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

~ May 2012~



There are days when we feel we can take time to get everything done that is on our to do list.  Phones are minimal.  E-mail is at a steady pace where you can respond to each one.  Volunteers are asking less and walk-ins are few and far between.  These days are ideal and they don’t come frequently enough.  But when they do come, they are embraced like magic.

Then, there are the “Calgon, take me away days.”  Otherwise considered roller coaster rides and you never get off.

It was a quiet Monday – all for about 30 minutes.  Then the phone rang with terrible news about one of my volunteers – a young, vibrant 23-year old mother of 2 who perished with her family in a fire that morning.  This news stayed on our minds and hearts throughout the day.

How do we recover?  We don’t . . .

In between, we thank the volunteers for their time and talent as we are trying hard to kick off National Volunteer Week knowing our sad news.  In between, we receive requests for last minute volunteers, requests for applications, interviews to schedule, and calls to the caterer to finalize our headcount for Friday’s special recognition luncheon. 

We continue on . . .

We received word that one of our newest college students in the pharmacy department was offered a part-time job for the summer and we give him a high five.  What a great way to demonstrate effectiveness knowing that we recruited from the right school as well as interviewed, oriented, and matched this same volunteer to the inpatient pharmacy for his assignment. 

That same afternoon, we received word that one of our older volunteers, who had a stroke in early March, would never go home and he has signs of early dementia.  The same volunteer who greeted me every Monday and Friday mornings with “Heyya, kid” and we’d exchange stories of the Philadelphia Flyers or Phillies.  This same volunteer may not know my name down the road.  But I continue to see him almost every day and tell him how much he is missed and loved.

We continue . . .

We received compliments from departments who treasure their volunteers and thank us for matching the right volunteer for them.

The emotions we experience throughout a day’s work keeps me speechless.  At most, I reflect more internally.  But how do we cope? How do we get off the rollercoaster ride?  How do we mourn?  How do get others to understand instead of just moving on?

I await the days of quiet magic…and then the world of volunteerism is perfect.

*The author of the Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is melissa.heinlein@va.gov, MA, MS, CAVS. Melissa Heinlein-Storti is the Chief, 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 member of the Delaware Valley of Association for Volunteer Administration.  She is a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Directors of Volunteers in Healthcare, Inc. and held positions as education chair (state and local), vice-president (state), and member-at-large).  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 AHVRP. She is currently a doctoral candidate with her PhD in Human Development at Marywood University. She also contributed to the first textbook on volunteer administration.  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.

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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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