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Hamilton health facilities create scarecrows for tour

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Retirement homes, a mental health center facility and doctors’ offices participated in a Scarecrow Tour on the west end of Hamilton just before Halloween.

Dominic Farrenkopf, community involvement director of Sapphire Lutheran Homes, said bringing scarecrows closer was easier on local residents.

“For years we’ve enjoyed the festival in Stevensville,” Farrenkopf said. “It was difficult to get our scarecrows to Stevensville, but we loved the idea so much some of the long-term facilities in the area thought we’d build them here and share them with each other.”

The idea expanded to include more businesses on the west end of Hamilton. On Wednesday a parade of busses and vans visited each scarecrow and Halloween scene.

“We call it ‘Scarecrow Loop’ and we’ve been able to include some doctors’ offices this year,” Farrenkopf said. “As the event grows, hopefully the loop will grow. Now it is a way for us to get together, have a little camaraderie and enjoy the fruits of our labors, so to speak.”

Donna White, a behavior tech with Riverfront Counseling-Support and Adult Day Treatment, drove a van full of people on the tour.

“It was fun to build the scarecrow, and the people that come to day-treatment like to put things together. They enjoyed making the scarecrow,” said White. “They all voted on which design to use and then it was an effort by all of them. The title is ‘Mr. Jim,’ who is our supervisor. He works with people so well.”

The scarecrow design at Valley View Estates was of a family.

Lois Smith, life enrichment director and volunteer coordinator, said she created the design.

“I got the idea from stickers people put on their cars – the stick figures of the whole family,” White said. “The Scarecrow Tour is so much fun. We really enjoyed it last year. It’s just a fun reason to get out.”

Cameron Criddle, owner and administrator of Bee Hive Homes, said a second assisted-living building opened last week and residents took a bus to the Scarecrow Tour.

“We love seniors and we want to do anything we can do to get them out of the house and see some things. We just want to join in,” said Criddle.

The Bee Hive Homes scarecrow was a wolf in a brass bed and a girl in a red cape with a basket.

“The residents had an idea and it was perpetuated by our activities director Ruth Della Silva,” Criddle said. “They thought Little Red Riding Hood would be a fun one to do this year. The wolf mask is toned down from what they started with.”

The scarecrows at Sapphire Lutheran Home were having a barbecue.

“Our chefs are roasting the crows over the fire pit to send a dire warning to all of the other crows to stay away,” Farrenkopf said.

Big Sky Eye Care had a scarecrow with an eyeball head and large glasses hanging out of the pocket of his lab coat.

Sapphire Lutheran Home residents commented on the tour.

“I liked all of the scarecrows,” Lucille Lind said. “Everyone did a great job, but my favorite was definitely Little Red Riding Hood.”

Andre Stevenson said the tour was great.

“My favorite part was just getting out and enjoying a crisp fall morning,” Stevenson said.

Dorothy Hodges said the whole project was fun.

“My favorite scarecrow was our cooks,” Hodges said. “But I’m just a little biased – I helped build it.”

Farrenkopf said the joint effort was good for the community.

“This provides our long-term residents another opportunity to be part of the community,” Farrenkopf said. “Often people believe that if you live in a long-term care facility that you are no longer in the greater community. That is not true at all. This gives us a chance to compete in a friendly way and creates a sense of pride and accomplishment. You design a project and put it together. People drive by and you show it off. You feel great about who you are and continue to live your life and love your life.”

Reach reporter Michelle McConnaha at 363-3300 or michelle.mcconnaha@ravallirepublic.com.

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