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Carolyn’s Birdhouses

17 Nov 2017, Posted by Seasons in Community

Earlier this year, we had a call come in to our Milton Inpatient Center in Massachusetts, one that to this day makes our staff smile.

Our charge nurse Kimberley took the call. She spoke with a woman, Maura, who was looking to find a volunteer opportunity for her daughter, Carolyn. Carolyn was a Girl Scout working to achieve the Silver Award, only attainable with volunteer hours.

Kimberley was so impressed that a fourteen-year-old had the initiative to research our company and decide that she wanted to volunteer, so she knew she had to find a place for Carolyn.

Kimberley reflected on a meeting she’d recently participated in, discussing our Namaste Care program. Namaste care focuses sensory care to help ease the anxiety our patients with dementia might face.

During the meeting, a story was shared about an inpatient center in the Carolinas that had birdhouses or feeders placed outside each window. A young boy went to the center to visit his grandfather, who was approaching the end of his life. The boy saw a bird outside of the window and said, “This bird will help my grandfather and his angel get to Heaven!” A very short time later, the boy’s grandfather passed away.

“When Maura called me, that story had been in my head. The idea of birdhouses outside of each window at the unit was very appealing to me! But how would I build 15 birdhouses? I can barely draw a stick figure!” said Kimberley.

Kimberley thought it might be something that would interest Carolyn, so she told them the story and asked Carolyn and her mom to visit our inpatient center to see the grounds around it. Carolyn arrived, along with three other girls. They changed their minds and decided to volunteer at an animal shelter, but Carolyn persisted.

She looked at different birdhouses, she researched the best paint to use, and then she built each birdhouse by hand and painted each one with intricate details.

 

Some are beach houses, some look like little churches; each one is its own special creation. Carolyn put in hours and hours of work, creating fifteen beautiful and unique birdhouses for our inpatient center.

When Carolyn brought them to the unit, we set each one up outside a patient’s window on a shepherd’s pole. You can see them as you drive up to our building and the birdhouses make a wonderful topic of conversation. They are colorful, vibrant and bring cheer to each one of our patients and families.

Many families have commented on the birdhouses, saying things like, “It is so nice to sit on my Dad’s patio while he sleeps and experience the calm outside and take in the beauty of the little birdhouses.”

And it turned out to be an even bigger project for our Girl Scout! She had to make an educational presentation to her troop and was even asked by her troop leader to create a blog with her experience.

When Kimberley asked Carolyn why she didn’t quit when her friends did, she said, “I wanted to help the families. It was the story about the grandson seeing a bird outside his grandfather’s window when he passed that inspired me to keep going.”

We are very thankful for Carolyn and her mother, Maura. Carolyn’s compassion for others is an inspiration, and our staff and our patients are so grateful for her efforts.