BELFAST — Two local nonprofits, Belfast Flying Shoes and Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County, have teamed up to bring live music to residents and staff at Tall Pines, in Belfast.
“It has meant a lot to our residents, seeing people from the community and being outdoors,” said Mary Jo Abbott, activities director for the Commons at Tall Pines, in a news Flying Shoes news release. “What a treat to have this entertainment each week!”
According to Flying Shoes, participants from the Residence at Tall Pines agree.
“I enjoy getting out in the fresh air," says one resident. "It’s something different,” says another. “I love the music, especially guitar,” adds a third, whose son is a professional musician.
Throughout the pandemic, Hospice volunteers have bolstered morale in the Commons at Tall Pines by greeting residents through closed windows, uploading music to digital music players, and distributing gift bags and appreciation notes. For six weeks this spring, HVOWC coordinated with local church groups to provide daily meals for Commons staff. In August, Hospice director, Flic Shooter, reached out for help with her vision to have "safe, physically-distanced, outdoor concerts each week to provide a cheery distraction" for residents.
Margo Burnham, Belfast Flying Shoes board member, says of the program, "You never know how music and nature may touch someone, but you know somehow they will. We're so grateful that local artists are eager to come soothe and lift spirits in the outdoors."
Another board member, Chrissy Fowler, continues, “This new program builds on our previous music and movement programming at the Residence [the assisted living facility at Tall Pines.] I especially love seeing residents and staff smiling behind their masks.”
Past performers include Willy and Clayton Clemetson, Jamie Oshima and Alisa Amador, John Pranio and Toki Oshima, the Gawler Sisters, and Jennifer Armstrong. Musical selections have run the gamut from traditional fiddle and banjo tunes to early rock and roll, old-time country music, and even some soul and gospel numbers.
“Residents also make requests, which the musicians gamely try to fulfill,” said Shoes.
“These concerts are entirely weather-dependent, and everyone has been very flexible with rescheduling and dressing warmly. We’ve been lucky so far,” explains Fowler.
One resident hopes that concerts can happen indoors, eventually, but offered a possible strategy for cold weather enjoyment: “We can just put on our snowmobile suits!”
Belfast Flying Shoes produces public dance and music events and offers extensive outreach programming in the community, including this concert series at Tall Pines. Other programs include school residencies, workshops for musicians, and programming at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center. For more information, visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org
Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County provides non-medical support for patients and families at the end of life, as well as bereavement support services and a lending library. For information, visit www.hospicevolunteersofwaldocounty.org