Volunteerism is Celebrated 

Many Mainers spend significant time volunteering. Their efforts help to provide a wide range of services others rely on.Tuesday, a conference was held at U-Maine in Orono, to celebrate those who donate their time to the community.Folks from across the state got together for The Blaine House Conference on Volunteerism. The focus – to celebrate those who donate their time. This is the 22nd year for the event.”A short five years ago there were 60 people. Now there are 300 here today.” says on of the speakers.Martin Cowling, the keynote speaker, says “We’ve seen a massive increase in the number of people saying I want to volunteer this year. Some people are doing it because they want to remain skilled, some people are doing it to build their resumes. There’s a lot of interest and a lot of concern in what this thing called volunteering is and where it’s going, what it’s looking like.”The conference included many guest speakers, as well as information sessions on topics like volunteer recruitment and philanthropic partnerships. Cowling says 26 percent of Mainers are involved in some type of volunteer work. “No surprise that Mainers turn out in droves to help their neighbor, because no matter how close or how far the people live from each other, they’re still felt of as their neighbor.” adds Tom Broussard, Assistant Dean at Brandeis University.Many of the services people depend on in the state rely on the efforts of those volunteers.Cowling says, “You wouldn’t see fire services, you wouldn’t see ambulance services, you wouldn’t see meals on wheels, you wouldn’t see counseling services, you wouldn’t see suicide lines. There are so many things that are touched by volunteers in the community.” Cowling believes, volunteerism is vital to the community, but the affects are also felt personally.”The impact you make in the community is powerful, but the impact you make in your own life is even more powerful. I’ve seen people’s lives changed because of the volunteering they are involved with.”