June 27, 2017 12:34PM
By Jesse Buchanan, Record-Journal staff
SOUTHINGTON — Bill Flaherty hasn’t built a home since he was injured in a 1999 accident, but he’s taken up building model houses for children while undergoing treatment at The Summit in Plantsville.
A special needs girl at Plantsville Elementary got Flaherty’s first creation, a three-story dollhouse he constructed and painted. He’s now working on a log cabin home and accompanying barn for a boy, although a recipient hasn’t yet been decided.
Flaherty said he always enjoyed building homes. “Now I just build them in a smaller scale,” he said. “You have to get correct angles for the roof pitch and all that.”
Flaherty’s sisters and Barbara Blau, therapeutic recreation director, suggested he build the models. Blau said he agreed, and later told her that his grandfather had built dollhouses and toy garages for the family.
“He is following in his grandfather’s footsteps,” Blau said.
Flaherty said he was getting “a little bored” while undergoing treatment over the last several years before the suggestion from Blau and his sisters.
Flaherty fell while working on a home in Simsbury nearly 20 years ago and has experienced health problems since then. He now has a collection of tools, paints and supplies for working on smaller projects, including a tiny miter box for sawing small pieces of wood.
“He tells me what to get at Home Depot and I get it,” Blau said.
The Plantsville student, her teacher and a social worker came to The Summit recently to get her dollhouse. When she entered Flaherty’s room, she immediately began playing with it.
Flaherty “called her over and said, ‘I made this for you.’ We didn’t know what to do. We were all sobbing,” Blau said.
“She was so happy with it,” Flaherty said. “It was great.”