On a table in his living room Andy Miller has a picture of himself and one of his clients when he was the pharmacist at Brooks’ in the Canal Street plaza. The elderly woman was fond of him, sometimes asking for a kiss on the cheek when she came in the store, and frequently talking about the Red Sox. “She lived alone and didn’t drive so I would give her a lily at Easter or a poinsettia at Christmas, as those were important Holidays for her and I always felt like it kept her spirits up,” Andy recalls
Those were the types of relationships Andy established with customers for over 15 years at Brooks, and it is why he fell in love with the town of Brattleboro in a way he never thought possible. He thought the seacoast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire was his ideal destination after graduating from college. But while working in Claremont, the Brooks’ franchise asked him if he would take the vacant pharmacist position in their southern Vermont store.
It was about a year later when Andy was approached by Dr. Thomas Evans with the vision of starting a walk-in clinic. The idea resonated with him, having seen firsthand that there were people who couldn’t afford to pay for medications they needed, and he threw himself into the cause. He has been the president of their board for 10 years now, tirelessly raising awareness, funds, supplies and services for the Brattleboro Area Walk-in Clinic on Belmont Avenue.
“I had a very successful practice. I had to give back. You can’t be a taker in this life,” Andy says, and he is proud to live in a community where he sees so many people embracing this same philosophy. “I always joke with friends you could have anything wrong in Brattleboro and there’s someone here who can help you. I think that this community is extremely compassionate, and it has a soul.”
Andy’s career as a pharmacist tied him intrinsically with Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and when he learned about the fund to cover medical costs of uninsured patients he saw the similar need that compelled him to get involved with the walk-in clinic. While he acknowledges that he is younger than most people who make donations to BMH, he doesn’t consider himself in possession of any special insight.
“The hospital is very much a public domain; like a public park. Anybody can go there and get what they need for care,” says Andy. “I’ve accessed care at the hospital for many things. People don’t realize that all hospitals are not the same. There’s a way different feel to BMH than hospitals in larger town and cities.”
Since Brooks’ was bought out by Rite-Aid in 2007, Andy has been working in Walpole. But his personal life and his heart are still in Brattleboro, and he has just opened his own pharmacy on Canal Street.
“People were always asking me when I’m coming back to town,” says Andy, while admitting that starting his own independently-owned pharmacy is a little risky. “This town has always supported local businesses. If I’m successful as I used to be, it’s also going to allow me to give back to this community in a much bigger way and just have better mindset working back in this community which I love. “