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Cabinet Level Official Keynotes Annual Volunteerism Conference

October 11th, 2007

“The reality today is that 1 in 3 volunteers who served in 2005 did not come back to serve in 2006. That means we have a retention problem—what I like to call a leaky bucket. We are not doing a good enough job at meeting volunteers’ needs. If we want to keep them, we have to give them serious and meaningful work that benefits the community, and we must treat them like we would any valued colleague. It is important to recognize that investing in volunteer recruitment and management can yield vital long term benefits,” Eisner remarked.

Eisner, a cabinet level official appointed by President Bush in 2003, heads the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Federal Agency that oversees America’s service and volunteering programs, including AmeriCorps, VISTA, NCCC, Senior Corps, Learn and Serve America and other domestic service and volunteering programs.

During his keynote address, Eisner presented the prestigious President’s Call to Service Award for Lifetime Achievement to Dorothy Grannell of Portland. Grannell’s lifetime commitment to community service includes being a teacher for 14 years, managing 800+ volunteers annually as Exec. Director of Volunteers in Providence Schools, serving as director of United Way of Greater Portland’s volunteer center for 8 years, and supervising AmeriCorps*VISTA projects in 3 different states. Grannell received a standing ovation from her peers.

Earlier in the day, Eisner spoke to 40 business leaders and policy makers at a special policy breakfast sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Attendees were asked by Eisner to use their influence and policy making capabilities to support volunteer programs in their communities.

“Volunteers are a significant economic force in Maine- representing one-third of adult residents. In fact, the total dollar value of Maine’s volunteers last year (using Independent Sector’s volunteer value estimate) was nearly $800 million. That’s 42 million hours of service,” Eisner remarked. “Research shows that communities with high rates of volunteering are healthier, but in order to make that happen, we must continue to work together—government, the private sector and nonprofits--- to grow and strengthen the engagement of our citizens.”

Throughout the day conference attendees were given the opportunity to attend 18 different volunteer management workshops throughout the day including: Attracting Retired Professionals as Volunteers, Partnering With Higher Education To Strengthen Volunteer Programs, Understanding the Connection Between Volunteers and Fundraising, and others. A handful of pre-registered conference goers took part in a four hour hands-on simulation called Managing Volunteers in Times of Disaster: Operating a Volunteer Center. The simulation, presented by the Points of Light Foundation, a partner member of the National Citizen Corps Council, replicated how agencies would manage, train and dispatch spontaneous volunteers during times of crisis.

“Operating a volunteer program requires a variety of professional skills. We make it our goal to provide a conference that will train volunteer managers on a variety of topics that may not be at the forefront of their job description, but are an integral part of their daily tasks. I think attendees left our conference realizing a well managed volunteer program can be beneficial to their agency, their community and the people they serve,” remarked Carol Anne Dube, vice chair of the Maine Commission for Community Service and co-chair of the Conference.

The Blaine House Conference is the only statewide conference that provides training and technical assistance to Maine's volunteer administrators, program directors and partners. The conference is hosted by the Maine Commission for Community Service and planned by a committee of 15-20 volunteers. This year’s sponsors included the University of Cooperative Extension, the Maine Commission for Community Service, VolunteerMaine.org and the Dead River Company.

For more information visit www.VolunteerMaine.org or contact the Maine Commission for Community Service at 207.287.8933, service.commission@maine.gov.

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