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

~April 2014~

cartoon of government buildings



Phone call from leadership: 

We’ve decided that you have worked so hard to demonstrate the value of volunteers within our organization that we encourage you to hire the staff you need to take your volunteer program to the next level.
E-mail:  Greetings! Instead of us always asking you for help, how can my department help you?
Sitting in the board room:  It looks as if the volunteer department did another great year of extending services by bringing on quality volunteers to help with project management, enhance customer service, and decrease wait times in our organization.  With that said, go hire 4 new staff.

We wish this could be reality.  Truth is, and I’m sorry for this, but it’s April Fool’s!

As we prepare for National Volunteer Week, we only hope for leadership and staff within the organization to recognize the work done.
Truth be told….DO NOT WAIT.  Why are you waiting for someone to ask you what you need?  Fight to get what you need.  Educate your supervisor and leadership about, not only the value of the volunteers, but also the value of YOU! 

I use National Volunteer Week to promote the work that we do, the efforts taken to make our volunteer department successful and effective.  We all traditionally share the total number of volunteer hours, total number of volunteers, and total dollars saving the organization. 

Why?  Why are you classifying yourselves with these categories alone?  What feedback do the volunteers provide on their training?  Where are volunteers assigned to make the most impact?  How many volunteers are “on the front lines?” 

Don’t just speak and write about the traditional methods of recordkeeping because we are all doing well.  Give yourself the kudos and hone in on what you do best.  We invest in volunteers so we should be capturing more as we invest in ourselves as volunteer resource managers. 

For example, my department runs an 8-week pre-healthcare program for individuals (undergraduate students, post-bac students, and change-of-career individuals) deciding to enter the field of medicine/healthcare.  We completed our 5th year of the program the middle of March.  Over the last four years, we have contacted the students to see if they are in medical school, nursing school, social work, etc.  The answer?  Yes, they are; some even in medical honor societies. horn

Did we plant seeds to help them determine if the path of healthcare is for them?  Yes.  Do physicians seek out our department asking about the program and request to stay involved?  Yes. Does this add to the effectiveness of the ability for program development and outcomes?  Yes.
Think outside the box. Make those three scenarios above come true.  Push yourself.  Take pride in what you do as leaders, managers, visionaries, and EXPERTS in the field of volunteer administration. 

As your write your comments for your recognition event, think about the impact and effectiveness YOU have on your department and your organization based on your leadership and management ability, not just because you are a “good volunteer resources manager.” Don’t settle for the pat on the back and wait until next year to see what happens.  There is no joke in what we do as volunteer resource managers day in, day out. 


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*The author of the Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is Melissa Heinlein-Storti , 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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