Harbor House Community Service Center in Southwest Harbor turns 50 this year. Perhaps most remarkable about that milestone is the fact that it seems so unremarkable.
Over the five decades of its proud service to Southwest Harbor, Tremont and the wider Mount Desert Island community, Harbor House has managed to integrate itself into a dizzying number of initiatives that have strengthened the island’s year-round fabric and broadened individual horizons. So many noteworthy groups and programs got their start – or were sheltered during their nascent years – under the Harbor House umbrella. They include the annual Flamingo Festival, an early incarnation of Camp Beech Cliff, the Summer Festival of the Arts and the Community Sailing Center.
Harbor House’s childcare services have nurtured three generations of island youngsters. Popular activities, in addition to regular fitness and educational offerings, include such stalwarts as the Great Harbor Shootout Basketball Tournament, Touch a Truck and Camp MAX.
In addition to a dedicated staff and supportive community, Harbor House’s success stems from a fundamental philosophy of cooperation. As evidenced in programs such as the MDI Campfire Coalition, a heating assistance effort done in collaboration with the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor and the Maine Sea Coast Mission in Bar Harbor, that inclusive approach has resulted in a stronger island community.
Fifty years ago, a handful of residents of Southwest Harbor and Tremont, many of whom have long since passed away, got together to share a dream of providing more enrichment opportunities for area youth. How proud they would be, as all of us are today, that Harbor House has become so central to the diversity, vitality and livability of Mount Desert Island.