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

~August 2014~

cartoon of government buildings


As I sit to write my August article for you, I am literally counting down the minutes until the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games.  The games are co-presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America and over 600 Veteran athletes from across the United States and Great Britain will participate in 18 sporting events such as softball, basketball, track and field, archery, bowling, quad rugby, and table tennis.  For the last 13 months, a team has been planning every detail from the moment the athletes step off the plane to participating in events, to getting them where they need to go, to site set up and more. 

It truly is an honor to recruit the 2,000+ volunteers for this week-long event.  In two weeks from now, let the games begin.  In three weeks as I write this article, it will be over.  I’ve never had to work with so many volunteers.  Hundreds, yes. Thousands, no.  You take everything you know; things you know how to do, everything you’ve learned not to do, and put it into practice.  I’ve done research on large-scale events to make sure I was in check.  I’ve bounced ideas off many colleagues.  yellow red star

I’ll reflect more after the event and will share with you how it went.  For now, here’s a run down:

  • Volunteers are (literally) coming from across the country.  28 states are represented including District of Columbia
  • We have streamlined our volunteer shifts from 4 hours which was traditionally done to 6 and 8-hour shifts to reduce turnover and retraining of volunteers
  • We have at least 75 businesses and corporations volunteering
  • We are using a software that will allow for a volunteer to sign in via a pin number (like a MAC machine) to make the registration/sign-in process go faster so volunteers can get to their shift
  • We conducted 30+ training sessions at various times and days; we are hosting live sessions where volunteers can call in via phone and ask questions about logistics, where to report, what to wear, what to bring, if they missed a face-to-face session.  We scheduled two leading up to the games
  • Unless there is a dire emergency, we are not making any major changes to the master schedule so we can print out each volunteer and know who is going where

I feel like I’m missing something and I know I will feel like this up and through the completion of the Games which are August 12-17.  In the world of volunteers, we start August 10th and go through August 18th.  This truly has helped with many lessons learned and even more “a-ha moments.”  While I once feared to have to take on this task I am embracing, learning from, and will walk away (I hope) with great satisfaction for a job well done. 

Because as you know, we are always toughest on ourselves.

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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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