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 19th Annual Birdhouse Auction, scheduled for April 5 at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton.

We are grateful to the dozens of downtown merchants who have joined in to highlight these whimsical, humorous, provocative, outrageous, delicate, nostalgic, romantic, and emotional creations: Achorn Pharmacy, Addison Wells, Alex & Ani, Ann Taylor, Arogya, Allen Edmonds, Banana Republic, Benefit, Blue Mercury 2, Brooks Brothers Stores, Brownstone, Chico's, Coldwell Banker, Dovecote, diptyque, Earth Animal, Eileen Fisher, Fast Frames, Faye Kim Designs, Fringe 125 Salon, Gap, Granola Bar, Intermix, Johnston & Murphy Shoes, LF Westport, L'Occitane, Loft, Lululemon, Lux, Bond & Green, Massage Envy, Max's Art Supplies, Mitchell's, Nike, Oscar's, Paper Source, Papyrus, Patagonia, Picture This, Rahelia, Shoes-N-More, Shoe Inn, Simon Pearce, Soleil Toile, Specs, Splash of Pink, Spruce, Sunglass Hut, Talbots, Terrain, The Mumbai Times, Tiffany & Co., Touch of Europe, Vincent Palumbo, 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 28 years the yellow Project Return house with the red shutters on North Compo Road has served as a haven for 150 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 services, and our after-school community service program known as HEAL-promote hope, healing, growth, and rebuilding.

Our always highly anticipated Birdhouse Auction will feature music by DNR, Fairfield County's (almost) all-physician rock band. A flowing martini bar courtesy of Tito's Vodka, small plates, astonishing birdhouses, and a multitude of silent Auction items will make it an evening not to be missed. Tickets are $125. Visit or call 203-291-6402 for more information.

Thanks to all our downtown community partners for their enduring support of Project Return and the art of the birdhouse!

Susie Basler

Executive director

Project Return, Westport