Island Institute Fellow-Millinocket



Meghan Cooper | Island Institute Fellow in MillinocketCould you tell us who you are and what you are doing in Millinocket?
My name is Meghan Cooper, and I’m an Island Institute Fellow at the Millinocket Memorial Library. I moved to Millinocket in mid-January, and I will be here through the summer, working with the library and other organizations in the region on the development of a Regional Volunteer Hub.

What is the Island Institute?
The Island Institute is a non-profit organization based in Rockland. Our mission is to “sustain Maine’s island and coastal communities, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further the sustainability of communities here and elsewhere.” This support of island and coastal communities is guided by what the communities themselves identify as significant challenges and encompasses a wide range of support in areas of education and leadership, economic development (community energy, broadband, marine resources), and connecting people through publications and events.

What is an Island Institute Fellow?
The Island Fellows Program is a partnership between the Island Institute and organizations on islands and in remote communities to facilitate community development work. The fellowship places a recent graduate in a community to work on a locally-identified project that strengthens local capacity and sustainability.

Millinocket is not an island or coastal community, so why is there an Island Institute fellowship here?
Rural communities across Maine face similar challenges, whether coastal or inland. Finding commonalities between these communities and exchanging strategies and ideas to address the challenges they share encourages sustainability as they look toward the future. The Fellows Program also helps communities to build greater capacity to meet the challenges they face, especially when resources are limited. The Regional Volunteer Hub Project aligns with this goal of capacity building and provides new insights into how communities can creatively meet their needs.

What are you working on at the library?
My project is centered around the Regional Volunteer Hub Project. There are many active non-profit organizations throughout the region that depend on volunteers to accomplish their goals. The library’s volunteers and staff have devoted time and effort to developing a program and structure to support their organization and are interested in understanding how their work could benefit other organizations in the region. The Regional Volunteer Hub will be a network that encourages all the organizations to learn from and support each other, exchange ideas, and grow stronger together. During my time here, I will focus on supporting the library as it finalizes its volunteer program’s policies and procedures, networking with organizations in the region, and planning for how to implement the Volunteer Hub Project on a regional scale.