Maine’s population is aging: between 1990 and 2000, the population of 45-54 and 55-59 year olds increased 54 percent and 26 percent, respectively. The loss of young people on the islands, meanwhile, requires involving greater numbers of older volunteers to ensure that communities remain vibrant and viable.

The Island Institute has been receiving increasing requests over the last 18 months from individuals who want to make a non-financial, volunteer commitment to island communities. With the increasing need for volunteer service on the islands, and the lack of human capital to meet these needs, the Institute is launching a volunteer placement program. Unlike the Island Fellows program, which is oriented to younger, post-college students who are willing to commit one or two years to a project, this program would allow individuals to volunteer for short-term projects and, if desirable, work with the island communities on a virtual basis (e-mail, telephone, occasional visits to the islands for meetings).

Chris Wolff, the Institute’s Community Development Director, will work initially with the Casco Bay islands to determine specific volunteer placements. Simultaneously, the Institute will be recruiting volunteers to serve with Casco Bay island communities. Volunteers will complete an application stating their skills and interests. Island communities interested in hosting volunteers will also complete a position description. Wolff will then match volunteers with opportunities.

“We know the need for volunteers exists on the islands, and we’ve been experiencing an increased interest on the part of retirees and our members to volunteer their time, but now we will see how these two come together. In a best case scenario, we will have more volunteers than we need,” said Wolff.

If you are interested in hosting a volunteer or being a volunteer, please visit the Island Institute’s website:, or contact Chris Wolff at