The school bus stops halfway down Compo Road North and idles there a long time. As the rest of the riders watch with curiosity, seven teenage girls step off, walk up the old path and climb the well-worn porch stairs to number 124. By Westport real estate standards, the house is modest, even humble. But it also feels warm and homey in a way many mansions in town do not — as if a large family of children, perhaps several generations’ worth, have been loved and raised here. Which, in fact, they have.
This is Project Return, the house for troubled girls that in April of this year will celebrate its twentieth anniversary, as well as the tenth anniversary of its annual “The Art of the Birdhouse” auction. Although unrelated, the seven girls who live here are sisters, bound by something perhaps stronger than blood. Trouble has visited them all, early and with force, separating them from their families, but uniting them with one another. For some of them, Project Return is more home than anything they have ever known.
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