Maine towns desperate for volunteers

Town boards and committees across the state say they're desperate for volunteers. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- Town boards and committees across the state say they're desperate for volunteers.

Communities have dozens of open seats on boards and committees just waiting to be filled, but leaders say no one is signing up.

The Topsham history committee has three members, down from their normal five, but their latest vacancies haven’t been filled for a while.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, only about a third of Mainers volunteered last year, below the national average.

The town of Windham has positions open on nine different boards and committees, but no one seems to be signing up.

Town Manager Tony Plante says each of these boards, which range from natural resources to zoning, are critical to local government.

"If we don't have enough people on those, then some of that business doesn’t get done,” Plante said. “We're not at that point yet."

With some towns on the verge of desperation, others have seen a rejuvenation.

City Councilor Kristen Cloutier says Lewiston has more people interested in open seats than positions available.

"I can assure a lot of people that they are probably really well qualified to do that work," Cloutier said.

She credits her city's success with community engagement and manageable time commitments.

"If you have a family, you have kids, it's OK to bring your kids to meetings,” Cloutier said. “I mean that's something I do on a pretty regular basis. People in Lewiston know my child as well as they know me."

Windham hopes to play off that, by targeting younger generations with a new app.

"People can carry a pocket size version of Windham around with them," Plante said.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off