​​​​Jason O’Brien, a certified nurse assistant (CNA) at the Marmet Center Genesis Health Care in Marmet, W.Va., for the past 10 years, often plays his guitar and sings for residents. But widespread flooding June 23-24 in West Virginia struck a resounding chord for the 39-year-old O’Brien.

Jason O'Brien

On Saturday, June 25, O’Brien took less than an hour to write a poignant song—“Pray for West Virginia”—about the disaster that claimed at least 23 lives in the Mountain State and devastated numerous small communities.

A resident of Cabin Creek in Kanawha County—one of the hardest hit counties in the state—O’Brien launched his song on Facebook, and it received more than 860,000 views in five days.

Charleston radio station The Wolfe 96.1 invited O’Brien to sing “Pray for West Virginia” live on June 27 in its studio. That brought even more attention to O’Brien’s plea for prayer.

Afterward, a radio program host said, “Not many dry eyes in this studio right now.”

The song came quickly to O’Brien, who said he had a melody in mind when he awakened Saturday afternoon following his shift at work. The words came next.

“I think the song says to a lot of people that everybody cares, everybody understands,” said O’Brien, who received hundreds of messages of appreciation. “Some people have been hurting, and this may help them move toward healing.”

For O’Brien, music is a big part of his life, and playing in the Marmet dementia unit brings him joy.

“I absolutely love sitting there and playing for our residents,” he said. “It’s part of what I do.”