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

~ August 2013~


If you ask any Director of Volunteers (DVS) what was the goal when he/she grew up, the likelihood of hearing “a Director of Volunteers” is pretty low.  We end up landing a job working with amazing people – volunteers – to help nonprofits fulfill their mission.  But how does the DVS feel inspired, creative, and motivated to continue on when there are constant challenges such as reductions in budget which puts strain on the volunteer department or limits for volunteer staff to maintain the department?

Where do you go to be inspired?  How do you de-stress from a long day?  How do you manage?

Exercise to have a healthy body and mental and emotional state is key.  Even if it’s a walk at night or even during your lunch time.  Clear your head, move your body.  There is a pond tucked away across the street from my organization. It’s my best kept secret, yet I tell everyone.  On a beautiful spring or Fall day, I’ll sneak out just to see the fish, the ducks, the turtles.  It’s quiet and while I’m in the middle of the city, I feel like I am a million miles away from sirens, beeping horns, and people yelling.  Sometimes I’ll take the stairs just to not run into someone who wants to have a meeting in the hallway. 

wordle with inspiration in red

I listen to music – all kinds – to pump me up, calm be down, even sloooooow me down.  What is your go-to song that just makes you want to kick ass and conquer the next project, the next orientation, the next event?  From country to rap to classical…I have it all on my playlist.  When I need to, I’ll pop in my iPod at work and just listen for a while when I need to brainstorm a plan, draft my strategic plan, or write the next newsletter.

Pictures surround me; of family, friends, and my furry four-legged gray babies--my cats.  I have cards my stepsons make me and they help survive the challenges or frustrations of the job. Home is my go-to place.  I also have pictures of inspiration such as quotes, landscape, my favorite food.  Whatever works for you. I have a picture of my 6 ½ year old nephew sticking out his tongue on the back of my screen at work.  Those walking in see the picture and think he’s sticking his tongue out at them.  It’s open for interpretation depending on the day…and my mood.

Books.  I love reading.  My favorite books that I carry around with me are Stretching Lessons (Bender) and How To Take Care Of You So You Can Take Care Of Others, (Vineyard).  I can pick up either book, open any page, and start reading. I underline quotes that are inspiration.  I love just marking a website of quotes – for volunteers, team building, staff – for my favorites so I can go to it any time. 

What is your go-to place? Song? Memory?  In our jobs, our sources of inspiration and strength come from all over.  We have great days and not-so-great days.  But there should always be a place for you to return to, regroup, build back up or keep the momentum going, and continue on. 

As many of us from federal agencies are entering a new fiscal year and others just started, find your place and brace yourself for another great year.  Continue to do your great work…our job is one of the best in the business.

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*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 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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