The Benefits of Volunteering

The following is excerpted from an article published in the Times Record on Feb. 6, 2015. The whole article includes a nice description of the work of Harpswell Coastal Academy. Read the whole article by clicking here.

The benefits of volunteering
Harpswell groups learn the value of giving … and also learning
BY ROSANNA GARGIULO Special to The Times Record

For many volunteers, participation in local projects increases a sense of community and belonging — and for Jamison Pacheco, who volunteers with the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, it also offers valuable job training.

“I like learning new things,” said Pacheco, a University of Maine graduate, “and you never know when a new skill set is going to come in handy.”

After completing a bachelor’s degree in veterinary sciences, Pacheco said she declined an opportunity to enter a master’s program when the salaries for young veterinarians dropped 50 percent.

“I would have had massive loans and not really had a way to pay them off, so I walked away,” said Pacheco. “After walking away from that, though, I needed to figure something else out.

“I like being outside, I like mission-based work, I like something that engages me, where I can use my brain and feel at the end of the day that I did something meaningful,” she said. “I started volunteering with cultural nonprofits and filling out the skill set I need to do that instead of veterinary work.”

What started with a simple letter to Julia McLeod, HHLT’s outreach coordinator, has led to training in graphic design and grant writing.

“My background is not in graphic design but I’m good at figuring things out,” said Pacheco, “so (McLeod) sat me down in front of the web platform they use, told me the basics and away we went.”

Organizations like the land trust attract younger families to Harpswell, said Pacheco, who look for communities within an easy commuting distance to Brunswick and Portland, and value the town’s “eclectic businesses, ocean access” and extensive trail system.

“Aside from getting a lot of personal satisfaction out of volunteering,” said Pacheco, “it’s a way for me to give back because I take advantage of all that the land trust offers.

“There is a long list of projects that they would like to do and some of them require younger volunteers, people who are more tech savvy,” she said. “If people that are willing to contribute to projects, then the land trust can keep giving all of these great things to the community.”

For more information about Harpswell Coastal Academy, visit www.harpswellcoastalacademy.org. For more information about Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, visit www.hhltmaine.org.