Local Gesture of Thanks Goes a Long Way

Doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and other healthcare staff have been deemed “front-line heroes” for quickly adapting, working tirelessly and risking their own lives every day to fight this exhausting battle against the current COVID-19 pandemic. It can be difficult to find ways to show just how much we appreciate the relentless work these healthcare workers provide to keep us and our loved ones safe and healthy. Local community members, however, have found a method to express their gratitude on a daily basis.

At 7:00 PM, every Sunday through Saturday, you will hear a concert of sounds outside the American Postal Workers House — an apartment complex for low-income seniors and people with disabilities in Center City, Philadelphia — which resides between Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. Through rain, snow, or the heat of summer’s uncomfortable humidity, Victoria Gonzales, Will Houlne, George Bunting, and Fred Kirby serenade nurses and doctors as they pass by.

For the first few months of the pandemic, when social distancing and mandated lockdowns shook the city of Philadelphia, residents in the surrounding apartments, condominiums, and rowhomes leaned out of windows and joined in the chorus with their own pots, pans, and whistles to cheer on the efforts of those fighting COVID-19. Now, a year later, the sounds of whistles and clamoring cookware continue to rise and echo throughout the city.

For Gonzales and Houlne, the nightly tribute to healthcare workers is personal. Gonzales’s father contracted the virus last March, where he spent several weeks on a ventilator until his recovery. Houlne, who suffered from COVID-19 in November, said, “my Mom was a nurse in the Navy and Nazareth Hospital. It makes me tearful how many people have died.”

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the beginning of this pandemic, this “gesture of thanks” will continue each night until experts deem social distancing no longer necessary, said Gonzales. She owes that to the doctors and nurses who saved her father, who will turn 80 years old this April.

Information provided by The Philadelphia Inquirer.