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

~May 2014~

cartoon of government buildings


Spring is often a time of new beginnings and fresh starts.  We feel that way after long harsh winters, we want everything to renew back to their vibrant colors of greens, blues, and yellows.  But with fresh starts, we also have to think about the programs and events which lie ahead.  My team and I are in the midst of one of (probably) the biggest volunteer recruitment and mobilization of volunteers in our lives.

With the feeling of renewal and hope this Spring season, we are also faced with the countdown clock that stares us in the face every day for our event.  We are supposed to feel rejuvenated and excited for warm weather, vacations, and family outings.  But with large events – even your high school youth programs – we are left with some hesitation about what our capacity truly is to accomplish such a task which is put forth before us.
I googled volunteers for large events and what I found is what we’re already doing. There is either comfort with this, or insanity.

Respond timely to volunteers when you receive their volunteer application

    wobbly arrowCheck. We respond within 24-48 business hours

Offer training sessions

    wobbly arrowCheck.  Already scheduled for the month of July (event is in August) with multiple times, days, and locations

Utilize leadership volunteers

    wobbly arrowCheck.  Utilizing volunteers who are organized, motivated, self-directed and can help us lead the masses

Constant communication.

    wobbly arrowCheck.  In addition to our recruitment plan, we have our communication plan to keep volunteers abreast of their assignment, tasks, locations, timeline for information sessions

So, my team and I should be okay, right?  There is a tremendous amount of anxiety and pressure to pull off an event needing 2,500+ volunteers.  At this stage, I begin to question my abilities and capabilities to lead a team into this event…almost like leading an army into battle.  I must keep not only my team motivated, but keep motivated the thousands of volunteers needed. 
I believe at some point we are all tested in our career in volunteer administration.  I often think every challenge I encounter I am being tested: every difficult conversation, every difficult decision, every difficult task. 

But I also think there comes a time when we are to have the Mecca of all challenges – and take everything we’ve learned, everything we’ve experienced, everything that we’ve been training to do – in order to accomplish such work.

Trust yourself. Trust your team.  Trust everything you know and execute it the best way you know how.

Here’s to great beginnings and great feats.

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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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