JOHN DAY - The Rodriguez family is hoping that birdhouses will lead to help for their son, Christopher.

At only 4 months of age, Christopher developed a brain aneurysm, disabling him with cerebral palsy and other medical problems.

Christopher, now 19 years old, can't speak, is wheelchair-bound, and has little to no mobility, requiring him to need assistance at all times.

Karen and Walter Rodriguez moved their family from Eugene to John Day last September, hoping the drier climate here would be better for Christopher's health.

Although happy with their new home here, they would like to be able to make it more accessible for Christopher's needs. They are planning renovations including widening the doorway of Christopher's room, and remodeling the bathroom and other parts of the house.

Walter, who is retired from the U.S. Navy, had considered returning to work as a respiratory therapist. But Karen, who cares for Christopher most of the time, is recovering from back surgery after a car accident, so the work plans are on hold.

Meantime, they came up with a birdhouse idea.

Karen said they had built a custom one as a gift for friends a couple of years ago. They decided to turn this into a fund-raiser and perhaps a small business to offset some of the remodeling costs.

Getting acquainted with their new community and having a family-unifiying activity were additional perks to the idea, according to Karen.

The family also has three daughters, Rebekah, 17 and a junior at Grant Union High School; and Stephanie and Gerri, who are certified nursing assistants. They moved from Tucson, Ariz. to live with the rest of the family and help with a lot of Christopher's needs.

Christopher's grandmother, Lynne Wilson is a long-time Grant County resident. Living closer to her was another reason the family moved to Grant County. The family created a "Fiddling Lynne" birdhouse just for her, too.

Two of the birdhouses can currently be seen at Pioneer Feed and Supply, and at Mountains Department Store. They are custom-designed for each business. Information about the family is also available at the two stores.

For more information, contact the family at 575-5609, or e-mail karen79@centurytel.net.

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