By Emily Drooby
For adults in the Brooklyn Diocese, a ringing phone means more than a call, it’s a lifeline during the coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
For years, Sister Ave Clark has counseled people who are struggling through her heart-to-heart ministry, but those sessions can’t happen now.
Instead, she’s set up a new way to reach them: a group phone call.
“Words of faith, even though we can’t see each other, are so important,” Sr. Ave told Currents News. “So that’s how I see this connection, as a connection of God’s love via the phone.”
She’s calling the group “Wonderful Hope,” something very much needed during the pandemic as anxieties increase.
In this difficult time, calls to the federal Mental Health Crisis Hotline have jumped almost 900% compared to last year.
Over 6.8 million Americans already suffer from anxiety. It’s a common mental disorder often made worse by the isolation, fear and financial pressures brought on by the coronavirus.
President Trump talked about those worries when the pandemic first hit.
“You’re going to have massive depression,” he said. “You’re going to have depression in the economy also. … massive drug use, massive depression, mental depression, massive numbers of suicide.”
Sr. Ave is lending a helping hand to those who are suffering by tackling all of those issues, as well as one of the most difficult to come out of the pandemic: the loss of a loved one.
“Well for it it’s very personal, because I lost my sister,” group member Susan Schwemmer explained. “My sister passed away from the virus.”
It’s been a tough time for Susan and her family, made even more difficult by social distancing restrictions.
“That’s what’s so hard about this, is when you do lose someone, you don’t have the physical family, the touch, everything is missing. We had to bury her and just sit in the car,” she said.
Susan has been leaning on Sr. Ave’s phone-line for support.
“Knowing that all of these people love me and they were praying for me and her through this,” she said. “We lost her, but she’s with Jesus. And it just gives me the strength I need to take it one day at a time.”
This is exactly what Sr. Ave had in mind: help, hope, and healing through faith, and a personal connection.