Stores in Westport are brimming with birdhouses! Take a stroll downtown to catch glimpses of more than 130 birdhouses nesting in shop windows. Artists from all over the country have lovingly created their personal harbingers of spring, and Project Return's 18th Annual Birdhouse Auction is scheduled April 6 at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton from 7 to 11 p.m.

We are grateful to the dozens of downtown merchants who have joined in to highlight these whimsical, humorous, provocative, outrageous, delicate, nostalgic, and emotional creations.

They are: Ann Taylor, Arogya, Banana Republic, Benefit, Body Talk, Brooks Brothers Stores, Brownstone, Calypso, Chic Jolie, Coach, Coldwell Banker, Dovecote, Earth Animal, Fast Frames, Faye Kim Designs, Eileen Fisher, Francois duPont Jewelers, Fringe 125 Salon, Gap, Intermix, Jack Wills, Johnston & Murphy, LF Westport, L'Occitane, Loft, Lucy's, Lululemon, Lux Bond & Green, Massage Envy, Max's Art Supplies, Mitchells, Nike, Oscar's, Papersource, Papyrus, Patagonia, Picture This, Plumed Serpent, Pottery Barn, Rahelia, Shoe Inn, Simon Pearce, Soleil Toile, Specs, Splash of Pink, Spruce, Talbots, Theory, Tiffany & Co., Touch of Europe, Vineyard Vines, Walin & Wolff, Westport Historical Society, Westport Library, Westport Pizzeria, Westport-Weston Family Y, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, and Wish List.

Echoing the comforts of home, the birdhouses remind us of what Project Return is all about -- creating a safe, nurturing, and caring environment for adolescent girls and young women in crisis. For 27 years, the yellow Project Return house with the red shutters on North Compo Road has served as a haven for 146 girls, who, for a multitude of reasons, have been unable to live at home with their families. All of our services -- our residential program, our aftercare and transitional living programs, and our after-school community service program HEAL, promote hope, healing, and growth.

Project Return's Birdhouse Stroll on Thursday evening, March 21 is an opportunity to come out in support of Project Return, our downtown merchants and all of the fabulous artists who have come together in the spirit of giving and community. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. with a welcoming reception at West Elm on Main Street and end with a dessert reception at 8 at Urban Outfitters on Post Road East. Attendees are invited to stop by later at The Spotted Horse on Church Street for dinner; the restaurant is generously donating 10 percent of the evening's dinner/bar revenue to Project Return. The Stroll is free and open to everyone.

And please join us at our always highly anticipated Birdhouse Auction. One of this year's highlights will be the jiving pop-rock sound of the non-profit band The Subscribers, made up of talented local businessmen who give back to the community by performing free of charge. For tickets and information, visit our website at or call 203-291-6402. Tickets to the Auction are $125.

Come join in the fun with all your "feathered friends!"

Susie Basler, exec. director

Project Return