Birdhouses crafted for midcoast charity

Posted July 05, 2010, at 9:15 p.m.
Birdhouses built, painted for charity on the midcoast.
(Bangor Daily News/Heather Steeves)
Birdhouses built, painted for charity on the midcoast. (Bangor Daily News/Heather Steeves)

ROCKLAND, Maine — When John Batty and Angela Pomerleau sent about 50 birdhouses into Greater Rockland to be embellished, they weren’t sure what they were going to get back.

So far, they have a white house with fairies and leprechauns painted on the wood; a multistory tan birdie mansion with red roofs; a bird cabin complete with a dock created by a Rockland artist; and Batty’s own Plexiglas screen-painted creation.

These and about 56 other birdhouses will be auctioned off at the Birdhouse Bonanza on July 24.

The idea, according to Batty, who is a member of the Rockland Kiwanis Club, was to have a major fundraiser for his group without directly asking people or businesses for money.

To participate, people purchase a blank birdhouse for $10. Then they decorate the houses and bring them back. Participants also may build their own birdhouses. Pomerleau then places them about town in Main Street shops, and people can bid online for the houses. The online bidding will close before the live event.

The proceeds will be shared 50-50 between the local Kiwanis and the Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education. Batty said Kiwanis plans to use the money for scholarship and other community programs.

Pomerleau, the director of the art center, said she would use the money for children’s programs, including scholarships for families who can’t afford some classes.

The pair isn’t sure how much they might raise through the new event, but Batty is hoping for $10,000.

One contributor has helped boost the fundraiser already, the organizers said.

Eric Hopkins’ gallery is in downtown Rockland. He had been planning his birdhouse project since late May, and the finished product — a red birdhouse with an attached dock and a backdrop of wooden trees and a huge glass sun — is on display at his gallery.

Hopkins said he didn’t want simply to decorate a birdhouse.

“I’m not a decorator, so I put it in context — birds on a shore,” he said Monday. “It’s a good cause and it is something different I can do.”

Hopkins said he also hoped the project would help make his art a little more accessible, although he estimated the value of his piece at about $6,000. The opening bid will be $1,000.

Hopkins’ reputation has attracted others to give, Pomerleau said Monday.

“When people hear that he is involved, they want to get involved,” Pomerleau said.

She said many in the community have volunteered their time to the project, including her own grandmother who is sewing pouches together. The pouches hold birdseed and are placed throughout town to promote the event.

Although the deadline for submitting birdhouses was July 5, the organizers said people still may drop them off at the Lincoln Street Center anytime before July 18.

“We’re not desperate, but we could always use more,” Batty said.

The auction will be at the Lincoln Street Center the evening of Saturday, July 24. For more information, call Pomerleau at 594-6490.

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