Spread a little joy: Opera singers serenade Calgary seniors

One nursing home in Calgary has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, prompting two women to try to spread a little joy.

Women worry for isolated retirement home residents

Janel Snider and her friend sang opera for retirement home residents this week. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

One seniors home in Calgary has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, prompting two women to try to spread a little joy.

Two opera singers, Taylor Matheson and Janel Snider, wanted to let the seniors at the McKenzie Towne retirement home know that they're not alone.

Seventeen residents of the continuing care facility across the street have died from the virus. Residents in the facility, and the neighbouring retirement residence, are locked down in an attempt to prevent further exposure.

The singers stood in the parking lot this week by the southeast Calgary retirement residence — and sang. Residents clapped, waved and sang along.

"We thought that especially at a time like this, it would be a welcome change and a bit of entertainment for the residents," said Matheson, whose grandmother lives at the residence.

Residents of the McKenzie Towne retirement complex watch opera singers from their windows. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Sneider said the memory will stay with her. 

"Definitely a lot of tears were shed, because it just felt really beautiful and like a small thing we could do to share some love," she said.

The women said they hope their actions encourage others to check in on loved ones in isolation.

Alberta Health announced new measures Friday in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. So far, there have been more than 150 cases of staff and residences catching the illness.

With files from Elise von Scheel and Hala Ghonaim


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