NIANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) – “It’s magic, it’s real magic,” says Annette Smith who works in the dining room at Crescent Point, a senior living community in Niantic.

She’s talking about a natural process that’s always fascinating to witness. The journey from caterpillar to cocoon to winged beauty.

“When my boys were very young – 10, 12 years old – I wanted to do something with them where they could see what was going on, all around them,” says Smith.

So, she cultivated monarch and swallowtail butterflies.

When she began working at Crescent Point, she was certain the residents would get a lot out of watching the metamorphosis, as well. The tank sits in the lobby and has attracted a loyal group of fans.

“We have a lady that comes down every night and goes and checks the tank. Or, if their relatives visit or grandchildren, they all know this is going on,” says Smith.

“Oh, I think they’re a joy, an absolute joy,” says Irene Wimberger, one of the residents who stay engaged with the project which promotes learning, conversation and togetherness.

“Everybody is asking all sorts of questions of Annette about her butterflies and she gives you the whole story,” says Wimberger.

When it’s time to release them and let them fly, the residents take turns helping the gorgeous creatures find their freedom.

“I thought that was wonderful – that’s the life – and you wave goodbye to it and that’s the end but you had the pleasure of it,” says Wimberger.

A sweet, small gesture that’s making a big impact.

“They really enjoy it, it’s a lot of fun,” says Smith.

This is an eight-week hobby each year and Smith plans on sharing it with the Crescent Point residents for years to come.