Colette Hawley of Chicago, Illinois is not afraid to go to new heights in order to reach her beloved senior citizens.
Colette, who goes by Coco, has been going to nursing homes to give free concerts for seniors since 2014. She loves using her talent to help seniors benefit from the power of music, noting its ability to help with memory and cognitive problems. When nursing facilities had to close their doors to protect residents from COVID-19, Coco found a new way to connect.
Coco started Coco’s Songs for Seniors after witnessing firsthand how well they respond to hearing familiar songs from their younger days. “When I saw what was happening just from them hearing music, it was the most powerful thing I had ever seen music do,” she said.
Coco continued to perform even during the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic, standing outside the facilities holding a sign that said, “I love you.” As Memorial Day weekend approached, she knew she wanted to do something special for the residents living on the upper levels of Chicago Methodist Senior Services. That’s when she came up with the idea to rent a cherry picker to lift herself up 4 stories so she could give the seniors a front row seat to her concert!
The rental cost $550 per day, so Coco started a GoFundMe to help defray the costs. She wound up paying about $150 out of her own pocket and received donations to cover the rest. After receiving a crash course in operating the lift, Coco was ready to give the concert of her life!
She raised the cherry picker up 30-feet and sang “All Of Me” for the delighted seniors inside. As she went through a repertoire that included “Tutti-frutti” and “America the Beautiful” the residents inside cheered and clapped. Jenn Ross, the art program coordinator at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, says that the seniors are always happy when Coco comes to sing for them, but this spectacle made her visit even more special.
“Everybody was smiling and laughing,” Jenn said, adding, “There’s a huge loss right now without having family members and friends and volunteers here to engage with folks. … It really kind of boosted morale all around.”
Coco’s big move went viral, so now she’s encouraged to take her mission to entertain seniors even further! She’s expanded the GoFundMe to enable her to travel to more facilities to brighten their day through song. She’s not just focusing on nursing homes; she’s already planning a Father’s Day event outside a veteran’s home in Illinois. She hopes to not only entertain the elderly, but to draw attention to this often-forgotten demographic.
“Seniors don’t really have a big national advocate,” she said. “I’m coming in hot through the happy face of music, but my endgame is to stand up for seniors and be an advocate.”
When there’s a will, there’s always a way! It’s fantastic that Coco is using her talents to help seniors, and we wish her the best of luck with her efforts to take her show on the road to expand her reach.
Watch Coco’s awesome cherry picker concert in the video below, and be sure to share.
I rented a Cherry Picker to sing to Seniors(close but not too close!)Wanted to do something special for Memorial Day. Such an incredibly hard time for them. I love, respect & value our seniors. NO ONE IS DISPENSABLE. Offering free shows to nursing homes. ❤️coco’s songs 4 Seniors. pic.twitter.com/Rnw6572eTw
— Colette Hawley (@HawleyColette) May 24, 2020
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