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

~ February 2013~


The morning starts out simple…commute to the train station, relatively quiet train ride, then finally getting into the city.  Then the hustling starts.
Immediately in front of me when I walk down from the train platform rests my weakness…my Dunkin Donuts coffee.  I grab my medium French Vanilla coffee and continue on my way.  The beauty is that I’m a frequent flyer to this particular DD so as soon as I walk up, I just pay.  They know my order.  And I get my coffee instantly and with a “see you tomorrow.”

I walk to the bus stop and hop on for a less than 10-minute ride which drops me off out front of the hospital.  I perhaps take one sip of coffee before getting into the office. As soon as I unlock the door, boot up the sign-in kiosk for the volunteers, collect any papers that may have been slipped under the door since the office closed the day prior, I reach my desk.  And I hope there are no “ready” lights on my phone indicating one message or a million messages.

I drop my bags and sign into my computer.  I’ll be lucky if I put my lunch away because I just hit the ground running anticipating the rush when the door opens in 60 minutes.  I check e-mail, straighten up the office, collect my thoughts, look at my to-do list, and prioritize.  All while my coffee is waiting my attention.

I take a couple of sips and then my specialist walks in.  We start chatting and I forget about my coffee.  I then think about it, but don’t budge. 
I get done what I can before the morning volunteer rush.  The time goes by so quickly and I wonder why or how.  My specialist and I complete our huddle about the day and what’s on our agenda.  I run to my desk to take a sip of my coffee.  Ahhh….coffee.paper coffee cup

The morning rush starts, the e-mails are flying in and the phone is ringing off the hook.  Staff is starting to call about volunteers for the day…”I have a mailing that needs to go out today, do you have any volunteers…like 5 of them we can use?”  NO. 

Before I move on to the next task, I notice my coffee has been sitting there, idle, getting cold.  It could be an hour before I pick it up again.  And by that time, I don’t want it anymore.

My point is not about the coffee.  Substitute it for what you wish.  My point is that we don’t take time for ourselves.  How often do you forget to go to the bathroom? Eat lunch?  Drink water?  Take a moment to breathe and reflect?  Instead, you react.

We all run departments that is busy.  You see other departments going out to lunch, enjoying that break time, and not hustling and bustling.   Why?  Because we oversee volunteers, events, programs, fundraising activities, put out fires, interviews volunteers what seems like daily, orient volunteers, place volunteers, and recognize ALL THE TIME.  Plus, we are who we are. 
If you get that cup of coffee, tea, glass of OJ…enjoy it. Start off your day by taking care of you so you can take care of others.

“There is a difference between hard work and unnecessary suffering.”
-Sue Bender, Stretching Lessons: The Daring That Starts From Within

*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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