The following is part of a series of stories which will run in conjunction with an exciting new weekly radio program by AARP Illinois. The weekly program, called "Creating the Good," showcases the stories of inspiring older adults in Illinois, and can be heard statewide on affiliates of the Illinois Radio Network.
While nursing homes and assisted living communities were on lockdown during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, entertainer Colette Hawley found a unique way to keep residents entertained.
“Before COVID, I would perform inside nursing homes, but now residents couldn’t even watch me outside,” says Hawley, who founded "Coco's Songs for Seniors." “So, I did the next logical thing: I rented a cherry picker, so they could see me through their windows.”
Hawley’s passion for performing for seniors is personal.
After successfully launching her career as a singer, Colette Hawley woke up one morning to find that she was starting to lose her singing voice.
“I tried everything to get it back for a year, and then I just said ‘this isn’t happening right now,’” she says.
It wasn’t until a few years later, when she was asked to sing for older adults at an assisted living community, that she would feel the joy of singing again.
“There isn’t one day when I finish a show for them that I don’t leave feeling better and that they don’t leave feeling better,” she says. “That connection between us and the music, it’s just magical.”
And something else magical has happened since Hawley started performing at assisted living communities -- her voice is back and better than ever!
Hawley continues to travel around the state performing to celebrate holidays and birthdays with seniors – including performing at a 100th birthday this month.
“I take it all as a sign that this is what I’m meant to be doing,” Hawley says.
To see video clips of Hawley’s performances and get in touch, visit www.Twitter.com/HawleyColette
And to find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit www.createthegood.org