Volunteers from ServCorps of Hartford, Conn., begin to construct an addition to Messenger Valley Pharmacy on Thursday afternoon in Townshend. The nonprofit
Volunteers from ServCorps of Hartford, Conn., begin to construct an addition to Messenger Valley Pharmacy on Thursday afternoon in Townshend. The nonprofit will spend two weeks building the structure with Brattleboro-based Brunelle & Son Construction. (Mike Faher/Reformer)
Friday September 28, 2012

TOWNSHEND -- In fall 2009, a team of volunteers from Connecticut-based ServCorps built a new Community Wellness Center at Grace Cottage Hospital.

"We just really enjoyed our time up here," said Keith Powell, who was a member of that crew. "Great people. Great cause."

On Thursday afternoon, Powell found himself at a Townshend work site again -- this time to help build an addition at the Grace Cottage-owned Messenger Valley Pharmacy just across the street.

The work that ServCorps is performing will save the hospital tens of thousands of dollars while also providing much-needed space at a pharmacy that fills more than 5,000 prescriptions monthly.

"It's a real community service," said Andrea Seaton, the hospital's vice president of planning and development. "We're excited about the new addition because we'll be able to offer a lot more products."

ServCorps is a 12-year-old nonprofit that sends volunteers on projects in its home base of Hartford, Conn., while also making forays into areas where restoration and construction is needed.

"We go away for about six weeks of the year to do service trips, usually to disaster areas," said Rich Grobe, a retired minister who is ServCorps' founder and executive director.

The ServCorps-Townshend connection comes via Jack Kadzik, who is the organization's board chairman.


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The Connecticut resident became well-acquainted with Grace Cottage because he maintained a second home in West Wardsboro.

During a visit to the hospital, Seaton mentioned to Kadzik that there were plans to develop a new wellness center.

"He said, ‘I think I can help you,'" she recalled.

ServCorps contributed labor valued at nearly $90,000 to the center project.

The volunteers also were a popular presence around the Grace Cottage campus. So they were naturals to return for the Messenger Valley project.

Crews earlier this year demolished a run-down, attached barn at the Grafton Road pharmacy to make way for an addition that also is styled like a barn.

The extra space will provide breathing room inside the cramped pharmacy. And it will allow for enhanced and new services including a private consultation room, medical-equipment sales and vaccinations.

A grand opening is anticipated in early December. And there will be no interruptions in service during the project, Seaton said.

"We'll be maintaining our regular hours during construction," she said. "We'll be filling prescriptions from the new addition while the front is renovated."

ServCorps is working with Brattleboro-based contractor Brunelle & Son Construction to rapidly get through the project's first phase.

"These guys are great," owner John Brunelle said. "We're hoping to have the whole building done in two weeks with this crew. We're hoping to have a roof on it by Monday."

ServCorps leaders expect to field a construction crew of about 30 over the two-week period. The organization has volunteers as young as 22 and as old as 82.

And it's not all work for that diverse group.

"This will be a lot of fun for us," Grobe said.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.