More than 10 years ago, John Couri, a businessman from Connecticut, and his wife Elaine, made a decision that changed the lives of thousands of Bangor Area senior citizens – and continues to enhance the quality and vitality of thousands more every day.
The Couris have long ties to the State of Maine. Among their many contributions, the philanthropically minded couple founded a summer camp in Jackman to provide inner-city children with the opportunity to experience nature in Maine. Frequent visitors to the Bangor area, they became aware of the severe lack of diverse offerings and designated space for active seniors. Elaine felt moved to address this need.
The idea of creating a social center for seniors in the Greater Bangor Region was born. The Couris then set out to find a location to house the would-be facility. They fell in love with one of Bangor’s historic buildings, the former Merrill Trust Company Bank, which overlooks the Kenduskeag River. Right in the heart of Downtown Bangor, the building is adjacent to two parking lots, the city-owned parking garage, and area’s the public transportation hub.
While beautiful in many ways, the old bank property had fallen into disrepair and needed extensive restoration. The Couris personally directed the amazing transformation, ensuring that the original grandeur of the former bank provided a dignified and warm atmosphere that serves to enhance the sense of personal vitality and value for all its members and visitors.
On March 4, 1999, the doors of 2 Hammond Street were once again open to the public; this time as the new Hammond Street Senior Center. The Greater Bangor Region was instantly and forever enriched.
The Senior Center’s mission is to contribute to the physical, intellectual and emotional well-being of senior citizens, while allowing participants to maximize their independence. The Couris’ original goal was to generate enough interest in the programs and activities available to create a membership list of about 500. Whether it is because of the location, the beautifully renovated interiors, the variety of classes and amusements, or the wonderful people who gather each day, the Senior Center sustains an active membership of more than 2,500 seniors who come throughout the entire Greater Bangor Region to enjoy what the Couris created.
For seniors in the Greater Bangor Region, “Hammond Street” is the place to meet. Hammond Street Senior Center is the only all-inclusive place where women and men exclusively age 60 and older (55 if partnered with someone 60+) can go to have fun, learn something new, exercise with friends, apply their talents, share their expertise and enjoy a beautiful space that is shaped by and caters to their specific interests. Rather than living in the past, our members are creating more wonderful memories for themselves and actively planning for their future. Best of all, membership is free so all seniors can enjoy the benefits of the socialization and programming their Center has to offer.
Senior citizens can offer their community a wealth of life-learned knowledge, practical skills, creative insight and hours of enthusiastic volunteerism. Hammond Street Senior Center is proud to serve as a gathering place and spring board for our area’s seniors and their future endeavors.
John and Elaine Couri continue to provide nurturing guidance and active assistance as the organization they have grown from idea to local icon continues to mature toward financial self-sufficiency.
The members, their families and the communities in which they reside will be forever grateful to the Couris for their vision, generosity, personal efforts and support in the creation of Hammond Street Senior Center and in the positive transformation it has made in all of our lives.