David and Christine Witham present the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, Open Table MDI and H.O.M.E. Inc. each with $100,000 checks after the sale of three local Witham hotels. From left to right, Julie Ream, Tracey Hair, David Witham, Christine Witham, Puranjot Kaur, Mahandeva Singh and O.J. Logue. ISLANDER PHOTO BY ETHAN GENTER

Hotel charity donates $100K each to three area nonprofits



BAR HARBOR — There were tears and some shocked chest-clutching from the heads of three local charities this week after a hotelier who had recently sold three properties announced that he was going to donate $100,000 to each organization.

Leaders at the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, Open Table MDI and H.O.M.E. Inc. seemed a little confused why David Witham, the CEO of Witham Family Hotels, summoned them to the Porcupine Room at Bar Harbor Inn Wednesday afternoon.

Witham explained that the company recently sold three of its hotels, the Quality Inn and Best Western in Bar Harbor and the Ramada in Ellsworth, and he wanted to do a little extra for the community.

“My siblings and I, on behalf of the charitable fund, thought it was a good time to give back to the community,” he said. “As you know, our business model is putting a roof over people’s head and putting food on the table, and you guys all do the same thing.”

The amount was a surprise to the charities. They said that they’d received generous donations of $10,000 in the past from the Witham Family Hotels Charitable Fund, but this chunk of change was shocking.

O.J. Logue, the interim executive director of the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, was stunned and nearly speechless. The pantry just started a $200,000 fundraiser campaign and the donation would make it much easier to attain, he said.

Puranjot Kaur, the co-founder of Open Table MDI, fought back tears at the announcement and said that the money would go a long way to help stabilize the nonprofit as it works to open a new physical space on Cottage Street.

“This is huge for us,” she said.

Tracey Hair, the executive director of H.O.M.E. Inc. was late to a board meeting, but she didn’t think the board would mind with the news she would be bringing back. COVID-19 has made things tough across the board, but this injection of cash would be a major help, she said.

“It’s been a hard year,” Hair said. “There’s been a real need.”

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Ethan is the maritime reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He also covers Bar Harbor. When he's not reporting, you'll likely find him wandering trails while listening to audiobooks. Send tips, story ideas and favorite swimming holes in Hancock County to [email protected]