The size of Portland supports and encourages community involvement. It’s easy to meet people, make inroads, and start being a part of real planning, shaping, and decision-making in Portland and beyond.
Marcia Minter, a Chicago transplant and Vice President Creative Director for LL Bean, says she’s been a lot more involved in community work since she moved to Portland. Marcia has served on a diverse array of boards, including Portland Ovations, Parks for People (through the Trust for Public Land), and Portland Freedom Trails. She says, “I’m certain there’s no way that I would have been involved in nearly as many things in Chicago or New York, and I wouldn’t have wanted to given the logistics of getting from one location to the next. Here it’s much easier to get where you need to go, and start developing a reputation much sooner than you can in larger cities, or even in midsize cities.”
Want to get involved but not sure how? VolunteerMaine is a network of state, nonprofit, public, and private agencies that have come together to promote volunteerism in Maine. You can search volunteer opportunities by zip code, browse organization needs, or use BoardMatch to find openings on nonprofit and community boards.
There are many more ways to start contributing. Here’s a sampling.
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Community Support Organizations
Catholic Charities Maine is dedicated to providing support for the refugee and immigrant communities in Maine. Learn more about making a donation or various volunteer opportunities, from ESL tutoring to the American Friends Program, which matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families.
The Portland Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary care for adults and children. Portland CHC is dedicated to providing high quality, patient-centered healthcare that is affordable and culturally sensitive. In addition to serving uninsured patients on a sliding fee scale, Portland CHC welcomes individuals with MaineCare, Medicare, and private insurance. Medical appointments can be scheduled by calling (207) 874-2141.
Preble Street provides support for people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty through drop-in centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, social work services, and supported housing. You can help by volunteering, making a financial contribution or in-kind donation, and more.
The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project provides free and low-cost immigration information and legal assistance to low-income Maine residents. ILAP helps immigrants keep their families together, gain protection from persecution and domestic violence, attain residency and work authorization, and become proud U.S. citizens.
Wayside Food Programs is dedicated to increasing access to nutritious food for those in need in Southern Maine. Wayside’s hunger relief efforts include free Community Meals; Mobile Food Pantries; a Kids’ Healthy Snacks program; and Community Gardens. Wayside Food Programs collects and distributes food to 47 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries and other social service providers. To make a donation.
Community Media Organizations
Greater Portland Landmarks promotes the preservation and revitalization of historic buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes, while encouraging high-quality new architecture that enhances the livability and economic vitality of greater Portland. Learn about ways to get involved as a member, volunteer, or docent.
Portland Adult Education offers business and skills training, along with literacy classes and “personal enrichment” offerings such as dance, crafts, or cooking courses. Enrollment is open to everyone.
Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers intensive fifteen-week programs in documentary writing, radio, and photography for undergraduate and graduate students.
Professional and Leadership Opportunities
Maine Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts‘ mission is to provide effective legal council for artists and organizations with limited financial resources and to educate broadly about arts-related business and legal issues.
Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project coordinates the volunteer efforts of Maine attorneys and community members to help low-income people navigate the civil justice system. Learn more about volunteer opportunities for community members, students, and attorneys.
Economic and Cultural Organizations
Civic Engagement Opportunities
If you're interested in effective city government, join Portland Tomorrow, a non-partisan group of civic-minded Portlanders.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has done a variety of advocacy and structural improvement work in the city and Greater Portland since 1992. Join them to make Maine better for biking.
The City of Portland oversees a diverse group of committees and boards, from the Land Bank Commission to the Public Art Committee. Contact the individual committees for information on how to get involved, or search current opportunities. You can also check out current volunteer opportunities with the City, including mentoring high school students through the Portland Mentoring Alliance. You can also make a donation or learn more about public-private partnership opportunities.
The Institute for Civic Leadership offers training opportunities for nonprofit boards and a year-long networking and leadership development program.
The Maine League of Young Voters galvanizes young people about political issues affecting the community and works to involve more people in the political process.