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Locals sound a joyful noise nightly for those on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.

NEWBERG GRAPHIC: GARY ALLEN - Tiffany Barth and her 13-year-old son Gage join a small chorus of Dundee residents who have embraced the 'Gratitude to the Health Care and Other Frontline Providers' movement by taking to their porches, decks and front yards every evening at 7 p.m.

A movement that began in Italy to recognize people in the trenches fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, bolstered by thousands of social media posts, has surfaced via a local church.

Some congregants at Joyful Servant Lutheran Church in Newberg have embraced the Gratitude to the Health Care and Other Frontline Providers effort begun in the virus-stricken European country in March.

"The idea may have started in Italy, but it has increased via social media and is simple to practice," Kay Koudele, an organizer of the local effort, said in encouraging residents to take part. "It means spreading a little music (via instrument or voice) or shouts of thanks or banging pots and pans for two to three minutes on their front porches or balconies at 7 p.m. every night until this pandemic is over."

Koudele and others reached out to congregants via the church newsletter "to encourage others to join the movement," she said. "We also texted a few neighbors around us asking if they would like to join in."

While she couldn't put a number on how many families are participating about two weeks into the effort, Koudele said she suspects people in her Dundee neighborhood have caught on to the movement.

"Being on a hillside, sound caries pretty well downward, but not upward, so we can't hear well from others. We also have our sound system playing John Phillip Sousa march music so loud, we can hardly hear each other," she said, adding that she, her husband and son crank up the stereo, open all the doors and windows, and march about their deck banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons for three minutes. Ten members of her extended family in Tigard do the same each night.

"We've had some folks wave from the streets, take pictures (and we) can see kids jumping around on their decks," Koudele said.

The effort will continue "until this virus stuff is over or as long as health care and frontline workers are putting their own health at risk by serving us," she said.

In her family it's not too hard to imagine a loved one fighting on the frontline.

"Our daughter is a physician in clinical practice for Kaiser and has been told that when the census dictates she would be employed to work in a hospital," Koudele said. "As a former (registered nurse) and psychotherapist, I know how the medical and psychological effects of this pandemic affect all of us. The porch/deck music time is good therapy to lift the spirit of the doer, as well as frontline workers."

Koudele and her husband, Fred, are no strangers to large-scale disasters, nor how important it is to support the frontline workers. The couple volunteered for the American Red Cross for 10 years and spent three weeks in New York during the recovery effort after 9/11.

"We were being bused to Ground Zero along a road used for disaster workers, and groups of people would hang out along the street to wave banners, flags and signs of "thank you" when we passed by," she said. "That felt really good to all the workers. We want to do the same for those disaster workers now."


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