The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine announced July 14 that it will consolidate operations into one office in Portland by the end of the summer. The Maine chapter has been headquartered in the Midcoast since its founding in 1992, and has maintained a second office in Portland since 2003.

“Leases on both of our offices expire at the end of the summer,” stated Thomas Peaco, executive director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine, in a news release. “We felt obligated to our donors to engage in a conversation about options for structuring our chapter that would allow us to put maximum resources toward our mission and our wish children. We did not want to leave any cost-saving options off the table.”

Last week, the chapter’s statewide Board of Directors gave final approval to the plan to close both current offices, and to enter into a new lease for a different Portland space at 477 Congress St., which will serve as the chapter’s sole office in Maine.

“This decision did not come easily,” said Peaco. “The Midcoast has always been our home, and will always be a special place for our organization regardless of the location of our office. However, it became clear during our conversations that current commercial lease rates made it possible for us to reduce our costs and dedicate more of our budget directly to fulfilling our mission of granting wishes to seriously ill Maine children. Once we looked at it in that light, it became clear what we need to do.”

The chapter will transition into its new space over the summer and expects to be fully settled by Sept. 1.

“As much as the Midcoast feels like home to us, we came to the realization that an office is not what people love about our organization,” Peaco said. “People are drawn to our organization because of what our mission does for seriously ill children and families. Our mission doesn’t come to life because of the location of our office. It happens through volunteers interacting with children and families in homes and communities all over the state.”

Peaco and Development Director Jim Christie will continue to live in the Midcoast region and be active in the local community. Christie will establish his primary office in his home, and Peaco will split time between a home office and commuting to the new Portland headquarters. The chapter will continue to conduct the annual Walk For Wishes in Rockland and Belfast, and the bi-annual Fantasy Auction, which is scheduled for July 20, 2012 at the Samoset Resort. “Most importantly, we will still grant the wish of every eligible child in the Midcoast region and all over Maine,” Peaco noted.

Peaco expressed great gratitude to Caroline and Wayne Morong, co-founders of the Maine chapter, who have generously discounted office space for the chapter at the building they own at 87 Elm St. in Camden since the building opened in 1994. “They have been tremendous supporters of this mission in so many ways since bringing the Make-A-Wish Foundation to Maine in 1992,” according to Peaco. “Our savings in this transition come from reducing costs in our Portland office due to the current low lease rates available in the commercial real estate market, and the elimination of duplicate office equipment. The generosity from the Morongs in discounted rent for all these years has been nothing short of outstanding.”

Wishes currently being granted to children living across Maine include two wishes to go to Walt Disney World, a dinosaur dig with a paleontologist, a backyard swing set, a personal sports trainer and a shopping spree at the Mall of America.

This fall, the chapter is celebrating the milestone of granting 1,000 wishes to Maine kids and plans to hold an “open house” in their new office space for all interested wish families, volunteers, donors and friends of the organization.