The Star-Herald

Volunteering helps local society

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — It’s that time of year when many people endeavor to make New Year’s resolutions, usually to improve their lives in some way with the ultimate goal of feeling better. One local group offers a different kind of resolution: volunteering. 

One often overlooked way to improve life is to get involved in local history, said Kim Smith of the Presque Isle Historical Society.

“Studies have shown that volunteering regularly reduces stress and blood pressure.  Helping others not only feels good, it may help you live longer, too,” she said.

Smith explained that a review of data from 40 published papers found a 20 percent lower risk of death than non-volunteers. The findings, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found that those who volunteered experienced lower levels of depression, better life satisfaction, and overall enhanced well-being. She cited another study which found that retirees who volunteered at least 200 hours in the prior year were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers, lowering their risk of heart disease.

“Research also tells us that displaying objects from the past, remembering and honoring where you came from makes you feel part of a continuum, gives you a bigger sense of community belonging and, ultimately, leads to happy and long-lived cultures,” said Smith.

Presque Isle Historical Society’s mission is to study, preserve and promote the history, culture, heritage and physical artifacts of Presque Isle for present and future generations.  Members and volunteers present tours, exhibits, presentations, operation of the Maysville and 1875 Vera Estey House museums; and cataloguing and archiving items such as books, photographs, ephemera, vintage clothing and other artifacts.

The group also needs museum docents (volunteer guides), tour guides, historical interpreters (people who bring history alive through dress, action or speaking), and exhibit and artifact curators (overseers).

“No experience is needed as the society will train anyone with an interest in local history and desire to learn,” Smith said.

The Maysville Museum, the society’s new museum located at 165 Caribou Road, will reopen for the season on Saturday, April 7, and society members are planning volunteer schedules now.

For more information on how to help the society bring history alive, or on its many programs and tours, call 762-1151, e-mail, or visit their website at

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