MARC expansion gets welcome boost from local foundations

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Aug. 3, 2011
(L-r) Kelley Gunther, Foundation & Scholarship Administrator, SBMCF; Ken Charpentier, Executive Director, MARC, Inc. of Manchester; Tim Devanney, Director, SBMCF; Richard Meduski, President, SBMCF; Doreen Downham, Executive Director, SBMCF. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

MARC, Inc. is finally getting a home of its own, and, with some generous support from the community, its future is looking bright. 
The well-established service provider and advocate for people with disabilities and their families in Manchester and surrounding towns has been leasing space in various locations for years. However, when an opportunity to purchase and renovate two buildings at 151 and 161 Sheldon Road opened up early this year, the not-for-profit agency decided the stars were aligned to buy.

MARC, Inc. is most grateful for the financial support from area foundations for the purchase and renovation, including a grant of $25,000 from the Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, $30,000 over three years from the Rockville Bank Foundation, a pledge of $150,000 over six years from the SBM Charitable Foundation, and $375,000 from the Hartford Foundation. The four contributions amount to about one quarter of the MARC capital campaign.

“All of these foundations have supported us in various ways over the years, but how they all came together to support our capital campaign is a real validation of our efforts to provide inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Ken Charpentier, executive director of MARC. “It shows their belief in our mission to help people with disabilities participate in every facet of our community. We wouldn’t be successful without their support,” he said.

Director of Marketing Kevin Zingler said MARC, Inc. had originally planned on purchasing land at 87 Sheldon Road and building new, but when two buildings formerly occupied by the technology company Data Capture Solutions became available in January, they realized that not only could they acquire more space than originally planned, but they could also expedite an approximately two-year project down to about nine months.

“We’re running out of space and bursting at the seams,” said Zingler. “A lot of our folks are getting older and we want to be able to provide the extra care for a safe and happy retirement,” he said, explaining that while they do try to integrate as much as possible with the Manchester Senior Center, the two buildings will provide the extra capacity they need. Zingler added that the buildings also contain some flexible space to meet future needs, as well as for other organizations to use in the present for training and conference space.

“We’ve always been a partner with the community,” he said.

Having leased space for the last several years in the Manchester Parkade, Zingler said the move will provide MARC with opportunities to use green space that is right outside their doors.

“There’s a large grassy area and room to add a gazebo and picnic tables to enjoy the summer weather,” Zingler said. “Those opportunities weren’t there for us in the Parkade.”

In order to operate a senior center on industrial-zoned Sheldon Road, MARC required approval from both the Zoning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, two hurdles that were met with successfully in the spring. As a member of Manchester’s Board of Directors, Zingler said there is additional value to the town in utilizing already existing buildings that would otherwise have been shuttered.

“It’s a win-win for MARC and for the town,” said Zingler.

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