Looking back at the last two years, it feels like an eternity. I remember it feeling like the first part of Avengers Endgame when the pandemic hit: the news would show the freeway with hardly any cars on the road, businesses were closed, and you would go on social media and the events you were following were all saying CANCELLED. The only time that you would see a crowd, would be at 5 in the morning with people waiting in line at the local market, hoping that you can get at least a 4-pack of toilet paper. The major rough part of all of this was the daily broadcast from your local news station of the many new cases of COVID, and how many of those have died, hoping that you, your family, your friends become a statistic. It really did feel like the sun wasn’t shining and everything just felt so blue and grey, but in 2021, HOPE was on the way…literally.
Since the formation of CalHOPE, the many great teams of Peer Crisis Counselors and Outreach Coordinators have been able to lift up the spirits of those whose faith had dropped. The message of our project has been so strong, that it was great getting emails from elected officials in different cities, requesting a Zoom presentation about CalHOPE and how they can effectively spread the message of our services. Reports from our counselors were generally positive with every interaction they’ve been able to make from our phone and online Warm Lines.
As restrictions started to gradually lift towards the end of summer last year, our teams were able to go out into the community, set up at food banks and vaccination sites, and have great in-person sessions with those who were already feeling overwhelmed. Our teams were able to finally meet each other in person, having only seeing each other through a computer screen, and able to get together to do trainings on having in-person interactions with those we meet out in the field. The UnityHOPE team was even able to set up at the Greater Palm Springs Pride celebration in November with help from Trans Community Project, and they proved to be a very big hit with dozens of LGBTQA attendees talking to our counselors on site, adding to the festive vibes of an in-person Pride celebration returning, and participating at local Transgender Day of Remembrance events in the Inland Empire.
Now in 2022, mask mandates are starting to get lifted, jobs continue to return, and COVID is hopefully on the decline, though we are still seeing people dying from the virus. Now more than ever, people are keeping their mental health in check, and, lucky for them, CalHOPE is still here offering their services through our Warm Lines as well as in person, and still setting up at local events. It goes to show that these services are still needed and our many Peer Crisis Counselors are more than happy to speak and listen to those seeking help.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite songs from my youth that goes “We live in Hope of Deliverance, from the darkness that surrounds us” by Paul McCartney, and I am happy that CalHOPE is doing just that.
For more information on how you can utilize our services, visit us at www.CalHOPE.org