Residents Build Bird Boxes for Town of Brighton Parks

St. John’s Meadows resident Jim Shannon shows off one of the 20 blue bird boxes built in recent months

Perhaps the best way to describe the work that comes out of the St. John’s Meadows Woodshop these days is purpose driven. So many of the items produced in this resident space over the past few years have gone towards causes and initiatives both around St. John’s and throughout the Rochester community at-large.

That is not to say that every board cut to size and sanded, every bracket installed, or every screw turned has gone towards solving some kind of unmet community need; although, you could argue it seems that way. From the construction of desks for refugee school children during the COVID-19 pandemic to building desktop easels for a new resident-led drawing and painting class, this dedicated group of St. John’s independent living residents is well-known for using creativity and resourcefulness to make the community a better place.

Blue Bird Boxes Ready for March Installation

With its latest project, the group that includes Steve Sloan, Abe Vigoda, and Jim Shannon has partnered with the Town of Brighton Recreation and Parks Department to update and upgrade bird boxes located in parks around town. True to form, this initiative has become an organized collaboration between the group of St. John’s residents and the town. The woodshop workers used pine lumber procured from Shannon’s farm combined with hardware, pipes, and paint supplied by the town to create 20 new blue bird boxes. In the coming weeks, these bird boxes will be installed in Meridian Centre Park and Buckland Park.

What has made this project so special for the group has been its conservation component– a topic about which both Sloan and Shannon are passionate. The bird boxes built in the woodshop met the entry hole specifications for blue birds, were built with easy access to cleaning in mind, and were finished with linseed oil. The group hopes these contemporary bird boxes will stand the test of time and provide home and shelter for blue birds for many years to come. “We hope the boxes bring many new blue birds– the official New York State bird–to town parks,” Sloan, Vigoda, and Shannon said in a statement.

St. John’s Meadows resident Steve Sloan, Brighton Parks Superintendent Matt Beeman, and St. John’s Vice President of Senior Housing Tony Zaccaglino

When Town of Brighton Parks Superintendent Matt Beeman visited the St. John’s Meadows Woodshop to pick up the bird boxes before readying them for placement, he left with several bat boxes as well. These bat boxes– painted by Elaine Vigoda, Mary Shannon, and Peg Williams– will soon be installed roughly 12 feet off the ground along Brighton’s Brickyard Trail.

More Purposeful Woodshop Projects to Come

Now that this motivated group of craftsmen at St. John’s have handed off the completed bird boxes to the town, they are once again hard at work planning future projects that are generous in spirit. In addition to upgrading bird boxes for use across the St. John’s campus to the south of Elmwood Avenue, they hope to collaborate with the town and Monroe County officials to produce even more structures that will have a positive impact on our local wildlife. “We were very happy to have this relationship with the town,” the group says, “and hope there may be other opportunities for our woodshop to assist.”

The group also hopes to recruit more residents to join them in the woodshop, located behind the Chestnut Court Building on the southeastern side of St. John’s Meadows. Shannon is confident that he has several neighbors who would enjoy showcasing their creative talents and feel good about contributing to important causes and initiatives. “Once people know what we are doing here in the woodshop, I’m sure more residents will be interested in joining us,” says Shannon. “And we would certainly welcome those who are interested.”



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