ORONO, Maine — From the White House to the boardrooms of the top television networks, the value of volunteering has seen a surge of national attention this year.
Locally, volunteering continues to be an important issue as evidenced by the record number of attendees at this year’s Blaine House Conference on Volunteerism, held Tuesday and Wednesday on the University of Maine campus.
The conference, the 24th so far, involved nearly 300 participants whose focus was on best practices for Maine’s volunteers and their managers.
Commissioner Phil Crowell of the Maine Commission for Community Service kicked off the conference Tuesday with an address highlighting the Civic Life in America report, an annual assessment detailing ways volunteers make a difference in communities across the nation.
“People who volunteer are also more likely to vote, with over 78 percent of volunteers voting compared to only about 55.5 percent of nonvolunteers,” Crowell said, citing the report.
The conference drew a variety of attendees, including AmeriCorps volunteers and nonprofit managers and volunteers from across Maine. Topics ranged from engaging baby boomers, recruiting volunteers, strategies for working with youth and drawing connections between volunteer service and lifelong learning.
The keynote speaker was Susan Stroud, executive director of Innovations in Civic Participation, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2001 to support the development of program and policy innovations in national and community service globally.
The Civic Life in America report can be seen on The Corporation for National and Community Service website at www.nationalservice.gov. To see pictures from the conference visit www.maineservicecommission.gov.
This year’s sponsors included Time Warner Cable, AARP, ALIVE, Cabot Cheese, VolunteerMaine.org, and the Maine Commission for Community Service.