Good news Thursday: Opera singer volunteers at hospital, tiny homes help homeless people

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Soprano steps in to help COVID-19 patients

Soprano singer Arta Jashari checks a patient at the Pulmonological Clinic in Kosovo’s capital Pristina. Jashari, a well-known and much-loved soprano in Kosovo, regularly goes to the hospital to help staff and patients’ families to cope with the virus pandemic. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Arta Jashari helps out at the Pulmonological Clinic in Pristina, Kosovo in any way she can. Whether that be aiding the COVID-19 patients at home who do meet qualifications to be treated at the overworked clinic or acting as a liaison for nurses and doctors to let them know who needs more hands-on assistance. But Jashari is not a nurse or doctor, in fact, she has never received medical training. After she aided her father back to health from COVID-19 when he was dispatched from the hospital, she realized that the workers and patients needed all the help they could get. So, once her father recovered, she zipped up and strapped on protective gear, despite her lack of any medical training. 

Jashari is a famous opera singer in her country. Her life is typically filled with concerts and eager spectators but is now reduced to online performances that are far and few between. But Jashari shys away from her well-known name when helping others. For her, the act is not about being recognized, it is about helping her community. When her father was ill, Jashari saw the impact of her family, friends and neighbors all coming together to provide food and supplies needed for his recovery. And despite never getting official clearance from the clinic to help, neither the workers nor Jashari let that stop them.

She said her experience as an opera singer helps her be empathetic to the patients. “You give so much love and so much hope and so many emotions,” she told the Associated Press. “And here (at the clinic) it is the same.”

University president connects with quarantined students

Palm Beach Atlantic University’s new president Dr. Debra Schwinn smiles as she talks during an interview with The Associated Press. Every day at 5 p.m., no matter what Schwinn is doing, she jumps on a Zoom call with students in coronavirus quarantine. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Dr. Debra Schwinn, Palm Beach Atlantic University’s new president, has a routine she sticks to every day. No matter her schedule, at 5 p.m. Schwinn logs onto a Zoom call and visits with the students at the university who are quarantining due to COVID-19. The calls may not be numerous, with members ranging from one to 15 any given week, but Schwinn is adamant about trying to liven their spirits and help them feel cared for while quarantining. Her other occupations as a physician and as a mother led her to feel empathetic for the college students alone and isolated at the small Christian school. She also found this could be an opportunity to really get to know the student body as the new university president. 

“It was the one unique thing I could do,” Schwinn told the Associated Press. “Who, besides myself, could Zoom every night, really get a feeling for what is working from a systems perspective and give that caring, personal touch?”

The school decided to begin in-person classes in the fall with strict guidelines. Students take daily health surveys, wear masks and are separated by plexiglass in the classrooms. If a student is exposed to COVID-19, they are required to quarantine and those who are symptomatic without test results yet are also required to quarantine. Schwinn told the Associated Press that the decision was made with both these precautions and prayers. 

Tiny homes house homeless people

Hope of the Valley CEO Ken Craft, right, talks to resident Ted Beauregard outside of a row of tiny homes for the homeless in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Tiny homes are popping up in Los Angeles as a way to house homeless people as they try to find permanent housing. Homelessness is on the rise in L.A. According to a tally in 2020, 66,400 homeless people lived in Los Angeles County which is 12% higher than the year before. The tiny home community, called Chandler Street village, was developed and funded by Los Angeles in response to the worsening issue of homelessness. The 64-square-foot homes have four windows, two beds, shelving and an A/C unit.

The village also provides counselors that help with mental health treatment, legal aid and assistance with job searches. The goal of Chandler Street is to help homeless people get back on their feet and for many, it is a safe haven they have gone without for years. Many have forgotten what it’s like to sleep in beds and have their own residency with a lock. Others are new to homelessness because of the pandemic. Ted Beauregard became homeless for the first time when the pandemic halted work for his construction company. He plans to leave by mid-April, but for now, Chandler Street village is a blessing. “I look at it like I live in a gated community, across from beautiful parkland,” he told the Associated Press.

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