A couple spends their time helping animals at CROW Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel.
Joan and Jim Bajeck have been flying high together for 49 years.
“So much dedicated to the environment, it just drew us right to it,” said Jim.
The Bajecks first got together in the 1970s after a chance introduction.
“I was in the Navy,” said Jim.
“And I was in college and his cousin happened to be my next door neighbor at the dormitory and she said ‘hey I have a cousin. You want to write to him? He’s in the Navy.’ I said sure,” said Joan.
Jim said he wrote Joan back.
“And then she started sending me cookies that I didn’t make which I love. I thought they were coming from her but was actually her mother,” said Jim.
Joan became a teacher and Jim worked for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“I actually helped Sanibel right after they became incorporated in 1974. I helped them establish a general permit for filling underneath how stilt houses where there was some wetland slews. So they allowed people to have their driveways under their houses. So I worked with the city to develop that. So that’s kind of what got us initially involved in Sanibel, because we spent quite a bit of time here,” said Jim.
Eventually, the pair left New Hampshire to live the island life permanently.
Joan spends much of her time volunteering for CROW. She spends hours each week doing the laundry and grazing turtle and even snakes.
Jim works from home and helps transport animals any time he is needed.
Joan said it’s interesting what they’ve transported and how far they’ll go.
“Yeah, those turtles were something else. Halfway to Mote Marine Lab on 75 north it got out of its straight jacket and started crawling all over our vehicle. This is a 130-pound turtle.” said Jim.
For her birthday, Jim bought Joan a $1000 incubator to care for liters of possums. Their love for each other is only surpassed by their love for wildlife.
“It’s such a feeling to see them go back out into the wild. Just wow. It’s a wild feeling. Like, ‘see you later guys.'” said Jim.
They share a life and a passion for preserving the beauty they fell in love with. As for Joan and Jim’s advice for keeping your own lovebird song going is “Good luck. Go with the flow. Learn to give in a little.”
You can become a volunteer at CROW just by clicking the link, CROW Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. The next Volunteer Orientation is Friday, August 26 at 3:30 p.m.