You can hear buzzing from a backyard in Farmington most days of the week: It's the sound of creativity born in a time of crisis.
When Senan Gorman, the graphic designer by trade, found his work slowing to a halt amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to use his newfound free time to take up a new skill -- chainsaw carving.
"I've always wanted a cool chainsaw," he said, laughing.
But it's more than just a cool way of cutting down quarantine boredom. It's also a way to give back.
"We really appreciate the front-line workers," he said, "and wanted to see what we can do to, to help them out."
So, putting his creativity to work, Gorman enlisted his family into what he calls the 'Tiki Task Force.'
Their mission? Transforming downed trees and donated logs into tiki statues, which are then sold locally, with all proceeds used to buy lunches for healthcare heroes.
"They mean a variety of different things, but warding off evil, promoting health and wellness and prosperity," Gorman explained.
For Gorman's son Senan, a high school athlete, it's also a way to keep up with physical training since his lacrosse and track seasons were cancelled. The junior Senan hauls and debarks the wood with his siblings, a process he calls "grueling" but gratifying.
"Very painstaking, you have to make sure it's very clean and get all the rough bark off so it's easy to carve," he said.
From there, it takes the senior Senan about four hours to carve each tiki.
Through the Tiki Task Force Facebook page and around town, word spread quickly.
Gorman's already filled over 30 orders and has a backlog of at least 40 more statues lined up, ranging in price from $100 to $200.
So far, he's donated over $3,000 worth of meals to healthcare workers at a growing list of facilities including Connecticut Children's, Middlesex Hospital, Mt. Sinai Rehab Hospital, MidState Medical Center and the Jerome Home and Arbor Rose in New Britain.
Photos: Tiki Task Force Supports Healthcare Heroes
Gorman orders the meals through local restaurants like Toasted Oat Cafe of Canton and Mondo Restaurant of Middletown. providing a much-needed boost for one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic.
And he's also made cash donations to local food pantries, something he'll be doing more of as COVID-19 cases wind down.
"The mission will absolutely change moving forward. It already has begun to evolve," he said. "We’ve donated to our local food pantry in Farmington, and next week we’re visiting a local domestic violence shelter and a homeless shelter, so we’re hoping to continue benefiting our community in that kind of way.”
He's also hoping other chainsaw carvers and creative types will draw inspiration from his unique model of giving and join the Tiki Task Force.
"Just like the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about. The idea being, big picture, that any chainsaw carver can pick up a chainsaw, carve a tiki, sell it locally anywhere they are globally, and benefit their own community in some way," he said.