Positive Connections: Corona Carolers bring hope to Newton families

Positive Connections

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – The snow, the wind, the heat, not even a nearly year-long pandemic can stop the Corona Carolers.

The group, made up of several women, meets at Newton Presbyterian Manor each week. They go door-to-door and window-to-window smiling, singing, and engaging with the residents at the assisted-living facility.

“It’s all about bringing joy to people,” said Corona Caroler Coordinator Jacque Wedel.

“I sing because I know it brings people joy, but it gives us such a lift. It’s such a blessing to see joy on faces that sometimes don’t have much joy,” said Corona Caroler Julie Sparks.

Corona Caroler Julie Sparks sings outside Newton Presbyterian Manor.

Wedel and Sparks deeply understand the need to interact with the residents as they await the coronavirus vaccine or wait out the pandemic. Wedel’s stepdad and Sparks’ mother live at the Manor.

“He has dementia and he can’t hear and he won’t wear his hearing aids so we can’t even call him from the window. Really all I can do is see if he is sitting in his chair waving at me or if he is sleeping. That part of the isolation is horribly, horribly hard,” Wedel said.

“It has been very tough this year. The only way we can see her is through a glass door and sometimes she recognizes us. She has dementia and sometimes she does not recognize us,” Sparks explained.

While caroling does come with some downs like witnessing the ones they love struggle, the women agree, the ups are much more common.

“The joy in their faces, they just light up. Many of them actually sing with us and they sing to us,” Wedel said.

A Newton Presbyterian Manor resident sings along with the Corona Carolers.

Clara Koehn, 95, has lived at the Manor since 2005. She said she looks forward to the Corona Carolers each week.

“They do such a wonderful job to take their time to come and think of us. It is so wonderful,” said Koehn.

Resident Norma Clark, 92, agrees.

“I really enjoy it. I am glad they do that. I am very grateful to them for doing that too,” said Clark. “I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for them doing that.”

The carolers told KSN they get just us much out of the weekly meetings as the residents.

“I have to say it is very selfish because it pays me back more than it benefits them,” Wedel said. “I have been overwhelmed at how amazing this has been.”

The Corona Carolers began singing to the residents in March 2020. They have only missed a couple of weeks since then. They said they plan to continue with their ministry as long as the Manor and its residents will have them.

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