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Maine Volunteerism Rate Ranks Second in New England, Groundbreaking Study Shows

June 16th, 2006

?Volunteers are the lifeblood of our state and a vital part of our economy, and one of the qualities that make Maine such a great place to live,? said Governor Baldacci, ?This first-ever study shows who volunteers, what they do, and where they serve. It will be very helpful in our work to increase the number and effectiveness of volunteers in our state.?

The study analyzed data collected over the past four years by the U.S. Census Bureau in its annual Volunteer Supplement to the Current Population Survey. The report is significant because it collected survey data from over 60,000 households since 2002, and is the first study to break down volunteering habits and patterns by state and region. To view the full report, which features a two-page profile for each state, go to www.nationalservice.gov.

The data shows that volunteers in Maine give an average of 37,409,680 hours of volunteer service each year. Using Independent Sector?s estimate of $18.04 an hour for the value of a volunteer?s time, the annual value of volunteering by Maine residents is approximately $674,870,622. The average volunteerism rate for 2003 to 2005 in Maine was 33.2% which was higher than the 3-year rate for the Northeast overall (26.4%) and the national average of 28.8%. Almost one out of three volunteers in Maine serve primarily through educational or youth service organizations (30.4%) ? 3 percentage points higher than the proportion of volunteers in the Northeast overall. Maine also has the third highest percentage of volunteers in nation serving through two types of organizations: hospitals or other health care organizations (10.1%) and social or community service organizations (16.5%).

?We have not had such an all inclusive report on community service patterns since the 2001 Maine Development Foundation survey. The shear size of the sample used in the CNS report gives us very strong and reliable results and allows us for the first time to compare statistical data from state to state,? remarked Paula Gagnon, Board Chair for the Maine Commission for Community Service.

?We believe that community service is an effective means of meeting vital needs in communities across America, from the need for more mentors for disadvantaged youth to caring for the elderly to helping prepare for and recover from natural disasters,? said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. ?This report is a powerful tool to help states and communities increase volunteering and build the infrastructure of nonprofits and communities to respond to community challenges through citizen service.?

To maximize that impact and to take advantage of the upward trend in volunteering in America over the past four years, the Corporation, as part of its new five year Strategic Plan released in February 2006, is working with other nonprofit, government and business groups to increase the number of Americans who volunteer to 75 million by the year 2010, up from the current 65.4 million.

?We are committed to working with groups from every sector of society to expand the number of Americans who volunteer nationwide by more 10 million volunteers by 2010,? said Eisner. ?Such an increase must begin, and must be sustained, at the local level. The report is an important tool in that effort, because the more we know about volunteers, the greater the chance we have of reaching that goal.?

The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for nearly 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through the Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. For more information, go to http://www.nationalservice.gov.

The Maine Commission for Community Service is the state appointed liaison for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The 26 member board is charged with fostering community service and volunteer initiatives in Maine. Visit www.maineservicecommission.gov to learn more about the Maine Commission for Community Service or contact 287-8933 or service.commission@maine.gov.

To find a volunteer opportunity near you, visit www.VolunteerMaine.org.

Both the Executive Summary and full report as well as Maine's profile are available in the Online Library at www.VolunteerMaine.org