Peace of Heart Choir Sings
at the New York State Veterans’ Home
by Carrie Wesolowski
(all photos by Frank Asencio)
“Serving Those Who Served.” You can find these words—this motto—on various signs and throughout the New York State Veterans Home, a 250-bed facility owned and operated by the New York State Department of Health. The Home has been serving veterans of the New York City region and their dependents since 1993. As the nation celebrates the Fourth of July Independence Day holiday, our recent visit here comes to mind.
What a joyous afternoon we had singing here for the first time with a patio breeze at our backs in the New York State Women Veterans Memorial Community Room as a wonderfully vocal audience applauded and sang with us, including one woman who exclaimed "Amen" as I introduced the song, "One Day," as an anthem for peace in our world.
The choir gathered behind the piano with René at the helm, a Bingo board at the far left behind us, and veterans' memorabilia display cases and floral prints lining the room. We premiered our new sing-along for seniors, "Young at Heart," as one man nodded his head as he sang the words softly to himself. Our encore, "Oye Como Va," was especially well-received. Several audience members shook hands with choir members and talked with us a bit before we bade them farewell till next time.
After our concert, an audience member, introducing himself, smiled at me and told me how beautiful our concert was. You could see his enthusiasm and the joy the music had brought him as he was grinning from ear to ear as he spoke.
Finally, "America the Beautiful"—beautifully voiced by Lis during our concert, hitting all the high notes—inspired one woman to sing along. A man in a Stars and Stripes USA cap was visibly touched as tears filled his eyes.
After the concert, we walked back out amidst spacious blue skies where the scenic grounds of the Veterans' home reflected a tranquil beautiful Americana, its greenery resplendent with Canadian geese. As we ventured back to the St. Albans Long Island Rail Road station, we passed a soul food restaurant and an unexpected hidden treasure underneath the train trestle: a brightly colored mural dedicated to jazz legends Billie Holliday and Count Basie.
This outreach concert was so nice, we’re going to do it twice. We are returning for another outreach this fall. We look forward to our next visit to The New York State Veterans’ Home, and, hopefully many more. As part of our our overall mission to bring joy through music, we are honored to be “serving those who served.”
Carrie Wesolowski, Alto 1