Jackson locals howl nightly to show support, appreciation for healthcare workers

Augusta Friendsmith and Carsten Stuhr’s dog, Georgie, get in the action as they howl in support of healthcare workers this past spring. The howl began in Jackson when it was posted in the Teton County CAREmongering Facebook page.

Claps, howls, horns, bells, shouts, whistles and any other sound you desire to make on your front porch are now welcomed nightly at 6 as a thank you to front-line workers.

The practice began across Jackson Hole in April, occurring every night at 8 to show acknowledgement to medical workers putting their lives on the line during the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It petered out a few months later, but one Jackson resident is calling to begin the nightly noise-making again, just a bit earlier for winter hours.

Jim Wallace himself is a clapper. After hearing of other places across the nation doing it, he would go out every night religiously at 8 according to his phone and applaud for 60 seconds.

“I was kind of lonely for a while there, but it didn’t take long, and all of a sudden there were people who were yelling on the side of Snow King, and there were horns tooting,” he said. “It was quite a host of people and different sounds who were doing it for the same reason, to acknowledge these wonderful, wonderful angels of our society.”

The News&Guide first reported on the nightly thanks to front-line workers — mainly by howling — in April that became widespread after a post in the Teton County CAREmongering Facebook group, independent of Wallace.

“This went on for quite some time, several months,” he said. “And then why did it end? I think it was because it was felt that the illness had retreated, maybe that we thought it was going to go away. But now with this resurgence ...”

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has now surpassed 300,000. Even with vaccine distribution underway, it may take several months to upwards of a year to get everyone vaccinated. Front-line workers are among the first who will receive the vaccine, but their work treating patients will not be over.

Wallace volunteered as a lay chaplain at St. John’s Health for a decade and has seen the contributions that nurses, doctors and other providers give.

“These people who are the health care providers, they’re dying, giving life to those of us who are sick,” he said. “What a small gesture of us as a community to thank the medical community here.”

If you’re thinking one minute of clapping or hollering won’t really matter to them, he has heard otherwise.

“I really believe it’s time we need to get back out on the porches,” Wallace said.

“It does make a difference to the health care providers. I know that. I absolutely know that because I have spoken with them. And it came up in conversation. And in two of the conversations where I was close to the providers, they were RNs, and when they heard that they started crying. That appreciation was so meaningful to them.”

Wallace is calling for everyone to head back outside at 6 each night beginning tonight. He hopes churches and nonprofits will also join in and together send echoing sounds of thanks across the valley for front-line workers to hear.

Contact Danielle at djohnson@jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5901.

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