Pallet to Ecofriendly Bird House

Submitted by Terry McGuire

            The Wood Shop at Collington is an underutilized resource.  Woodworking is the perfect activity for residents of Collington.  Woodworking can challenge our minds, strengthen our bodies, and provide opportunities to meet other residents.  In addition, we can repair cherished a piece of furniture or create something for ourselves or as a gift.

            Wood working does not have to be expensive.  Collington throws away 100’s of wooden pallets each year.  I wanted to see how long it would take to turn a pallet into a bird house.  I selected the pallet shown because the slats were 5 ½ inches wide.  In addition, the slats were nearly 3/4-in thick. This type of pallet is very common in the Collington dumpsters.

Starting Pallet
Wooden Boards
Finished Birdhouse

          On Day One I moved the pallet into the shop to dry.  On Day Two,   I cut the pallet into boards using the circular saw.  In theory, there is enough wood in a single pallet for two to three bird houses.  However, a great deal of pallet wood is damaged and not useable. 

            The useable boards were the correct width (5 ½ inches wide) so I cut the pieces to length with the sliding compound miter saw.  I needed two pieces wider than 5 ½ inches for the roof.  I selected some reasonably flat pieces and straightened one edge on the jointer.  I then trimmed the boards on the table saw using safety bypass mode. These pieces were then glued and clamped to make wider boards.  I let the glue dry overnight.  Before I left the shop, I drilled the entry hole in the front piece.  The hole was sized for a Carolina wren using 1 1/8″ Fortsner bit. This hole is too small for a house sparrow.

            On Day Three I cut the roof pieces using the table saw and the compound saw. I assembled the box using corner clamps to line up the pieces and used the 18 gauge brad nailer to join the pieces together.   The roof in hinged opens for clean out.  I used a recycled hinge on the roof and a new hook-and-eye to close the roof.  I have installed a screw eye to hang this box from a tree. (It could also be mounted on a pole).   Total time was about three hours.  Total cost – less than $2.00.   You could also paint the bird box.

            Making this bird box is an excellent teaching tool.  It uses many power tools (circular saw, table saw, sliding compound miter saw, drill press, hand drill and brad nailer).  In addition, it teaches how to glue up narrow boards to make a wider board and how to use corner clamps to make a right-angle box.

            The Collington Wood Shop is looking for new users and new members.  If you are interested in learning more about the Wood Shop (or better yet becoming an active member of the Wood Shop) please contact Terry McGuire ( or 908-328-4100.


Posted on September 11, 2022 by Dennis Evans

Composting is Alive and Well at Collington

Submitted by Terry Mcguire

Composting at Collington started in November 2018. For variety of reasons, that initial attempt failed. In 2020, the Compost bins located near the greenhouse had to be shut down. All compost operations were moved to the Hilltop Gardens. In April 2021, all of the commercially available plastic bins were replaced by four custom-build wooden bins. Each of these bins holds about 160 gallons of kitchen and green waste.

I have recently given talks about composting at several District meetings. It has become apparent that many residents believe that there is no composting remaining at Collington. Nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the black fence in the 5000’s is the Hilltop Garden. In the Hilltop Garden are four active compost bins that produce 100’s of gallons of rich compost each year.

All residents may use these bins. Add kitchen waste to the bins marked with green dots. There is a metal tool which you may spread out your waste into thin layer. You dig a hole in the existing leaves or add a handful of dried to cover the waste. You are done. The compost committee will take it from there.

As of April 1, 2022 residents in the apartments may deliver their kitchen waste to the green buckets (pictured above) in the recycling rooms on the first floor of the apartments. The collected waste will be delivered to the Hilltop Gardens on Tuesday and Fridays.

Items you may compost in the Collington bins.
• You can compost any plant material (fruit, vegetables and grains). These foods may be cooked or uncooked. A small amount of salad dressing or vegetable oil is fine.
• You may compost egg shells and coffee grounds (including the paper filter).
• Trimmings from house plants may be composted if they are cut into pieces 4 inches or less in length. However, do not compost plant material if it is diseased.
• Tea bags; You can always compost the tea leaves. However the tea bags holding the leaves may be composted, if and only if, the box indicates that the bags are acceptable for home composting. Many tea bags contain plastic.
Items you should not compost in the Collington bins:
• No meat, fish, seafood, or bones.
• No dairy products.
• No kitty litter or dog waste.
• No wine corks.
• No paper (except for coffee filters)
• No seeds from pumpkins and squash (they survive composting and sprout everywhere).
• Large avocado and mango seeds should be discarded unless they are chopped into pieces. (They take years to compost).
Recommendations (to help both the microorganisms and the Collington composters)
• It is best if you chop up peels, rinds and cobs into 2 to 3 inch pieces.
• Whole fruits and vegetables should be chopped.
• Please remove the stickers from produce – they never compost.

This post is available as a handout: Composting

Women’s History Month 2022 UPDATED EVENT TIMES

The theme this year is “Our Bodies/Our Lives.” There will be two speakers and three classes throughout the month. All presentations will be by ZOOM.

Speaker #1 Mrs. Doris Crump Rainey – Wednesday, March 9, 1-3 PM. Resistance: Life as a Black Woman in Segregated Virginia.

Class #1 Girls & Young Women, Wednesday, March 16, 11-12:30 PM. This class will explore cultural expectations and lived realities.

Speaker #2 Lea Eisenstein, Saturday, March 19, 3-5 PM. Contraception Then and Now

Class #2 Middle Ages, Wednesday, March 23, 11-12:30 PM. This session will share insights about different American Women’s maturation and varied experiences.

Class #3 Older Women’s Lives, Wednesday, March 30, 1-2:30 PM. Today more women live longer and have different attitudes unwilling to simply sit in rocking chairs!

A Graduation Tea will be held Wednesday, March 30, following the class from 4-5 PM.

Heather Huyck and Judythe Alston are co-chairs of Women’s History Month. They request that those interested in participating in the classes submit a profile in advance.

Medstar to Cover the Health Center

Collington CEO, Ann Gillespie, and Collington COO, Megan Barbour, announced on January 7 that the MedStar Center for Successful Aging will be overseeing ALL health care at Collington by April 2022. MedStar’s Dr. George Taler will be Collington’s Medical Director for the campus. The MedStar Clinic at Collington Team: Dr. Pinky Singh, NP Caroline Shirima, Maracca Snowden and Lawanda Charles, will remain.

Dr. Taler is a clinical Geriatrician and one of the founding fathers of the MedStar House Call Program at Washington Hospital Center and Vice President Medical Affairs of MedStar Home Health.  He received his MD and residency training at University of Maryland- Baltimore and completed a clinical fellowship in Geriatrics at Parker Geriatric Institute in Hyde Park New York. He is also a Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He has received several “Best Doctor” awards over the years.

This an expansion of Medstar’s relationship with Collington to include Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Memory Care in the Creighton Health Center as well as the current Medstar Clinic for Independent Living at Collington.  A critical component of this model is continuity of care. Collington’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan includes goals focused on transforming our model of care and service away from a “siloed” approach, where a transition through the continuum is disjointed, to a more integrated, seamless experience.

The Medstar expansion will replace the Adfinitas team: Dr. Jennifer Riedinger, Dr. Cecilia Kim, and Physician Assistant Erin McEnany, that provided care in the Health Center and previously, the Clinic.