Chicago singer, who can belt a tune, rents cherry picker to serenade seniors for Memorial Day

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A Chicago woman continued her mission to lift the spirits of nursing home residents as she found a new way to serenade them with patriotic songs.

Colette Hawley gave seniors a Memorial Day weekend treat with a medley of songs to entertain them as they remained confined under coronavirus lockdown orders. And she used a cherry picker to deliver the patriotic show.

“I rented a Cherry Picker to sing to Seniors(close but not too close!)” Hawley tweeted along with a video of her latest efforts which she posted on Sunday.

“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,” she wrote, signing her name, Coco.

With a megaphone and an elevated platform on the cherry picker sporting American flags, Hawley entertained the isolated seniors at Chicago Methodist Senior Services on the city’s north side with a collection of songs that got some of them to even come out and join in with some dance moves of their own.

“Got to love this ! Especially coming from a fellow @IUBloomingtongrad ! More please !” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted in response to the video, getting a hearty thanks from the singer.

“Once lockdown happened and I knew what the restrictions were and how severe they were, I said, ‘there’s got to be a way to still sing to them,'” Hawley told the New York Post.

“It’s such an important sort of solemn, respectful day for them and I think they miss not being able to connect on a day like today,” the entertainer added. “I thought they really need something on this day, and to know we haven’t forgotten them and aren’t just going to blow past them on this important day.”

Hawley, who lived in New York and California before heading to Chicago, has been entertaining seniors for free for several years now and has a GoFundMe page to help her efforts.

Vulnerable nursing home residents have been feeling the brunt of the pandemic, with one-third of U.S. COVID-19 deaths being among long-term care facility residents and workers, according to The New York Times. In a few states, the numbers account for more than half of all deaths from the coronavirus. Reports of thousands of deaths in New York nursing homes have brought heavy backlash against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as in Minnesota where 81 percent of the coronavirus deaths have been in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Hawley’s act of kindness Sunday was not her first entertainment for seniors, something she found a passion for before the pandemic outbreak.

“I have always been aware that our culture often disregards the elderly,” she told Patch.com last month.

“I began to see my singing not only as a way to bring joy, but as a way for me to bring attention to this community by sharing my incredible experiences with friends, family and on social media,” she added. “The response from seniors has been incredibly moving; they sing, they smile, they laugh, they clap and tap their feet. I see them go from silent in their wheelchairs to wide awake and fully engaged. It’s really magical.”

Her latest performance drew rave reviews on twitter where she was applauded for her heart for seniors.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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