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

~ September 2012~


Well, the summer has wound down.  The high school student volunteers are gearing up for their school year. The college student volunteers will be trickling in one by one as they finalize their fall semester schedules.  I’m not quite sure where the summer goes.  I had an aggressive schedule of to-do’s over the 8-9 week period after we complete our June volunteer interviews.  (Note:  We do not interview July and August due to our to-do list, to give ourselves a breather, and focus on our high school program).

It has been an enjoyable summer minus the to-do list that I kept adding to.  The high school students added something extra this year.  I’ve been trying to figure out what it is.  It could be that I stressed in the very beginning (during the interview and orientation) that any student who has mom or dad contact me on their behalf will have one hour deducted for each time this happens.  Perhaps it was the fact that this year’s students wowed me.  They were going to Brown, Yale, and Princeton for a week here and a week there for writing, math, or leadership sessions.  Perhaps…they were just good, energetic kids who felt it was their social responsibility to give back.

Towards the end of August, we were down to maybe 5-6 students who wanted to stay right up until school started.  One brought her parents in on her last day to give them a tour after her shift. I told Mom and Dad how proud they should be of their daughter and that we hope she’ll come back over her breaks.  Another student told me he was going to “represent the volunteer department well, be a great student and really pay attention.”  “Most importantly,” he said, “I will encourage them to volunteer.”

For the first time in my 14 years as an administrator of volunteers, I had two students who were campaigning to be the next youth leadership volunteer to assist with high school interviews and lead new volunteer orientation for the students next year.  Every day they were in, they checked their hours.  One of the students even rallied the college students to serve as his VP or Secretary for the campaign.  I never laughed so hard. 

I also didn’t have to reprimand the students as I had to do in the past.  I didn’t have to remind them to keep moving, check on departments, or keep conversations to a low tone.  Instead, they were coming to me about what they could do next.  They encouraged each other. They helped each other.  They befriended each other on Facebook. 

You sometimes can’t help the dynamics that are created with a group of volunteers.  You hope that you had something to do with it because you were the one who interviewed and accepted them.  You also hope that the dynamics are due to their interest in volunteering for a cause.  This is, of course, what has brought them together in the first place.water with summer sign


I have been worried about the generations to come and how shoes will be filled for those volunteers who have gone before them.  To all of the high school students who volunteered this summer…I thank you for your service.  But most importantly, thank you for giving me hope that things will be okay. 

*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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