Hoping to “spice things up” at several local nursing home communities, Matt Hugo of Framingham built and installed over 20 birdhouses outside these homes as part of his Eagle Scout project. As he attracted birds, Hugo said he wanted to make life for the elderly more exciting and teach the residents the importance of local wildlife.
The birdhouses will attract chickadees, the Massachusetts state bird, and small woodpeckers.
Hugo, with help of 16 other scouts and friends, learned the art of woodworking as they constructed each birdhouse. They installed seven birdhouses in each nursing home community, he said. The project gave other Scouts the opportunity to earn their own woodworking merit badges.
Directly involved in each step of the project, Hugo built, painted and installed the bird houses, and also gave presentations at the homes he worked with. These lectures focused on “the importance of the environment,” Hugo said.
Many of the elderly are emotional about coming to these homes, Hugo said, and these birdhouses will hopefully make their stay homier and more exciting. “Excitement among the elderly is really what I would like to see,” he said.
Residents of the elderly communities feel isolated, said Dick Clarke, Hugo’s Scout Leader.
Elderly people still have lives to live and “I appreciated that Matt was sensitive to that,” he said.
The project was a combination of the “leave no trace” environmental theme of Hugo’s Scout troop and a personal interest in the conditions of elderly living, Hugo said, adding that his own grandmother is a resident of one of the communities now enjoying a new kind of company.
Scouts are taught the importance of respecting and bettering the environments they encounter, and the project helped was both improving the conditions of these communities and spreading the scout’s message, Hugo said.
These presentations were delivered with both organization and compassion and patience for the recipients of the birdhouses, said Mike Hugo, Matt’s father and chairman of the Framingham Board of Health.
Earning the rank of Eagle Scout gave Hugo crucial leadership training and “taught me to represent everyone,” he said.
Hugo graduated from Framingham High in June. He will attend Boston College in the fall.