On December 16, 1983, the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting by two young cancer survivors, one girl from Houlton and one girl from Calais. At last, the vision of Marjie Harris had been realized. Harris, had exceptional compassion and, as an oncology worker at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC), saw a serious need for lodgings for out-of-area parents of sick children.
Determined to find a solution, Marjie Harris had contacted Judy Collier, a marketing coordinator at the Massachusetts arm of McDonald’s Corporation. The two set out to convince McDonald’s that there was a need for a Bangor House to serve the vast rural outlying areas of Maine. Up until this time, the concept of Ronald McDonald Houses (RMH) had been in existence for only six years, and only in major cities.
With Harris and Collier leading the charge, a group of advocates for the Bangor Ronald McDonald House soon grew to include Anita Peavey Haskell, the first parent-speaker; Jim Coffey, an EMMC employee who served as Treasurer; and Dr. Demetrius Traggis, the first pediatric oncologist to practice in Maine. EMMC administration supported the project from its inception and allowed its grant-writer Benita Deschaine, as well as Marjie Harris to use company time to further the RMH cause.
A large, stately federal building located at 654 State Street in need of a purpose and situated one-tenth of a mile from EMMC, was selected as the site for the House. Former Governor Joseph Brennan deeded the property to Ronald McDonald House of Bangor in a public ceremony. After months of renovations by John Rohman and WBRC Architects and Engineers of Bangor the house that love built opened it doors.