Ronald McDonald House Bangor’s story begins in 1970, when Anita Haskell’s son, Raisch, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that could only be treated in New York City. At that time of there not being a Ronald McDonald House, Anita literally slept on the hospital floor in her son’s hospital room. In November 1978, she joined a newly formed parents group, the Candlelighters, headed by John Bagley, to support each other around Dr. Traggis’ new pediatric oncology practice. This group learned of a Maine McDonald’s statewide McHappy Day promotion that then supported the Boston Ronald McDonald House. This group reached out to the local McDonald’s Owner/Operators and through the various stories and experiences shared by the families, support was given to conduct a feasibility study, and contact was made with the McDonald’s Corporation. Arnold Worldwide, McDonald’s PR and marketing agency, was also contacted to support the process. All the members of the Candlelight Group including Anita and Terry Grindle were very active. Eastern Maine Medical Center and Jim Coffey, CFO, were extremely supportive in providing space to meet as well as administrative oversight of the financials.
On November 13, 1982, Our House of Maine, Inc. was incorporated with a Board of Directors elected to establish a Ronald McDonald House. The Belanger Family with their daughter Diane, along with the Candlelighters’ parents group and Our House of Maine Board of Directors were instrumental in raising the funds to renovate the Bangor Mental Health Institute’s Superintendent’s House donated to Our House of Maine, Inc. from the State of Maine for $1. The 30th Ronald McDonald House opened its doors on December 16, 1983, with a 14 bedroom facility in Bangor, Maine.