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

~ November 2012~


In the midst of anticipating Hurricane Sandy to hit, we started to put our action into place.  We notified paid staff to alert their volunteers to not come in and to stay home.  We left messages on our kiosk, our door, our voicemail recording.  We notified our own office volunteers and made plans for our coordinator for the transportation program to take the schedule home with him in case he needs to make phone calls to cancel.  We notified our cafeteria staff that if volunteers do come in, they will not have access to get their meal ticket from our office, but to grant them a meal anyway.  I also took home my master volunteer phone schedule just in case I have to make phone calls. 

In situations like these, how many of you have a plan in place?  If you don’t, it’s never too late to write one.  You have plans for internal emergencies, but what about with Mother Nature?  Do you serve on your emergency preparedness committee to represent the volunteers?

In the field of volunteer administration, we are constantly planning for something.  We plan for what could go wrong with an event, with a volunteer assignment, with a volunteer – we anticipate the “what ifs.”  So why wouldn’t you plan for an emergency?

wheel of steps in emergency preparedness

If you have not yet had to activate your emergency plan, you’re lucky.  Perhaps as you write your annual report, it would be a good time to review your emergency plan.  Has anything changed? Does the organization wish for you to do something differently with volunteers?  What kind of training do your volunteers need in case of an emergency?

Each September for the last two years, I invited the local American Red Cross chapter to come in during our in-service and speak to volunteers about emergency preparedness.  I also include emergency preparedness blurbs in our newsletters. 

While the calm is always before the storm, it does help to have a plan in place.  Because when an emergency does strike, your plan will keep you on track.  Less stressed?  Perhaps not, but you will be able to keep your focus and volunteers will follow your lead. 

*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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