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VolunteerMaine AmeriCorps VISTA Projects Seeks Members

July 1st, 2009

The goal of the project is to develop a network of “volunteer centers without walls” as a means of establishing a basic infrastructure to connect volunteer programs with each other and potential volunteers, prepare volunteer programs to participate in emergency response efforts during local emergencies, and develop a common set of resources to support Maine’s volunteer sector.

In March 2009, the VolunteerMaine VISTA Project, sponsored by the Maine Commission for Community Service received additional resources through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.  The project grew from eleven to forty-one AmeriCorps*VISTA positions and expanded into three focus areas under the main goal of creating volunteer centers without walls throughout Maine.  The three focus areas:

1) Volunteer Connector Focus: VISTA members support networks of managers of volunteers and community organizations participating in emergency response, provide training and technical assistance on volunteer management, and conduct outreach to promote volunteerism and the use of www.VolunteerMaine.org.

2) University of Maine Cooperative Extension Focus: VISTA members focus on volunteer program development and sustainability through targeted growth of a community volunteer base for projects as diverse as wind power, food systems, master gardening, 4-H, and micro-enterprises.

3) Maine HEARTH (Home Energy Aid & Response Team Help) Focus:   Funded with a small grant from the Hands On Network and augmented by AmeriCorps*VISTA positions, Maine HEARTH aims to connect the many generous responses communities have developed to support those trying to stay safe and warm at home.  VISTA members convene regional or countywide councils supporting residents’ ability to stay safe and warm in their homes.  Councils will foster coordination and replication of successful approaches, identify gaps in responses to local needs, identify emerging needs at the local level, and connect volunteers with opportunities to support local responses. 

AmeriCorps benefits can include a $900 living allowance, health care, training and career skills, and a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award worth up to $4,725 to pay for college or to pay off student loans.  Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and apply online by visiting www.AmeriCorps.gov. For more information about the VolunteerMaine VISTA Project, contact Meredith Eaton, VISTA Leader, at (207)941-2800 ext. 207 or meredithe@unitedwayem.org.

The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine\'s volunteer sector by funding service programs, developing volunteer managers, raising awareness, and encouraging an ethic of service. To learn more about the Maine Commission for Community Service visit our web-site at www.maineservicecommission.gov.