Bristol man injured on the job spends time building doll houses for kids in need

PLANTSVILLE – A horrific accident on the job took a Bristol man away from doing the work he loves, but he found a way to continue to build homes and give back to children in need.

Bill Flaherty has been living at The Summit at Plantsville, a health care and rehabilitation center, for three years.

Flaherty was a carpenter and built homes in Connecticut for about 20 years until he fell on the job and broke his back.

“I was cutting too fast and maybe the weight of the saw or something, that fell down, and I just fell and I followed it,” he said. “At the very beginning I had no control over your body at all, you couldn’t feel your legs or nothing.”

The 62-year-old is paralyzed from the waist down and bound to a wheelchair, taking away his ability to build.

He is younger than most patients at The Summit and was getting bored watching T.all the time, after his visits to rehab. The Director of Theraputic Recreation, Barbara Blau, helped him pick up a new project. She learned in speaking with him, he was a builder, and wanted to help him continue his craft.

Blau gave him the idea to build miniature houses, so he said with trepidation, he’d give it a try. His first project was to build a doll house which took him three weeks. Blau contacted Plantsville Elementary School who chose a little girl with special needs to receive this gift.

“It’s good to make a child happy,” Flaherty said. “I get good pleasure doing it.”

He said the child, Kylie, was surprised and excited when she came to The Summit and he told her she could keep the doll house.

A few days later, he received a thank you letter from Kylie which reads in part, “Dear Mr. Bill I love my new doll house you made for me. I love to play with it every day. My favorite thing to do is play with the little tiny dollies. I would like to visit you again someday, you are my nice friend. Your friend, Kylie.”

While Flaherty worked on his second and now third project, he has the letter from Kylie hanging on his wall. He said his family has been very supportive, even purchasing the tools he needs to build the homes.

His second project was a country western themed cabin and he is now working on a barn.

“The more you do it the better you get at them,” he said. “Little tricks you find to make it faster for you.”

Blau will help Flaherty find two more children in need to give the houses to and he told FOX61 he plans to keep building for the kids.

“I look forward to doing it now,” he said. “You never know where your destiny’s going to go.”

While he said he wishes he could walk again, building these houses gives him purpose, and he enjoys making children happy.

Blau said since he has begun these projects his is happier, more social and the quality of his life has improved because he knows he is making a difference.