When Kelly Hughey made the group Isolation 2020 Country Jamboree she did it for those in the area, but over 17,000 members later, she’s singing a different tune.

Hughey works at the front desk at the North Hastings Hospital. “I was trying to keep people in their little bubble and give them something to do so they aren’t going out and contaminating everyone else,” she explains. Hughey says she was also thinking of her Dad when she originally made the group who suffers from cancer and is more vulnerable to catching COVID-19 so he’s forced to self-isolate. “We pretty much did it for the little group we have and it just kept growing,” she says.

The group was created on March 20th and by the 21st it had already grown to 5,000 members. “And it just kept going,” Hughey says. The group’s current member count is well over 17,000. “I’m completely in shock,” she says.

The idea of the group was for people to post videos of them covering their favourite song, but there are plenty of people in the group that are just sharing positive messages and supporting each other.

Hughey says it’s not just people from North Hastings or even Canada. She mentioned people from Australia, Bermuda, Ireland, Indonesia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Vietnam while rifling through the list of the many different nationalities represented in the group. She jokes that if asked, she probably wouldn’t be able to find all the places represented on a map.

Between the posts of people sharing themselves playing a cover tune or a positive message, Hughey says she’s gotten private messages from people thanking her for creating the group. She says the one that sticks out to her was a lady who told her the group helped bring her out a dark place. “She wasn’t picking up her guitar or wanting to do anything musically,” Hughey says. The woman told her that because of the group she was inspired to pick her guitar back up. “That shocked me,” she says. “I’m actually changing people’s lives.”

“I started the group, but its everybody that made the group the way it is,” Hughey says. While she’s busy working at the Hospital, its the other members that keep the positivity going. “We’re all in this together,” she says.

While Hughey isn’t sure how many people will eventually join the group, she says that one day she hopes to get as many people as possible together for a live jamboree.