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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the local level, including information for cities, counties, boards, commissions, and districts.

~January 2009~

New Year’s Resolutions for the Volunteer Administrator

So, each time this year we all try to make resolutions for the upcoming year.  We try to write a list of things we want to do – lose weight, call family more often, visit friends, travel.  We start to re-arrange our homes, donate old clothing to The Salvation Army, and promise to not keep junk food in the house.  I am guilty of doing all of this.

At work, I’m doing the same thing.  While volunteers are enjoying time with family and friends, I find peace in coming in to a quiet office to re-organize, re-arrange, re-file, and re-systemize in order to come back into the office for a brand New Year.  I have removed clutter from all of my files – hard copy and soft copy – in order to make room for the amazing possibilities that lie ahead.  I have finally cleared my desk of unwanted papers, post-its, paperclips under the keyboard, and menus of restaurants to order take-out when I don’t find the time to grab a real lunch.  I have recycled folders and forms that I have held on to for the last three years.  I recycled tons of paper and questioned “why did I keep all of this?”  I archived many articles, journals, and books to my office library for quick references.  I put all active programs into binders which resulted in a great system for organizing.  I spent two days trying to make myself feel better only to have a dear colleague tell me one simple rule she follows:

New Year’s Resolutions is to keep doing the things that I do well all year long.

And then it hit me.  Does all the re-organizing matter?  Maybe, maybe not.  Does it help?  Absolutely.

So, for 2009 as a volunteer administrator, take a moment to re-energize yourself for what you are already doing well:

  • Providing great customer service to your internal and external clients.
  • Welcoming each potential volunteer with a smile.
  • Listening to each current volunteer so matter how long he (or she) may talk about their three week trip to Europe.
  • Thanking each donor for their generous donation – no matter how small.
  • Interviewing each volunteer candidate as if she is the most important volunteer.
  • Orienting each new volunteer class with enthusiasm.
  • Assigning every volunteer to that very special assignment made “just for them.”
  • Recognizing every volunteer for their time, talent, and treasure and not just for their total hours.

We will continue to make lists, develop programs, and build our volunteer workforce.  Everything else will fall into place for the New Year. 

The author of the Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is melissa.heinlein@va.gov, MA, MS, CAVS. Melissa is the Chief of 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 current board member of the Delaware Valley of Association for Volunteer Administration and current member-at-large for PSDVS, Eastern Chapter. She serves as an advisor for a grassroots organization “Spark the Wave” to encourage youth volunteerism. 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 ASDVS. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Development at Marywood University. 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.


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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