Volunteers Learning More Ways To Help Out 

Volunteers can and do make a big difference in our state. Around 300 people were at the University of Maine today to learn more about helping in their communities. Most of the people in attendance are already actively volunteering in their communities. They’ve come here because they want to do even more. Susan Stroud is the Executive Director, Innovations in Civic Participation, a non-profit based in Washington D.C. She was the keynote speaker at the 23rd annual Blaine House Conference on Volunteerism. “These are people from all over the state of Maine who have come here to the university today to exchange ideas and information and pick up the latest news about how to be more effective in what they’re doing,” says Stroud. Stroud and her colleagues say their goal is to spread the word about the importance of volunteering. “It’s not only critical to the health of our communities because there’s so many issues that can’t just be met by government that have to be met by ordinary people helping other people.”According to Maryalice Crofton, a representative from the Maine Commission for Community Service, Maine already has a high number of people who volunteer, compared to the national average. The folks here are exploring ways to get that number of volunteers to climb even higher. “We also need to begin to look at how do we engage other folks who are not volunteering at this point and we also need to look at how are we going to open up for young people to become involved in some very serious work,” says Crofton.Speakers here say in addition to younger folks, it’s also important to get older people involved. “We’re living longer. We’re retiring earlier. We’ve got time on our hands and we’ve got a need to be useful,” says Stroud.If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering, you can check out the Maine Commission for Community Service website: