OLD TOWN and HOLDEN — The Old Town Rotary Club donated $140,000 to Sarah’s House of Maine, a hospitality house for cancer patients at Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Cancer Care of Maine facility in Brewer.
Sarah’s House will be located in the former Fox Run Furniture building on Main Road in Holden, just a short drive from the Lafayette Family Cancer Center. Sarah’s House will provide cancer patients who have to travel long distances with a place stay at little or no cost while receiving treatment.
The Old Town Rotary Club’s donation represents the proceeds from the sale of a house that the club built on Abbott Street in Old Town. Club members and many local contractors donated their time to build the Abbott Street house, and most of the construction materials were donated by local businesses.
The check presentation ceremony was held at Sarah’s House in Holden on Oct. 10 at a thank you dinner sponsored by the Old Town Rotary Club for volunteers and contributors who assisted with the Abbott Street house project. The Abbott Street house was purchased by David Walker, superintendent of schools for RSU 34 (Alton, Bradley and Old Town).
Sarah’s House is the dream of Sarah Robinson, an Old Town Rotarian who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Sarah and her husband, Ben, had to travel from Old Town to Boston for treatment. Through that experience, they learned about places where cancer patients could stay for little or no cost during treatment.
When Sarah returned to the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Maine, she met patients who, like her, had traveled hundreds of miles in the course of receiving treatment. Many of the patients Sarah met had spent hours in the car, driving from Maine’s most rural areas to receive care. With first-hand knowledge of the physical, emotional and financial challenges experienced by those undergoing cancer treatment, Sarah wanted to help and invested time and energy into bringing people together around her vision.
Sarah died in December 2011, but with the two years given to her, she worked diligently to promote her dream of a cancer hospitality house for residents of eastern, central and northern Maine. As a result of her efforts, Tommy Thornton of Milford, a fellow member of the Old Town Rotary Club donated land on Abbott Street in Old Town for construction of a house to provide seed money for Sarah’s House.
Ben has joined others in this region who want to see Sarah’s dream come true. They have formed an organization, Sarah’s House of Maine, which has been raising funds to make Sarah’s House a reality.
The first phase of creating Sarah’s House requires an immediate investment of $893,000. This sum will cover necessary renovations to the Holden location and the first five years of operations. Long-term sustainability, at little to no cost to guests, will require an endowment of $3 million in order to provide maintenance and staffing. A campaign is now underway to meet both short- and long-term goals.
For information about making a donation or volunteering, call Dave Wollstadt, Old Town Rotary Club, at 827-1369.