A house of hospitality

Belinda Hersey, Special to The County
2 years ago

Beautiful words don’t do justice to Sarah’s House of Maine in Holden.  When I decided to begin the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Kent and I launched a search for either a hotel that would not only offer us the guarantee of lodging for three months, but would also be affordable. 

My sister reminded me of Sarah’s House, and I made that life-changing phone call to begin the wheels turning.

Two ladies named Kathy and Delores are the beating heart of this house of hospitality. In no time, I was making my way there for orientation. There are numerous volunteers and faithful philanthropists who contribute to the house with strong loyalty and devotion unlike any I have ever encountered. Those of us who become residents of this haven are given glorious handmade quilts, designed with love in every stitch.  It is an honor to have the opportunity to share this information with you and even more of an honor to be a resident.  

Sarah’s House is the result of the wishes of a young woman named Sarah Robinson, who lost her battle with cancer.  It was her desire to create a safe and comfortable place for those battling cancer and the effects of cancer treatment, such as radiation and chemotherapy.  This dream of Sarah’s has most definitely become a reality and I believe that she knows her vision has not only come true, but has also surpassed every expectation.  

The mission is “to provide temporary lodging in a comfortable ‘home away from home’ environment to cancer patients (and their caregivers),” according to the website. They strive to offer an affordable place to stay in a supportive, caring atmosphere centered around hope and healing. Guests are served regardless of financial resources.

The strength of this house and the people who dwell there does not only come from wood, steel and other building staples; the strength of this house comes from those who fill its rooms day after day.  

Forever friendships are fashioned there.  Each person has a unique tale to tell — as unique and often unpredictable as the disease itself that leads them here.  We are all cheerleaders, urging our teams to the finish line and claiming the trophy of complete healing or remission.  We laugh together, cry together, celebrate together and resolve to keep in touch.  Some will return for further treatment and others will return to offer love, support and an understanding hug or empathetic smile.  One thing guaranteed is an experience unlike any other, an experience that will forever become part of who you are.   

Privacy is of the utmost importance.  There is a great room with a full  kitchen.  You may bring your own food and drinks, and snacks are available.  Often, guests will prepare meals for everyone — foods such as lasagne, chicken stew, homemade bread, cookies and delectable desserts.  The grounds surrounding the house are well groomed and landscaped, complete with luxurious outdoor furniture.  Memorial markers, stone angels, and other fixtures adorn a garden path. 

The house itself is large, with a wrap-around porch, patio furniture, and hanging flower pots.  If you have ever traveled to Bar Harbor via Main Road heading from Bangor/Brewer, you have no doubt passed Sarah’s House.  

The courageous people I have met there will always be an integral part of my life; be it a brief encounter, or a lifelong friendship.  In addition to the vast amount of cancer treatments that now exist, I know that this house is perhaps the most effective remedy of all.  That continuous dose of love, coupled with the sweetness of the human spirit, is forever healing and timeless. 

My friends, I am headed to Bangor for the week and I will return on Friday with five more sessions completed and seven more remaining.  

Please be kind to yourself and others as we launch into the holiday season.  With much love.   

Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their two dogs, Barney and Morgan.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.