- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - It was his passion for birds that led Howard Henry to his unusual post-retirement vocation: teaching others how to build birdhouses.

A retired educator and ornithologist, Henry, 86, has spent the last 20 years traveling to schools, churches and other groups to hold birdhouse-building workshops in Michigan and six other states.

He estimates he’s helped to build more than 200 birdhouses, the Jackson Citizen Patriot (https://bit.ly/1IvPztF ) reported.

“I enjoy doing this because the kids enjoy it so very much,” said Henry, of Rives Township. “These birdhouses are something these people will have forever.”

He recently held a birdhouse-building workshop at Lions Park in Jackson for a group of special needs adults. The workshop was organized in part by LifeSpan, a Jackson-based nonprofit, which aids children and adults with disabilities.

Dawn McGrady, a clinical assistant at LifeSpan, said such events help cultivate motor skills and socialization skills.

“It’s personally satisfying to know you’re helping people achieve their goals and get out in the community when sometimes they don’t have access to the community outside their homes and families,” McGrady said.

Timmy Forbes of Jackson was among the participants. Amid pounding on nails and gluing plywood together, Forbes said he had plans to hang the birdhouse up in his backyard and feed “all the pretty birds.”

It can be difficult, at times, to gather groups of patients for activities outside their homes, said Julie Jahn, operations manager for LifeChoices, a program within LifeSpan.

“What’s important is they are making friends and meeting new people and being a part of the community,” Jahn said.

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Information from: Jackson Citizen Patriot, https://www.mlive.com/jackson


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