Eversource and Habitat for Humanity: A playful ‘thank you’ for families of service members

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Justin Park and his daughter, Georgia, peek inside their new playhouse. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH — Children of military veterans were delighted Tuesday when a dozen Eversource employees presented them with playhouses they built for them.

Cayden Park, 9, of Dublion checks out the playhouse Eversource volunteers built for him and his sister. Photo/Pat Grossmith

“It’s the best house I’ve ever seen,” said Cayden Park, 9, son of Justin and Stephanie Park of Dublin.  Justin Park is a 17-year-veteran of the U.S. Marines who served in both Iraq and In Afghanistan, where in 2009 he was part of Operation Enduring Freedom posted to Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold.  He took early retirement and now is employed in construction.

“I like the theme and how big it is too,” said Georgia Park, 11, Cayden’s sister.

The Park family, ready to take their new, log cabin-themed playhouse to its new home in Dublin. Courtesy Photo

Their playhouse was a log cabin-style complete with a welcome sign, a mailbox, birdhouse, a corn hole game and a welcome mat in the shape of a fox.

The playhouse designed for five-year-old Dylan Timms of Campton featured three black bears on the welcome sign, child-size Adirondack chairs and a hedgehog welcome mat.

Ryan Timms and his son, Dylan, of Campton, with their new log cabin-themed playhouse. Courtesy Photo

Timms, the son of Ryan and Holly Timms of Campton, appreciated the black bears on the playhouse since he saw a mother bear and her three cubs in the woods near his home.

What he liked best though was the small American flag he found in the mailbox.  Not surprising for the son of Timms, a U.S. Army veteran of seven years who also served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Bagram, Afghanistan.  He initially was a satellite engineer but then became a cryptologic linguist of Mandarin Chinese.   He now works for the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in cybersecurity.

Dylan Timms, 5, checks out the playhouse Eversource workers build for him and his sister Amanda, 3. Photo/Pat Grossmith

Both families appreciated the efforts of the Eversource workers and Habitat for Humanity — Operation Playhouse MetroWest/Greater Worcester of Massachusetts which supplied the kits.  Volunteers, as well as students at technical high schools, cut out the patterns for the playhouses, according to Gerry Finn of Millbury, Mass. who brought the kits to Eversource’s headquarters where employees put them together.

Rich Berklund, Eversource senior planner/scheduler, is a member of the company’s Veterans Business Resource Group which focuses on veterans’ services.  This is the first year that workers have built them but Berklund said he would like it to become an annual event.

Eversource Field Service Representative Specialist Brion Hodgkins (left) and Gerry Finn, Operation Playhouse event leader with Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester, work together to install a window on the Park family playhouse. Courtesy Photo

“Anything that has to do with veterans I volunteer for because I am a veteran,” said Berklund, who retired from the U.S. Navy after serving 20 years.

Bob Bersak, Eversource’s in-house counsel, presented the families with a Certificate of Ownership of the playhouses.  “May this playhouse bring you nothing but fun memories!” it said.

Eversource Senior Communications Specialist Beth Untiet paints a sign for the Timms family playhouse. Courtesy Photo

Bersak is also a veteran, serving 10 years in the U.S. Air Force as an attorney with The Judge Advocate General’s Corps and 23 years in the Air Force Reserves.

He said those serving in the military are oftentimes away from their families for extended periods of time.  Building the playhouses, he said, was a small way to make up for that.

Eversource Records Administrator Pam Gaudreault paints birdhouses for the Timms and Park family playhouses. Courtesy Photo

It took the employees a few hours to build both playhouses.

Thelma Brown, a sub-station engineer for 23 years, said she volunteered to work on building the playhouses because it was a fun project and a way to show her appreciation of veterans and the important work they did.

Eversource’s Operation Playhouse volunteers with the finished log cabin-themed playhouse they built for the Park family. Courtesy Photo