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Maine VolunteerFare

Volunteering in Portland and Southern Maine

Published June 29, 2006

Give Back to Your Community

by: Deborah Fowles,

America was built with volunteerism, a practice that has continued for over 200 years. Volunteerism improves the quality of life for many people, builds a sense of community, and breaks down barriers between people of different cultures, income levels, and ethnic groups. It develops leadership in those that volunteer, provides valuable career skills, and creates a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at having made a difference.

Volunteer opportunities in Maine run the gamut from dealing with the state's most pressing social problems to preserving our natural resources. No matter what your interests, skills, or concerns are, there's sure to be a volunteer opportunity that matches them. Many of these opportunities can be found via the Internet. Here's just a sampling.


If you love nature, wildlife, and the outdoors, Maine's Audubon Society has volunteer opportunities at the Gilsland Farm Sanctuary in Falmouth that range from writing about nature, to being a docent in the visitor center, or leading nature walks on the sanctuary's 60 acres along the Presumpscott River Estuary.

The goal of the Friends of Casco Bay is to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay.

Volunteer opportunities include water quality monitoring, research projects, office tasks, fund raising, assisting in special events, and shoreline clean-ups.

The Sierra Club is dedicated to protecting the environment, and uses volunteers in fund raising, mailings, computer work, letter writing, and leading field trips.

Hikers and outdoorsmen can make a difference by volunteering with Maine's Appalachian Trail Club, dedicated to preserving and maintaining Maine's section of the Appalachian Trail. The Club has a Caretakers and Ridgerunners program where volunteers perform a variety of duties to educate the hiking public about practices that will protect the environment. Each summer, the Club seeks volunteers to help their crews repair and reconstruct damaged sections of the trail in Maine. Volunteers receive food and lodging at a base camp and the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine's lakes, ponds, and mountains in exchange for their labor.

The Maine Conservation Corps is another organization that works to preserve our natural resources by designing and maintaining trails, managing wildlife habitat, planting trees and building bridges and shelters in Maine's forests, and teaching kids to understand the environment. They are always searching for volunteers and interns to assist with the stewardship of Maine's natural resources.


Former President Jimmy Carter has helped make Habitat for Humanity a household name in the United States. Habitat is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness by using volunteer labor and materials to build affordable housing. Southern Mainers can call the Portland affiliate or the York County affiliate for information on Habitat houses being built in this area.

The Center For Grieving Children in Portland is committed to providing a safe environment for children and teens to express and heal their grief. The Center needs volunteers to serve in its peer support groups and outreach programs.

Caring Unlimited, York County's domestic violence organization, is dedicated to eliminating violence against women and children. Volunteers are needed to provide services to battered women and their children, educate the public about domestic violence, develop policies and legislative initiatives, and make social changes which support battered women and hold batterers accountable.

There are many organizations in the US that work to end hunger. In Maine, there's a Statewide group of organizations and individuals dedicated to ensuring that the citizens of Maine have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The Maine Coalition for Food Security needs volunteers for public speaking engagements and to perform office tasks such as accounting, computer data entry, telephone trees, and mailings in its Portland office.


A number of organizations in southern Maine deal with health issues and with youth, and several serve as community fund raising organizations. These groups desperately need volunteers from all walks of life.

You CAN make a difference. Why not volunteer today?

Debby Fowles is a native of Rockland, Maine who lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC for many years and now enjoys living back in beautiful midcoast Maine, between Rockland and Portland.

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