East Norriton/ April 28, 2020/ The Reporter — The captive, homebound audiences of Columbia Cottage and other senior living facilities are not the typical venues where Miles Burger performs.
As the bass player for Saving Henry, a country-folk outfit mostly fueled by original tunes, and Never in Vegas, a popular cover band, the Berklee School of Music senior is accustomed to cheering crowds up and down the East Coast.
Although the senior living circuit may have been a more subdued group of admirers, the experience of serenading residents from parking lots was no less rewarding for him, Miles said.
They cracked the windows to hear and were waiting for me,” noted the Collegeville native. “Sometimes the simplest thing, singing and playing acoustic guitar, can move people so much. It kind of reminds me why I do it. They appreciated the human aspect of it too, which was so beautiful. I went window to window and gave these private concerts.”
He relied on the songbook that is most special to him, of course.
“The music I’m most passionate about is old country music and that usually goes over well with people that age. So I just played stuff I like to hear, old country standards … Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard,” Miles noted.
During this rough time for working musicians, it was Miles’s mom, Carrie Burger, program manager for Bayada Home Health Care, who helped organize the mini-concert, which made the rounds to several facilities, including Columbia College in Collegeville, The Landing of Towamencin, Brandywine Living at Senior Suites in East Norriton, Independence Court of Quakertown and Sunrise of Blue Bell.
“It’s kind of funny, I’m the only musician getting to play for people outside the home right now. So I’m thankful for that,” Miles said. “I think growing up around my mom and seeing what she does give me a better appreciation for the situation.”
The ongoing isolation of the residents was concerning to her, Carrie Burger noted.
“I get the luxury of supporting our programming in multiple senior living communities in the area, so that’s how I know all these lovely residents, and that’s how the request to use my son’s talent came about. It was breaking my heart that the residents were essentially room bound. The social isolation is so dangerous to mental well-being, as a cause of depression that suppresses mental function in the elderly. So I felt if there was some way we could connect with the residents to lift them up while keeping them safe, it would be a powerful type of medicine. Miles was on the road playing with some pretty impressive bands up in New England, and had to come home to finish out the semester,” Carried added. “He missed performing for an audience and as we were sitting there talking at dinner one night that’s when the idea came to fruition. I reached out to some of the senior living communities that I’m affiliated with as my role at Bayada and they welcomed the idea because all the entertainers they had scheduled to come had been canceled.”
Her son’s visits to every senior living residence was celebrated by all concerned, she said.
“It was so well received by the residents and the communities were so grateful, and my son got so much out of it. It was a double blessing for the residents and for my son as well to be able to use his music to make the residents happy. At Senior Suites I know all those residents and because I spent a lot of time there and to see people sobbing because my kid was playing the guitar for them, it was so incredibly touching.
The residents are just so happy to have somebody paying attention to them, because the world is so consumed with all this COVID intensity, to do something light was really appreciated. Bayada Home Health is a nonprofit entity and I feel blessed that as part of my job as a physical therapist I’m able to give back, and that the partnerships are so sincere and deep, and as a nonprofit company that really believes that our clients come first. It’s part of our motto.”
Bayada’s willingness to put clients ahead of other corporate concerns separates it from similar companies, Carrie allowed.
“It makes it a very special environment. I was encouraged to give joy to residents in the senior living communities. We weren’t getting paid for any of that, and that’s a beautiful thing in healthcare, to be so mission-driven.”
Founded in 1975, Bayada Home Health Care is a nonprofit home health care provider with more than 360 offices in 23 states, as well as locations in Germany, India, Ireland and New Zealand.
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