GODFREY — Animal control officer Susie Stephan is using her love of animals to reach out to part of the community too often overlooked — senior citizens.
That commitment is behind Stephan’s goal to install birdhouses outside the windows of residents at Integrity Healthcare, 1623 W. Delmar Ave. in Godfrey (formerly Blu Fountain Manor).
“I come here every Tuesday with my dog, Ed,” Stephan said. “I do this as an outreach and let the dog visit with all the residents, and they love it. When I was here, I noticed many of them like to look out of the window but there really wasn’t a lot to look at. We wanted to put birdhouses outside of their windows to give the people something enjoyable to watch.”
The houses are donations, bought from local stores, or used houses seeking a new home.
Stephan approached Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick and his wife, Linda, to see if they wanted to be involved in the program. The McCormicks jumped at the opportunity to support a village employee.
“Susie (Stephan) asked us if we would like to be the first to donate some birdseed,” Mayor McCormick said. “Of course we wanted to be a part of it. It’s a great opportunity to support a local business in our town and an opportunity to do something nice for our residents, while also supporting our animal control officer, who is doing a fantastic job. She’s doing things differently; she’s reaching out to people with projects like this.”
Emma Baggio from Girl Scout Troop 47 came to Integrity Healthcare with her mother, Sara, to help Stephan with the task of filling the birdhouses with seed.
“I really like visiting with the people here,” Emma said. “I like seeing their faces light up when they see birds outside of their window. It makes them happy and I like helping Susie.”
Stephan is seeking donations of birdseed and new or used birdhouses from anyone interested in being involved.
“There are many residents here at Integrity and many windows,” she said. “We would really like to have a birdhouse outside of each window. Some rooms have two residents per room, and we’d like for them to have that to share with each other.”
Anyone interested in donating seed or birdhouses can drop off their donations at McCormick’s office during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Godfrey Village Hall, 6810 Godfrey Road.