Service-Learning & Volunteering

Preble Street Relationship Story

Joe Kreisler

Preble Street, one of Maine’s largest social service agencies, was founded in 1975 by Joe Kreisler to serve as a neighborhood resource center, known as the High Street Resource Center until 1985, to empower individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty. Kreisler, who was a professor and chair of USM’s Social Work department at the time, felt the need to address homelessness and give students a chance to respond to a community need through experiential learning. Preble Street has changed in many ways over the years, particularly in the way of adding new programs, relocation, and renaming. One thing hasn’t changed: Preble Street has served as a social work training agency since the very beginning. Since the early days in 1975 when Kreisler began the agency with his social work students, to 2018-19, where Preble Street is hosting over 20 interns. The agency has a mutually-beneficial relationship with the interns it has hosted over the years. In the one-year placement, interns are providing invaluable work to the agency and also being trained into being competent and compassionate social service providers. Bachelors and Masters-level social work students from a variety of universities, primarily USM and UNE, give to and learn from the agency every year.


The internship placement as Preble Street is competitive, and the agency has a strong relationship with USM and UNE to place the highest quality students in these roles to best serve the agency and to best learn from it.


Over the past 40+ years, Preble Street has hosted and trained 500 social work students, which has been the backbone of the agency and provides a prestigious learning opportunity for many individuals who will later return to Preble Street, or other agencies in the area, as professional social workers.


In late 2012, the Preble Street Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter opened and was named after USM Associate Professor Emeritus of Social Work Joseph Kreisler. He died at the age of 82 in 2002, but only a few years before his death, he was still committed to his mission of serving others: “I’m a human being,” said Kreisler. “Part of my job, part of being alive, is making sure that other people are, too. There is always some poor person out there who needs something.”


Preble Street now offers 14 programs, including teen services, housing-first programs, the resource center and meals, advocacy, veterans housing, case management, anti-trafficking services, and more.


I see you there

and the sound

of your voice

and the surprise

in your eyes

and the torrent

of words

and the wonder

of their lives

and we are forever

in that room

where the sun dances

through the shadows

above the place

where love stops

and stays

with them and us

for yet awhile


— Joe Kreisler