s snow, our themed luncheon was “Bella on the Beach” and we gave away colorful beach bags and leis.  Even during January and February months, brighten your volunteers’ day with a fun e-card, phone call, or a small inexpensive event where volunteers can bring in their favorite winter dish. 
And what about you?  How do you keep yourself motivated?  And your staff?  (Note: Talking to family, friends, and colleagues in California or Florida does not help.).  Here a few ways to keep you motivated and cheerful during these months:

  1. Go to the movies…with friends or by yourself
  2. Re-energize with a day of inexpensive pampering  (as a DVS, we are always frugal with funds)
  3. Drink more water – it makes you feel happy
  4. Bring a plant to work
  5. Listen to music
  6. Buy silly socks or slippers
  7. Change your alarm clock tune to something fun
  8.  Color, build a lego city, play a game you once played as a childballoons
  9. Make someone’s day
  10. De-clutter
  11. Build a fort
  12. Take a nap on a Sunday afternoon
  13. Write a love letter
  14. Hug someone
  15. Bake for no reason

It is important for you to stay motivated and refreshed during months that seem to get the best of us.  By taking care of yourself, you take care of your staff and volunteers.

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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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