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

~ September 2013~


Each summer, our organization takes on about 25-30 high school students.  Around the middle of August, the students start transitioning out of their assignment and prepare for going back to school.  Because we had them on board for at least 75 hours (minimum) we had the opportunity to get to know each of them.  We also offer them the opportunity to come back during the school year when on holiday breaks, in-services, etc.  It’s early September and we are already missing them.

But how do you handle high school students throughout the school year?  Our organization is located in the city so many students have to rely on public transportation to get to us.  In addition, many students cannot arrive until after our office closes (4:30pm).

How do you handle high school students coming in during the school year?  Is it better to only offer a summer youth program? What about students who make commitments to your organization during the school year and have other commitments such as band or basketball?  Do you offer a minimum time commitment?  We find that students who make commitments during the school year are often conflicted with other school-related opportunities – but this is great for them!

Our organization is also surrounded by several colleges and universities.  So, it helps us when the high school students are transitioning out and our college students are returning from being at home this summer.


We require our college students to volunteer three (3) hours per week (one shift).  While this sounds great, we struggle with changing schedules every semester. One university is on a trimester so it makes it even more challenging. 

The key, however, is flexibility for students of all ages -- even graduate and post-bachelor degree students.  Who are your paid staffs that are “points of contacts” for late afternoon and evening shifts who are trained to supervisor youth volunteers? What are the key assignments for such individuals?  Perhaps you only pick 3-5 assignments to fill during the late afternoon shifts to make scheduling a bit more manageable. 

If such assignments do not exist for your organization, what other opportunities will work to meet the mission?  Are there flexible community service projects?  While youth (high school and college) provide a great skillset, their schedules can be a bit challenging. But as administrators of volunteers, we do the best we can to meet our organization’s need first, then the volunteer’s. 
As summer is winding down and students are back to school, what is your plan for students?

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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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