A Beautiful Tribute

December 14th, 2014 marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic event that occurred in my hometown.  Residents of Newtown will never forget that day, and I have found myself thinking often throughout the entire year of the families who lost loved ones. There have been tributes to Sandy Hook School all over the world, but one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever seen was created by a local group of Girl Scout Cadettes.


From December twelfth to January first, twenty-six beautiful wooden birdhouses hung from the branches of a white birch tree in the Newtown Historic Ram Pasture.  The Ram Pasture is a public parcel of open land running along our Main Street, and was once common grazing property for local farmers in the early 1700’s.  A picturesque grassy field with a pond, it is the site of the town’s Christmas tree lighting each year.

Newtown’s Historic Ram Pasture

The Ram Pasture, Christmas Eve Night, 2013

Clare Harrison and Gina Wolfman are co-leaders of a local Girl Scout troop of eighth-graders.  The idea for the birdhouses to represent each “Sandy Hook Angel” came last winter from a sweet young girl in the troop who enjoys painting birdhouses in the spring with her family.  The troop agreed it was a wonderful idea, and decided to move forward with the project.

Ready-to-paint birdhouses were purchased.  Clare’s younger daughter is in the sixth-grade troop my daughter is a member of, as well.  Since twenty-six birdhouses would be painted, the younger troop was asked to help.  One of our co-leaders is also a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, so this project took on an even more personal meaning to us all.

In May, each scout was sent home with an unfinished birdhouse to paint, and a name. The remaining birdhouses not assigned to a scout were painted by a few Sandy Hook Elementary teachers, as well.

My daughter and I fretted a little bit when we saw that Jack Pinto was the name she was given.  We knew Jack loved sports. Our family really knows nothing about sports or major sports teams, and we really wanted to ensure the birdhouse we painted truly represented sweet little Jack.  We decided to keep it simple, painting it in the colors of his favorite football team. When we told the local hardware store what we were doing, they made sure to show us the right outdoor paint and one of the salespeople, a football fan, confirmed the colors were the correct team colors. Audrey painted the birdhouse using several coats, and when it was dry, she wrote a little dedication to Jack Pinto on the bottom in permanent ink.

When they were finished, the birdhouses were then returned to Clare, who gave each one several coats of varnish.  One of the girls’ fathers donated laser-cut nameplates. The finished birdhouses are beautiful, each unique and special.

The birdhouses, ready for hanging.

It was decided that the birdhouses would be saved for the anniversary. Special permission was granted to hang them in the tree in the historic pasture.  One afternoon after school, the troops gathered and each scout hung her birdhouse from the low branches of the great white birch.  One of the neighbors living across the street was very moved, coming outside to thank the girls and bringing them a plate of just-baked cookies.  When all twenty-six houses were hung, the result was simply breathtaking, especially against the backdrop of a white blanket of snow.



Photos of the tree and the birdhouses were seen on Facebook, as well as major news websites. For those three weeks, the birdhouses hung for all to enjoy.  The plan is to tuck them away each year after the New Year, make any re-touches needed, and hang them again in town on the eve of the anniversary.  Clare and Gina worked very hard to see the project come to fruition.  I am so proud of all of our girls and moved by the responses I’ve seen to them.  I love the touching idea of a birdhouse hung in memory of a loved one…a beautiful tribute.

Wishing you all a wonderful, peaceful start to the New Year! Please leave me a comment below so I know you stopped by!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 21 Comments

  1. Beautiful indeed. Thank you for sharing this.

    Thank you, MaryJane.  I am so happy to be able to share the tribute with you all here.  Happy New Year to you and all at the farm! Much love, Nicole

  2. Karen Crabtree says:

    What a beautiful tribute and in true, farmgirl spirit!

    Thank you, Karen.  I feel the same way. I was so grateful to be a part of it.  -Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Maureen says:

    Many Blessings and indeed a touching and beautiful tribute.

  4. carole says:

    This was very touching and oh so moving…a lovely lovely tribute.Thanks for sharing…as a parent I can not imagine experiencing such tragedy… EVER. Hoping this will help heal in some way. An amazing and lovely project and so special to involve the children.They will forever be touched and we as well.

