As the coronavirus continues to force social restrictions, Florida musician Marisel Lopez and her band, Algo Nuevo, provide the rhythm to keep isolated seniors upbeat.
Since June, the non-profit has traveled around metro Miami putting on socially distanced concerts for low-income seniors.
“We are coming together to show them they are loved, and we are here for them,” she says.
Therapy for the soul
Lopez, a Cuban immigrant, grew up in a musical household understanding the impact music can have on people.
“Music really saves us all at some point in our lives,” she says.
Research has shown that people who dance or attend concerts and musicals report more happiness.
Algo Nuevo was formed in 1994 and Lopez made it a non-profit in 2003 to bring some musical therapy to the aging population.
The band’s main objective was to keep Latin folklore alive. The group did so by coordinating with communities and retirement homes all over South Florida to take older adults to their events to enjoy a live show at no charge.
Then the coronavirus hit.
“Because we cater to such a sensitive community, they were unable to leave their homes,” says Lopez.
Lopez, 69-years-old herself, fell into a deep depression.
“I knew I wasn’t alone,” she says.
For many seniors, Covid-19 has taken a particular mental and emotional toll.
“Our families and friends can’t visit us, and hearing all this news makes us feel helpless,” Lopez tells CNN.
“My daughter came home and spent some time with me, she really pushed me to figure out how to still do what I do, which was very needed.”
So, Lopez rounded up her band and began setting up outdoor concerts throughout Miami’s heavily populated senior communities.
“If we can spread some joy and love on each other, we can get through these ugly times together,” said Lopez.
A high note for aging souls
The group has had 10 performances so far, and each was a big hit, especially for people like 79-year-old Aidee Perez.
“My life during this time has been very rough. I have always been a woman who likes to go out, enjoy, meet with friends,” says Perez of Hialeah.
“The events that Algo Nuevo brought to our residential complex was something wonderful. It made me get out of the routine, dance, laugh, and enjoy a very comforting afternoon,” she says. “I felt the joy of living again.”
“We have seen folks who walk with canes or a walker put those to the side and enjoy the music,” Lopez described in a GoFundMe campaign.
“Seniors stand in front of their windows or come downstairs in a wheelchair to enjoy the show.”
“We have seen healthcare workers enjoy some great music and dance with those they are caring for.”
“Music is the language of the soul. It connects everyone, regardless of how old you are, what you look like, who you like, or who you are,” says Lopez.
Lopez hopes to continue the events but county funding is on hold. The group hopes to use its GoFundMe campaign to keep it going.
“Our musicians have also felt the effects of the pandemic, and some haven’t worked for some time,” Lopez told CNN.
“We have been able to help the people who are working these events with us, and we are stretching the money out and hope the funds help us continue these efforts until things get back to normal.”