A couple spend their time helping animals at the CROW Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel.
Joan and Jim Bajeck have been flying high together for 49 years.
“So dedicated to the environment, it just drew us in,” Jim said.
The Bajecks first came together in the 1970s after a chance introduction.
“I was in the Navy,” Jim said.
“And I was in college and his cousin was my neighbor in the dorm and she said ‘hey, I have a cousin. Do you want to write to him? He’s in the Navy. I said sure,’ a Joan said.
Jim said he wrote back to Joan.
“And then she started sending me cookies that I hadn’t made that I love. I thought they were from her, but it was actually her mother,” Jim said.
Joan became a teacher and Jim worked for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“I actually helped Sanibel right after they incorporated in 1974. I helped them set up a general permit for filling under the stilt houses where there were swamp piles. So they allowed people to have their walkways under their houses. So I worked with the city to develop that. So that’s kind of what brought us to Sanibel, because we spent quite a bit of time here,” Jim said.
Eventually, the couple left New Hampshire to live the island life permanently.
Joan spends much of her time volunteering for CROW. She spends hours every week doing laundry and herding turtles and even snakes.
Jim works from home and helps transport the animals whenever he needs them.
Joan said it’s interesting what they carried and how far they will go.
“Yeah, those turtles were something else. Halfway to Mote Marine Lab on 75 North, he got out of his straitjacket and started crawling all over our vehicle. It’s a 130 pound turtle. said Jim.
For her birthday, Jim bought Joan a $1,000 incubator to care for gallons of opossums. Their love for each other is only surpassed by their love for wildlife.
“It’s such a feeling to see them back in the wild. Just wow. It’s a wild feeling. Like, “see you guys later.” said Jim.
They share a life and a passion to preserve the beauty they fell in love with. As for Joan and Jim’s advice for keeping your own lovebird song, it’s “Good luck. Go with the flow. Learn to give in a bit.
You can become a volunteer at CROW by simply clicking on the link, CROW Clinic for Wildlife Rehabilitation. The next volunteer orientation will be Friday, August 26 at 3:30 p.m.