the VIP Insider

                                                                January 2011
In This Issue
2010 Volunteer Trends
An Interview with the City Manager
2011 Recognition Activities
International Volunteer Managers Day
Love Where You Live
Quick Links
Volunteer Trends

Numerous volunteer trends have affected recruitment in 2010 and will continue to in 2011. These trends are important because they have implications for volunteer recruitment, placement and getting projects accomplished.  Key findings included:

  • Unemployed indviduals are using volunteering as a stepping stone.
  • Baby Boomers are retiring later and are not ready to make long-term volunteer commitments. 
  • Age and skill development are playing bigger roles in volunteer placement.
  • More City retirees are signing up to volunteer with VIP.
  • The reasons people choose a volunteer position doesn't always match why they stay in that position.
  • More individuals are looking for flexible positions where they can volunteer around their busy schedule.
  • People are looking to volunteer where they can meet and share experiences in a friendly atmosphere.
  • Group volunteerism is growing and being used as team building exercises by corporations.
  • The networking for both social and business reasons is very important to today's volunteers.

Learning how to adapt to these evolving trends is the key to a sustainable program.  Some information in this report was taken from Volunteer Canada report click here. 

What Attracts People to Their Community?

A report called the "Soul of the Community," written by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation explores what brings people to a community and what makes them stay. They conclusion: volunteerism keeps people connected and engaged in their community, which is critical in maintaining a robust and vibrant population. There is "a significant relationship between people's passion, and loyalty to their community and local economic growth."

The report highlights why our climate is right for service and describes different types of volunteers and how they are best engaged. As a model program, Plano continues to utilize volunteers in a myriad of services. Check out our Annual Report to see what volunteers have accomplished in other departments.

Volunteer Groups Needed!

The year 2011 brings an abundance of opportunities for volunteer groups to assist Plano residents. Following the success of the Love Where You Live event, the Helping Partners Referral Service Program provides community organizations an opportunity to promote teamwork among members, improve their community, and enhance community relations. It brings together community groups with pre-approved residents in need of serve as a partner in neighborhood revitalization. Program benefits include assisting resident in need, improving and preserving homes and neighborhoods, and repairing homes to meet City codes.

Volunteers find these projects a highly rewarding experience,

"Our staff felt that this would be a great outreach activity to work in the community and demonstrate the dedication of our members to our local community...Most importantly it showed God's love working to positively change the lives of our neighbors." Alan Johnson, United Methodist Church.

Home repairs include: fence repair, yard work (includes trimming trees and bushes), trash removal, exterior painting, maintenance repairs and minor items.

Groups interested are asked to:

1. Register with the 

    volunteer program.

2. Choose a crew  

    leader to coordinate
    the overall project.

3. Choose a home


4. Attend an orientation.

5. Complete project

    within 90 days.

6. Inspire other

    volunteers to
    join their leadership.

Helping Partners Referral Service Program invites you to participate and make Plano a better place to live! To register please contact Elsa Garcia, Volunteer Resources Liaison, at 972-941-7436 or via e-mail at elsaga@plano.gov.

VIP Teens!

  TAG teens

We have a very active youth program that donates over 4,000 hours to VIP each year.


We'd like to thank each of our 200+ VIP Teens for their hard work, leadership and committment to service.


We look forward to continuing to provide great youth opportunities in 2011.

  Teens International Fest
  TAG teens



 mark twain C


One of the most popular books this holiday season turns out to be the "Autobiography of Mark Twain," a four-pound, 500,000-word doorstopper of a memoir, published 100 years after his death as he specified.  Among the many thoughts from this wise American is a reflection upon aspiration:


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream."


Twenty years ago, the VIP Program was in its eighth year. Volunteers were active in 25 departments including Health, Animal Shelter, Data Processing, and the City Manager's Office.  We had 129 long-term volunteers (short-term volunteers were not tracked). A total of 16,226 hours were donated with a value of $169,356.


Our vision was to expand the program to all City departments, encourage citizen participation and enhance the quality of life in Plano through volunteerism.   In 2010, VIPs were in almost all City departments and donated 89,634 hours, with a value of $1,658,229.   


The Biggest Users charts below show the hours donated by volunteers have expanded  six times since 1990.  It's all because of "YOU - our VIPs & Supervisors," your commitment to excellence and your ability to work as a team and impact our City services in a positive way. 

5 biggest NEW  

As we close out our first decade of the 21st century, we want to thank all our VIPs and VIP Supervisors for helping us create  a sustainable program of this magnitude and for building a better Plano.


To learn all that we've accomplished in 2010, click here for the Volunteer Resources Group's Annual Report.