  5. Juanita says:

    I am so moved by the bird houses and think this is a wonderful, thoughtful thing for all, The girls did great job. May the Lord bless them very much. Juanita Massey, Virginia Farm sister #1020

    Thank you all.  It moves me even more when I think of the fact that a sweet eighth grader came up with the original idea.  So proud of all of our girls.  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. nameTina Stopa says:

    Hi, I think this is a very loving and caring project. We should all be very proud that is was done.
    My prayers are with those that did this project and to those families that are represented by this project.
    Thank you for posting this.
    Tina

    I am so glad you all can see it.  To be standing there on a quiet afternoon with snow gently falling was such a peaceful, memorable feeling.  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. CR LaGroue says:

    A moving tribute which will help all who see it remember the innocent lives lost amd how fragile life is.. Great idea for the girl scouts…

  8. Adrienne says:

    Everyone is to be commended and all of you are blessed. What a beautiful tribute and these birdhouses will remind us that love is timeless.

  9. Barb says:

    I love this idea. I think I have a few bird houses to paint and hang in my yard in the spring. Great job Audrey and girl scouts.

    #2770

  10. Nancy Bender says:

    I loved the project but did they put little white lights in them.
    Thanks for sharing. Those are very thoughtful little girls.

    Hi Nancy, No there are no lights in them.  They were pre-built, unfinished houses with little openings on rope  from the local craft store to start.  Some of the houses were cut out by some of those who painted some, and many had trinkets or ornamental touches glued to them.  There were no "guidelines" for the painters, only that they reflect the person they were meant to represent.  Any lights you may be seeing are snow flurries against a flash.  I took pictures several times, and the last time, it started to snow as we were standing there.  -Nicole

  11. Judy Lockhart says:

    I was touched to read what these young ladies did for the memory of those sweet, innocent children. As a mother, I know you must be very proud.

    I’m a  very proud mom to one scout and now a co-leader for our troop, as well.  I am so amazed by all of our sweet girls and have watched many of them grow from small children to amazing, talented, thoughtful young ladies.  Proud as a mother hen! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Meredith says:

    Hi Nicole! What a beautiful way to remember those sweet children. Thank you for sharing, and also for reminding me about the Ram pasture, I had forgotten that your town had such a special place preserved. I hope you and your family have a wonderful and blessed new year.

    Hi Meredith, So glad everyone has enjoyed the post.  I thought Gina, Clare and all the scouts did such an amazing thing, and I am so grateful I could share it with you all.  I don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve been through Newtown, but the The Ram Pasture is as beautiful as it has always been.  We did lose the big tree a few Christmases ago in one of the big storms, but a new one was planted and is looking great.  It’s such a picturesque place.  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Wow! Those precious spirits have a beautiful place to rest. Ram park is a fitting place. God bless you all and thanks.

  14. Mel says:

    What a lovely tribute……so sorry that it is even necessary but a wonderful way to remember the lives lost. Your article brought tears to my eyes. Thanx to those thoughtful Girl Scouts! :)

  15. Sharon says:

    Wishing everyone a peace-filled 2014. These victims are always in my heart and in my prayers.

  16. Joan says:

    Such a wonderful tribute, the girls did wonderfully. Thanks so much for sharing this, my heart is blessed. God bless.

  17. Mary says:

    A wonderful tribute to the little lost souls!

  18. Naomi says:

    I am a 44 year old Girl Scout. Our troop from Sandpoint, Idaho gets together yearly for a reunion to stay in touch. What a wonderful blessing to see that Girl Scouts continue to be busy with peace and love in this world. Thank you for sharing.

    Hi Naomi,  Once a scout, always a scout, right?  What I learned as a Girl Scout when I was a child carries over as a farmgirl.  I’m so glad that my daughter has wanted to continue with scouting since she was a daisy.  How nice that you still  get together with your troop! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  19. Beverly Battaglia says:

    This is truly a beautiful tribute, Nicole. Beautiful pictures that made me cry. Tears are streaming down my face because there are so many little birdhouses. Thanks for sending this.
    Love you,
    Mother

    Love you, too! -Nicole

  20. Denise Ross says:

    Such a beautiful heartfelt tribute. Brought tears to my eyes

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