Annual Volunteerism Conference Draws Nearly 300 to Orono 

It was a diverse student body taking over the classrooms at the University of Maine in Orono, Tuesday, as volunteers from all over the state converged on the school for a day of workshops.”It’s such a nice melting pot. It brings together, like I said, folks from the north, south, east, west,” said Barb Wentworth, who was one of nearly 300 to attend the Conference on Service and Volunteerism. In its 26th year, the meeting aims to bring together members of Maine’s service community.Attendee Susan Lavigne, who works for volunteer organization, Opportunity Alliance, has been coming to the conference for years.”For those of us in the field, it’s an opportunity to meet with our colleagues throughout the state, hear what they’re doing, some interesting new ideas for recruiting, for managing, for protocol, for policies,” said Lavigne.Her group, among others, has been given a boost by more than $6 million in federal grants allocated for national service programs in the state.Maine’s director of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Shirleen Tilley, said, “There are just amazing programs. AmeriCorps members that are helping people access healthy food and fighting obesity and teaching kids about healthy eating. We have others that are working with veterans groups.”And all seem eager to do even more, as evidenced by their efforts here in the classroom that will serve others throughout Maine.Tilley said, “They really are giving up a year or more of their life to serve this country domestically.”