Robin Popik

 robin and  tom cropped 


An Interview with the City Manager


Robin Popik sits down with retiring City Manager Tom Muehlenbeck to discuss his thoughts on volunteerism and how the VIP Program has benefited the City during his tenure.


What was the first volunteer job you ever had?

In 1959, when I joined a Service Fraternity at Lamar University. Our fraternity's mission was to provide service to others in the community and prepare leaders through service. It was a wonderful service-based organization. Each year we performed numerous projects that benefited the local community; and I could see the difference it made in individual lives as well as the community as a whole.


How do you think volunteering shaped your career?

Reflecting back, I'd say my years in boy scouts, migrated to my interest in the Service Fraternity, leading me to where I am today. I don't think I've ever thought about this before; but this experience established a bedrock for giving back and directed me to a career in local government.

What's the funniest volunteer job you've had?

I'd have to go back to my college Service Fraternity. Our mascot was a Cardinal. It took many of us to carry it around during sports events. But my funniest experience was at our very popular car washes, it was a good time to get everyone wet and there was lots of trouble to get into. It was also our most profitable fund-raisers for the organization.


How does the volunteer program fit into the City's mission?

The City's mission is built on service and service excellence. Volunteers are an important part of our organizations culture. They are the outgrowth of who we are and help us to serve our community better. Recognizing volunteers as community leaders, partners and innovators gives us an opportunity to collaborate with others who also want to make our City better.


As the City has changed, how do you think we have benefited from the volunteer program?

Over my 23 years, I have seen the VIP Program help us stay on course, fill gaps in service, find new ways to increase volunteer engagement and help diversify our service delivery. Today  innovative practices and solutions are essential in building sustainable communities, our volunteers are part of that innovative solution. Volunteerism is embedded in Plano's culture and I know volunteers will continue to serve us as our City matures.

Do you think it's important for cities to have volunteer programs? Why?

Yes, we had a volunteer program in Virginia Beach, Va. when I was a City Manager there. I feel citizen participation is a vital component for every City, so I was glad to see  we had one in Plano. Every volunteer's contribution is critical to our success. It also provides us with a potential workforce that could join the ranks of the City as future employees in service delivery. It's a great opportunity for citizens to learn more about our City and how its government works.

I would hope other cities would see the importance and benefit of volunteerism in city government and be able to start viable programs like ours.

What is the most important thing Workplace CARES brings to the City?

The employee-driven program provides structured opportunities to give back to the community in a well-organized fashion. I like the fact the committee reviews community needs and picks projects that can be accomplish in a short-time frame. I was privileged to mentor children at Meadows Elementary School for a number of years and to ring the bell for the Salvation Army.

Where do you see the VIP program in 10 to 20 years?
I hope it will stay its course and keeps to its mission of identifying department and community needs, while impacting services in a positive way. It will be important to refresh the program and keep it new like you've done in the past by offering a variety of opportunities on all levels.

I am so proud of all the people who volunteer for us. This program has been so important to our organization's culture. You've been instrumental in keeping the flame alive. I appreciate the incredible job you have done in growing and expanding the program over the years.  

2011 Recognition Activities and Calendar 


Help us honor our outstanding 2010 VIPs and VIP Supervisor
by completing a nomination form, link below.


 Volunteer Nomination Form      Supervisor Nomination Form


Nominations must be to our office by Friday, Feb. 18, 2011


With so many active volunteers making a positive impact on City services, every week is National Volunteer Week at the City of Plano. No matter what your age or why you are choosing to serve, volunteering is one of the most important things YOU do!  Taking the time to serve, you are helping to provide basic needs to others in our community. These acts of service pave the way for positive changes in our relationships, neighborhoods and communities.


Nominees will be judged on the merit and quality of the volunteer work to the City described in the nomination form. It is important to briefly describe the nominee's work in 2010 and to tell how it benefited the department and/or program.  Please answer the questions on the form completely.  Award recipients will be honored at their department event, receive a personal proclamation for their volunteer services and be written about in the March, VIP Recognition Newsletter.


*2011 Department Recognition Schedule



Jan. 26 - Sustainability & Environmental Services Pot Luck Dinner 
Feb.1 - Police Academy's Annual Meeting
March TBD - Emergency Management Meeting for CERT Volunteers
March 25 - Animal Shelter Luncheon
April TBD - Fire Department's Annual Awards Event
April 7 - Library and Administrative Support Luncheon
April 11 - City Council Volunteer Recognition 
April 15 - Senior Center Luncheon
May/June TBD - Interurban Recognition

*Initations will be mailed or e-mailed prior to event.


"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


VIP Supervisors Celebrate
International Volunteer Managers Day


Martin's Training

Universally people recognize the contribution of volunteers in many aspects of service delivery and in all walks of life. Volunteering, however, does not succeed in a vacuum. Behind this army of volunteers lies an equally dedicated group of individuals who are responsible for coordination, support, training, administration and recruitment of our committed volunteers.

At the City of Plano, these skilled professionals are our VIP Supervisors. These supervisors are adept at taking singular passion and turning it into effective action. That is why we celebrated International Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day this year.

It's not until we investigate and talk about the impact of our work that we really start to understand the full value of why we deserve to celebrate. How can you measure the impact of a well-led program? How amazing is it when volunteers gain enough experience and confidence to go out and get a job, change careers or decide to help others as you have helped them? How about those who volunteer because they are lonely and need a friend, or to keep their mind off of their job search and family illness? What do you think that is worth to them?

This concept was driven home to me several years ago when a mom approached me at a function and  told me how her son, as a young person, had come to the organization to become a volunteer. He was shy and quiet and didn't like to speak out. She told me the start I had given him had been instrumental in his going on to a university and law school. He is now an attorney and helping others on a daily basis.

The really interesting point I took from that conversation was that she didn't say our program had given him a start - rather she directly related her thinking back to the start that I had given to him. I thought about this gentlemen for a while, remembering the shy quiet 20 year old I had personally worked with. I was proud to know I had made a difference in his life.

It's not until we investigate and talk about the impact of our work that we really start to understand the full value of why we deserve to celebrate.

When we couple the outcomes and impacts of our work, and the work volunteers accomplish in our departments and for our city as a whole, we can understand there is indeed something unique in the work that VIP Supervisors do.
Love Where You Live:
 A New Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative
by Elsa Garcia


Neighborhood engagement levels have risen sharply in the past few years, with an increase in the number of people who work with their neighbors to fix a community problem and the number of people who attend community meetings to see what needs to be done.


A direct result of this drive for neighborhood involvement is the Love Where You Live (LWYL) initiative.  This proactive program seized the opportunity to create safe, beautiful and valued neigborhoods for families and residents by engaging volunteers and residents in building relationships and strengthening the social fabric of their own community.  LWYL promotes community change and makes a difference - one neighborhood at a time.


The groundbreaking event led by the City's Community Services

Division brought together 21 volunteer groups including nine churches, three nonprofits, 10 college groups, the local elementary school, Habitat for Humanity, and education and outreach groups to help inspire the residents. Six City departments collaborated in this initiative and bringing critical assistance to the process. These include Property Standards, Neighborhood Police Unit, Volunteers In Plano, Sustainability and Environmental Services, Engineering and Public Works, and Planning.

One Crew Leader commented, "Our staff felt that this would be a great outreach activity to work in the community and demonstrate the dedication of our members to our local community... Most importantly it showed God's love working to positively change the lives of our neighbors." The LWYL project provided a vehicle for people to demonstrate compassion and kindness on a broad and collective basis. This effort built bridges between demographic, socioeconomic, ideological, religious and geographic barriers, transforming a community and opening doors for long-term relationships.

In a low-income neighborhood featuring 434 single-family housing units built in the 1970s, the City assigned a specific home to each volunteer crew leader and provided information on City disposal plans, waivers of liability, project schedules and safety guidelines. Crew leaders then communicated with homeowners on the specific external home repairs that were needed. Each of the volunteer groups was responsible for gathering and donating tools, equipment, paint, trucks, mowers, garbage bags, etc. required for the project.


This collaboration resulted in 629 volunteers, working 2,400 hours and completing 73 individual work-site projects. Projects included:

  • Alley clean-ups led by Property Standard collected 14,000 pounds, (7 tons) of landscape debris collected and recycled.
  • 6,980 lbs. (3.49 tons) of trash were picked up and taken to transfer stations.
  • 100+ premise identifications essential to neighborhood safety were completed on the front curbs as a courtesy to residents.


Throughout the day, groups maintained a positive, efficient and energetic atmosphere. Each group worked hard to perform to the best of their ability and to meet the homeowner's needs. Duties included repairing rotted-out fences, tearing down deteriorated sheds, mowing yards, painting homes and conducting minor housing rehabilitation tasks. One group even purchased enough sod for a residents yard and laid it because the homeowners could not afford it. Trimming overgrown trees and shrubs was one of the most common and vital tasks for each group since this issue poses a safety risk to residents, garbage vehicles, power lines and sidewalk users. Click the link for PTN coverage.

City of Plano
Volunteer Resources Group

Robin Popik, Volunteer Resources Supervisor

Corina Sadler, Volunteer Resources Coordinator

Elsa Garcia, Volunteer Resources Liaison